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 Post subject: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:07 pm 
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Anyone here doing anything special for Liszt's 200th birthday? I know there are all kinds of celebrations happening around the world. Today I listened to Marc-Andre Hamelin playing Liszt's B-minor Sonata on Performance Today. Here is the link if you're interested: http://performancetoday.publicradio.org/playlist.php The performance is on Hour 2 at about 22:30. Hamelin's performance is wonderful, as expected!

Also, I hear that Lang Lang will be performing Liszt which will be broadcast in movie theaters around the globe. I know how some of us here feel about Lang Lang so I don't expect there to be much interest in this...:wink:

My teacher will be performing Liszt along with other fine performers in the city tomorrow at a special Liszt celebration. I am unable to attend, so I guess I will just play some Liszt sometime tomorrow on my own piano for my own personal audience (which is nobody...).

So....what are your plans?

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:52 pm 
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Not doing anything special, though it has been on my mind. I did upload my favourite piece of Liszt to the online e-cital celebrating his bicentenary ( http://www.ecital.net/listing.php ), so at least I did something.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:05 am 
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I am going to NOT get a hair cut. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:44 am 
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@Andrew - that's a nice gesture!

@Scott - good idea - Maybe I look a little like Liszt with my hair. Ok, that will be my tribute.... :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:27 am 
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I'm doing a little something, sorry it's a day late...

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:10 am 
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Nice program! I wish I could attend and cheer you on ... but I'm on-call this weekend. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 4:01 am 
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hanysz wrote:
I'm doing a little something, sorry it's a day late...


You rock, Alexander! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:37 am 
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No amateur pianist should leave this earth without playing at least one difficult piece by Liszt - an Etude or Rhapsody, etc. I've been trying to relearn one off and on (mostly off these days). So, I guess I've been celebrating his B-day in advance. :P I am still far from a decent recording...

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:08 pm 
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88man wrote:
No amateur pianist should leave this earth without playing at least one difficult piece by Liszt - an Etude or Rhapsody, etc. I've been trying to relearn one off and on (mostly off these days). So, I guess I've been celebrating his B-day in advance. :P I am still far from a decent recording...



Uh oh....I am in trouble. I've not learned either a Liszt Etude or Rhapsody.

Even if I did want to learn one of them, I would not know where to start.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:33 pm 
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Pianolady wrote:
Uh oh....I am in trouble. I've not learned either a Liszt Etude or Rhapsody.
No problem! Just learn either the Mephisto Waltz or his Sonata. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:57 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
Pianolady wrote:
Uh oh....I am in trouble. I've not learned either a Liszt Etude or Rhapsody.
No problem! Just learn either the Mephisto Waltz or his Sonata. :lol:


Oh sure.... :wink:

Actually, I've heard the Sonata so many times recently that I could probably sound it out on my piano now. Except instead of playing it in 1/2 hour, it may take about three hours to get to the end....

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:48 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Uh oh....I am in trouble. I've not learned either a Liszt Etude or Rhapsody.

Even if I did want to learn one of them, I would not know where to start.

Try Paganini study number 5, or number 3 from the "Three concert studies". If you want to explore the Transcendental Studies, the most accessible I think are the two without names, no. 2 in A minor and no. 10 in F minor. Also have a look at Hungarian Rhapsody number 5 in E minor.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:42 am 
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hanysz wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Uh oh....I am in trouble. I've not learned either a Liszt Etude or Rhapsody.

Even if I did want to learn one of them, I would not know where to start.

Try Paganini study number 5, or number 3 from the "Three concert studies". If you want to explore the Transcendental Studies, the most accessible I think are the two without names, no. 2 in A minor and no. 10 in F minor. Also have a look at Hungarian Rhapsody number 5 in E minor.


Re the Transcendentals, no. 2 - seriously? That's far from easy. I'd say the most accessible are (easiest first) 3, 1, 11 and 6.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:22 am 
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andrew wrote:
Re the Transcendentals, no. 2 - seriously? That's far from easy. I'd say the most accessible are (easiest first) 3, 1, 11 and 6.

