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Josef Hofmann

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by BrokenFingers, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    And yes, Berezosky did play 12 etudes of Liszt...But it was a concert dedicated to JUST those etudes OF Liszt...the only program from Liszt. and probably other composers ...same thing as Baremboim when he was in Berlin...He gave a concert performing ONLY Beethoven Sonatas.
     
  2. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I agree! :lol: The ballade was not bad, and interesting to me, but this was just...ugh.

    I agree. I understand the criticism mentioned earlier of her live performance, but one of the things I loved about it is that it always seemed on edge, as if she was just about to lose control of the piece, or at least the tempo...but she never did. And by the time she got to the octaves you speak of, it was obvious she was in control, which made it all that more exciting to me. The emotion of it was what appealed to me the most.

    I will have to see if I can find them.
     
  3. BrokenFingers

    BrokenFingers New Member

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    Chopaninoff, you're talking about Berezovsky like he's only performed the Liszt etudes once. He has made several different programs using them, and from my understanding, rarely just plays the etudes. For instance, I link a review of a concert (I ordered a cd of this particular concert) of his where he played Crumb's Makrokosmos and Ravel's Sonatine in the first half, and then after a brief intermission/break played through all of the Liszt etudes. And even if he did just include the Liszt etudes as his only program, which he does not, performing all 12 of them without flaw is still a herculean achievement. They are longer and more difficult than most of Chopin's, as I'm sure you are aware. My point was that the kind of bravado of former pianists like Cortot does still exist today, and that it's incorrect to say that it's non-existent.

    If what you're saying about Pollini is true (Just going to 12, out of thousands, of his concerts doesn't necessarily mean he NEVER performed both books of the etudes) then I suppose I should apologize for the large assumption that I made. But there are pianists that play through both books of etudes, which is less impressive in light of some of the other things Concert pianists play live. Your mentioning of the Godowsky etudes was strange, because you said "even those.." as if they're easier than the Chopin etudes. I don't know, maybe it was just a misunderstanding (as I seem to mistake the intention of your posts). But works by Alkan, MacDowell, Prokofiev, Hindemith and even more modern composers are horrendously difficult and on a completely different scale than the Chopin etudes, but are also performed in public. Not to go off topic, and I apologize if I was a bit abrasive or misunderstood your meaning.
     
  4. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    Why are we discussing difficulty of etudes? Its not the point...And I am not saying it is wrong to perform those etudes...I just personally never heard or saw anyone play it. When I mentioned the Godowsky I was showing you an example that Berezosky didn't play all of them...He played some of the more technically challenging ones such as op 10 no 4, op 10 no 12, op 25 no 12...etc
    This matter does not pertain to Hoffman...But I was merely siding with the other person because I as well never heard of any other pianist other than Cortot play both books.
    As for Hoffman, I have mentioned earlier...This pianist does not shock me. Yes he is good without doubt, or even better than some. But he does not stand out in my mind. Richter for example does. He is a pianist that never played scales or etudes...yet is considered to have a "virtuoso technique"
    Anyway...Hoffman took great risks in his piano playing. But just because he took great risks doesn't mean they succeeded and worked for his advantage. His ballade no 1 from Chopin...Just horrible. How he adds those low notes it just an offense to Chopin! They block out the melodic notes..And the coda he played extremely fast...It does say Presto Con Fuoco...But it doesn't mean to be rushed through and play random notes staccato. It all has to do with a matter of taste. For example, I think Horowitz does a fine job. He is able to play all the little notes or "not so important" notes quietly, while leading the main melody notes.
    I listened to his Chopin Nocturne op 27 no 2 and the left hand which is marked Sempre Legato and Dolce....He does the opposite. With his random accents and unnecessary staccato...Ruins the whole flow of the "nocturne" I will list some times for you...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cw1Yqja ... re=related I am following that link....
    :31 -:34
    staccoto when marked with a legato and crescendo
    :45-:46- makes a minor change in the score and adds an extra note(s) in the right hand
    1:01- Another slip/ or change in the score
    1:22-1:24- more staccato when marked legato
    2:07-2:10: that WHOLE bar is played detached when Chopin marks a Leggierissimo ( very light) and several legato marks
    2:40-2:57: misses out the WHOLE crescendo....Misses out on 4 Sforzando and then when Chopin marks a FFF (rare for a nocturne) he plays it piano...
    there are just few examples. YES I AM EXTREMELY PICKY I am aware. I do not think he is a bad pianist....but I do not see the need to emphasis on something that he does not have. A wonderful rendition of this nocturne would be from Pollini, Rubinstein, or even Lugansky. Once again, I am not saying he plays this nocturne bad...But I have been noticing so many patterns in his playing that really do not go well with the pieces. I play this nocturne myself and yes I understand that it is sometimes OK to stray from the score and put a little of your character in, but not as much as Hoffman does. Hope no one took offense to my criticism just felt like throwing some examples out.
     
  5. BrokenFingers

    BrokenFingers New Member

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    As I explained in my post, my point in discussing the difficulty of what is being played publicly was meant to illustrate the fact that bravado still exists among pianists today.



