Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tamas Vasary - Masterclass - Lisztomania 2011

77 year old pianist Tamas Vasary, won the Franz Liszt competition at the age of 14 in 1948 gave a masterclass at the Lisztomania festival, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Liszt - at the Royal College of Music. I summarise his main points below.
Tamas Vasary giving a masterclass in Hungary

A good pianist requires

  1. Hands
  2. Head
  3. Heart (most important)

Poetry - music as art therapy
The pianist as artist aims to express feelings, emotions, and the poetry of the music. Strive to find the poetry, story behind the musical notes. Your ultimate aim in music is to make your audience forget about their daily lives, their troubles. In essence, then you become a channel for messages [from the composer] to make people forget their sadness. Art you cannot teach, but what you do is you open doors to the art through insights. On artistic and emotional integrity -don't just imitate another performer; be true to how you feel with the music, also if your teacher tells you an emotional approach to piece of music and its something you don't feel, forget about the teacher!

Playing the piano as a keyboard instrument - know how your instrument works or you may loose the conceptual connection of your playing with the instrument: the piano is one of the few instruments where you don't actually see where you play (as opposed to the violin, flute) the keys basically works like a see-saw, you depress the key and the hammers strike up. He compared playing a key on a keyboard to a tennis raquet for a tennis player. Another analogy used is when you strike a piano key, it's hitting a ping pong ball without seeing where the ball goes.

General picture of Tamas Vasary lecturing
Technique vs. Expression 
Tamas has ajudicated throughout his lifetime on over 300 competitions. Of the attributes accuracy/precision vs emotion, poetry and expression; he clearly chooses the latter. A criticism Tamas of purely technical players who lack expression- is that they make you fall asleep. Competitors are so concerned with accuracy of the notes in competitions that they can't relax and therefore lose the expression.

  • Pedalling - Horowitz was a master of it! 
  • Making the piano sing - by slow attack upwards and forwards of the hand, never a sharp downward attack.
  • Gestures -make your hands act out the character required - like in the example of a storm or lightning - this requires a fast attack, get the musical character gesture right (without worrying too much about accuracy initially). 
  • Tension in the fingers is detrimental for playing because all the energy is directed to the fingers and not into the piano. 
  • Hand position - ready position should be like a cat or lion ready to pounce onto the next note, or attack. 
  • Staccato playing - it's still a melody, but separated
  • On pianisimo (pp) like a whisper
  • Rests - playing rests are difficult

No comments:

Post a Comment