No, not too seriously, I don't know this collection so well. Probably your guess is better than mine.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:57 am 
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Thanks for the suggestions, Alexander and Andrew. Now, if I only had more time - can you do anything about that...? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:35 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions, Alexander and Andrew. Now, if I only had more time - can you do anything about that...? :)


You won't need much time for the first transcendental - it's only a minute long ;)

Seriously though, if you wanted to learn one, go for no. 11. It's got a lot of musical content and it's not prohibitively difficult. Alexander's suggestion of the 5th Hungarian Rhapsody was also good.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:41 pm 
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andrew wrote:

Seriously though, if you wanted to learn one, go for no. 11. It's got a lot of musical content and it's not prohibitively difficult. Alexander's suggestion of the 5th Hungarian Rhapsody was also good.


Ok, I will definitely take a look at those two. Thank you again for the help! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:02 pm 
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Transcendental no 3 (Paysage) is perfectly sight-readable. It's all about voicing and phrasing. Frankly, nothing transcendental about it in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:05 am 
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One piece I love and which is not really difficult is the Valse-Impromptu. Been meaning to practice and record it for ages but there's always something else.
We don't have this one on the site yet. The Valse Melancholique is beautiful too, and also the Valse Oubliee. They would make a nice trio.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:55 pm 
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techneut wrote:
One piece I love and which is not really difficult is the Valse-Impromptu. Been meaning to practice and record it for ages but there's always something else.
We don't have this one on the site yet. The Valse Melancholique is beautiful too, and also the Valse Oubliee. They would make a nice trio.


I meant that I want to see if I can play one of Liszt's Trascendental Etudes and also a Hungarian Rhapsody so that I can at least say that I've played one or two (even if they are the easiest in the series...). Then I can leave this earth. :wink: But these three Valses pique my interest too so I'll put them on my to-do list as well. (I may have to quite my job.... )

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:53 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
Transcendental no 3 (Paysage) is perfectly sight-readable.


Entirely agreed.

pianolady wrote:
techneut wrote:
One piece I love and which is not really difficult is the Valse-Impromptu. Been meaning to practice and record it for ages but there's always something else.
We don't have this one on the site yet. The Valse Melancholique is beautiful too, and also the Valse Oubliee. They would make a nice trio.


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.

pianolady wrote:
I meant that I want to see if I can play one of Liszt's Trascendental Etudes and also a Hungarian Rhapsody so that I can at least say that I've played one or two (even if they are the easiest in the series...). Then I can leave this earth. :wink: But these three Valses pique my interest too so I'll put them on my to-do list as well. (I may have to quite my job.... )


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.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:20 pm 
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andrew wrote:

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.


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.

andrew wrote:

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.


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.... :(

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:47 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
andrew wrote:

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.


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.



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.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:29 pm 
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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 ?

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:44 pm 
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His baroque recordings may surprise you in their comparative lack of indulgence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao2XIqACb5U (Scarlatti)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdRUCiRib1Q (Daquin)

I do have a discography somewhere but not to hand so I'm going from memory in saying that the only Bach is in Busoni transcriptions, plus there is a CPE Bach Andantino on an early disc.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:47 pm 
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techneut wrote:
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.


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.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:59 am 
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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?

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:29 am 
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andrew wrote:
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.

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.

andrew wrote:
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.

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.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:33 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Ok, I guess I will just have to print out the piece tomorrow - see if it is at all within my capabilities.

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.

pianolady wrote:
So it seems that Cziffra tends to 'out Liszt' Liszt, right?

Cziffra out-everybody'ed everybody.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:30 am 
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techneut wrote:
andrew wrote:
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.

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 ?


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.

techneut wrote:
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.


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!


