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#2006313 - 12/30/12 01:28 AM Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-)
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
(I know it should be "did," but y'know, when something lives on youtube or on any recording, it goes on forever.) smile

Chopin's A-flat Polonaise came up on another thread and it made me look back at some videos of it. One of them was this Horowitz performance. I had heard at least a couple of his recordings of the piece many times before, probably including this one -- but had never noticed this. You could say he's "cheating"; I think it's an example of his pianistic genius.

In general I don't think there's anything inherently wrong about such things. I think they can be very creative and wonderful; it all depends. My old teacher Seymour Bernstein felt likewise despite liking to call them "swindles" (with a smile), and enjoyed showing us 'swindles' he had come up with. And I had read (never exactly observed) that Horowitz was a master of knowing when he could leave out notes because the ear would fill them in.

Check out what he does with the left hand near the end of all the octave runs. smile
(at 1:10, 1:48, 3:07, and 6:31)



I hadn't ever HEARD the omissions, and never would have if not that I saw on the video what he was doing and then went back repeatedly to listen for it.

Obviously it's not because he "couldn't" play the left hand scale as written; he's doing it for effect. At first I thought it was just to be able to play the top note more brilliantly, but then I realized that it seemed like more than that: the interruption of the left hand enables a more brilliant crescendo to the top, via that sudden draw-down of the dynamic before the last few notes. IMO it works terrifically.

I'm sure that some people would think this is an atrocity. What do you all think of it?

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#2006316 - 12/30/12 01:38 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
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Loc: USA
Noticed that a long time ago. Pretty funny trick, eh? smile

(I'm pretty sure that would get you disqualified at ANY competition.. but hey, he's Horowitz..)

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#2006319 - 12/30/12 01:42 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6109
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It's part of his genius. smile
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#2006320 - 12/30/12 01:43 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
(I'm pretty sure that would get you disqualified at ANY competition.....

Hopefully not!

Maybe it would just make half of the jury walk out in disgust. Which half, though, would be up for grabs. ha

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#2006329 - 12/30/12 01:56 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
(I'm pretty sure that would get you disqualified at ANY competition.....

Hopefully not!

Maybe it would just make half of the jury walk out in disgust. Which half, though, would be up for grabs. ha

Or maybe they would ring the bell? laugh
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#2006379 - 12/30/12 06:09 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: JoelW]
GeorgeB Offline
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Registered: 06/06/10
Posts: 635
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Noticed that a long time ago. Pretty funny trick, eh? smile

(I'm pretty sure that would get you disqualified at ANY competition.. but hey, he's Horowitz..)

Competitions most of the times aren't about the number of right notes you play whilst you perform.

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#2016415 - 01/17/13 11:15 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
jdott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/13
Posts: 34
Loc: Colorado, USA
The Master was quite elderly-I saw this performance in Russia (on tv, of course). I think he was just conserving his left hand strength. Anyone that plays op. 53 knows it's a left hand workout. You should listen to an exposition from his earlier years: flawless, and at an incredible pace. As much as I love his playing, though, I must admit I never cared much for his rendering of Chopin's works.

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#2016417 - 01/17/13 11:20 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: jdott]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: jdott
The Master was quite elderly-I saw this performance in Russia (on tv, of course). I think he was just conserving his left hand strength....

Pardon my putting it this way, but that's total nonsense.

BTW, in the interest of fairness and balance grin ....let's hear from anyone who might disagree -- i.e. who thinks the reason Horowitz did it had anything to do with conserving his LH strength, or that it was for any other reason but the noted musical purposes.

P.S. Welcome to the site! Don't worry if people disagree with you sometimes. smile

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#2016460 - 01/18/13 01:41 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
Michael_99 Offline
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Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Most of us couldn't afford a ticket to go and see Horowitz play live when he was alife, particularly as close as the camera filming his fingers, but we can afford to click on youtube and see it for free and critique his playing.

