Virtuosity versus vitality-free legato

VIRTUOSITY VERSUS VITALITY-FREE LEGATO

A lot of people don't like virtuosity. That's very much the case in Britain which has all kinds of mixed up, social garbage, that gets in the way of and often destroys good musical development.

Talentless people too often resort to social manipulation and subterfuge against those that they perceive as more musically 'gifted' than themselves. I've been told about what goes on at Guildhall. A very gifted, young musician, who went to Guildhall, was destroyed by the experience of that attendance. This isn't just to do with Guildhall, it's to do with British society. Wasn't it some British composer who said that, "the British like 'The Sound of Music', but they don't like music!"

Deeply sampled mediocrity is still mediocrity.
Some people just like mediocrity, they don't like the sound of personality.
They're not going to like Kirk Hunter instruments or, I guess, Miroslav Philharmonik 2.

So these kinds of people are going to constantly obsess about articulation minutiae.
They relentlessly attempt to set the norms of general musical taste according to the vitality-free, flat aesthetics, they prefer.
But those very attempts at promotion, in their tedious consistency and constancy, are not at all indifferent or lacking in affect. They quite clearly describe the contours of one sort of personality, that of petty resentment.
 

mikeh-375

old school
There might be some truth in the British malaise and attitude to excellence (btw it was either Beecham or Henry Wood's quote I think).
There are also undoubtedly some casualties in the higher echelons of British music schools (I went to the RAM and found it fine however, but I did witness some breakdowns). Inevitably some sensitive students will not cope with the pressure - which is a more likely cause than society at large.
However so called "articulation minutiae" is very important in the real world for musicians, orchestrators and composer/orchestrators as well as in the sampled (striving for reality) world, so I'm not sure what the point is.
 
Last edited:
There might be some truth in the British malaise and attitude to excellence (btw it was either Beecham or Henry Wood's quote I think).
There are also undoubtedly some casualties in the higher echelons of British music schools (I went to the RAM and found it fine however, but I did witness some breakdowns). Inevitably some sensitive students will not cope with the pressure - which is a more likely cause than society at large.
However so called "articulation minutiae" is very important in the real world for musicians, orchestrators and composer/orchestrators as well as in the sampled (striving for reality) world, so I'm not sure what the point is.

Well, you've just stated the point - "There might be some truth in the British malaise and attitude to excellence".

The post is addressing an impression that I've gleaned of the British cultural scene vis-a-vis classical music. It's something that I've had one or two discussions about, with various people over the years.

It's just notes that attempt to track a sociocultural constellation, one that is changing and morphing into both contemporary and possibly future musical trends.

The implicit, root question of those discussions from years ago, was why Britain does not produce outstanding, virtuoso classical musicians, at least those who are historically significant enough to be known for their virtuosity?
In comparison to European countries; to Russia; to almost anywhere else; Britain does not seem to excel in this area. What are the reasons for that lack of classical virtuosic excellence?
 

mikeh-375

old school
Britten? Tippet? Birtwistle? Ades? Watkins? McCabe?...that's just a few composers for starters, 4 of whom where or are, acknowledged as among the finest pianists in their generation (Britten was one of the finest in the world). If you are talking about performers, England in particular has some of the best on the planet. Your information is seemingly wrong on this.
 
Last edited:
I'm talking about outstanding, classical virtuosi performers, not composers.
On the level of Heifetz, Martha Argerich, Maurizio Pollini, et cetera.
Britain has produced Julian Bream, Nigel Kennedy, Evelyn Glennie, John Williams is Australian. There is a British pianist who does recordings of obscure, virtuosic repertoire, probably on the Hyperion label, or something, it's over a decade and a half since I looked at these things.
 

mikeh-375

old school
well ok then...here's some random names, all world famous. Ades, Britten, McCabe and Watkins on piano for starters. Michael Collins and Thea King on clarinet. Galway on flute. Isserlis and Kaneh Mason on cello. Irvine Arditti on violin....etc. All recording and concert hall stars. Some maybe obscure in their choices of music (read contemporary)at times, but in the business they are big names.
 

