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 Post subject: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:24 pm 
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While I believe that most of you know the second Polonaise by Liszt, I wonder why famous pianists like Horowitz or Rubinstein, who were natural born "polonaisers", completely ignored it, at least in their recordings.
The piece is difficult, but not as difficult as other Listz' pieces having similar duration, as the first Mefisto waltz, the Scherzo and March or the Tarantella.
And in any case it would not have been difficult for Horowitz or Rubinstein.

Maybe the second Polonaise is not fascinating? Mmmmmh, I don't know, but I can tell you what hit me when I read the score for the first time
THe commentary in the score was not helpful (it was written by ALfred Cortot, but.....in French!!!): thus I read a couple of pages and arrived at a point in the third one, which was a clear citation of the main theme of the Polonaise op. 53 by Chopin.
That was enough for me, because I was a Chopin's fan. And I was not disappointed when I studied it completely.

I hope you like my recording (I played on digital piano, forgive me!)

all the best
klavalier


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:45 pm 
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There are notable recordings by Busoni, Cziffra and especially Rachmaninov which are worth hearing.

I know this piece quite well, so unfortunately I'm going to be harsher than I would if I was a casual listener.

A few things bother me:

The accented Es in the opening aren't accented enough, and seem to be too long in duration.
In the section from 0.45, you seem to hang onto the last quaver of each bar, and it sounds strange.
Generally the A min section is ok, but watch the octave section as there are quite a few smudges.
5.30: quasi improvisato: don't rush through it so much, feel free to really slow down and use rubato.
5.50: this would sound so much better on a proper piano! It sounds like you would be capable of generating the right feeling if you were playing on one.
6.30: in this passage (and the later similar one) you don't sound fluid enough. It leaves the listener with the impression you stopped normal playing at 6.30, and returned at 6.39. Life's unfair, it's just very difficult. You won't find many pianists who can just breeze through it.
8.17: the B is a quaver/eighth note - all the ones before were right (sorry to be picky!)

I'm not trying to be nasty with these comments, as you can obviously play the piece (with the possible exception of the double notes). I'm just trying to give some ideas.

Something that really doesn't work in your favour is, I'm afraid, the instrument. Quite apart from it not having a full enough sound for this sort of repertoire, the shallow sound also makes the occasional wrong notes in passagework and chords much more apparent.

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:50 pm 
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Thank you andrew, I really appreciated your comments, because it's clear that you have a deep knowledge of this piece (even accenti and quavers!!). I read that the second Polonaise was one of those pieces that Liszt refused to hear in his masterclasses, because nobody could play it as he wanted: thus, why should I not accept criticism??

As to the quavers in the points you indicated, I obviously agree with you. I believe that this is a deviation I involuntary took over the years, forgetting the original score since I read it for the first time, about 15 years ago.

But as regards the starting of the double notes at 6:30, I confirm that I purposely slow down and gradually accelerate, for stylistical reasons. I mean: I found these staccato double notes very humorous, differently from the immediately preceding passage, and that's why I feel to play them in that way. And fortunately it's easier, because the right hand can breathe!! :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:59 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
klavalier wrote:
As to the quavers in the points you indicated, I obviously agree with you. I believe that this is a deviation I involuntary took over the years, forgetting the original score since I read it for the first time, about 15 years ago.


Yes, it happens; I spotted myself doing exactly the same thing in a piece I played recently. I suspect that at first it's a small delay after the note for rhetorical effect, and over time it grows to be something it was never meant to be!

klavalier wrote:
But as regards the starting of the double notes at 6:30, I confirm that I purposely slow down and gradually accelerate, for stylistical reasons. I mean: I found these staccato double notes very humorous, differently from the immediately preceding passage, and that's why I feel to play them in that way. And fortunately it's easier, because the right hand can breathe!! :wink:


I can't argue with that. On reflection you do play the re-entry of the double notes faster than the first occurrence.

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:36 am 
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A very good effort on this tricky Polonaise. You are a fluent player who is not not easily fazed by technical hurdles. However, like I noticed in the Schumann Novellette, you don't seem to be a stickler for accuracy. There are many mistakes (small ones, admittedly, but mostly unnecessary) that again add up to give a slightly sloppy impression. Maybe you should do a couple more takes when recording, or edit out the slips. At least listen back carefully to your recording, in case you are not aware of the slips (I know how easy it is not to hear them while recording....). Compliments on your handling of all these fast RH notes in the middle section.

The real pain here, as Andrew already wrote, is the wimpy and bone-dry digital sound. Especially the double-note sections (the ones you take more slowly) sound slightly ridiculous rather than scintillating. Personally I think the big-gun virtuoso stuff like Liszt or Rachmaninov doesn't work on a digital, unless maybe you use sampled sound from a real grand. There's just not enough depth and bloom, and with all respect for your playing, it is not very pleasant to listen to.

I've always found this to be one of Liszt's weaker works, and can understand why pianists don't play it much. It probably needs a very convincing interpretation and sound to make its point (assuming it has one). But good that you make a case for it.

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:22 pm 
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Location: Hampshire, IL
I suspect your technique is very strong but as others have commented, the recording suffers greatly from the use of this particular digital piano. Dynamic contrast is very limited, touch is hard to pick out and the overall impression is of a player piano. I also thought that the piece was a bit tight on the use of tempo but perhaps that is simply a matter of personal taste; personally I like to let Chopin breathe a bit more with the use of tempo, particularly in the more march-like sections to help keep it from becoming too robotic. But again, perhaps that's a stylistic choice.

As a piece for submission here, I think this needs to be re-recorded on a much more realistic source to reflect what I would guess is very good technique.

Regards,
Fred

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 Post subject: Re: New pianist submission - Liszt: Polonaise no. 2, S223
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:39 am 
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Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote:
There are notable recordings by Busoni, Cziffra and especially Rachmaninov which are worth hearing.


Yeah, that recording by Rachmaninoff is truly hair-raising!

I agree with the others that the digital sound is less than ideal, though I'm not sure I agree that it's a very big part of the problem here. I think part of the difficulty of this piece is the frequent alternations between the martial strains of the polonaise and the filigree fingerwork passages. While the former is quite convincing (nice rhythmic spirit of the polonaise), the fingerwork (besides the trills, which are quite impressive) is often unclear and uneven and thus never achieves the proper flow. I agree with Chris that this is probably one of Liszt's weaker major compositions (maybe partly because it's going to inevitably be compared with Chopin's unparalleled achievements with the form). And because of that, it needs to be tossed off by the virtuoso to sound compelling. There is some good dramatic flare here, especially with the chromatic octave passages, but other times the chordal fireworks sound a bit labored and a bit opaque in textural balance.

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