James Conlon and Menahem Pressler discuss an important theme in music appreciation: is a perfect technique sufficient in an interpretation?
In music, technique measures the aptitudes of a player to interpret a piece and the "savoir-faire" he acquired during his training. It is often associated with virtuosity: the quality of a player who can tackle difficult pieces, sometimes reputed impossible. It is both a challenge and pleasure for the artist and also for the audience, who enjoys the performance in the same way they are thrilled by trapeze artists. According to Menahem Pressler, the future of an artist depends upon his technique but rather on his ability to use it in order to express deep feelings.
In this series of programmes, James Conlon explores various aspects of playing classical music: is this about beauty or is it about truth? Is it about technique or is it about spirit? Is it about tradition or innovation? Is it more like Plato or is it more like Aristotle? Is it more like Apollo or is it more like Dionysus? And finally, are you going to be the music or are you gonna play the music? Filmed during the 12th edition of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas, these 6 programmes discuss those aspects with the finalists of the competition, and include footages of their performances on stage during the semifinals.
A documentary by Peter Rosen. Narrated by Dan Rather
BBC Television Studios, 1959-1960
The 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, 2009
Beauty or Truth – featuring finalist Chu-Fang Huang and the Takács Quartet