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As one could see from the score of Dance of the Fairy Dragée, tranposed for piano, this is only starting at measure 5th than the staccato begins.

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But if we listen to this professional pianist (who plays very nicely), he does not respect this since he starts the staccato at the very beginning, not at the measure 5th. So, is what he do correct/respecting the score ?

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    I would prefer 'faithful to original' over 'respecful'- nothing disrespectful about some variation in an arrangement.
    – Not Legato
    Feb 7, 2023 at 9:47

3 Answers 3

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When we consult the original orchestral version, we see that the accompaniment throughout this section is on pizzicato strings. For some reason the creator of this piano version interprets this as detached 8th notes marked 'leggero' for the first 4 bars, then he changes to staccato dots. So if anyone's not respecting the composer, it's this arranger!

(Incidentally, the piece isn't 'transposed' for piano, the key remains the same. It's 'transcribed'.)

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  • It's also worthwhile to note that the performer is not playing the arrangement given in the question.
    – phoog
    Feb 8, 2023 at 11:35
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Well, this is hardly "the score"; it's an arrangement. THE score in this case is the orchestral score of the ballet. The opening notes are played by pizzicato strings, which can never sustain at all; it's about as staccato as you can get. One might say the arrangement hasn't respected the score. But it has marked it leggero, or "lightly"; to distinguish between notes that are short because you're playing "lightly" and those that are short because they're marked staccato might devolve into a quibble. The arrangement clearly wants to highlight the right-hand material in the 5th bar as being in some way "different," as that's where the celeste enters.

Meanwhile, the pianist has perhaps "respected" both the original and the arranged score by knowing the origin of the piece and reflecting the orchestral timbre in his articulation.

As a broader point, regardless of this example: It is not disrespecting a score to add to it. Very few pieces expect you to play only what you see on the page and to take no expressive initiative—all notes equal in volume unless otherwise marked, all notes sustained for their full duration and without decay, unless otherwise marked. Such pieces would be rare experimental works. Instead, throughout performative history, it's been not merely allowed but expected that the performer would "add to" what's on the page. In this case, starting with a "light" touch is quite a reasonable decision, especially since he does in fact differentiate the celeste entrance.

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  • The interesting point is why the accompaniment also acquires staccato dots when the celeste melody starts!
    – Laurence
    Feb 7, 2023 at 2:44
  • @Laurence Yeah, seems like a difficult decision to defend, since those LH eighth are supposed to just compress the same thing it's already been doing for four bars. An uncharitable speculation might be that the arranger didn't think we could do different articulations in the two hands at once...? Feb 7, 2023 at 2:55
  • My uncharitable speculation is that the arranger simply didn't give it much thought (and also didn't do adequate use testing). Also note Lazy's answer: not only is the arrangement given in the question only an arrangement, it's not even the arrangement being played in the video.
    – phoog
    Feb 8, 2023 at 11:27
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The pianist here is playing the transcription by Mikhail Pletnev, which does feature these staccato dots in the beginning:

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The edition you are using seems to be the edition by Stépan Esipoff (this was a pseudonym of Arthur Bransby Burnand) as published by Schott music. You can find these transcriptions on IMSLP under "For Piano (Esipoff)", published by Augener or Schirmer.

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  • Nice find. Are you sure that it's this arrangement, though? It's clear that the arrangement given in the question isn't the one being played in the video, but it doesn't exclude the possibility that there's yet another arrangement. I didn't see the arrangement being identified in the YouTube metadata.
    – phoog
    Feb 8, 2023 at 11:33
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    @phoog The YouTube video (uploaded by the pianist himself) literally states "Tchaïkovsky/Pletnev" in the title, so I’m quite confident that this is the Pletnev transcription.
    – Lazy
    Feb 8, 2023 at 12:08

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