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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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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:27 pm 
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I hope to read that book sometime too, Andrew, so thanks from me too. And now that I know a little more about Cfizzra, with all his struggles, it reinforces the notion that some people are just born with the ability to play piano and some are not. It's genetics!

@George - thanks for the info regarding Granados' star. It's a rainy day today/tonight - maybe tomorrow I'll go look for it.

Regarding inspiration from watching/listening to music videos/recordings, or lack thereof in my case...what really DOES give me the urge to go to my piano is after having watched a movie that has some classical piano music in it. For some reason, I just can't wait to get to the piano soon afterwards!!

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:48 pm 
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I know I'm going OT, but..... :)





88man wrote:
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


George, is it really Granados' star, named after Enrique? That is so cool if it's true!! Especially since he wrote "Cant de Estrelles", which we both like so much! I tried to find a little information on the star online just now, but did not find anything. Is there a link you can give me?

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:56 pm 
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I use Pocket Universe on my iphone. I don't know about the others, but it allows me just to hold up towards any portion of the sky and uses it's internal sensors to know what to display. I too have a refractor telescope (geek all the way). Joseph Lhevinne was an avid sky-gazer, even known to sky-watch during concerts in an amphitheater. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:33 pm 
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My Droid does the same with Google Sky. When I first installed it, I was on my morning train commuting to work. People started looking at me funny though when I was pointing my phone to the ceiling, the floor, out the window... :lol:

Lang Lang is another sky-gazer.... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 3:32 am 
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pianolady wrote:
I know I'm going OT, but..... :)
88man wrote:
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

George, is it really Granados' star, named after Enrique? That is so cool if it's true!! Especially since he wrote "Cant de Estrelles", which we both like so much! I tried to find a little information on the star online just now, but did not find anything. Is there a link you can give me?


Hi Monica, no, it's not a name in the star registry. Remember, a while back I sent a photo of the Horsehead Nebula in honorarium for his brilliant work Cant de Les Estrelles. The native Castilian horses came to mind while I was looking for a fitting tribute in the heavens for Uncle Rico. :D Along with Beethoven's 9th, ancient Armenian duduk music, I still play that piece in the background when scoping the night sky. 8) Here's a telescope photo. You can't see the gases or nebulae visually; this is a several minute exposure with a camera attachment which reveals hidden information. The bright star on the left is Alnitak in the Constellation of Orion (located at the bottom of the belt) - this you can see even without binoculars.

Wow, I didn't know that Lang Lang and Josef Lhévinne were amateur astronomers.

Andrew, that is some amazing reading! Those who suffer, always have something to say... I'll finish up later.

Hi Chris, don't worry I won't be chasing you down! :P

Hi Eddy, I finally got a larger APO refractor, which should give a better image, I am just waiting until Orion rises higher up in the horizon... I usually take my scope to Cape Cod in the summer where the skies are much darker. After a cookout, and a few drinks, everyone takes turns looking through the scope. Before you know it, we're seeing double-stars! :P Sometimes, we'll joke around among friends late at night while looking for a particular star... It'll go like this, "Well, I don't know about Saturn, but from here I can see Uranus!" :lol: :P


Attachments:
HorseHead Flame.2 .jpg
HorseHead Flame.2 .jpg [ 43.16 KiB | Viewed 1496 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:24 am 
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Hey George, good to hear from you again! I will never forget the first time I saw Saturn WITH MY OWN EYES through a little telescope. The image was very small and had no detail other than the disk of the planet and its rings, but I was seeing the real thing! It was awe inspiring for me and left an indelible mark. I have two works for piano that I premiered while working on my DMA at Cincinnati, by a composition grad student named Steve Kowalsky. They are titled: "First Observations" for Piano (1988). No.1 NGC 224 "Andromeda", and No.2 Remnant: Crab Nebula. The style is very modern with porportional rhythms and cells, changing time signatures but no meter to speak of, etc. The amazing thing is that it sounds "spacey." Maybe someday I'll look at them again.

I just wondered about Steve and found the following from a 1991 Chicago tribune:
"Another new American piece, also a CSO commission and Chicago premiere, occupied the first half. It was La Grange composer Steve Kowalsky`s "Last Voyage," winner of the Illinois Young Composers` Competition and first performed by Barenboim and the CSO during the orchestra`s Downstate tour last fall. At first hearing, Kowalsky`s sound-collage impressed as a pretty but banal piece of orchestration. What a shame that the first statewide composers` competition-a worthy idea-could not have turned up a more substantial score.

It sounds like the critic didn't care too much for it.

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:03 pm 
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@George...I don't really know if Lang Lang is an amateur astromer. I just meant that he looks
up at the ceiling a lot when he plays (makes me gag...I hate that!!), so he is"gazing at the sky". Sorry, a bad attempt at a joke... :oops:

Anyway, that photo is very cool! And yes, now I remember us talking about "Granados' star when we were discussing his "Cant de Estrelles". I haven't listened to that in a while...think I will do so tonight. I love it!! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:41 pm 
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Well, now it is the 90th anniversary of Cziffra's birth today, so perhaps here is the appropriate place for this Liszt performance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yN6d4nGVwU (live, part 1 of 2, audio only)

(in part response to the Lisitsa Totentanz, and partly because I can't resist) :D


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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:46 am 
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Happy birthday, Georges! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Franz Liszt's big day!
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:27 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Happy birthday, Georges! :)


That was a nice touch putting him in the banner. :) Thanks.


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