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  • David Kiser

The Time Stampers

I was recently listening to Sam Harris and he said something that struck me as good sense. Essentially he said that 99% of folks who write something mean on the internet would never say it in real life and in fact are likely decent and good people. I try to remember this when I get pulled into YouTube comments.

I always like to read what people have to say about interpretations. Sometimes I imagine the anonymous name is hiding a famous critic or a well-known performer. Ben Laude and pianists like Yuchan Lim have democratized the the land, bringing well-known artists to a more accessible level.

So when you come across a special comment, one that speaks more than the others it causes you to pay attention. This phenomena usually shows up by time-stamping breathtaking parts of the performance. You are SHOUTING A DIGITAL AMEN during the musical sermon: this is where I pay attention. Isn't this amazing? I might call them Time Stampers.

I often see the Time Stampers on the same video train. We follow each other across YouTube land finding the same videos that become YouTube cult classical classics.

One particular commentator reminds me of the ghost of Thomas Bernhard. His handle is "Fritz_Maisenbacher". His comments are simultaneously insightful and obscene. He is a tough critic but also one willing to acknowledge the divinity in performers. If there was a critic I would want to come to my performances it would be him. He is intimately familiar with the dark piano corner of YouTube, which is full of pirated recordings, artist un-sanctioned releases and scratchy sound. It all adds up to the mystique. I've compiled some examples from Mr. Fritz, misspellings and all. I must mention that I don't condone these comments and they are not my own. I've chosen to leave out some more questionable ones. What he writes is simply the same way I feel about music and try to bring to my own performances. He really textualizes the transcendent nature of piano playing.

Take this performance by Horowitz from 1950 at Carnegie Hall:

Comments from Fritz the TimeStamper. Please drag the YouTube scroller to the timestamps referenced.

1:04:44  and further development. Completely crazy. And absolutely beautiful. Lava. No wonder that he had to retire for mental depression and going nuts.
1:06:25      and this ............ this rage, this painful rage .......

55:30   nobody today is able to play this like that. And if it would be possible, it would be called : INDECENCY...

And let's hear from Richter. See and hear our Time Stampers' insight align with the time stamps, further gaining info about the heart of this man and what an artist can impart, can share and even preach.

50:36      I'm always terryfied by this first movement of the D 894. This music is never going only one millimeter forward. Paralysed. Statufied in its absolute beauty. Pain. Despair about a hopeless horizon. Schubert died aged 31. And he knew it in advance. Syphilis. All love with no future. Sterility in every action of your life. And trotzdem (nevertheless) , Richter following this impossible beautiful score with utter love, standing cold passion. This is no concert anymore. This is legend. 1:04:08  ............... 1:04:51  ...................... 1:13:33  ........... ;;; 1:14:12 And the hypnotic 1:15:15...holy seconds

Now here is a controversial pianist if there ever was one among those that know about him at least.

And just witness this discussion of art calling to mind a Stephen Dedalus or a Henry Wotton YouTube style. You will need to really listen to the whole piece and if not, pray listen to this part starting at 17 minutes and 18 seconds in.

I don't believe they get to an agreement. But you see how long the conversation was carried out if you notice the years. (This is how SLOW classical music is). Our Time Stamper knows the enthralling perversity of the interpretation:

This is nightmarish , nightmarish ... beyond any experience of myself ... I would prefer never have been listening to that ... but I am completely sellotaped to every phrase , every note . And my memory will conserve all the stuff . O Weh , O Weh ! Why am I listening to this.... ?? I should skip or going anywhere else .... why am I staying here ....?

In another comment in the chain above, we learn a little about him, that he is a sixty-some year old man from the "borders" of Germany, who has been listening to the great pianists for years. There is something sad about the comments and the commentator. Another person points out that folks are responding years later to he same thread. And our Mr. Fritz writes that it should be quicker for there is no guarantee that he'd be around for that long. I certainly hope when I return to the Horowitz video above, that I'll find a new comment from Mr. Fritz, the ghost of Thomas Bernhard pointing out some deep insight, some hidden secret and years hence, like Poe find that the comment is still attracting correspondence.

--David Kiser

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