Mattia Chiappa

Active Member
Well, you've just stated the point - "There might be some truth in the British malaise and attitude to excellence".

The post is addressing an impression that I've gleaned of the British cultural scene vis-a-vis classical music. It's something that I've had one or two discussions about, with various people over the years.

It's just notes that attempt to track a sociocultural constellation, one that is changing and morphing into both contemporary and possibly future musical trends.

The implicit, root question of those discussions from years ago, was why Britain does not produce outstanding, virtuoso classical musicians, at least those who are historically significant enough to be known for their virtuosity?
In comparison to European countries; to Russia; to almost anywhere else; Britain does not seem to excel in this area. What are the reasons for that lack of classical virtuosic excellence?
That is absolutely ridiculous.. Do you have any evidence to support a statement like that?
 
well ok then...here's some random names, all world famous. Ades, Britten, McCabe and Watkins on piano for starters. Michael Collins and Thea King on clarinet. Galway on flute. Isserlis and Kaneh Mason on cello. Irvine Arditti on violin....etc. All recording and concert hall stars. Some maybe obscure in their choices of music (read contemporary)at times, but in the business they are big names.

I'm not talking about 'big names' or merely competent performers.
Stephen Isserlis is very good. I don't know the other names that you cite.

Probably the greatest virtuosos that Britain has produced are not in classical music.
Allan Holdsworth and Evan Parker are definitely two of them.
 

mikeh-375

old school
@Mattia, we always go for the underdog (not a bad thing though) and perhaps we do not celebrate success as much as they do in say the USA. I wouldn't go as far as the OP though on this, because clearly there is as much success in Britain as anywhere else.
 

mikeh-375

old school
I'm not talking about 'big names' or merely competent performers.
Stephen Isserlis is very good. I don't know the other names that you cite.

Probably the greatest virtuosos that Britain has produced are not in classical music.
Allan Holdsworth and Evan Parker are definitely two of them.
for 'big' read outstanding and great virtuoso. I thought that would've been implicit. There isn't much point to a discussion on this if you don't even know the people I've mentioned. Perhaps your OP needs some revision.
British virtuosos in classical music are in good health and a plenty.
 
for 'big' read outstanding and great virtuoso. I thought that would've been implicit. There isn't much point to a discussion on this if you don't even know the people I've mentioned. Perhaps your OP needs some revision.
British virtuosos in classical music are in good health and a plenty.

You're very much missing the point. There's a standard or default virtuosity that is a corollary of competent performance in classical music, anyway. Your examples are of this standard type, not of the brazen, unabashed, excessive variety of virtuosity,
 

mikeh-375

old school
are you seriously saying that Arditti and Britten are a standard default virtuosity? That tells me all I need to know. My friend you need to educate yourself before making such pronouncements.
I wonder how you came to the conclusion that my examples where of a standard virtuosity when you don't know them. I do understand your point about the cult of personality but there is more to it, like music. Perhaps you should not conflate personality with the music too much. Besides some of those I've cited are world famous.

Anyway, I can see there is no point to this so I'll leave you to it, but please for your own sake gen up a little.
 
Last edited:
are you seriously saying that Arditti and Britten are a standard default virtuosity? That tells me all I need to know. My friend you need to educate yourself before making such pronouncements.
I wonder how you came to the conclusion that my examples where of a standard virtuosity when you don't know them. I do understand your point about the cult of personality but there is more to it, like music. Perhaps you should not conflate personality with the music too much. Besides some of those I've cited are world famous.

Anyway, I can see there is no point to this so I'll leave you to it, but please for your own sake gen up a little.

I didn't mention Benjamin Britten, I've explicitly stated that composers are not at issue.
Irvine Arditti, is probably a fine musician of exceptional technical ability, but his focus is very much on contemporary music and not on his own virtuosity in terms of presentation or primary spectacle.