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#1993109 - 12/01/12 08:12 AM A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability
pianoloverus Offline
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Are there some that you think qualify in this regard?

For example, I believe the Paris Conservatory requires all those applying to play the Chopin Sonata No.2, presumably because they think both the technical and musical demands are very high and broad. Or the most recent Chopin competition had Chopin's Polonaise Fantasie as a required piece, I'd guess for similar reasons. Of course, both the Paris Conservatory and Chopin Competition have the pianists play a lot more than those single pieces so that they are not really using the single piece alone to from a judgement.

I think there are many pieces that could be used by themselves to form a good judgement about a pianist's skills. Which would you suggest?

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#1993116 - 12/01/12 08:24 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
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Loc: France
Minuet in G major, BWV 114

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#1993121 - 12/01/12 08:47 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
Verbum mirabilis Offline
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B minor sonata, by you-know-who.
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Working on
Beethoven: sonata op. 14 no. 2
Chopin: op. 25 no. 2, op. 10 no. 3, op. 47
Bach: P&F in D minor, book 2

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#1993163 - 12/01/12 11:22 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
AldenH Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
Beethoven Op. 106. It would be revealing of various flaws.

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#1993167 - 12/01/12 11:39 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2290
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A Mozart slow movement is usually more than enough to tell me the caliber of pianist I'm listening to.

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#1993177 - 12/01/12 12:14 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Anything, but especially Beethoven.
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1993187 - 12/01/12 12:38 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: jeffreyjones]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Registered: 03/12/03
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Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
A Mozart slow movement is usually more than enough to tell me the caliber of pianist I'm listening to.


I would change pianist to musician in your statement, but I definitely know what you mean. I have heard otherwise great artists crash and burn in a Mozart slow movement. The funny thing to me is that among the piano sonatas, there are only a few slow movements that I think are worth listening to, but they all demand such incredible musicianship to pull off.
However, I don't think that Mozart slow movement is going to tell you how that same pianist will play a big virtuoso work, for example.

Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Anything, but especially Beethoven.


I was just about to agree with this. After a bit more thought, I can think of great Beethoven players whose Chopin is no where near as good, and vice versa.
I think Beethoven does show one's musicianship ( or lack there of ) more than any other composer.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Are there some that you think qualify in this regard?

For example, I believe the Paris Conservatory requires all those applying to play the Chopin Sonata No.2, presumably because they think both the technical and musical demands are very high and broad. Or the most recent Chopin competition had Chopin's Polonaise Fantasie as a required piece, I'd guess for similar reasons.


I would suspect that someone who plays a great Chopin second sonata would be able to be at least competent in all the standard repertoire. The Polonaise Fanasie less so than the sonata, but one has to be a great musician to play a great Polonaise Fantasy.

This is a difficult question, because I have heard people sound great in one big piece and mediocre in another, so if either was the only thing one heard, they would judge the pianist inaccurately.
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#1993189 - 12/01/12 12:38 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
Orange Soda King Offline
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I'll side with Mozart, but I also think Beethoven and Schubert, too.

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#1993194 - 12/01/12 12:49 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: Keith D Kerman]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
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Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
A Mozart slow movement is usually more than enough to tell me the caliber of pianist I'm listening to.


I would change pianist to musician in your statement, but I definitely know what you mean. I have heard otherwise great artists crash and burn in a Mozart slow movement. The funny thing to me is that among the piano sonatas, there are only a few slow movements that I think are worth listening to, but they all demand such incredible musicianship to pull off.
However, I don't think that Mozart slow movement is going to tell you how that same pianist will play a big virtuoso work, for example.


It's true that most of them won't tell you about the depth of the pianist's technique, but for the most part, great musicianship and great pianism tend to go hand in hand. The exceptions are very few.

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#1993200 - 12/01/12 01:03 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: jeffreyjones]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4838
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones


It's true that most of them won't tell you about the depth of the pianist's technique, but for the most part, great musicianship and great pianism tend to go hand in hand. The exceptions are very few.


I can think of many pianists who are great 'musicians' but do not have great technical ability. They are/were mainly from an older generation (I suspect that these days, they wouldn't ever make it on the concert platform or recording studio, but become teachers), but for me, a performance of a Mozart or Beethoven Sonata where the slow movement is sublime but the outer ones are marred by technical problems don't make for a satisfying musical experience. But they were (and some still are) generally considered as 'great musicians' in their time.

