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Franz Liszt's big day!

Discussion in 'General' started by pianolady, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Entirely agreed.

    Video of Cziffra playing the Valse-Impromptu: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRD5RralCgA Lovely. And the addition at the end always makes me smile.

    Liszt's transcriptions also come with a reputation for extreme difficulty, which is justified in some cases but not in others: the Chopin Maiden's Wish isn't too bad and a fair number of the Wagner transcriptions range from straightfoward to only medium difficulty.
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    OMG :shock: I just watched this. Indeed a very lovely piece, but it seems way too hard!! Even Cziffra was sweating (I know...probably from the studio lights). There must be a thousand of those tiny notes in there! And did you hear those arpeggios at the end? OMG!! I'm not feeling so good now because of that video, but thanks, Andrew, for the link.

    Yes, I've learned Chopin's "My Joy" already. And not too long ago I had the Maiden's Wish on my piano. I was happy because I thought it was really quite easy. Then I learned that I only had the first page and there is a whole bunch of other pages that I inadvertently neglected to print out. I never went on any further on that piece.

    I dunno - I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes these professional players just ruin it.... :(
     
  3. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Aha, this is what happens when you have a composer who was a master showman and his music is played by a virtuoso who is also a master showman! The vast majority of the piece is actually very straightforward; the only passages which might need work are the couple or so of cadenza-type sections and there's an ossia for at least one if I remember correctly. Liszt is very good at writing music that sounds a lot harder than it is: you'll find that often this sort of stuff fits very comfortably within the hands. I'd urge you to look at it apart from anything else because I think you'll find yourself very pleasantly surprised by how approachable you find it. Cziffra also uses a lot of rubato which makes some passages sound harder; some people probably would consider it bad taste but he's almost certainly trying to put over the improvisational, scherzando aspect of the music.

    The arpeggios at the end are Cziffra being Cziffra :wink: It's an ornamentation of the Liszt original.
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It is not really a terribly hard piece. Not easy of course, and some tricky measures, but nothing that a competent amateur can't handle.

    Cziffra is not quite as garish as usual here. But he still can't resist playing everything that even remotely looks like a run or cadenza at double speed, adding octaves, filling in chords, doing whatever pleases him to look even more virtuosic. I wonder if he could play anything straightforward, like the composer wrote it. Did he ever play Bach, except virtuoso transcriptions ?
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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  6. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I really do wonder if Liszt would be terribly bothered by his alterations. Liszt is known to have said to advanced pupils that in his transcriptions and in the Hungarian Rhapsodies (i.e. the lighter pieces) that if they had the capacity to play the notes, it was perfectly acceptable to add their own variants. It's quoted somewhere in the Gollerich writings on his masterclasses, I believe.

    Also..

    Give me an individual pianist like Cziffra who gets into the spirit of the music (and has the appropriate tonal qualities) over a dull, Urtext-obsessed pedant like Alfred Brendel any day. Brendel, who witters on about the sanctity of the score and then can't even play the scales in the 2nd Rhapsody.. check them out, they are quite hilarious.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Ok, I guess I will just have to print out the piece tomorrow - see if it is at all within my capabilities. Won't know unless I try... Also the Etude and Hungarian rhapsody too.

    So it seems that Cziffra tends to 'out Liszt' Liszt, right?
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sure you have a point. Cziffra's histrionics would bother me less in the transcriptions and rhapsodies which are showpieces of a somewhat improvisational nature, very much his territory. But this Valse-Impromptu is a perfectly polished miniature with not one note too many or too short. I don't see why it is necessary to pimp it up, even if it's only little things he does. Whether Liszt would agree ? Probably, but that does not make it right to my ears.

    I don't find much to criticize about Brendel's version (although I have to admit I don't like this piece and much prefer the Bugs Bunny version, see
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYM84n-2 ... re=related ). Not sure which scales you refer to, you mean at 8:36 where he seems to leave out some notes ? If so, why would that not be allowed, if it is allowed to add notes ? Actually I'm not sure I would not prefer this version over Cziffra's, who makes rather a mess of this section.

    Ugh, his baroque pieces. The Daquin is not too bad, but in the Scarlatti he veers between soggy and aggressive, and he's tinkering with the score again, changing things, leaving out bars.

