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#1931049 - 07/23/12 02:18 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes)

Sorry!
I knew that it was mainly Liszt's etudes that were being discussed at that point, but I didn't know that any of his etude sets were called by that name.

btw, ARE THEY? Is that really an alternate name for what's being called here the "TE's"?

Which BTW is another 'name' I wouldn't usually recognize, but I had an easier time with that than with "Douze Grandes Etudes." grin

To me, the term has always meant just Chopin.

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#1931050 - 07/23/12 02:37 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
ScriabinAddict Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/12
Posts: 333
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes)

btw, ARE THEY? Is that really an alternate name for what's being called here the "TE's"?


I believe they were the original versions of the Transcendental Etudes, and were published in 1836(?). Liszt later revised them, along with the Paganini Etudes, after realizing they wouldn't be very useful if nobody else could actually play them.

I believe they're S.137 or 138


Edited by ScriabinAddict (07/23/12 02:44 AM)

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#1931088 - 07/23/12 04:11 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: SirHuddlestonFudd]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: SirHuddlestonFudd
That's a stupid remark -- Beethoven could almost certainly not have played his Violin Concerto, Mozart his Clarinet Concerto, Brahms his String Quartets (any instruments). Beethoven could not have played any of the wind parts in his symphonies. A good composer learns to write for instruments which he cannot play. This is quite common knowledge.

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.


It's not at all a stupid remark. dolce, may not have expressed his thoughts clearly enough (I'm pretty sure he means Chopin must have possessed the technical tools to play his etudes or he couldn't have written them...I don't agree, but that's not the point), but we know that Chopin played the piano so your remark clearly falls short in that we're not talking about a composer writing for an instrument he cannot play.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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♪ ≠ $


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#1931203 - 07/23/12 10:18 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8822
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.

Ah. I just remembered. (Came to me first thing this morning.)

Janice Weber.
_________________________
Jason

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#1931254 - 07/23/12 12:10 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Ah. I just remembered. (Came to me first thing this morning.)

Janice Weber.

Known and loved by many of us -- among other things she's been a judge in the Boston and Washington amateur competitions. I've heard her perform also.

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#1931587 - 07/23/12 11:02 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6069
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.

Ah. I just remembered. (Came to me first thing this morning.)

Janice Weber.


And it's on Amazon for 24 bucks. hmmmmm. nahh
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1931607 - 07/23/12 11:54 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1479
While I haven't read every response, I'm frankly surprised at the amount of folks on here thinking that it was "doubtless" that he had such a great technique and could play all his etudes without trouble.

A few points for consideration:

- While a fine and capable pianist, I think it is fairly safe to assume that Chopin was NOT a thunder-storming virtuoso on the level of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, or Paganini.
We know he performed no often than a few times a year.

-Chopin never practiced more than 3 hours a day. His time was spent teaching and composing. I don't know of any pianist who can play all the Chopin Etudes with ease who practiced this little.

- As far as I know, there are no know reviews or reports of Chopin performing brilliantly technically...we know of his beautiful bel canto tone..of his pianissimo..of his improvisations..but not of his stupendous technical feats.

- We know that Chopin famously said he wished he could "steal" the way Liszt played his own etudes, and we have no actual way of knowing what Liszt's technical level was at the time

And as a final side note, I believe it is PERFECTLY realistic that somebody can write something they are unable to play. There is the difference between the UNDERSTANDING of piano technique and the EXECUTION of technique - I'm inclined to believe that Chopin (and Schumann, and Brahms, and Schubert), all had the former but not the latter. There is only time for so much in life - and as somebody said earlier, composers don't practice, at least not enough to attain virtuosity.

Just for the record, I DO believe that he had a few in his fingers, and could play excepts and segments of all of them. But could he play them the same way Liszt, Pollini, Browning, or Ashkenazy could? I highly doubt it.

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#1931610 - 07/24/12 12:08 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
- While a fine and capable pianist, I think it is fairly safe to assume that Chopin was NOT a thunder-storming virtuoso on the level of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, or Paganini....

