Who are the most accurate players?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Adrian Allan
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Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:20 pm

Having played and listened to the classical guitar for a long time, it has always intrigued me how some players seem to make very few mistakes.

John Williams is the most obvious example of this; He makes almost no slips.

On the other hand, many classical guitar players are resolute in their belief that Julian Bream has been their greatest influence, and he was always prone to the odd audible slip.

Is there some sort of negative correlation between the musicality of a player and his level of accuracy? Is the main trait of young players today robotic accuracy at the expense of expression?

Who are the players who make hardly any mistakes...and does it matter to you?

I have even heard it said that some listeners actually enjoy the odd mistake, as it proves that the players are human.

A recent GFA winner Florian Larousse makes quite a few mistakes, (watch his videos), but the Youtube comments actually support this as a return to "humanity" in playing.

What do you think about these issues?

Altophile
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Altophile » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:34 pm

Interesting questions. John Williams does come to mind when one thinks of technical accuracy, whereas I immediately think of Elliot Fisk on the other end of the spectrum, who seems to just attack a piece with almost absolute abandon, sometimes at the expense of technical precision.

This also reminded me of a lecture by Christopher Parkening, who, in my opinion, himself managed to combine Bream's expressiveness with William's precision (he embodied the best of both worlds). He once spoke about how horribly Segovia played on the third night of a three night concert. Segovia apparently played so poorly that for an encore he came out and basically played all the great favorites from the standard repertoire, and did so wonderfully, almost as an apology for his poor performance.

Did Segovia play poorly because of his great expressiveness and musicality, or was he simply having a bad night? Whatever the answer, could the same apply to Florian Larousse?

~Sean

Adrian Allan
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:44 pm

I think that for some of these players, their relationship with the guitar and music is perhaps on a deeper emotional level. When they are in the wrong mood or depressed, their performance is more likely to suffer, than that of the robots or technicians who produce the same concert night after night.

Gary Macleod
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Gary Macleod » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:46 pm

Barrueco for sure and Gary Ryan who I saw last night is certainly 99% flawless.

Cipher
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Cipher » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:08 pm

The Beijing Duo consisting of Meng Su and Yameng Wang who are Barrueco's protégés and trio partners are pretty much perfect players as well actually they're even more cleaner & accurate players than Barrueco was in his younger years. Astonishingly clean and accurate playing. They don't drop a note or make a fluffed note during an entire concert program and they make it look easy too.

brooks
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by brooks » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:30 pm

Altophile wrote:
Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:34 pm
He once spoke about how horribly Segovia played on the third night of a three night concert. Segovia apparently played so poorly that for an encore he came out and basically played all the great favorites from the standard repertoire, and did so wonderfully, almost as an apology for his poor performance.

Did Segovia play poorly because of his great expressiveness and musicality, or was he simply having a bad night?
He was 83 years old by then. He was probably exhausted.

Nick Clow
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Nick Clow » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:47 am

A recent GFA winner Florian Larousse makes quite a few mistakes, (watch his videos), but the Youtube comments actually support this as a return to "humanity" in playing.
Who cares if he makes a few mistakes?! He's bl00dy great, a breath of fresh air both in the way he communicates and in his guitar sound :D

His 'Into the Woods' is one of the most sublime things I've heard in ages.
formerly Edward Frillypants

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Jim Davidson
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Jim Davidson » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:04 am

This is a tricky discussion and we need better criteria to really advance it.

First, in this digital age we tend to hear the best takes. Is it fair to compare studio and live recordings? Should they be judged separately?

Second, a player's accuracy is not consistent over time. I'll bet even Meng Su or John Williams have bad days. One week Williams might be more accurate than Bream, and the exact opposite the following week. Also, do we value a player who has been extremely accurate for a short time, or a player who has been reasonably accurate for decades?

The difficulty of the repertoire is yet another variable. If one guitarist performs Capricho Arabe perfectly, and another plays Maw's Music of Memory perfectly, is the latter a more accurate player because of the difficulty and scale of the music? What if there's a single mistake in the Maw, but the Tarrega is still perfect? Eliot Fisk ranks higher in this conversation than people might think, simply because of how insane the pieces he plays are.

Then there's form of the accuracy -- what if one player nails dynamics, articulation, and phrasing at the cost of a few notes, while another flatly plays every note?

Discussing musicality vs. accuracy is a whole other can of worms which is deeply subjective at best.

All of this said, my personal nominee is David Russell. He's been doing this for almost 50 years and I can count the number of mistakes I've seen him make on one hand, all while being highly musical and playing very challenging repertoire. Jorge Caballero and Marcin Dylla are also way up there for me.

To each their own, I guess.
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ddray
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by ddray » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:30 am

I love Williams' playing but it can be a little too icy and machine-like sometimes. It reminds of criticisms that some pop musicians in the 40s had of Glenn Miller's orchestra: everything was just a little *too* perfect.

Rasputin
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Rasputin » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:53 am

Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:20 pm
Is there some sort of negative correlation between the musicality of a player and his level of accuracy?
I've often wondered that, having noticed that the players with the more reliable technique seem - to my ears - to be the least musical.