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#1993261 - 12/01/12 04:09 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
Ian_G Online   content
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First bars of Schubert 894 or Beethoven 4 should do it.

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#1993265 - 12/01/12 04:19 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
BruceD Offline
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What varied and diverse abilities is a single piece going to help judge? It's difficult for me to imagine one piece that covers the whole spectrum of musicianship and technique. That said, I'm sure there is much in the advanced repertoire that would give good indications of the artistic and technical "potential" of a pianist, but I would be hard pressed to find one that could really "judge a pianist's abilit(ies).

Or, am I splitting hairs - which I don't like to do, having to cherish the few remaining ones I have!

Regards,
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#1993303 - 12/01/12 05:29 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
I really think it doesn't need to be just one piece, you can tell someone's artistic ability from pretty much anything!
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1993309 - 12/01/12 05:41 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
BDB Online   content
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You can tell how well I play piano by listening to me play Chopsticks.
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Semipro Tech

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#1993322 - 12/01/12 06:05 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
DonaldLee Offline
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Registered: 03/14/11
Posts: 143
I don't agree with the practice, but I put my vote in for Chopin's 4th Ballade. For musicianship alone, I would say Traumerei.
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Brahms Op. 118
Mozart Sonata K. 576
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#1993372 - 12/01/12 07:44 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
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I can't remember which competition did this but one recently had a choice of Beethoven's Variations in c minor and Mendelssohn's Serious Variations as the required work. Of course, the competitors had to play many other works but I also think those two pieces were chosen with great care.

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#1993376 - 12/01/12 07:49 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: jeffreyjones]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6096
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
A Mozart slow movement is usually more than enough to tell me the caliber of pianist I'm listening to.


thumb
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1993379 - 12/01/12 07:55 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
TrueMusic Offline
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Registered: 04/30/12
Posts: 254
Loc: San Diego, California
I'm surprised no one mentioned playing a Bach fugue. Particularly one of the slow 5 voice ones....
_________________________
Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20

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#1993394 - 12/01/12 08:53 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: TrueMusic]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
I'm surprised no one mentioned playing a Bach fugue. Particularly one of the slow 5 voice ones....
Many of the great pianists past and present play very little Bach at all. In addition, what would such a piece show about the technical ability of the pianist?

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#1993396 - 12/01/12 08:57 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
TrueMusic Offline
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Registered: 04/30/12
Posts: 254
Loc: San Diego, California
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
I'm surprised no one mentioned playing a Bach fugue. Particularly one of the slow 5 voice ones....
Many of the great pianists past and present play very little Bach at all. In addition, what would such a piece show about the technical ability of the pianist?


I know that, and it's sad that they don't play much Bach. But such a piece requires so much control....5 voices that need to be balanced, slow tempo, and still playing with feeling. I feel like if you can convincingly pull off this it shows a lot about you piano playing. I guess it doesn't show if you can play a virtuosic work by liszt or Rach, but it shows a lot about musicianship and tonal control. I imagine there are few pianist who could do a 5 voice fugue and not perform at some level of virtuosity.
_________________________
Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20

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#1993539 - 12/02/12 07:25 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
I agree with the beethoven. A late sonata requires a great deal of musicianship. I also believe something like the prokofiev 7 would do. It's so easy for that piece to become just a muddle of notes.
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All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1993737 - 12/02/12 03:42 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
WhoDwaldi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
Bach Invention No. 14 in B-flat Major. Very telling, musically and technically, especially in the case of those who think it's too easy.

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#1993823 - 12/02/12 07:01 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: TrueMusic]
DanS Offline
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Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 550
Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
I'm surprised no one mentioned playing a Bach fugue. Particularly one of the slow 5 voice ones....


That's what I was thinking. I remember hearing a story about a young Liszt playing for an old Beethoven. As the story goes, Liszt played a bunch of techincally brilliant pieces and Beethoven looked at him rather bored and exasperated and said "can you play a Bach fugue?" I don't know if this storys true, but it says a lot.

For more modern pieces, I think Jeux d'eau is a good measuring stick. It's both technically and musically challenging.
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"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#1993933 - 12/02/12 11:43 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
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I don't think that story is true.

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#1993944 - 12/03/12 12:59 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
celegorma Offline
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Registered: 03/28/08
Posts: 103
Beethoven 110

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#1993987 - 12/03/12 05:52 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: sophial]
TrueMusic Offline
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Registered: 04/30/12
Posts: 254
Loc: San Diego, California
Originally Posted By: sophial
I don't think that story is true.


