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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:41 am 
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techneut wrote:

Yet, he does the most godawfully banal and ugly things... How these golden-age pianists got away with the things they did is beyond me. If any modern pianist would play like this, they'd get burned on the stake. Is it nostalgia coloring peoples' judgement ? Was a pianist like Hoffmann really so much better than say, Sokolov, Perahia, Hough ? Just wondering.


You cannot take those "godawfully banal and ugly things" out of historical context and traditions of that time. Along with that it is important to understand that from historical point of view, still in many ways Hoffmann had modernistic trends of playing (of course, with all idiosyncrasies of "Romantic" playing of that time). In any case, MOST of his pre "Golden Jubilee" Concert recordings are unsurpassed by ANY modern pianists in term of taste, filigree and "naturalness" of technique, imagination, temperament, etc. Just listen to his Chopin both Concerti to understand the titanic qualities of his pianism, surpassing even those of Josef Lhevinne.

While indeed, pianists like Perahia, Pollini, Kissin, etc. play piano well, the main difference is that Hoffmann (as well as Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Gould, Gilels, and few others) had individuality. They had what to say, and they could be recognized just from a few notes. Most of the modern pianists are like Hollywood divas--you cannot say one from another--they all look the same.

By the way, I am not sure how one could mention in the same sentence Sokolov and Perahia. Those two are completely in two different spheres of both, pianism and musicianship.

Best, M


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:44 am 
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Terez wrote:
BrokenFingers wrote:
but I have never heard a recording by Rubinstein or Horowitz that I really liked


WAT :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:27 am 
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Marik wrote:
By the way, I am not sure how one could mention in the same sentence Sokolov and Perahia. Those two are completely in two different spheres of both, pianism and musicianship.

Yes. I should have used two different sentences :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:26 pm 
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Terez wrote:
I just listened to Hofmann's Chopin 48/1 nocturne in c minor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K8CH1RUWH8

After listening to Lugansky and then Argerich...I find myself in the boat with Chris. :lol:

Terez,
The recording of that nocturne...is just horrible.. I did not feel the climax anywhere and very dry for my taste. Luganskys interpretation is rather different... He plays the beginning more slowly than most pianists and plays the doppio section faster than most...But he does keep control of the melody which is vital and crucial, I personally enjoy this rather drawn out interpretation...Agreich... truly romantic performance of this nocturne and her middle section before the octaves is truly breathtaking. Rubinstein and Igoshinas version is my favorite though.
As for Hoffman, he is a good pianist no doubt. But due to the recordings that he has made, I cannot make a full judgment. Have you herd his Rachmaninoff prelude op 3 no 2? It was so rushed...it took out all the emotion. Maybe I am wrong. But just my opinion


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:36 pm 
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BrokenFingers wrote:
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
..who would dare to perform, as he did, both books of Chopin etudes in a live performance?


Pollini, to name one pianist. I agree with alot of the points that you have made, but the world isn't inhabited by entirely safe pianists today. Who would dare perform all 12 Transcendental Etudes in a live performance? Berezovsky, Lugansky etc. etc. Not to speak of the things that Hamelin has done live. But maybe I'm rambling, I'm just saying the kind of lion like bravado of pianists of the past still exists today, although maybe less so.

You are wrong there.
I have attended 12 Pollini concerts in my life time. Not once did he play all the etudes from both books. He played either one of the books, or selective etudes from both books. He has RECORDED them, along with Berezosky, and Lugansky ...But they never play ALL of them in a concert. Berezovsky and Hamelin play Godowksy etudes, and even those are selective, such as op 10 no 12, op 25 no 12, op 10 no 4. So he is not wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:40 pm 
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Chopaninoff wrote:
BrokenFingers wrote:
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
..who would dare to perform, as he did, both books of Chopin etudes in a live performance?


Pollini, to name one pianist. I agree with alot of the points that you have made, but the world isn't inhabited by entirely safe pianists today. Who would dare perform all 12 Transcendental Etudes in a live performance? Berezovsky, Lugansky etc. etc. Not to speak of the things that Hamelin has done live. But maybe I'm rambling, I'm just saying the kind of lion like bravado of pianists of the past still exists today, although maybe less so.

You are wrong there.
I have attended 12 Pollini concerts in my life time. Not once did he play all the etudes from both books. He played either one of the books, or selective etudes from both books. He has RECORDED them, along with Berezosky, and Lugansky ...But they never play ALL of them in a concert. Berezovsky and Hamelin play Godowksy etudes, and even those are selective, such as op 10 no 12, op 25 no 12, op 10 no 4. So he is not wrong.

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.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:30 am 
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Chopaninoff wrote:
Terez wrote:
I just listened to Hofmann's Chopin 48/1 nocturne in c minor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K8CH1RUWH8

After listening to Lugansky and then Argerich...I find myself in the boat with Chris. :lol:

Terez,
The recording of that nocturne...is just horrible.

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

Chopaninoff wrote:
Agreich... truly romantic performance of this nocturne and her middle section before the octaves is truly breathtaking.

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.

Chopaninoff wrote:
Rubinstein and Igoshinas version is my favorite though.

I will have to see if I can find them.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:54 pm 
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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.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:25 pm 
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BrokenFingers wrote:
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.


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.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:22 pm 
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Chopaninoff wrote:
HUGE QUOTE


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.)


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:22 am 
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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.

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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:28 am 
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Terez wrote:
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.


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.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:56 am 
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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).

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:06 pm 
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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.

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Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef Hofmann
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:11 pm 
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Chopaninoff wrote:
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....



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:

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