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 Post subject: Horowitz transcriptions and Chopin polonaise
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 6:00 pm 
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Location: Bard College (NY)
Here are some of my old recordings of mine, of several Horowitz transcriptions (with my own changes and additions) and Chopin's "Heroic" polonaise.

The Hungarian Rhapsody was recorded in November 2004, during the same studio session as my recordings intended for my audition CD for colleges and conservatories (the Schumann toccata, the Prokofiev 3rd sonata, etc.). I recorded the rhapsody as sort of an afterthought (not for the audition), and it's the only piece from the session that I did in a single take and is unedited.

The other pieces were recorded at home in 2001. At that time, I only had a Yamaha upright (though it was a pretty good one), and the only recording equipment I had was a tape recorder and a microphone, so the sound isn't as good as my later recordings but it's not terrible.

As you probably know, Horowitz never published any of his transcriptions, though numerous attempts at notating them by ear have been made. In learning these transcriptions, my main sources were Horowitz's recordings themselves, though I did use some other people's realizations of them as references too. In all three transcriptions, I made some of my own changes. The end of the Sousa, for example, is almost completely different from Horowitz's, and I added some counterpoint to the slow section of the Hungarian Rhapsody (and cut a big chunk of it too). And my version of the Carmen is more or less an amalgamation of Horowitz's different versions.

Hope you enjoy them.

Sousa - The stars and stripes forever
Chopin - Op.53, Heroic Polonaise in A-flat major
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 in C-sharp minor
Bizet - Carmen

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 10:45 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Mr. Virtuoso, I will give you the first reply. I only listened to your op53. I can see your artistic imagination with your own version of op53. Why not, I should do mine too.....haaaa


I liked your cannon style starting on the LH at time 0.36-39, it sounds like polish army is firing cannon shells at the Russians(am I right??.

At the ending the LH acending /decending Ab /Eb octave chords. Its sounds as if the russians are running away or retreating. Am I right??

Thanks for sharing, I think, that piano is ready to retune again. Is that your grand :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 2:34 am 
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Location: Bard College (NY)
Well, like I said, at the time I made that recording, I only had an upright. That was in 2001; I'm sure I would play the piece quite differently now if I picked it up again. I was such a Horowitz clone those days!

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 7:57 am 
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This is extremely impressing!!! Especially the transcription of Carmen which is incredible difficult to perform. It might not be obvious at first glance but for example the super-fast descending chords and the difficult fast 2-hands patterns with hands wide apart are close to be not human. Perhaps anyone has seen the rather famous video of Horowitz playing his own transcription of Carmen? Even Horowitz himself struggle a lot through this and you are very right Gan that you are (or were) a Horowitz clone! The other recordings are extremely good as well and it is incredible how you in such an age can have the ability to not only technically master these pieces but also musically. This is very obvious in the transcriptions.

Now members of this forum, don't be so rush minded and only listen to the short pieces (short pieces always get most responses and from that I base my statement). These are really worth it. Especially if you like true virtuosos.

I added both Bizet's and Sousa's biographies along with some text regarding Carmen and the march. I also added a few words regarding the transcriptions (also at the Liszt page) and I hope you are comfortable with it. If there is anything you like to change, let me know.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 8:18 am 
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On the contrary, the Chopin polonaise is longer than the Carmen or Sousa transcriptions and yet that was the one that got a response in this thread, so I don't think length is necessarily a factor.

I do have a few comments about the files and their descriptions. These are only my opinions and you can of course decide what you think is best.

I think that "Variations on a theme from Bizet's Carmen" would be a better title than "Piano Transcription of Carmen, Variations on a theme". I believe most of Horowitz's recordings on CD use the former title as well. As for the description, I don't think it's important to say the part about using different people's transcriptions as a reference. Yes, I did look at them, but ultimately my main reference were Horowitz's recordings themselves and the choices I made were my own. I don't want to give the impression that I simply leeched off the work of others. Instead, it might be a better idea to say that my recording is an amalgamation of Horowitz's different versions (four of them, to be exact -- 1928, 1947, 1968 and 1978 -- at the time I didn't have access to the piano rolls or the extended "test" version from the 60s). Also, I think that Horowitz's piece is distinct enough from its source material (more so than the Bach--Busoni Chaconne is from the original, IMHO) that you could file it under "Horowitz" instead of "Bizet".

The only comment I have for the Sousa is that although the description makes it clear that my version is based on Horowitz's, I think that the title could also reflect that (something like "transcription by Horowitz and Gan", perhaps).