Nobody's saying he was.
None of us who believe he was an extraordinary pianist of the highest order (which includes me) think he was this thing that you just said.

That doesn't mean he didn't have an A+++ technique, which I think he did. A+++ techniques can take different forms.

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#1931613 - 07/24/12 12:22 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
beet31425 Offline
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3713
Loc: Bay Area, CA
One other thing to consider regarding Chopin and his etudes. Don't forget that he wrote them. That means that they were the product of his brain, and, perhaps, his fingers. I think that in hundreds of little ways that are hard to pin down, this makes his music "in sync" with his muscular, neurological, and musical essence.

Dismiss this theory right away if you want smile , but I thought of this because there are compositions of my own that I would not be able to play as easily if I hadn't written them myself; it's something I've observed my whole life. I think that being a piece's composer makes that piece about 3%-5% easier to play. ("5%" of what? Who knows.) In my own experience that can make a huge difference.

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1931614 - 07/24/12 12:31 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
daviel Offline
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Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Of course Chopin was a great pianist with technique of the highest order. I believe he could play anything. I don't see Chopin sitting in a dark room with manuscript paper and a pen. It's easy to imagine Chopin just sitting down at the piano and ripping off his compositions impromptu at the piano and then writing down what he just played. I'll bet lunch that's how he composed.


Edited by daviel (07/24/12 12:32 AM)
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#1931623 - 07/24/12 01:08 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5285
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
And as a final side note, I believe it is PERFECTLY realistic that somebody can write something they are unable to play.

I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment, and it was never my intention to incline otherwise. I merely wished to impart that it seems highly unlikely for someone who is not a master of that particular instrument to be capable of pushing the limits of virtuosity for that particular instrument. And, for many, I believe Chopin's etudes would seem to be among the very highest virtuosity.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1931629 - 07/24/12 01:48 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
One other thing to consider regarding Chopin and his etudes. Don't forget that he wrote them. That means that they were the product of his brain, and, perhaps, his fingers. I think that in hundreds of little ways that are hard to pin down, this makes his music "in sync" with his muscular, neurological, and musical essence.

Dismiss this theory right away if you want smile....

I hope not too many people will "want." ha

It's 100% sensible.
If not more. smile

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#1931821 - 07/24/12 01:15 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: beet31425]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Originally Posted By: beet31425
One other thing to consider regarding Chopin and his etudes. Don't forget that he wrote them. That means that they were the product of his brain, and, perhaps, his fingers. I think that in hundreds of little ways that are hard to pin down, this makes his music "in sync" with his muscular, neurological, and musical essence
-J


My hunch is that Chopin didn't sit away from a piano in a dark room with pen and ink and manuscript paper. It makes more sense to me that he just played the pieces whole or long phrase by long phrase and then wrote them down. I think they came out of his brain, his imagination through his fingers on the keyboard then on to paper. There are probably no telling how many pieces he made up on the spot and played in parlors all over France and Poland that weren't recorded on paper.


Edited by daviel (07/24/12 01:19 PM)
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1932508 - 07/26/12 02:53 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
slipperykeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/12
Posts: 360
Loc: Dorset, England
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
people who doubt genius's capabilities, like that of Chopin's, should question their own. Could Bach play his Goldberg-variations, did Liszt actually toss off Mazeppa, and how was the premiere of Mahler's 8th under his own baton, let's not question those things, let's accept them and be humble and strive..


+1


-1
The statement is assuming that the ego of the questioner is the cause of the question. Read carefully no such reasoning exists, simply a request for knowledge.
Are people who don't know supposed to go through life ignorant? Yes?
Oh, right, well thanks to all the "genius's" who know the answer for being so helpful.
Perhaps they should take up teaching what with their oh so helpful and generous approach, and all that.
It is strange on these forums how much ignorance is displayed by people who think they know a lot!

