The Romantic Piano with David Dubal in The Greene Space

Below: Archived Video Webcast

Thursday, May 30, 2013

David Dubal in The Greene Space David Dubal in The Greene Space (Stephanie Black)

In a companion to his weekly series "The Romantic Piano," piano authority David Dubal comes to The Greene Space at WQXR to discuss the milestones of the Romantic piano literature by Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann. Joining him will be by six blazing young Juilliard student pianists. Watch the full video below.

Included are performances by pianists Scott Cuellar, Matthew Graybil, Rexa Han, Alexandra Joan, Jeremy Jordan and Giuseppe Mentuccia.

Photo: Stephanie Black

Below: Rexa Han plays Franz Liszt's interpretation of Verdi's Rigoletto Paraphrase


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Comments [17]

shirley adelman from Hockessin, Delaware

The series The Romantic Piano has been an extraordinary experience. I hope there is a way to save the series in a CD or another way to keep it for posterity. The remarks that David Dubal made about all the composers is so instructive and inspiring.
I found the whole series thrilling. Thanks so much for offering them.
The series along with Piano Matters on WWFM is the highlight of my week.
Shirley Adelman

Jun. 22 2013 10:19 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

I just watched the video on the main page of Rexa Han's interpretation. Two of the players, Rexa Han and Jeremy Jordan, were far more demonstrative in their playing than the others. This is possibly because their pieces weren't as subtle as the ones the other players were given to play but my impression was that these players recognized that the visual of their performance art was also an important factor in how people 'saw' them.

Though Ms. Han's exaggerated hand movements were often likely an aid to timing and in a sense, self conducting, the visual ballet aspect was obvious.

There used to be a hockey goalie for the Boston Bruins, Gerry Cheevers, who would make a "glove save" in a sort of shy 'Hi' wave and then, after the puck was secured, shoot out that arm and kick out the leg as if the save was some full extension spectacular effort. It's a visual show too, whether that means the rind stone encrusted piano of Liberace, the jittery butt of Tori Amos, or the 'in a trance' movements and almost 'speaking in tongues' chanting of Glenn Gould.

Jun. 08 2013 11:29 AM
Frank Ordanez from France

Heard the program. I don't understand what it the hype with Dubal reading some notes. Playing...they all play notes. No one is one is exceptional. If one listens to true virtuosic player....they take many chances and have a drive and captivating personas. Non of the players made an impression on me neither Mr. Dubal. In Europe the level is much higher.

The comment about Polini is irrelevant. He is an old man and He played a horrible of the worst I ever heard but in the past Mr. Polini used to be able to play and possessed a charisma reserved for the great and dying generation.

Jun. 04 2013 01:13 PM
NYer from NYC

For what it is worth, I recently heard Pollini play Beethoven at Carnegie Hall. He muffed notes in the Pathetique, was generally muddy, and sounded like he was in a hurry to leave.
Nobody's perfect!

Jun. 02 2013 07:51 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Gotta laugh. Of course some unknown isn't going to best Horowitz (other than some unknown named Gould). Whatever. I've been thinking along other lines.

What makes for a virtuosic performance?

In listening to pieces that I enjoy and others that do zilch for me, from a personal view, I'm getting an impression of a few points. Of course there's phrasing and rubato, or whatever the terms are for putting personal style touches into a piece. There's clarity and fluency - how clearing the piece comes across and how well it avoids sounding mechanical. But on a more specific level I find that the pieces I enjoy most have a ringing quality to the playing. The ringing seems predominant in the mid to upper keys. The highest keys sound flat no matter what and the lowest keys probably replace ringing with rumble. I'm keying on ringing because it seems to combine sustain with clarity, which seems to be somewhat opposite. The ringing, by its nature, also has a vibrato quality.

What is it that generates this ringing? High quality piano with particular player's touch? Probably. But then what is that touch? Can you hit a note on a keyboard and either generate or not generate ringing? Is it some supreme talent to be able to do this while playing a series of thousands of notes?

Jun. 01 2013 05:20 PM
Herman Joseph from NYC

Enjoyed the program and found it encouraging that there are talented young musicians and pianists who have the drive to develop into artists.For example, the young pianist who played the Schubert A major sonata has a beautiful lyrical quality that reminded me of an early performance of Dame Myra Hess. However I found that all the pianists possessed individuality and i would not want to single anyone out since they were all impressive. It is to be noted however that the Chopin Polonaise in A flat was played by a young pianist who according to Dubal is also an accomplished jazz pianist. I hope that all of these young pianists find creative outlets in their careers for their impressive talents. They deserve it.