Just my two cents. =)

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 6:59 am 
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wmgan wrote:
On the contrary, the Chopin polonaise is longer than the Carmen or Sousa transcriptions and yet that was the one that got a response in this thread, so I don't think length is necessarily a factor.

Correct. Perhaps some of us amateurs feel uncomfortable writing reviews and comments to somebody who is by far our superior? At least you are by far mine ;).
wmgan wrote:
I do have a few comments about the files and their descriptions. These are only my opinions and you can of course decide what you think is best.

I think that "Variations on a theme from Bizet's Carmen" would be a better title than "Piano Transcription of Carmen, Variations on a theme". I believe most of Horowitz's recordings on CD use the former title as well. As for the description, I don't think it's important to say the part about using different people's transcriptions as a reference. Yes, I did look at them, but ultimately my main reference were Horowitz's recordings themselves and the choices I made were my own. I don't want to give the impression that I simply leeched off the work of others. Instead, it might be a better idea to say that my recording is an amalgamation of Horowitz's different versions (four of them, to be exact -- 1928, 1947, 1968 and 1978 -- at the time I didn't have access to the piano rolls or the extended "test" version from the 60s). Also, I think that Horowitz's piece is distinct enough from its source material (more so than the Bach--Busoni Chaconne is from the original, IMHO) that you could file it under "Horowitz" instead of "Bizet".

I have changed the title and the last sentence but I will not make a Horowitz biography despite that you are right. Transcriptions are a never ending issue in which we never have decided for a formula.
wmgan wrote:
The only comment I have for the Sousa is that although the description makes it clear that my version is based on Horowitz's, I think that the title could also reflect that (something like "transcription by Horowitz and Gan", perhaps).

Just my two cents. =)

Changed the title to Gan and Horowitz, putting you in front ;).

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 9:04 am 
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robert wrote:
Transcriptions are a never ending issue in which we never have decided for a formula.

Right, and I guess it will never be possible to have a consistent rule on this. It just occurred to me that if we file this Carmen thingy under Bizet, we should perhaps file La Campanella under Paganini..... and to have a Paganini page on PS would be daft. Bizet at least wrote some pretty good original piano works.

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 9:34 pm 
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Indeed, I think I'd like to play Bizet's Variations Chromatiques when I get the chance.

This may sound like a silly idea, but the repertoire I'm planning to learn over the summer consists mainly of Op. 1 sonatas (Prokofiev, Berg, Brahms, Dutilleux, and apparently both John Field and Clementi's Op. 1s are a set of sonatas). I just thought that would make a cool recital program. I recently made a faux pas on pianophilia.com by asking for Dutilleux's sonata, as I didn't realize he's a living composer! Silly me. And I haven't found the score for Clementi's Op. 1 sonatas (except the fifth one -- I think it's a set of five). I also found the score for an Op. 1 sonata by some guy named Joseph Wihtol (or Jazeps Vitols) who apparently taught Prokofiev and Glasunov, but I couldn't find any more information about the sonata. I don't think anyone has ever recorded it. Does anyone here know anything about it?

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 7:04 am 
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You are right about Clementi and the confusing matters of which work that was first published (became op.1). Everything I write below is according to my information which mostly exist in my head. Not even sure where I got it, probably from the many biographies I have read.

It exists in 2 versions, Bailleux and Welcker where Bailleux named the A major Sonata as Op.1. Bailleux understood this as Clementi's first published work while it was only first under Bailleux and actually his 5:th Sonata. Welcker had already published his first Sonata as Op.1 which is in F major. Why Bailleux named it as Op.1 is unknown to me (havn't googled that much on the subject), perhaps Clementi wanted a fresh restart? I attach the score for the F major which today is mostly referred to as Op.1a.

Your idea of making a recital dedicated to op.1 is a good one and many composers really did well on the first published work. Perhaps not that strange because it is difficult for an unknown composer to have his first work published and it must be some extra. That was in past time as difficult as it is today to get a CD-contract.

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Last edited by robert on Mon May 21, 2007 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 7:48 am 
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wmgan wrote:
Indeed, I think I'd like to play Bizet's Variations Chromatiques when I get the chance.

I'm impressed you know about that piece. An amazingly dramatic and assured piano work, almost Wagnerian, from a composer not normally associated with the piano. Quite difficult, too - but not for you of course.

wmgan wrote:
This may sound like a silly idea, but the repertoire I'm planning to learn over the summer consists mainly of Op. 1 sonatas (Prokofiev, Berg, Brahms, Dutilleux

The Korngold Op.1 sonata would fit nicely between the Brahms and Berg ones. Can't think of any other Op.1 sonatas.

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