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August Hunchback
August Hunchback

The Benefits and Challenges of Applying Cortot's Rational Principles of Pianoforte Technique

It is hard not to sympathize with such apologists, since recreative geniuses like Cortotand no lesser word is strong enoughare always thin on the ground. For me as for other musicians and listeners, his recordings are revelatory, and it is impossible for me to imagine willingly doing without them. They prove that Cortot was worthy to have been ranked alongside the likes of Josef Hofmann, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Artur Schnabel, the tallest giants of the golden age of classical piano playing.

Cortot Rational Principles Of Pianoforte Technique Pdf 22

The parallels between the two men are disquietingly close. Cortot, like Rachmaninoff, had been a soldier during World War I. Like Rachmaninoff, Cortot suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder on returning home. Rachmaninoff once confessed to a friend that he needed to hear the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 in order to feel better. He could never explain why, though he was prepared to make them when invited.

Cortot, like Rachmaninoff, only began to flourish as a pianist in his early forties, and he performed into his seventies. Rachmaninoff performed until the age of ninety-two, whereas Cortot did not complete a major concerto recording until the age of eighty-three, and made only occasional forays into studio recording up to his last forays into composition in the 1970s.

He was also, like Rachmaninoff, an extraordinarily wide-ranging performer. This is hardly surprising, because his intellectual curiosity was keen and always open to challenge. He also, like Rachmaninoff, had a genuine interest in all things musical: he began his studies with a bassoon and became expert in the oboe. He was, like Rachmaninoff, a versatile player, capable of marvellous lyricism and fearsome power. He was also, like Rachmaninoff, interested in almost every facet of the piano, from harmony and counterpoint to mordents, modulations, and chromatics. Cortot's remarkable grasp of technical matters was doubtless aided by his training as a mathematician, but he was also a passionate musician who cared deeply about the interplay between sound and touch. This was most evident in his command of the pedal, the interplay between pianistic and non-pianistic instruments, and the music-dramatic capabilities of the piano.


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