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Naff Or Not?


Peter Clark
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Why not? After all, improvisation is a step further, and that's not frowned on.

 

Paul

 

 

I agree, why not? After a good forty years plus of regularly attending recitals I can think of only once where I could have done without an eminent organist/composer's efforts and that was when he chose as his encore a lengthy work of his own that we had not understood first time around in the same recital. I strongly remember hearing Dr.Arthur Wills play his Five Pieces at New College Oxford in about 1965 - I couldn't make head or tail of them at the time (still can't now!), but I didn't resent him trying to convince me.

 

Paul Hodges' second comment raises the much more pertinent question, should we have to listen to people improvise in a recital when they cannot do this with any noticeable talent? I have heard several try this (presumably because their mummy always told them they were especially gifted) who would have done better to find (and practice) some decent master work to conclude their performance instead of waffling/wrestling interminably with musical phrases (where there were any at all) that were banal at best and embarassing at worst. Why do they do it? Lack of modesty? Total self belief? Delusions of genius?

My guess: laziness!

 

BTW I am not thinking of anyone known on this site. Please don't shoot me down in flames.

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All in moderation of course. I went to a recital once where nearly half the programme was the competent-but-not-distinguished performer's own compositions. A little self indulgent I thought at the time, and a plug for you to go to his publishers website and buy the stuff.

 

However, the same couldn't be said about a Hakim recital I went to (opening of St Giles, Edinburgh) a number of years ago, Two substantial second hlaf pieces and then an improvisation. He does it better than most, so I don't have any objections to his improvisations, but its not something I'd do myself. I've played one or two of my own transcriptions, but only ones where I feel there aren't good ones already available.

 

PS: Wills Five Pieces keeps cropping up in my life too! The opening ovement was a grade 5 piece I think, and having bought the book, I did once play the requiem third movement somewhere suitable.

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Why not play your own music. A bit of self promotion may go a long way. However, should you ask for the performing rights fee afterwards?

 

Providing this music and any improvisations are at the end of the recital it does at least provide the listener with a chance to walk out if you don't like it (and I have). I was told many years ago that Cunningham placed Rheinberger etc at the end of his Birminham Town Hall recitals for the same reason.

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Why not play your own music. A bit of self promotion may go a long way. However, should you ask for the performing rights fee afterwards?

 

No, the PRS will send you the payments automatically, provided you've had the foresight to join it as a composer member. I seem to remember it's about £11 per recital for small venues, split between all the copyright holders who had pieces performed. Make sure the rest of the recital comprises out of copyright works.

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