Remembering cellist Gregor Piatigorsky

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Lance
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Remembering cellist Gregor Piatigorsky

Post by Lance » Fri Apr 20, 2007 3:02 pm

Another April 17th birthday is GREGOR PIATIGORSKY [1903-1976], the celebrated Russian cellist. While he had a glorious career on his own, he is remembered for his work with such other celebrated artists as Jascha Heifetz, Artur Rubinstein and many others. On RCA recordings were many "Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts" recordings that were most memorable in stunning chamber music performances. I have long collected every record I can find of this great artist. He has provided yours truly with enormous musical pleasure all these years. It's nice to single him out here.
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Modernistfan
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Post by Modernistfan » Sat Apr 21, 2007 12:44 am

Interestingly, Gregor Piatigorsky's son Joram was a biochemist at Cal Tech specializing in the biochemistry of development. I knew him when I was an undergraduate there.

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Apr 21, 2007 1:40 am

He wrote an entertaining autobiography. Piatigorsky had a good sense of humor. If anyone sees a copy, don't pass it up.

John

rasputin
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Post by rasputin » Sat Apr 21, 2007 7:21 am

Yes, I've it. His story about Stravinsky's fee and his answer to Einstein
are lovely.

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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:25 pm

rasputin wrote:Yes, I've it. His story about Stravinsky's fee and his answer to Einstein
are lovely.
Now you have whet our appetite, are they short enough to tell...

anasazi
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Post by anasazi » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:25 am

From Miklós Rózsa's memoir A DOUBLE LIFE -

This was not my only symphyonic work of the period. I had known the cellist Piatogorsky for years. He was an imcomparable raconteur and his book CELLIST is full of these anecdotes, charmingly written, but with little of the flavour of his own telling of them. He ought to have recorded his book in his excellent English swamped by an absurd stage-Russion accent. Now Piatigorsky was a close friend of Heifetz, and one day he telephoned to say he would like to have a talk with me professionally. He had a 'vonderful plan'. I was to write a concerto for him and Heifetz, a double concerto.

I went to my beloved Rapallo with my family and finished the work in my three months, calling it Sinfonia Concertante. When I got back I called Piatigorsky and told him the first draft was finished, and I thought we should all try it through. The first movement began with a long passage for the cello alone before the violin entered. Heifetz pulled a face. 'I can't wait as long as that. Give him about four bars and then I'll take over'. The whole of the first movement went on like that. If the one had a long solo, the other insisted on a solo of equal length; if the one had a brilliant passage and the other a lyrical tune there was a squabble again, and so on. I made note of the required changes and saw the movement getting longer and longer.

The second movement was a theme and variations. Now, it is well known that the solo cello can easily be overpowered when violin and orchestra are playing together, so I gave the long main theme to the cello to establish it. Then the violin joins in and begins the variations. Heifetz hated it. 'Do you expect me to stand there like an idiot all that time?' Piatigorsky would reply, 'Yes, Jascha, we expect you to stand there like an idiot!' But Heifetz was so adamant that I agreed to write something completely different. We didn't even try the last movement.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints" - John Muir.

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Post by John F » Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:47 am

There's a film of a trio rehearsal by Rubinstein, Heifetz, and Piatigorsky that breaks up into a noisy and comical quarrel with Slavic accents that has to have been staged for the camera. But I was sure this wasn't from how it probably was sometimes in real life, and Rósza's story shows it was.
John Francis

rasputin
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Post by rasputin » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:05 am

You can't put three divas together without jealousy and fights.
Gregor had a more moderate temper, but the other two were
like fight cocks. And Jascha, he just must to be the leader
and couldn't stand a secondary role.

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Post by Gregg » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:06 am

Two cents to add: His recording of the Walton concerto made me love his playing and particularly his cello. I recently found a box set of LP (mono) of the Beethoven sonatas with Solomon (a real surprise for me). As soon as I get a new mono cartridge they will be on deck.

I seem to remember that another performer uses his cello now, anyone know?


Gregg

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Post by Adolovni Acosta » Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:33 pm

Last month, I found Piatigorsky on YouTube. I enjoyed watching and listening to him.
Adoloni Acosta
Adolovni Acosta

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