The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Who are the best pianists of all time? And which ones do you think were left off the list by Classic FM?

September 16, 2017
11 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The British radio station and website Classic FM recently published its list of the 25 greatest pianists of all time.

Plus, the website also included samples of the playing where possible.

It is an impressive list, if pretty predictable — and heavily weighted towards modern or contemporary pianists. You might expect that a list of “all-time greats” would have more historical figures — and more women as well as more non-Western Europeans and non-Americans, especially Asians these days.

Here is a link:

http://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/instruments/piano/best-pianists-ever/

So The Ear started what turned out to be a long list of others who should at least be considered and maybe even included.

Here, then, is the question for this weekend: What do you think of the list? Which pianists do not belong on the list? And which are your favorite pianists who are not included in the compilation?

Leave your candidate or candidates in the COMMENT section with a link to a YouTube link of a favorite performance, wherever possible.

Happy listening!


Classical music: Edgewood College’s annual Christmas concert is this Saturday and Sunday nights. Plus, local young piano virtuoso Garrick Olsen performs Chopin, Schumann and Liszt on Friday for FREE.

December 4, 2013
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ALERT: Young local pianist Garrick Olsen will play a FREE recital at the Friday Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive. He will perform from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the historic Landmark auditorium of the Meeting House that was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His program includes music that is both virtuosic and poetic: the Etude, Op. 10, No. 1, by Frederic Chopin; the Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17, by Robert Schumann (listen to the soulful final movement played by Claudio Arrau in the YouTube video at the bottom); and the dramatic, flashy Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 by Franz Liszt (also at the bottom played fantastically by George Cziffra in a popular YouTube video).  In the spring, on May 2, 3 and 4 — Olsen, who won the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s concerto competition two years ago with Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand, will perform George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” Variations for piano and orchestra with the MSO under John DeMain.

Garrick Olsen 2

By Jacob Stockinger

Edgewood College will present its 86th Annual Christmas Concerts this coming weekend, at 7 p.m. on both Friday night, December 6, and Saturday night, December 7, in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, in Madison.

Edgewood College 86th Christmas concert

Featured performers of joyous seasonal holiday music include the Guitar Ensemble, the Chamber Singers (below), the Women’s Choir, the Men’s Choir, the Concert Band and the Jazz Ensemble.

Edgewood Chamber Singers

Sorry, The Ear has no details about programs.

The annual Christmas celebration is one of Edgewood College’s oldest traditions. A highlight each year is the invitation for audience members to join in singing traditional carols.

Tickets are $10, and seating is limited for this very popular annual event, so please purchase tickets online by click here.

A limited number of tickets may be available at the door each night (cash or check only, please). Edgewood College strongly encourages patrons to purchase tickets online.

All proceeds for these concerts benefit Edgewood College students through the Edward Walters Music Scholarship Fund.


Classical music poll: Who were the 10 greatest pianists of all time?

August 7, 2012
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

An interesting and accomplished monthly Australian magazine – Limelight Magazine (below) – is devoted to classical music and the fine arts in the Land Down Under. Limelight recently polled contemporary well-known concert pianists today and asked them to name the Top Ten Pianists of All-Time. But what I do find funny, and even questionable or suspect, is that they all equated the qualifier “Of All Time” with the 20th century. Partisans of Arthur RubinsteinVladimir Horowitz and Rudolf Serkin might also find some grounds for minor disagreement. And feminists will almost certainly object to the sexist list, which completely excludes women, including such talents Guiomar Novaes, Teresa Careno and Martha Argerich (below).

Granted, perhaps that is because we do not possess recordings of certain figures. But you might think that, even without recordings as documents, someone might name, say, Chopin (below top) and Liszt (below bottom) as among the most accomplished pianists of all time.

Some of you might also be a bit disappointed in how such titanic figures as Claudio Arrau (below), Josef Hoffmann and Leopold Godowsky rate in the listing.

Take a look for yourself: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/306444,the-10-greatest-pianists-of-all-time.aspx/0

Published since 2003, the Australian magazine itself — given the home country’s geographical location — understandably has a lot to say about the classical music scene in Asia and about less well-known names of performers and compositions. It is worth checking out. It seems to publish a lot of Top Ten lists and features rarely heard performers, groups and compositions.

Here is a link to its home website: www.limelightmagazine.com.au

And be sure to leave your own nominations for the Best Pianists of All Time in the COMMENT section.


Classical music news: BBC Music Magazine names the Top 50 greatest classical music recordings ever made. How many have you heard? Or do you own?

January 8, 2012
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

What are the 50 greatest – I assume that is not the same as the most important — classical recordings ever made?

And how many of them have you heard?

Or do you own?

That list has been compiled by the BBC Music Magazine (below) for its January 2012 issue.

Here is a link to the names and titles, given in descending order a la David Letterman and various other countdowns:

http://wpr.org/music/BBC-Music-Top-50-1201.htm

A lot of the choices make great sense.

For example, the first complete recording of Wagner’s titanic “Ring” cycle by George Solti is a drama behind the drama. 

Who could argue, for example, with Pablo Casals’ pioneering recording of Bach’s six solo suites for cello (below)? After all, it was Casals who discovered them and then restored them to the repertoire as music when many people thought of them as mere exercises.

 

And who could argue with including Artur Schnabel’s first-ever cycle of the complete 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven (below) — though what about his championing the neglected piano sonatas of Schubert?

But why is there nothing by pianist Artur Rubinstein (below), who was quite the pioneering pianist when it came to recording complete Chopin works and other composers from early in the 20th century though the 1970s? Do they really think Claudio Arrau’s version of Chopin’s Nocturnes is greater than Rubinstein’s? Could it had ego do with a European label versus an American label? Are the BBC critics subject to geographical, national or cultural bias?

Anyway, you can make your own judgments.

What recordings of the BBC Top 50 do you most agree with?

And what recordings do you think belonged on the list but were overlooked or left off it?

The Ear wants to hear.


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