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GG: and the Romantics

	Lately, I have been listening intensively to Cortot's recordings of
Chopin, and this has provoked me to think about GG's antitpathy to the great
19th century works for the piano by Chopin, Schumann and Lizst, among
others. His professed reason for finding this music so distasteful is that
it lacks  contrapuntal content. This is true, but only in a limited respect.
Thus, taking as an example Chopin's Etudes, these are homophonic
compositions in the sense that there is a single prominent melodic thread
which generally remains in one voice. However, as Charles Rosen has noted,
there is definitely a contrapuntal texture, which he has described as
"coloristic counterpoint," as distinct from the Bachian counterpoint, which
is exclusively structural. In the Etudes, dynamic and rhythmic contrasts and
other characteristics derived directly from exploitation of the unique sound
world of the piano contribute significantly to the texture, and support a
musical structure which in its own way is as rich as that of the Bach fugues
in the WTC, but which is more sensuously oriented..

We know that GG spoke about Bach's indifference to instrumental coloration;
it was a mark of Bach's appeal to GG that Bach's music could be enjoyed as
much (if not more than) on the printed page as aurally.This appeal to GG is,
in turn, probably attributable to his deep sensitivity to vertical and
horizontal structures in the music. Nevertheless, I think that, even taking
into account the far greater importance of the instrumental coloration in
pieces such as Chopin's Etudes, there is more than enough purely musical
interest in these pieces to appeal to someone with GG's sensibility, and
that his resistance to this music is really attributable to his aversion to
its overtly emotional content. What we may have hear is a case of the "tail"
of GG's aesthetic theory wagging the "dog" of his gut level emotional

By the way --the Cortot recordings are fantastic. If you haven't heard them,
you owe it to yourself to give thme a try.

Daniel Baldwin
805 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (212) 702-5700
Fax: (212) 702-5941
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