Monday, May 8, 2017

Rubato: The Delay That is Welcome in Romantic Music

To procrastinate is not a very good trait to portray.  That is, unless you are talking about the delaying technique in Romantic Music called rubato.  I did an early post on rubato and would like to review it.  Rubato is the technique, applied a lot in the Romantic era of music, of purposely delaying the time a note is played from that which is written on the sheet of music.  This technique would be frowned upon in the Baroque Era.  In the Romantic era, however, this technique is not only welcomed but it is encouraged.  This delay of a note [a lot of times at the end of a phrase] adds to the feeling and mood of the piece.  By delaying the playing of a note, it just emphasizes more that note to the listener when it is finally played.  Rubato means "to rob" [time].  I remember my daughter's piano teacher saying when you rob you must also give back [to catch up with the time of the piece].  

Rubato is not indicated by the composer on the score of a piece of music.  The soloist in a concerto or the conductor leading the orchestra [tutti] uses that technique as the feeling moves them.  That is why you can see the same piece of music played by a different performer and it may seem it is not played exactly the same.  While we are talking about only a fraction of a second, that delay, sometimes subtle and sometimes pronounced, really adds to the beauty of the music.  It is especially present in a slower Romantic movement of a Romantic era concerto.

Frederic Chopin [1810-

There is no better choice to display the rubato technique than when played in a piece by the quintessential Romantic composer, Frederic Chopin. This Polish composer's music [almost all piano] cries out romanticism. If you aren't moved by a romantic piece of music by Chopin, than you better check your pulse.

Chopin composed two piano concertos, both with beautiful Romantic second movements.  Listen and see if you can detect the rubato [delay of a note played] in these two movements.  

Sometimes the delay is so subtle that at first hearing you might not be able to pick it up, but you will still be able to pick up the feeling generated from the pianist [aided by the rubato].  

Please turn up the volume and enjoy two beautiful pieces of piano music [aided by the rubato technique] from Mr. piano, Frederic Chopin.  Also, as a bonus, listen to the rubato added technique used by Lang-Lang in Franz Schubert's beautiful "Standchen" [serenade].  Note: some people don't like how Lang-Lang seems to exaggerate his facial expressions of the mood as he's playing, but no one can doubt his virtuosic playing.  I admit, sometimes it annoys me too, but then I just close my eyes and listen to the beautiful music.  :-)  

Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto #1 in E minor, Movement 2, Romance, Larghetto:

Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto #2 in F minor, Movement 2, Larghetto:

Franz Schubert: Serenade:

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