    Here's a Liszt vid that much impressed me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGBXA1tB ... re=related and boosted Lisitsa a notch up in my opinion.
    Tryly awesome playing.
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'll be interested to see. I said it was not overly hard, but to be honest I've always dashed through it, not seriously practiced and polished it. So there could me more to it. But IMO it is very much worth the effort.

    Cziffra out-everybody'ed everybody.
     
  10. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, I don't hear a supertonic in any of those scales. I wouldn't be so bothered about him leaving out notes if it were not for two things. Firstly, his comments about sticking to what Liszt wrote, and secondly, it's part of a wider pattern of behaviour in his Liszt playing - for example he omits the entire "three-handed" arpeggiated section from his early Vox recording of the Norma Fantasy and if you watch the Dante sonata on youtube carefully there certainly appear to be a few "simplifications" going on. Just seems to me he's omitting notes from a position of technical weakness to make his life easier. Tbh he just shouldn't play Liszt - his youtube Isolde's Liebestod is a pet hate of mine (it's so unbearably bad interpretatively and tonal colour-wise I can't bring myself to go back and check out the Vox recording) and I find that performance more offensive than any omitted notes.

    It's better than her usual, which I think is a bit dry. She has improved in the last ten years: I remember a point at which her website had a Don Juan video of which the last couple of minutes were a total wreck. I'd suggest you listen to Michelangeli's Totentanz btw; I think that is awesome!
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Ugh! :x :roll: :)

    (Yeah, but can he play 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'? :lol:)
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I'm printing out a bunch of pieces right now....

    Chris, if you see this, which Valse Oubliee do you refer to? There are four or five of them on IMSLP. Or if anyone else reads this, is there a Valse Oubliee that is not part of a set?
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I was referring to the first Valse Oubliee (1881) which is in my Peters book.
    Despite that it says 'First' in the title, it never occurred to be that there would be more :roll: :D
     
  15. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Funny!

    Ok, got it. I'm pretty well loaded up now. Just wish I could learn music faster than I do!
     
  16. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    My Liszt biography reckons there are four. The first is the one which gets played the most.
     
  17. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I did print out the first one. On my piano tonight I read through all the pieces we talked about here. You all are right in that they are not as hard as I thought they'd be. I may actually be able to get them down one day (have other music I'm working on currently), but I'm not too sure about the Etude no. 3. That one seems pretty hard and long.
     
  18. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    I was referring to the Transcendental Etudes, Rhapsodies (not No. 5), Paganini Six Grand Etudes. I haven't done any of the Transcendental Etudes, but I am trying to "relearn" one of the Paganini Etudes: Etude No. 3 in G# minor, "La Campanella." Fourscore, 23 years ago, The Appasionata, La Campanella, and the Hungarian Fantasy (2 piano version) were the last pieces I was learning with my teacher before I stopped taking lessons because of increased college workload.

    I am sure that everyone has a piece that haunts them to relearn to play (Needs a thread by itself:). For me, La Campanella is one piece that I never learned well. After all these years, I am trying to accomplish something that I couldn't do at half my age when I had better technique and had more time to practice. Ha, sounds like mid-life piano crisis! Ironically, I've learned more now than I ever did when I was 19. I still have a ways to go. This is one piece I'd like to video if I get it... Maybe I'll submit it to Americas Funniest Videos?! :p

    Cziffra?... Twice the speed, double the notes! He has amazing firepower and velocity approaching the limit of intelligibility. No wonder he injured his hand. As dazzling he is a pianist, he is a fantastic transcriber of music. I've sight read his transcription of Vecsey's Valse Triste, one of my favorite pieces of music. It's been a good piece to learn alongside the Liszt. But, Cziffra's tempos can seem out of reach. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rDfTbuQ0Tc
     
  19. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    That's a lovely piece, George. But with some killer spots too!


    edit: deleted most of what I said earlier. Mood has improved and I'm not feeling as sorry for myself this moment... :)
     
  20. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Absolutely!

    I'm very fond of this piece also. It's imo the most accessible of his five concert etudes (the Brahms fifth Hungarian Dance is perhaps a touch harder), but in describing it as accessible, it's certainly not easy. I'm guessing the Lisztian octave sections are where you have trouble keeping up with his tempo. Incidentally, he didn't just injure his hand, the Russians went out of their way to break his hands by assigning him forced heavy manual labour after his initial failure to escape to the West. His memoirs are often distressingly honest reading.
     

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