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#1622499 - 02/17/11 10:20 PM Horowitz's Octaves
Bech Offline
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Registered: 03/24/10
Posts: 844
Loc: Indiana
Been reading about Horowitz and find that one of his big feats was playing octaves--like few can do.

Can anyone direct me to one or more performance of his on YouTube where he's displaying this ability?

Bech
_________________________
Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.

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#1622521 - 02/17/11 10:49 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
mr_roberts_z Offline
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#1622522 - 02/17/11 10:51 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Listen to Horowitz with 15 other pianists in the famous Tchaikovsky salvo. He wasn't the only one with legendary octaves.



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Jason

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#1622524 - 02/17/11 10:51 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
Mark_C Online   content
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We could give you Chopin's octave etude ha but how about this octave part of Liszt's 6th Hungarian Rhapsody.....this video also has the same thing by a couple of other pretty good players. smile

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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1622526 - 02/17/11 10:52 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: mr_roberts_z]
Mark_C Online   content
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(It didn't take us long, did it.....) smile
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1622528 - 02/17/11 10:56 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
.....He wasn't the only one with legendary octaves....

Someone was once talking about some female pianist who had "the best octaves in France," and for some reason everybody giggled. smile
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1622536 - 02/17/11 11:12 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Mark_C]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
(It didn't take us long, did it.....) smile

No it didn't! I had seen the video you posted, and I knew those recordings from CD. (Unlike the Tchaikovsky where I had not heard many of those recordings in their entirety, not to mention in better sound than on YT.)

All three pianists in the Liszt were superb and super-human. Horowitz is certainly a hard act to beat (and I like his slight rewrite), though Argerich gives him a good run for the money. (Her octaves are astoundingly clean and well voiced.) Cziffra seems a tad less convincing, though some may not agree.
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Jason

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#1622539 - 02/17/11 11:27 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
vers la flan Offline
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Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 155
Hi guys,

It's interesting that this topic has come up because just last night I was reading the liner notes from one of my Glenn Gould cds where he asserts that Horowitz didn't have good octaves but that he faked them somehow. Since I'm not quite at Gould's level I can't vouch either way for that statement with the same authority, though I will say that while I think Horowitz's octaves are generally pretty convincing to me, he does seem to make a point of them when he is performing them. (I suppose that's why Rubinstein once quipped to him, "Congratulations, you win the octave olympics," or some such thing).

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#1622546 - 02/17/11 11:51 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: vers la flan]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3830
Loc: Bay Area, CA
vers,

I still laugh every time I see your username, even though it's been several times now. According to wikipedia, "The piece's title reflects the Earth's fiery destruction, as well as the constant emotional buildup and crescendo throughout the piece leading, ultimately, 'toward the flame.'" I wonder if Scriabin ever thought about apocalypse by custard...

I also wonder when I'll stop laughing at your name. God, what if I never stop?....

-Jason
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#1622551 - 02/17/11 11:57 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: vers la flan]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: vers la flan

It's interesting that this topic has come up because just last night I was reading the liner notes from one of my Glenn Gould cds where he asserts that Horowitz didn't have good octaves but that he faked them somehow.

Hmmm. Interesting. How would Horowitz have faked them? Certainly his early EMI recording of the Liszt sonata makes one wonder. My teacher heard him live several times in the '70's (admittedly when Horowitz may not have been at his best), but he never indicated anything suspicious about Horowitz's technique. My piano teacher was quite blown away, though not always convinced with Horowitz's tampering... which was less in evidence (or more convincing?) than in his '60's performances.

Personally I don't care at all for Horowitz's 1978 (?) Rachmaninov 3 with Ormandy, but we do have the '50's with Reiner (cuts and all) to fall back on. That is truly an amazing recording, elephants definitely on the menu and certainly swallowed in their entirety.
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#1622563 - 02/18/11 12:13 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Hmmm. Interesting. How would Horowitz have faked them?.....

....and besides, IMO this is nothing more than a shrug anyway.

If someone "fakes" octaves in a way that is imperceptible, what difference does it make? In fact, I wouldn't call that faking; I'd call it an intelligent and skillful solution.

I've heard it said that Horowitz sometimes "faked" RUNS -- like, leaving out a note here-and-there in scale-like passages, if he felt it would be imperceptible and the extra little quickness would be effective. If he ever "faked" his octaves, I'd bet it wasn't because he couldn't play them as written, but that it was this same kind of choice. If anything, I would consider it genius-ly brilliant, rather than something bad.

IMO the only negative comment in Gould's comment (if he really said that) is upon himself.