    About Hofmann's Op. 27 no. 2, I could first point out that it might not be an accurate recording. Hofmann, like Rachmaninoff, was suspicious of early recording techniques and altered/toned down the subtleties of his playing. Making few recordings in his prime, he made even less when he started getting older and turning to heavier drinking. Unfortunately, these recordings of the 'older' Hofmann are the most common and can give the wrong idea about the pianist. A good Hofmann recording, however, is an electrifying thing. It's pointless, though, to argue that you have to listen to a specific recording to really hear the pianist, because then how can you actually gauge what a pianist is like? I'll just say that Hofmann is not for those who are nauseated by artistic deviations from the score.

    (Also, it's not that I'm mesmerized by pianist who take liberties with a piece. I'm very happy you mentioned Richter, as he's also a favorite pianist of mine. And his style is very much about providing a mirror of the composer's intention. I do like variety in performers and renditions of pieces, though, and that's really what I love when listening to the same pieces over and over again.)
     
  6. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Pollini's 27/2 is awful IMO. I think I have discussed that with Monica before; we compared and contrasted Pollini and Lang Lang, and I much prefer Lang Lang's recording of it. Not a huge Lang Lang fan, but he played that one nicely, perfect 'Chopin rubato', while Pollini played it like a drunken sailor.
     
  7. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    Terez,
    I think the reason why I like Pollini's is because its more straightforward. I dont really enjoy the ones that drag out the melody and make you wait for the next note to come...Pollini plays it faster than most, but I guess its more straightforward. As for Lang Lang, this mite seem a little rude, but I cant stand watching him play that piece with a strait face on. Its just a joke...So whenever I listen to him I turn off the computer screen.
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I also don't watch Lang Lang play usually, or anyone that is gasming at the piano (real or fake). I probably do it too, but when my friend video-recorded my recital I asked her to focus on my hands. I probably don't do it at recitals, though...more likely to actually get into the music that much when I'm alone or in the company of friends.

    Pollini....my biggest problem with him was that he has no clue whatsoever about a proper Chopin rubato. His tempo changes were erratic, and I didn't find them to be straightforward at all, or musical. My only problem with Lang Lang is that he was just a little too subdued in the RH, could have brought the melody out more (though I tend to differ hugely from anyone that puts the climax of the piece where Chopin put a decrescendo...but most people do that).
     
  9. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    For the record, Pollini played in concert all the Chopin's 24 Etudes at least once: in Milano, in 1957. He was fifteen.
     
  10. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Now that you've torn apart Hofmann as a pianist you're ready for our Audition Room. We need brave men like you, Nikolai. :lol:
     
  11. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    I have clearly mentioned that I am aware of how picky I am and that I do not think he is a bad pianist. I pointed out what he does wrong and what I do not like, and I gave prime examples of it with a video and times, and other users on here pointed some of the same stuff that I have said, except I went further and showed examples. No need to call me up to the audition room and challenge me. Also, I play that same nocturne in Db major...Not saying I can better...But as an executor of this piece I have a right to criticize his playing...being that it IS a discussion page of him. Can I please know the exact information of his concert? I know that he studied at the Milan Conservatory in Milano...If he performed the etudes AT the conservatory than it does not count as a concert for public. It must have been for exams. Like for example Horowitz, played Rachmaninoffs 2nd piano concerto at the conservatory, but never performed it at the concert stage. I may be wrong. But please send me a link proving that I am wrong.
     
  12. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    Thank you for giving Hoffmann at least that credit. Rachmaninov actually, thought of him as pianist no. 1 in the world... or is it that Rachmaninov just was not as picky? Heh, go figure...

    I am so glad that finally, there is somebody here who knows EXACTLY what is right and what is wrong :roll: .

    I was unaware Hoffmann ever studied in Milano. Any points as for where did you find this information? Not sure which etudes are in question, however, going on stage Hoffmann usually was asking his manager: "What do I play today?"

    Best, M
     
  13. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    I really do not appreciate your sarcasm. Rachmaninoff ALSO said that Horowitz played his concerto better than he did! Rachmaninoff was very open with compliments and appreciated other pianists. I was talking about Pollini who studied in Milano and we are talking about the Chopin etudes. I would appreciate it if you would tone it down a little bit and be aware of what are debating on before replying to me. As for Hoffman I stated my opinion that I do not like him as a pianist and I showed exactly why. No need to get all defensive.
    Nikolai
     
  14. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    Well, then maybe next, when you publically tear apart somebody of Hoffmann's magnitude you might 1) think about historical context, 2) understand the style (both of romantic pianism of that era and also of that of Chopin), 3) consider the fact that artists are judged by their highest achievements, and 4) have enough humility not to start judging, pretending you know what's right and what's wrong.

    I'd suggest to study the topic little deeper, particularly read Rachmaninov's letters and memoirs about him. You will be quite surprised as for your findings.

    In any case, the fact Rachmaninov dedicated his 3rd Concerto to Hoffmann, as well as called him "Pianist number One" speaks little more that just giving a mere compliment.