(I'm possibly even slipping into that nasty habit myself right now)

As for "be humble and strive" that also assumes a level of competence that does not obviously exist and should be ascertained beforehand, although it is actually nothing to do with the subject of this thread.

So, to deal with the actual question on the thread, I believe Chopin would indeed be able to play his etudes well, that is the difference between his abundant talent and my total lack of ability.



Edited by slipperykeys (07/26/12 02:54 AM)

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#1932537 - 07/26/12 06:22 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: slipperykeys]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
I think the important point is that Chopin's technique was different. That he says in a letter he'd like to rob Liszt of his way of playing his etudes is a clue. In another letter (not to hand) he says he knows something about the piano that the other 'greats' don't.

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#1932553 - 07/26/12 07:55 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: chopin_r_us]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
I think the important point is that Chopin's technique was different. That he says in a letter he'd like to rob Liszt of his way of playing his etudes is a clue. In another letter (not to hand) he says he knows something about the piano that the other 'greats' don't.


+1

Notice that Chopin himself has the humility to be in awe of the genious of Liszt, whereas we ("we", so to speak) kind of grudgingly admit that Chopin must have had talent "abondant" enough to play his own études.

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#1933057 - 07/27/12 08:49 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
babama Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/08
Posts: 800
Loc: Netherlands
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y

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#1933309 - 07/27/12 06:12 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: babama]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5285
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: babama
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y


Excellent comment: "Everything is invented ... nobody knows what is right and what is wrong, because it's conception." smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1933470 - 07/28/12 02:47 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes)

Sorry!
I knew that it was mainly Liszt's etudes that were being discussed at that point, but I didn't know that any of his etude sets were called by that name.

btw, ARE THEY? Is that really an alternate name for what's being called here the "TE's"?

Which BTW is another 'name' I wouldn't usually recognize, but I had an easier time with that than with "Douze Grandes Etudes." grin

To me, the term has always meant just Chopin.


the top of my copy of op. 10 no. 1 says Douze Grandes Etudes too shocked (http://www.chopinmusic.net/downloads/pdf/10-01-etude.pdf)

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#1933490 - 07/28/12 06:03 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Derulux]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: babama
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y


Excellent comment: "Everything is invented ... nobody knows what is right and what is wrong, because it's conception." smile
I like the surreptitious "Don't like staying in America".

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#1933605 - 07/28/12 01:29 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5285
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: babama
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y


Excellent comment: "Everything is invented ... nobody knows what is right and what is wrong, because it's conception." smile
I like the surreptitious "Don't like staying in America".


HAHA YES! As long as it wasn't going in the paper, it was okay to say, right? laugh I think he was trying to make a joke, because most of his interview was sprinkled with charm and small jokes, but one never knows..
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1935059 - 07/31/12 12:12 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Sequentia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 60
I'm not sure what the value of any living person's thinking is supposed to be in this case, but contemporary accounts describe Chopin's playing as extremely soft. I don't recall having read anything about his virtuosity at the keyboard, but he certainly did not have the "virtuoso aura" that Liszt had.

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#1937544 - 08/04/12 11:49 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 390
Originally Posted By: stores
Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.

Since we obviously have no recordings of Liszt, how can you be certain that Liszt's technique was inferior to that of modern conservatory students? What if Liszt's technique could rival (or surpass) that of Horowitz, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, or Hamelin? We do have recordings of Rosenthal, and his technique could rival Hofmann or Rachmaninov. Isn't it possible that Liszt the teacher had at least as good- if not better- technique than Rosenthal?

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#1937546 - 08/04/12 11:54 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
....how can you be certain that Liszt's technique was inferior to that of modern conservatory students?....

