Guardian Weekly Letters, 11 January 2013
Your article about sports performances that appear superhuman may be suitable for the Guinness Book of Records, but hardly for concert pianists (Performance that is really superhuman, 21 December). Granted, Yuja Wang can play fast, but so what? Hundreds of pianists, past and present, played as fast if not faster than Wang, yet their concert careers fizzled into oblivion. For example, Lubomy Melnyk, a budding concert pianist in the 1970s, was clocked playing 19.5 notes per second by each hand, simultaneously, and the most number of individual notes played in one hour: 93,650.
I, for one, am quite content with the prestissimos of early Rubinstein, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Richter, Barere and the hell with the missed notes. Moreover, a simple Mozart melody played by artists like Ruth Slenczynska or Rubinstein may transport the listener to celestial aesthetic heights unattainable by passages of 64th notes – regardless of their accuracy and speed.
New York City, US