    Sorry, from your original message it was extremely unclear that you were debating about Pollini, as his name was not mentioned anywhere in that post. All the reference I saw was "his". Since we were talking about Hoffmann I believe it was fair to assume you were referencing to him. Of course, I think it is understandable I had no idea that in fact, you were referencing to Pollini (again, since his name was not in that message at all). I am not sure how I'd be aware of what is "debating on" and what do you mean by "tone it down" in respect to that?

    First of all, it seems in fact, it were you, who was defensive... but this is not of importance.

    All I can say, even though it is your right not to like Hoffmann (and of course, it is your right), that man was an important part of our past. Moreover, I can say I don't like some aspects about his playing myself. However, it really does not matter, as the main thing is to understand that historically, he was a titanic figure... God of piano, somebody of probably... Michael Jackson's stature of that time. In a sense, Hoffmann was a bridge to a modern pianism.

    Without understanding this, without coming back to his recordings, listening, rewinding and listening again, analyzing, thinking, trying to understand what was so special about him, what made him to be a cult for entire generation... without all of that we cannot understand piano and piano performance of today, as (as we all aware) without knowing our past and understanding history we cannot understand today and go into tomorrow.

    Best, M
     
  15. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    The AR joke was meant as a listener and critic not as a player (which would be indeed a cheap shot on you, speaking of Hofmann, and however you play). But I was also a tad serious, since a Beckmesser like you is probably more at ease in AR than here finding faults with Hofmann's interpretations.


    Marik said it all. What's the next step? To censure Beethoven's parallel fifths and respell Joyce's Finnegans Wake?


    AFAIK, it was a recital, not a student concert, and was held at "Circolo della Stampa" in Milano. Does it make any difference? Ah, forgot you're picky...
     
  16. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    I think both of you are straying off. You claim he is a great pianist. Ok I'll agree with you. But please show me a piece where he is SOMEWHAT loyal to the composers dynamics. Saying that he is good and this and that and that Rachmaninoff thinks highly of him is not enough. Because a great composer said hes a great pianist does not mean everyone should think that. For instance, Scriabin hated Brahms. From an article I read. " Scriabin's later works strike out on their own, in a manner more similar to Brahms late piano works where the composer is really speaking from his own psyche. Scriabin hated Brahms, chastising the young Rubinstein who, much to Scriabin's distant admitted his fondness for Brahms piano music. " Scriabin is beside the point. But its an example that just because a great composer like Scriabin hated Brahms, does not mean everyone should. Which ties back with Rachmaninoff saying Hoffman is great. And we can not really judge Hoffman based off of his recordings because I think you will agree with me, they are horrible. not his fault though. What Im saying is that it is not wise to judge Hoffman based off what other pianists from his era said. And just because I do not like Hoffman does not mean other people should not either. Do not get me wrong. I am merely showing what he does wrong, and stuff that I, nor do other people do NOT like. Show me a piece where you feel he truly is able to capture your attention. I really would like to understand what people love about this pianist. I have listened to his Chopin Nocturnes, Ballades, Rachmaninoff prelude (which is extremely rushed) the C sharp minor one, The g minor one as well (which was on a piano roll which cannot be judged at all) Liszt libestruam no 3 which was also rushed and not even at all! etc etc etc. I apologize for my English, it is hard to convey what I am saying from Russian.
    Nikolai
     
  17. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    Nikolai,

    I am not sure why you are so concerned with his dynamics (esp. in relation to Chopin). There were numerous versions of the same piece with completely different dynamic marks. Very often in the same place you can find pp in one version and ff in another.
    Every time Chopin re-wrote pieces for his students he would change notes, dynamics, harmony, etc. etc. etc. His music is essentially improvisatory and in that era it was customary to be "inventive". On the other hand, you are saying how "horrable" Hoffmann was doubling low octaves and say that this is an "offense to Chopin." At the same time you praise Horowitz for his Scriabin (which I completely agree), but conveniently "forgetting" that he was doing the same, and often even worse, re-writing entire sections, doubling things, etc. etc. etc.
    Or care to listen Sofronitsky's Scriabins Waltz with score?

    So at least it would be nice to be consistent.

    Not sure why you keep bringing up Rachmaninov again and again. As I stated, Rachmaninov was not alone and Hoffmann was a cult figure for entire generation. For a record it is not even my opinion--for strarters I'd recommend to read some Harold Schoenberg, Abram Chasins, heck--or at least David Dubal (and yes, I am aware Soviet musicology tend to belittle Hoffmann, calling him "old fashioned" and "forgotten").

    While I disagree the Rachmaninov's Prelude (and Liszt Libestraum) are rushed, I will post just a few examples which capture (at least) my attention:
    Chopin-Liszt, The Maiden's Wish (I personally think nothing matches it... even Rachmaninov's version):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G14YEue6XVg

    Chopin Concerto no. 1, 3rd Movement (unfortunately Concerto no. 2 is not on youtube):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec9qn3H2 ... re=related

    Beethoven, Sonata no. 18, Scherzo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt3yXoKDsp4

    There is much more from him I like, but it is not on youtube, so make your own research and judge for yourself.

    Best, M
     
  18. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    Thank you. I will listen to these links. I hope no one was offended by my remarks, and I wish you a good night.
    Nikolai
     

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