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:40 am 
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pianolady wrote:
So it seems that Cziffra tends to 'out Liszt' Liszt, right?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TISGp5kPw4 :D A completely unique pianist.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:15 pm 
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Ugh! :x :roll: :)

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

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:09 pm 
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techneut wrote:
One piece I love and which is not really difficult is the Valse-Impromptu. Been meaning to practice and record it for ages but there's always something else.
We don't have this one on the site yet. The Valse Melancholique is beautiful too, and also the Valse Oubliee. They would make a nice trio.


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?

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:49 pm 
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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

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:22 pm 
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techneut wrote:
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



Funny!

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

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:43 am 
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pianolady wrote:
techneut wrote:
One piece I love and which is not really difficult is the Valse-Impromptu. Been meaning to practice and record it for ages but there's always something else.
We don't have this one on the site yet. The Valse Melancholique is beautiful too, and also the Valse Oubliee. They would make a nice trio.


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?


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


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:59 am 
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andrew wrote:

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

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.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:06 am 
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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

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:27 pm 
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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... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:50 am 
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88man wrote:
I am sure that everyone has a piece that haunts them to relearn to play


Absolutely!

88man wrote:
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


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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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:32 am 
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Hi Monica, life is full of contrasts - I am glad you're in a good mood. When I am upset even to play or listen to music, I get out my telescope and peer deep into the stars for 30 minutes. Then I feel how petty and small my worries are and I feel better. You can also try a good pair of binoculars too. :)
Hey, tell me about those killer spots! It really helps to have a large hand for La Campanella. I realize I couldn't just practice this piece like any other piece. It helps to adapt this piece to your hand; and not try to adapt your hand to the piece like we do with most other pieces. For example, one problem (of many) I've had with this piece is that my 5th finger is too short. I kept missing the high D#. My 4th finger is almost as long as my 3rd finger, so in my later attempt I find that I can nail the D# octaves and jumps with my 4th finger much better instead of using the 5th finger.

Hi Andrew, all his transcriptions have amazing piano-technics! The stories from those labor camps are gruesome, for those who survived to tell it. I first heard of Cziffra and his uncommon style when I was 13 - I remember signing out the Cziffra LPs of Liszt music from the public library almost every week one summer. Yes, the Hungarian Dance No. 5 is a bit harder. I also tried playing the Sabre Dance - forget it! Guaranteed carpel tunnel syndrome. I thought you might like to hear the original, Vecsey playing the Valse Triste from a 1913 recording. He truly captures the Hungarian soul with such a nostalgic and seductive gypsy air. It's very unfortunate that he died at only 42... Ahhh, don't get me started!... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQkCK_rJVPI

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:15 am 
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Thanks for the original Vecsey - I had not heard it before and it is lovely.

You know there are two scores for the Sabre Dance? There's the Edition Peters one, which is very badly laid out and looks impossible (from vol 2 of the Cziffra transcriptions - vol 1 was done by him and his son whilst vol 2 was done through a computer program and is in serious need of editorial work), and another edition which has been corrected pianistically and isn't quite as scary.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:14 pm 
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88man wrote:
Hi Monica, life is full of contrasts - I am glad you're in a good mood. When I am upset even to play or listen to music, I get out my telescope and peer deep into the stars for 30 minutes. Then I feel how petty and small my worries are and I feel better. You can also try a good pair of binoculars too. :)


Hi George,
Actually, I was in a bad mood after I watched that Cziffra video. It's a problem I have - listening to professional players makes me feel so terribly inferior that I practically feel like giving up. I even feel this way often when I listen to our PS members recordings. I wish I could be inspired when I watch/listen to video/recordings like you guys are, but I can't help it. I think, though, that from now on I will not watch any more Cziffra videos.

Anyway...I did in fact go out and look at the stars last night. We're having clear skies and unusually warm temperatures for November. I've installed Google Sky Map on my smartphone and so it's fun to look at the sky and actually know what I'm looking at. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:08 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Actually, I was in a bad mood after I watched that Cziffra video. It's a problem I have - listening to professional players makes me feel so terribly inferior that I practically feel like giving up. I even feel this way often when I listen to our PS members recordings. I wish I could be inspired when I watch/listen to video/recordings like you guys are, but I can't help it. I think, though, that from now on I will not watch any more Cziffra videos.


