Last night I went to Carnegie Hall to hear Richard Goode give an all-Beethoven recital. He started with the Pathetique, and played the middle movement more beautifully than I've ever heard it, with the exception of a very memorable occasion when my teacher, Maria Curcio, played it for me in the middle of a lesson and left me in tears.
But the first and third movements were dreadful! Crazy fast tempos (i!) that made the music sound flippant and goofy, kind of like cartoon music -- mushy-fingered, completely incoherent runs -- and not even a semblance of a pulse! That was the most frustrating part to me. Not that I'd want the music to be played metronomically, and I really love Goode's exaggerated rubato in slower passages, but there has to be the feeling of a pulse, even if it's going to fluctuate and be extensively fucked with. In fact, what's so magical about his slower playing is the way he keeps the feeling of a pulse, and of things developing coherently and inevitably, even while stretching and pulling the phrases in all directions.
Dawn, my companion for the evening, loved it, and suggested that she just has more tolerance for experimental music, or rather a broader idea of what it could be. Which is exactly what she said when, earlier this year, we went to hear a four hands recital by Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire, and Argerich rushed so dreadfully (as she always does, it just sounds better when she's playing alone) that poor Freire was always perceptibly behind her, and the two of the, at least in fast passages, created an essentially indecipherable racket (which Dawn found very pleasing).
Incidentally, as I'm sure all you other classical piano/NBA basketball buffs out there have noticed, Richard Goode looks very much like Don Nelson. I can't find photographs that do the likeness justice (it's very difficult to find a pic of Nellie where he's not in the middle of chewing out a referee), but it's there.
Anyway, back to the recital, which got progressively better as the Beethoven got later, and ended with the best performance of Opus 111 I've ever heard (including two previous ones by Goode). So yeah, I quibble with his Pathetique (and also No. 6), but a staggeringly great recital nonetheless.
Earlier this year when I went to hear Goode play, I wrote a review about it for Salon.
I'm trying to listen to the new Cat Power (finally arrived today, and sounds completely astounding), but both copies I have are freezing every few minutes (I'm listening in the computer). Anyone else having this problem?