I agree. In fact, if anything I think most likely it was at least as good as almost anyone who has since lived, with few if any exceptions. He essentially invented piano virtuosity as we think of it today, and from anything we know, he had everything: great fingers, great musical and pianistic instincts, a sense of the keyboard like the proverbial back of one's hand, and a genius musical mind to boot. I think that's almost impossible to beat, and almost as hard to equal. I certainly believe there are more people nowadays with superb techniques than there were then, but are today's people better than the very best of Liszt's time, especially Liszt himself? I doubt it. To me, it's like saying that today's young physicists are smarter about relativity than Einstein was. They know more, because we've learned more since then. But are they smarter about relativity?

(I know, I'm asking for it -- look for our resident physicists to chime in that indeed they are.) ha

Quote:
....We do have recordings of Rosenthal, and his technique could rival Hofmann or Rachmaninov. Isn't it possible that Liszt the teacher had at least as good- if not better- technique than Rosenthal?

Great way to look at it. And I think you're understating it; I think most piano historians would say it's absurd to doubt that Liszt's technique was superior to Rosenthal's, and in fact of a different echelon. And that's no slam on Rosenthal.

To some extent this depends (again) on what we mean by technique. If we mean just how fast someone can play whatever and play it accurately, then yeah, I suppose lots of modern pianists have been as good as Liszt and maybe better. But that's not what we mean, is it? smile


Edited by Mark_C (08/05/12 12:06 AM)
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#1937560 - 08/05/12 01:09 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 390
I definitely concur, Mark. Clara Schumann even said that Liszt wasn't just a bravura player; he was also capable of an infinite variety of color. (That description is equally applicable to Horowitz.)

Even in terms of purely mechanical ability, I find it hard to believe that Liszt was vastly inferior to modern conservatory pupils. The average conservatory student is certainly not capable of the manual dexterity that was displayed by someone like Josef Lhévinne (just listen to his "Double Thirds" Etude).


Edited by LaReginadellaNotte (08/05/12 01:14 AM)

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#1937567 - 08/05/12 01:43 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
.....The average conservatory student is certainly not capable of the manual dexterity that was displayed by someone like Josef Lhévinne (just listen to his "Double Thirds" Etude).

I think an even better example for what we're talking about (regarding Chopin as well as Liszt, even though this is about Lhevinne) grin ....is Lhevinne's recordings of the Schulz-Evler Blue Danube. I think everything I'm going to be saying here about Lhevinne applies as much for Chopin, and even more for Liszt.

I've heard pianists play the piece with what we might call "perfect" technique. (BTW I've played it myself, but without perfect technique.) ha
Perfect technique -- great tempo, perfect accuracy, fine musicianship, really doing everything right. But I've never heard anyone play with an overall technique approaching what Lhevinne did. Real good, yes. I'd even say terrific. But not approaching what Lhevinne did.

A lot of this, again, is about what we mean by technique. Sometimes people say that we who say things like this are defining technique down, we're pooh-poohing great mechanism. We're not. We're defining it up. Yes, it includes the ability to 'play fast' and to be accurate, and to be able to handle all kinds of pianistic challenges. But it also includes being able to make the keyboard sparkle and leap and come alive in every way imaginable, and some that aren't.

Lhevinne gets an A+++. Horowitz gets an A+++. I have to believe Liszt did too. Not that many others have.

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#1937570 - 08/05/12 01:55 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8822
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....is Lhevinne's recordings of the Schulz-Evler Blue Danube.

That is a classic, never to be surpassed. Talk about playing from the 'golden era'.

Lhevinne made his New York debut with the Rubinstein 5th concerto, and if anyone could pull together such a sprawling, ball-busting concerto, it would be Lhevinne. Just imagine...
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Jason