I can understand your feelings. Cziffra is probably my favourite pianist, but I have a very deliberate policy that if I'm performing in public, I avoid his recordings for days beforehand. Firstly because I may conclude I can barely play the instrument and secondly because I might try to play like him, and that's not likely to end well! I vividly recall having played one of his transcriptions in public, been quite pleased with myself for the end result, and listening to myself a few times. Then I put his recording on and thought "oh... " followed by some rather unprintable things.

I must say however that I find his life story one of the most inspiring (even though it is in many ways deeply tragic) pianistic tales there is. That someone could be born into dire poverty on a refugee camp, live through WWII fighting during which his battalion was wiped out (he ended up living in an underground cave for many months), only survive post-war by playing in bars, then have his hands maliciously damaged, and come out of all that to become one of the greatest virtuosi of the century, defies rational belief.

It's idle speculation on my behalf, of course, but I like to think that his outrageous improvisations are a reminder of a bygone and almost lost past - Liszt (and others of that era) improvised publicly on themes suggested by the audience, almost as a matter of course. I strongly suspect that many of Liszt's variations on themes/paraphrases etc originate from a retrospective attempt to formalise preceding improvisations, much as the written-out Cziffra pieces emanate from painstaking transcription of his studio improvisations.


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:55 am 
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Hi Monica and Andrew, why torture yourselves with Cziffra videos, unless you want to end up with carpel tunnel syndrome at the end? :shock:
Virtuosos don't phase me one bit. The piano-technics are dazzling, and the keyboard will have to be cooled down with a fire extinguisher after each performance, but at the end of the day, Rubinstein, late Horowitz, or Bolet will make me less edgy. I don't know about you, but I love Bolet for Liszt music!
Watching music videos?... I love watching concert videos for inspiration with a glass of vino. when I hear a great recording, video, or a concert I feel the urge to go to the piano (sobriety optional at that point). :P It's funny, I can watch these videos and praise the fact that I didn't become a professional musician. No regrets. But, Cziffra is impossible to emulate, imitate, or even regurgitate. :D Since I don't have to perform music as a profession, some can enjoy music for personal enrichment without the demands and stress of a musical career. My hat's off to those with musical careers!

Absolutely Monica, Google Sky is nice, I use SkyEye and velcro my phone flat against the telescope. BTW, if you you're up until midnight, in the eastern sky, "Granados's Star" (Horsehead nebula) located on the bottom of Orion's belt near N2024 (Flame Nebula) and Alnitak. Unfortunately, it's not visible to the eye, you have to hook up a camera to the scope to see the beautiful star gases and nebulas. But, Jupiter is fun with its 4 moons - that you can see with good binoculars. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:41 am 
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The Vecsey recording is a lovely piece of old-world fiddling, and in surprisingly good sound considering its age. Thanks for posting that George.

Pity that Cziffra had to get his big paws on it and vulfarize it with his inevitable furious cadenzas and tremolos. I know this is not going to win me any friends here, but I have to say the more I hear Cziffra I find him a circus artist rather than a musician.

I did not not know about his life story, that certainly gives another perspective. But I don't think we should let such things influence our judgement of someone's playing. It's a bit like wooing kid prodigies just because they are so young.

But I have to hand it to Cziffra, there's never a dull moment with him. If you like show and excitement, and heaps of scales, octaves and double notes at every occasion, he's your man. I'm sure Liszt would have wet his pants over him. As for being musical, I'm not sure Cziffra could do that without spontaneously combusting every few bars. He had no limits, but also, IMO, no retraint, or dare I say, no taste.
Ducking and running now ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:31 am 
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88man wrote:
Hi Monica and Andrew, why torture yourselves with Cziffra videos, unless you want to end up with carpel tunnel syndrome at the end? :shock:
Virtuosos don't phase me one bit. The piano-technics are dazzling, and the keyboard will have to be cooled down with a fire extinguisher after each performance, but at the end of the day, Rubinstein, late Horowitz, or Bolet will make me less edgy. I don't know about you, but I love Bolet for Liszt music!