I just finished reading Alan walkers 1st volume of liszt biography - although the story has been sensationalized, as far as we know Lizst did indeed meet Beethoven and receive a sort of "approval" as an artist, and I believe it was when he played a bach fugue and then transposed it at Beethoven's command. I'd have to pull out the biography to check that though, but I remember that there are indeed parts of that which are true.
_________________________
Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20

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#1994044 - 12/03/12 09:26 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: pianoloverus]
Cheeto717 Offline
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Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 696
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'll put in my vote for a Beethoven sonata. Not necessarily a late one... some of the early ones are quite challenging.
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Bach: Partita No. 6
Beethoven: Op. 26
Brahms: Op. 120
Chopin: Op. 10

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#1994088 - 12/03/12 11:21 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: TrueMusic]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
Originally Posted By: sophial
I don't think that story is true.


I just finished reading Alan walkers 1st volume of liszt biography - although the story has been sensationalized, as far as we know Lizst did indeed meet Beethoven and receive a sort of "approval" as an artist, and I believe it was when he played a bach fugue and then transposed it at Beethoven's command. I'd have to pull out the biography to check that though, but I remember that there are indeed parts of that which are true.


Sorry, I should have expanded on that more. Walker provides Liszt's account of the event given later to one of his students. Czerny had arranged the meeting although Beethoven was initially resistant given his "repugnance to infant prodigies" (Liszt was eleven at the time). Liszt says " I first played a short piece by Ries. When I had finished, Beethoven asked me whether I could play a Bach fugue. I chose the C-minor Fugue from the WTC. 'And could you also transpose the fugue at once into another key?" Beethoven asked me. Fortunately I was able to do so". ... After this Beethoven smiles at him, pats his head, and then Liszt asks if he can play LvB's first movement of the C-major concerto for him. After this, Beethoven kisses him on the forehead.

So yes, he asked him to play a fugue, but there is no indication in this version that Liszt had played a lot of shallow flashy pieces and that Beethoven had reacted out of irritation to what he played. It sounds as if he wanted to see if Liszt could play and then immediately transpose a fugue on demand-- quite a test for an 11 year old. Liszt passed it.

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#1994100 - 12/03/12 11:47 AM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: Pogorelich.]
Derulux Offline
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Posts: 5286
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Anything, but especially Beethoven.

I agree. I think just about anything can be used. Heck, a pianist's ability to turn a C-major scale into something musical says a lot about their ability and musicianship.
_________________________
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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#1994372 - 12/03/12 10:44 PM Re: A single piece that can be used to judge a pianist's ability [Re: sophial]
TrueMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/12
Posts: 254
Loc: San Diego, California
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
Originally Posted By: sophial
I don't think that story is true.


I just finished reading Alan walkers 1st volume of liszt biography - although the story has been sensationalized, as far as we know Lizst did indeed meet Beethoven and receive a sort of "approval" as an artist, and I believe it was when he played a bach fugue and then transposed it at Beethoven's command. I'd have to pull out the biography to check that though, but I remember that there are indeed parts of that which are true.


Sorry, I should have expanded on that more. Walker provides Liszt's account of the event given later to one of his students. Czerny had arranged the meeting although Beethoven was initially resistant given his "repugnance to infant prodigies" (Liszt was eleven at the time). Liszt says " I first played a short piece by Ries. When I had finished, Beethoven asked me whether I could play a Bach fugue. I chose the C-minor Fugue from the WTC. 'And could you also transpose the fugue at once into another key?" Beethoven asked me. Fortunately I was able to do so". ... After this Beethoven smiles at him, pats his head, and then Liszt asks if he can play LvB's first movement of the C-major concerto for him. After this, Beethoven kisses him on the forehead.

So yes, he asked him to play a fugue, but there is no indication in this version that Liszt had played a lot of shallow flashy pieces and that Beethoven had reacted out of irritation to what he played. It sounds as if he wanted to see if Liszt could play and then immediately transpose a fugue on demand-- quite a test for an 11 year old. Liszt passed it.


Alright, I didn't know if you were saying the whole encounter was untrue or not! Good clarification.

I still put my vote in for a fugue.

But I guess anything can do as well, because you can tell a good pianist pretty darn quickly no matter what they're playing.
_________________________
Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20

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