Jun. 01 2013 04:34 PM
Gregory Williams from Louisiana

So sad....Silversalty..(silver + salty= ancient) obviously deaf and clueless about music and you have comprehension issues. Let me assure you that Im half you age but unlike you, who has no ability to understand piano playing or music and only can attack others on a personal level, your comments just show how clueless you are. The reason the audience is old because young people like myself would die from boredom in a show like that. Non of the players had any real talent or personality, they are trained....some better, some worse, all played like students. The guy who played the Chopin has the ugliest sound and man technical problems and no feeling of Chopin whatsoever, so cautious. The Asian played ok, the Schumann was beyond recognition (but you will tell me that it is better than Horowitz) ---I think you need a new set of ears.....But it always will be the same.... few people can hear anything. I will pay any amount to hear a youngster that has 10 percent of Horowitz's personality...the sad part....there are many of us...and we do not go to concerts. I recently flew to NY and heard Kissin and even that was disappointing...great pianist, mediocre musician.
I heard from many people that the level in Juilliard is very low, they all try to play the notes, that's no art.

Jun. 01 2013 10:22 AM
Daniel Polowetzky from NYC

The comments reminiscing about the great dead pianists are likely coming from the nearly dead audience members most in the market for a casket! I have never seen such a geriatric gathering. Likely survivors from the Titanic.

Jun. 01 2013 08:38 AM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

It's ironic, since I capture the audio in order to put it into a play list that I can listen to later at my leisure, but I happen to check other sources in the process. While doing that, and in this case, where the specifics on the pieces were often left out, I try to find those pieces on the web. With the Chopin Polonaise my search happened to turn up a Youtube of Horowitz. Jordan sounded better. In case you missed that - Jordan sounded better. Of course the Youtube was not the best quality, but then I had to turn up the volume and remove the hiss from the captured Greenspace streaming - also far from the best. The only way anyone could possibly judge these performers is if they were there in the Greenspace. The web streaming just doesn't cut it, unless you make the effort to remove the artifacts that you can - it'll never be high quality output without a high speed, high quality transmission.

Geez! If I turned up the treble and turned down the bass I might have gotten some of them to sound like Glenn Gould, not that Gould would have played any of these composers (though he did play Liszt transcriptions of Beethoven symphonies). I can't believe the callous insults. Maybe if you'd paid $300 to see them you'd be praising them to the sky.

Jun. 01 2013 01:17 AM
Gregory Williams from Shreveport, LA

I used to listen to David Dubal's radio broadcasts years ago religiously and admired him and his knowledge. I just came across this video.....I miss listening to the dead pianists! The dead make music alive and the alive ones make the music dead.

Jun. 01 2013 12:45 AM
Fran Oelbaum

Great space and Dubal is always entertaining. Agree that playing was not me it sounded like volume up and down without any true passion or sound. All played like students.. Would be nice to hear the Horowitz Polonaise instead!!!!

May. 31 2013 03:35 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Obviously not a Canadian, unless a hockey player.

May. 31 2013 02:39 PM
Rasa Mazoulite from Berin

David was born to be on stage talking. Loved his comments and lecture. Playing was mediocre by all players. Boring at best....disappointing! Is there real talent out there??

May. 31 2013 01:08 PM
Karl Steinberger from Pomona, NY

I have long admired David Dubal's engaging style and encyclopedic knowledge of piano literature. His current series of programs devoted to the great composer-pianists of the Romantic Era is both informative and enjoyable, inasmuch as he has access to,and familiarity with, an incredible array of performances by keyboard artists of numerous generations.
I discovered the video presentation of the program from the Greene Space just before bedtime last evening, remaining spellbound until well past midnight. Bravo, Mr. Dubal,and Bravi to all the wonderful young artists participating in the program.
More of the same soon, please!

May. 31 2013 11:03 AM
Daniel Polowetzky from NYC

A wonderful program and wonderful playing.
The Greene Space is the best kept secret in New York.

May. 31 2013 09:52 AM

Wow! What a concert! The pianists are indeed fantastic. These are the young people we should hear at Carnegie and the other great halls of the world. It is clear, the future of wonderful piano playing is secure. We heard it tonight. Just take another listen to the closing Chopin piece. Horowitz is alive and well! Mr. Dubal's commentary is second to none. Thanks for bringing this quality of performances to us!!!!

May. 30 2013 10:08 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

It took a while for Mr. Dubal to ease into the MC role. Once there he was much better.

It's ironic but with a group of talented players there's the impression that maybe what they do is easy, if there are so 'many' that can do it. Though I preferred some players to others I'm not sure if it was due to the playing or the dynamic quality of the pieces they were given to play, and so I've no interest in passing that judgment.

I very much enjoyed the presentation. Thanks to all.

May. 30 2013 08:42 PM

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