I never find them torture! Just remarkable in their own way. And I agree, Bolet is excellent in the more poetic Liszt (I'm less keen on him in the virtuoso stuff, finding him a bit restrained.. although when he was younger he was much more of a fire-eating virtuoso).

techneut wrote:
I know this is not going to win me any friends here, but I have to say the more I hear Cziffra I find him a circus artist rather than a musician.


Maybe because when people post his stuff, it tends to be the big, virtuoso pieces. He can be surprisingly delicate in the more intimate Liszt pieces (though I know you'll say he wasn't in the Valse Oubliee, and you would be partly right).

techneut wrote:
As for being musical, I'm not sure Cziffra could do that without spontaneously combusting every few bars. He had no limits, but also, IMO, no retraint, or dare I say, no taste.
Ducking and running now ;-)


Out of curiosity, what do you make of this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQRl9M0C3j8 (Bartok 2, 1st mvt, other parts also available).

techneut wrote:
I did not not know about his life story, that certainly gives another perspective. But I don't think we should let such things influence our judgement of someone's playing. It's a bit like wooing kid prodigies just because they are so young.


Yes, I agree. However, when you say he had no limits or restraint, is this lack of musical understanding, or musical understanding which has been developed in a way different to the norm? I don't want to perpetuate the oft-quoted myth that he had no conventional training, as this is palpably false (he was I believe the youngest person ever admitted to the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest), but whereas most current pianists spend their formative years on the competition circuit and in conservatoires and masterclasses, he spent his formative years fighting in WWII and then improvising to entertain the public. I suspect this has a great deal to do with his uniqueness as a pianist. One side of the coin is that public bar improvisation probably teaches you how to play in a manner that appeals to the public (rather than to critics), the other is that the conventional educational approach almost certainly conditions any individuality out of all but the most strong-minded. (There are a couple of amusing stories about his bar piano work - Vasary coming to the bar for a drink and asking the owner where the second pianist was, members of a visiting Russian orchestra dropping in, ordering themselves large amounts of vodka, after five minutes being so stupefied by what they were hearing that they forgot to drink. There is a reason I quote these stories: it's not just that his playing impressed the lowest common denominator, these were trained musicians and they were amazed too.) One thing is for sure: Cziffra's playing was always controversial (the public loved him, Cortot wrote him a letter conveying his profound admiration, the critics initially raved and then turned on him; the Chopin Etudes recording speaks [or perhaps shouts] for itself).


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:45 am 
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andrew wrote:
Out of curiosity, what do you make of this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQRl9M0C3j8 (Bartok 2, 1st mvt, other parts also available).

Hard to say given the dismal sound quality. I'm surprised to find him play some more intellectually challenging music (was wondering if he ever ventured outside romantic virtuoso spheres) which is a brownie point from me. Not badly played but also not very accurate and rather soggy and haphazard compared to more incisive modern accounts. I have the version by Ashkenazy and Solti which IMO is excellent and far superior to this one (not just sonically).

andrew wrote:
(There are a couple of amusing stories about his bar piano work - Vasary coming to the bar for a drink and asking the owner where the second pianist was, members of a visiting Russian orchestra dropping in, ordering themselves large amounts of vodka, after five minutes being so stupefied by what they were hearing that they forgot to drink.

That last one surely must be apocryphal ! Russians forgetting to drink... fat chance :P

I'll try to find some literature on Cziffra's life story. Much as I don't like his piano playing style, it must be a good read.

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:51 am 
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I've not checked to see that it's the full version, but I assume it is:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/Cziffra/index.htm

(Cannons and Flowers: The Memoirs of Georges Cziffra)


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Thanks for that ! I'll go and read it at earliest convenience. I might even understand the man better, if probably not like his playing more.

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