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June 15, 2012

A reminder of superb pianistic art 50 years after Alfred Cortot's death

Fifty years ago -- June 15, 1962 -- Alfred Cortot died, leaving behind a benchmark for pianistic artistry.

Say what you will about his dropped or sloppy notes, the guy could play. And he could make a piano sing like few other pianists of his day or since. Today's hot shots, typically more concerned with speed and volume than style, would do well to spend time with Cortot's recordings (not to mention those of Moiseiwitsch, Gieseking and some other amazing musicians of yore).

Here are three examples of Cortot's playing that easily demonstrate -- even through the primitive sound quality -- his distinctive sense of phrasing, color and tempo:

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes
        

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog
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