In the end though, I think the explanation is not that technical aptitude and musical aptitude are inversely related, but that they are not related at all. If you get 100 people who are really good swimmers together, you will find that only a few of them are really good at mental arithmetic - whereas if you get 100 people who are really good at mental arithmetic together, you will find that only a few of them are really good swimmers. That's not because swimming makes you worse at maths - it's just that a person is much less likely to be exceptionally good at two things (assuming they are not closely related) than one.

In the music world you can get ahead with great technique if you have reasonable musicality, or with great musicality if you have reasonable technique - so you find players of both kinds. Occasionally you will find someone who is great at both, but we won't agree on who belongs in that exalted group until we agree on who is really musical, by which time hell will be distinctly chilly.

If there are fewer players around these days who have got where they are on the basis of great musicality and reasonable technique, it is probably just because technical skill is more easily quantifiable, meaning that more people are likely to agree that the player is good. That gives them a broader appeal and makes them a safer bet.

I for one don't believe that working on technique makes you any less musical.

Adrian Allan
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Adrian Allan » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:08 am

Is there not a case to be made for the fact that, the minute you move your right hand to spontaneously play more ponticello or tasto, some of the technical stability is put at risk?

Could this party explain Bream's risk taking and musicality?

The most robotic hardly move their right hands

Guitar Maniac
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Guitar Maniac » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:22 am

Some guitarists come to my mind: Marcelo Kayath, Jorge Caballero, Tariq Harb, Piotr Pakhompkin, Simon Powis, Celil Refik Kaya, Alexander Milovanov
Most of them are quite young.

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lucy
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by lucy » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:12 am

Very interesting question Adrian!

Though absolutely not on the level of those players mentioned, if I may, I'd like to humbly contribute something from my own perspective, since I'm performing a lot more now. If interested, some details are here:- http://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/v ... 6&t=112260

I have to admit that when I start learning a new piece, I immediately get preoccupied with phrasing, tone colours, dynamics, etc. - from the outset. The "mechanics" of my hands get less mental space.

However, some years back, I was asked to stand in, for someone who couldn't play part 3 in a trio. I only had the music two days before our first rehearsal, so I thought I've just got to get these notes down as quickly as possible. My usual approach went out the window. At that rehearsal, one of the other players, who had a postgraduate degree from a conservatoire, said, to my surprise, "I'm amazed you picked up that music so quickly - I couldn't have done that."

I think there may be a lesson in that for me! For when I perform, I rarely do so flawlessly. However, this doesn't seem to matter to many people. Even so, I certainly perceive, rightly or wrongly, that these days, some people make negative judgements of my playing because I'm not 100% accurate.

Personally, at least for me, I think it is an issue about emotional engagement and being more right brain orientated. I hate maths!

I'd like to share, if I may, that I was amazed to received a wonderful mention by Jason Vieaux, once, who commented that my playing was very poetic and I had a deep commitment to the music that was deeply felt.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

Rasputin
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by Rasputin » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:54 am

Adrian Allan wrote:
Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:08 am
Is there not a case to be made for the fact that, the minute you move your right hand to spontaneously play more ponticello or tasto, some of the technical stability is put at risk?

Could this party explain Bream's risk taking and musicality?

The most robotic hardly move their right hands
Although Bream's career was very much a success, I feel a bit sorry for him in that he doesn't seem to have had access to good tuition early on and ended up a with a technique that made life much more difficult than it had to be. Stanley Yates has pointed out that you can get good at using a technique that is less than optimal - I think that's what happened to Bream and I can't help but wonder if it is related to the fact that he had to give up at an age when others were still playing.

Other things being equal, moving the RH hand up and down the strings a does add a tiny bit to the technical challenge, and I suppose logically there must come a point where that causes a mistake. I haven't noticed that mistakes happen when the player is going for a change of timbre though - it seems to be more general than that. In any case, I'm not sure other things are equal, in that players who don't use that particular technique to vary the timbre may well be using others, and these may add as much or more to the technical challenge.

Thinking about it more broadly, a lot of musicality is in the deviations from the perfectly uniform - whether it's dynamics or timbre or micro-timing or pretty much anything else. If ddray's post above is suggesting that these deviations are random and are only there so that we are not blinded by the light of perfection, I can't say I agree. I think they are much more purposeful than that and have to be quite precise. I also think that, before you can convey a variation in something, you have to have a baseline that is very even - so if you are saying that it is technically harder to play a piece musically than to play a piece robotically, I agree completely. I know people sometimes use musicality as an excuse for slapdash playing, for example when they describe poor timing as rubato - this might suggest the opposite but I think it really is an excuse and not a genuine example.

With that in mind I'm coming round to your way of thinking a little, but I think there is a more fundamental difference in the patterns of movement that make up more and less effective technique. There is an effortless quality in JW's movements which contrasts very starkly with JB. I am not a huge fan of either of them and haven't spent a lot of time analysing their playing, but like most people on here I have still seen quite a bit of it on YT. I would have said that that difference is there even in the simplest and least expressive passages. My hunch is that if JW had JB's musical ideas, he would be able to execute them with far fewer mistakes than JB, even if he made a few more than he does playing his own way.

ben etow
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Re: Who are the most accurate players?

Post by ben etow » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:38 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:20 pm
Is there some sort of negative correlation between the musicality of a player and his level of accuracy?
The more dynamic levels and tonal palette you use, the more risks you take... If you play with mp mf dynamics and without colours, you "delete" many elements of the equation...
But then, you miss the essence of musical expression IMO.

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