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#1937607 - 08/05/12 07:00 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
piette Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Durham, United Kingdom
Back to the discussion about Chopin... I think it is important to bear in mind that Chopin was never 'taught' the piano as such. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of 4 by his mother and he was noted to be able to play pieces of reasonable difficulty by the age of six, however we don't know the extent of 'reasonable difficulty'. At this point he began taking 'lessons' with his father's friend, a music teacher called Wojciech Zywny whose shortcoming's as a teacher were more beneficial to Chopin than anything else. Recognising that he couldn't really teach Chopin anything more about the conventional piano technique he decided simply to work through the works of earlier composers (Bach, Chopin, Haydn and Hummel mostly; he didn't like Beethoven's music) and so Chopin was left to develop his own technique entirely placing whichever finger he wanted on the notes and moving his hand in any way he wanted...
On 24th February 1818 (at the age of either 7 or 8 depending on which of his two given birthdays is correct) he took place in a concert for the Warsaw Benevolent Society in which he performed a concerto by Czech composer Adalbert Gyrowetz, indicating that his technique by this point was very advanced. After this concert, his fame spread very quickly through Warsaw and he became haled as the greatest pianist in the city; he was summoned to Belvedere Palace to play for Grand Duke Constantine. Chopin completed lessons with Zywny in 1821 or 1822, as the latter knew that there was absolutely nothing more that he could do to help the young pianist.
Based on his earlier published compositions (and reviews of their performances), it cannot be denied that he was an incredible pianist with astonishing technique... His Variations on La ci darem la mano (Op. 2) are incredibly challenging and the audience was obviously pleased with this work, as Chopin wrote in a letter to his parents: "everyone clapped so loudly after each variation that I had difficulty hearing the orchestral tutti". From the age of about 22, we see that Chopin started to lose interest in the 'stile brillante' and
his compositions generally were not as technically challenging from this point onward.
It is unfair to say that Chopin had poor technique based on unfavourable reviews from the time... many critics were overly negative about his playing as it did not necessarily fit in with the bombastic Lisztian octaves which seemed to transcend the repertoire of the virtuoso pianist of the day; Chopin was a poet of the piano who strove to make the piano sing, whereas Liszt simply played the instrument percussively and supposedly often worked his way through two or more pianos per concert as strings broke during his performances.
As for the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's time, I have played on both and am in possession of an Erard concert grand from this period. The action is very different to that of today, and we must remember that prior to 1841 Chopin was also playing on the single escapement action which is completely alien to us today and which most pianists would take some time to adapt to. In many ways, the pianos then were more difficult to play than the pianos today (that makes sense, as piano makers wouldn't go out of their way to make instruments MORE difficult to play but would actually do the opposite...) so I'm not so sure that Chopin and Liszt would have great difficulty adapting to modern pianos... It is also said that Chopin chose Pleyel pianos over Erard, because on an Erard everything came 'too easily' to his fingertips and he preferred to have to work harder to produce the tone he truly wanted, which would be elicited from the Pleyel but not entirely from the Erard.
All in all, we can not know entirely how good Chopin's technique was, but it is undeniable that it was truly brilliant and that he too would have been capable of playing works much more difficult than even the most difficult of his own (the 24 Etudes played as a set, the two concerti, the allegro de concert). My following point does not apply as much to Chopin as to Liszt, as Chopin was more famous for his compositions than his performances (largely/entirely due to the fact that he performed so rarely in public), but I think it is unfair to say that most conservatoire graduates have a technique which would trounce that of Liszt/Chopin. We must remember that Liszt in particular was a world famous virtuoso pianist and was undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists (technically) alive in his day, if not THE greatest and so a technique like that would still far surpass that of the vast majority of conservatoire graduates around the world today. It is true that the development of the piano has allowed for more technical aspects of piano playing to be improved, however the worlds best of 1850 would surpass almost all of the world today.
Perhaps it would be fair to say that if the greatest technical wizard of today was to go head to head in competition with Liszt on an Erard from the 1840s or 1850s, it would most probably be Liszt that would come out victorious.

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#1937608 - 08/05/12 07:00 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
piette Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Durham, United Kingdom
If they went head to head on a modern Steinway... who knows... with time to adapt, I don't think Liszt would be 'outclassed'.