P.S. For what it's worth I occasionally make a similar choice to omit notes. One example is a left hand note in the fluttering E major passage in the middle section of Chopin's 2nd Scherzo. It's a note that I thought just got in the way of the R.H. and added little if anything when played. Before I ever performed it that way, I told my teacher about it, and to my surprise and delight, he said, "Oh, I never played that note." ha
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1622569 - 02/18/11 12:26 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3830
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
P.S. For what it's worth I occasionally make a similar choice to omit notes. One example is a left hand note in the fluttering E major passage in the middle section of Chopin's 2nd Scherzo. It's a note that I thought just got in the way of the R.H. and added little if anything when played. Before I ever performed it that way, I told my teacher about it, and to my surprise and delight, he said, "Oh, I never played that note." ha

Which note, Mark?

I'm guessing one of the notes in the 5th measure of the passage? Where the C#-E in the LH comes right after those two notes were played in the RH?

-J
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#1622571 - 02/18/11 12:29 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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.....and another thing is, what did Gould mean anyway about "faking" octaves? Maybe did he just mean that Horowitz didn't really dig into the notes but just sort of "skimmed" them? I can well imagine that, from knowing how they both played.

There's a recurrent passage in the 1st mvt of Beethoven's Sonata in B-flat, Op. 22, where I would just sort of 'skim' some of the octaves. It appears first at 1:44-1:45 on here (the five 8th notes in a row):



Someone who once heard me play it said I was "faking" those notes, that I was "missing" them. It wasn't faking; it was a musical choice. In this video, Barenboim really digs into them, and most people do. But that doesn't mean it's "faking" if you choose to just skim across them and make them just "sputter."

A famous example of another Beethoven passage where we might do this is the octave glissandi near the end of the last mvt of the Waldstein. Let's see what Horowitz does there......in fact maybe this is exactly what Gould was referring to?

No, it's not; he digs into those notes pretty good (at 8:43) -- actually sort of midway between digging-in and skimming -- but he doesn't play it that fast either. I would most definitely 'skim.'

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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1622573 - 02/18/11 12:32 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
.....I occasionally make a similar choice to omit notes. One example is a left hand note in the fluttering E major passage in the middle section of Chopin's 2nd Scherzo. It's a note that I thought just got in the way of the R.H. and added little if anything when played. ....I told my teacher about it, and to my surprise and delight, he said, "Oh, I never played that note." ha

Which note, Mark?

I'm guessing one of the notes in the 5th measure of the passage? Where the C#-E in the LH comes right after those two notes were played in the RH.

BINGO!!!!
(Beautiful job!) ha

Yes -- the E in the left hand is exactly the note that I omit. I play just the C# with the L.H.

So.....did Chopin himself play that note? Dunno, but I can imagine that he didn't -- or that sometimes he did and sometimes he didn't, depending on the piano's action.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1622575 - 02/18/11 12:34 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Hehe, I attempt to be Horowitz for a couple seconds:


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#1622598 - 02/18/11 01:27 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
Bech Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/10
Posts: 844
Loc: Indiana
Super responses! Thank you all.

I pick Argerich. I know it's a lot about quality sound--but I can't help it!

I can just about see her smile at the end.

Edit: Hey, I can do octaves too but mine are a little bit different. grin

Bech


Edited by Bech (02/18/11 01:34 AM)
_________________________
Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.

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#1622625 - 02/18/11 02:26 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 155
RE: Gould vs. Horowitz--

Apparently, the comment was made during an interview around 1960, so it was a long time before Horowitz's messier 80's where he would often pedal things into mush.

I've read a little on Gould and it seems he really had an antipathy towards Horowitz, and I think H's popularity affected Gould's opinion of the listening public as well. It seems the two were polar opposites when it came to their approach to the piano so I guess it's understandable that H would offend G's sensibilities. (I've also wondered, when H made the comment that "A piano is not a typewriter," if that was a swipe at Gould).

I once had a tuner who had seen Horowitz play and remarked, "He could mess up in a way that sounded very exciting."

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#1622748 - 02/18/11 08:44 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: mr_roberts_z]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: mr_roberts_z
Sure.
That performance of Chopin's Octave Etude has a huge number of "false" notes, right?


Edited by pianoloverus (02/18/11 08:44 AM)

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#1622780 - 02/18/11 09:38 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: pianoloverus]
mr_roberts_z Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/07
Posts: 204
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: mr_roberts_z
Sure.
That performance of Chopin's Octave Etude has a huge number of "false" notes, right?


One or two.

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#1622802 - 02/18/11 10:08 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: mr_roberts_z]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: mr_roberts_z
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: mr_roberts_z
Sure.
That performance of Chopin's Octave Etude has a huge number of "false" notes, right?