Edited by piette (08/05/12 07:01 AM)

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#1937614 - 08/05/12 07:30 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: piette
Back to the discussion about Chopin... I think it is important to bear in mind that Chopin was never 'taught' the piano as such. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of 4 by his mother and he was noted to be able to play pieces of reasonable difficulty by the age of six, however we don't know the extent of 'reasonable difficulty'. At this point he began taking 'lessons' with his father's friend, a music teacher called Wojciech Zywny whose shortcoming's as a teacher were more beneficial to Chopin than anything else. Recognising that he couldn't really teach Chopin anything more about the conventional piano technique he decided simply to work through the works of earlier composers (Bach, Chopin, Haydn and Hummel mostly; he didn't like Beethoven's music) and so Chopin was left to develop his own technique entirely placing whichever finger he wanted on the notes and moving his hand in any way he wanted...
On 24th February 1818 (at the age of either 7 or 8 depending on which of his two given birthdays is correct) he took place in a concert for the Warsaw Benevolent Society in which he performed a concerto by Czech composer Adalbert Gyrowetz, indicating that his technique by this point was very advanced. After this concert, his fame spread very quickly through Warsaw and he became haled as the greatest pianist in the city; he was summoned to Belvedere Palace to play for Grand Duke Constantine. Chopin completed lessons with Zywny in 1821 or 1822, as the latter knew that there was absolutely nothing more that he could do to help the young pianist.
Based on his earlier published compositions (and reviews of their performances), it cannot be denied that he was an incredible pianist with astonishing technique... His Variations on La ci darem la mano (Op. 2) are incredibly challenging and the audience was obviously pleased with this work, as Chopin wrote in a letter to his parents: "everyone clapped so loudly after each variation that I had difficulty hearing the orchestral tutti". From the age of about 22, we see that Chopin started to lose interest in the 'stile brillante' and
his compositions generally were not as technically challenging from this point onward.
It is unfair to say that Chopin had poor technique based on unfavourable reviews from the time... many critics were overly negative about his playing as it did not necessarily fit in with the bombastic Lisztian octaves which seemed to transcend the repertoire of the virtuoso pianist of the day; Chopin was a poet of the piano who strove to make the piano sing, whereas Liszt simply played the instrument percussively and supposedly often worked his way through two or more pianos per concert as strings broke during his performances.
As for the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's time, I have played on both and am in possession of an Erard concert grand from this period. The action is very different to that of today, and we must remember that prior to 1841 Chopin was also playing on the single escapement action which is completely alien to us today and which most pianists would take some time to adapt to. In many ways, the pianos then were more difficult to play than the pianos today (that makes sense, as piano makers wouldn't go out of their way to make instruments MORE difficult to play but would actually do the opposite...) so I'm not so sure that Chopin and Liszt would have great difficulty adapting to modern pianos... It is also said that Chopin chose Pleyel pianos over Erard, because on an Erard everything came 'too easily' to his fingertips and he preferred to have to work harder to produce the tone he truly wanted, which would be elicited from the Pleyel but not entirely from the Erard.
All in all, we can not know entirely how good Chopin's technique was, but it is undeniable that it was truly brilliant and that he too would have been capable of playing works much more difficult than even the most difficult of his own (the 24 Etudes played as a set, the two concerti, the allegro de concert). My following point does not apply as much to Chopin as to Liszt, as Chopin was more famous for his compositions than his performances (largely/entirely due to the fact that he performed so rarely in public), but I think it is unfair to say that most conservatoire graduates have a technique which would trounce that of Liszt/Chopin. We must remember that Liszt in particular was a world famous virtuoso pianist and was undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists (technically) alive in his day, if not THE greatest and so a technique like that would still far surpass that of the vast majority of conservatoire graduates around the world today. It is true that the development of the piano has allowed for more technical aspects of piano playing to be improved, however the worlds best of 1850 would surpass almost all of the world today.
Perhaps it would be fair to say that if the greatest technical wizard of today was to go head to head in competition with Liszt on an Erard from the 1840s or 1850s, it would most probably be Liszt that would come out victorious.


With much of what you've said here I am willing to bet good money that you DON'T own a period Erard.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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