One or two.
I heard around ten obvious ones before he got to the middle section.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/18/11 10:09 AM)

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#1622810 - 02/18/11 10:13 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2383
Loc: San Jose, CA
Horowitz was not at his best in 1983. In fact, I think that was probably the rock bottom for him. He was heavily medicated and was prone to memory lapses. He recovered by about 1986 and his last recitals are marvelous.

I have to nominate this jaw-dropping recording of Funerailles.

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#1623779 - 02/19/11 05:18 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 155
Hi guys,

Here's a link to the Heroic Polonaise:

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

Starting around 4:00 there's a good top-down view of his hands. It seems he had a pretty wide palm, spanning a fifth or six on its own so octaves look like they fit really comfortably. It's surprising then that, according to David Dubal, Horowitz claimed he was unable to play Scriabin's etude in ninths because it would "break his hand." It looks to me that he shouldn't have problems with it physically.

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#1623812 - 02/19/11 06:14 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I have to say I find Argerich's octaves more impressive than Horowitz's.

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#1623867 - 02/19/11 07:27 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: debrucey]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: debrucey
I have to say I find Argerich's octaves more impressive than Horowitz's.

They actually are, and in some respects she is a lot more sophisticated and intelligent musician than Horowitz. She certainly has more respect for the printed note, and has shown us that it always works as advertised.

Nevermind that Liszt always played free, that was back then. Like Liszt, Horowitz was just too technically rich to behave himself. But Argerich simply does not see it this way.
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Jason

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#1623875 - 02/19/11 07:38 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
Andromaque Offline
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Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Rumor has it that Horowitz acknowledged la Martha's virtuosic skills, knowing that he was not particularly generous about other performers'achievements, right??

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#1623924 - 02/19/11 09:14 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
I've heard Horowitz drop a thumb or a pinky here and there in octaves (not that it really matters, but I'm just saying).

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#1623955 - 02/19/11 10:13 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: vers la flan]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: vers la flan
.....Here's a link to the Heroic Polonaise:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lmJuAM_GvU
Starting around 4:00 there's a good top-down view of his hands. It seems he had a pretty wide palm, spanning a fifth or six on its own so octaves look like they fit really comfortably. It's surprising then that, according to David Dubal, Horowitz claimed he was unable to play Scriabin's etude in ninths because it would "break his hand." It looks to me that he shouldn't have problems with it physically.

Thanks! I have a recording of him playing that (different performance) but I've never "seen" him play it.

I wondered a couple of things:

Did he finger those bottom notes of the L.H. octaves "2-3-4-5"? (Which I think I heard somewhere that he did.)
He didn't.

Did he "help out" with the R.H. (as written) in the 'intro' to the section and the little interlude before the repetition, or whether he takes it all with the L.H.
He helped out.
It's all fine, of course (and NORMAL)......just wondered. smile
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1623968 - 02/19/11 10:42 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Andromaque]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
Rumor has it that Horowitz acknowledged la Martha's virtuosic skills, knowing that he was not particularly generous about other performers'achievements, right??

I do not know if Horowitz ever heard Argerich -there is a lot of conflicting info here- but IMO there is no possible case for him being a greater musician than Argerich.

Horowitz was a showman with AWESOME technical address, but it was all self-absorbed. Argerich has proven to be a fantastic collaborator in chamber music, just listen to her Schumann Piano Quintet- then compare with pedestrian pianists such as Pressler. It is so obvious as to be a bit of a joke.
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Jason

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#1623989 - 02/19/11 11:37 PM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
.....IMO there is no possible case for him being a greater musician than Argerich.....

Good that you said IMO. ha

Look....."greater musician" is a very subjective thing. I doubt it's possible for anyone to ever legitimately say there's "no possible case" for something like this -- and I don't mean only about Horowitz and Argerich.

Do I think Horowitz was a "greater musician" than Argerich? Well, I would never think of thinking in such terms, but if I had to pick an answer, I'd say yes, he was a 'greater musician.' But IMO to think in such terms at all -- it sort of insults both of them.
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1624029 - 02/20/11 02:21 AM Re: Horowitz's Octaves [Re: Bech]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3485
Loc: US
Jason, I gotta call you out on this one. You know how much I think of Argerich-- I adore her playing but there is no way that I would place her musicianship above Horowitz'. Horowitz went deeply into the music he played and studied it very carefully. His interpretations were not simply technical showcases or fits of capriciousness but based on a deep understanding of the music he was playing. Plus I agree with Mark about the problems inherent in this type of comparison but if it's about going there, I give the nod to H.

Sophia

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