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#2016466 - 01/18/13 02:07 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Michael_99]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Most of us couldn't afford a ticket to go and see Horowitz play live when he was alive, particularly as close as the camera filming his fingers, but we can afford to click on youtube and see it for free and critique his playing.

I did hear him live, and couldn't tell a thing. ha

I was in too much in a daze.

The main thing I noticed (the first time), as soon as he walked out, was....he was so little! (He wasn't really "little" but he was little compared to this huge image I had of him.)

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#2016469 - 01/18/13 02:18 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
ChopinAddict Offline
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5'9" is not so little... smile But I know what you are saying. He was a GIANT in his art.
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#2016470 - 01/18/13 02:22 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6109
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Some of his quotes (at the bottom of the page) as well as other quick facts about his life.
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#2016477 - 01/18/13 02:50 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: ChopinAddict]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
5'9" is not so little... smile But I know what you are saying. He was a GIANT in his art.

Besides that I don't think he was really quite 5'9" smile he was wiry in a way that made him look quite slight. But yes -- the main thing was what you just said, plus that his image was of something even huger than that. And, the main direct representation of him that I'd had was his recordings, which gave me an impression of him being massive.

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#2016585 - 01/18/13 09:02 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
Morodiene Offline
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"Perfection itself is imperfection." I really like this one. smile
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#2016632 - 01/18/13 10:31 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Morodiene]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
"Perfection itself is imperfection." I really like this one. smile

Most of us have good reason to love it. ha

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#2016929 - 01/18/13 09:18 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
jdott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/13
Posts: 34
Loc: Colorado, USA
My opinion is based on earlier performances, and his live performance of Rach op 30 in (I believe it was) 1978, in which there were numerous mistakes, some pretty glaring. The video of the Op 53 is several years later. No offense taken; we all have an opinion.

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#2016970 - 01/18/13 11:03 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: ChopinAddict]
ju5t1n-h Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 179
Loc: Vancouver, British Columbia
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Some of his quotes (at the bottom of the page) as well as other quick facts about his life.


very interesting! thanks for that
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#2017558 - 01/19/13 10:08 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
malonkevio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/19/13
Posts: 6
The video of the Op 53 is several years later. No offense taken; we all have an opinion.
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#2017578 - 01/19/13 11:07 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6369
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: jdott
The Master was quite elderly-I saw this performance in Russia (on tv, of course). I think he was just conserving his left hand strength....

Pardon my putting it this way, but that's total nonsense.

Of course, we're all entitled to our opinions - but in reality, we'll never know Horowitz's motivation for doing this.
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#2017637 - 01/20/13 02:01 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: carey
Of course, we're all entitled to our opinions - but in reality, we'll never know Horowitz's motivation for doing this.

Maybe, but I have no doubt. smile

And I'd guess (with doubt, however) ha ....that you don't either, at least broadly.

I have no doubt that he did it for effect. (And I said what I thought the effect was, but never mind.) grin
Do you doubt that? Do you think there's any possibility he left out a few of the last few notes of a left hand scale to conserve strength, or any other such thing?

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#2017665 - 01/20/13 04:25 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
I've no idea why VH did what he did there, but when I read the strength conservation theory I actually laughed out loud.
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"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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#2017785 - 01/20/13 11:48 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4820
Loc: USA
I think he did it just for fun.

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#2017823 - 01/20/13 01:04 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I think he did it just for fun.

That's a lot more possible than to conserve energy. ha

But IMO not very possible.

BTW, I'm not sure why y'all feel so unsure about why he did it, because we can hear what the effect is. When there's a distinct effect like that, I kinda think it was because he wanted that effect. smile

That gets to the whole thing about "cheats." I think maybe many people assume that the reason for doing them is just to make something easier, maybe often because someone feels he can't play it "as written." I'm saying that often it has to do with the effect you want, and how to best create it.

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#2017884 - 01/20/13 03:05 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5262
Horowitz frequently rewrites passages to get the effect he wanted. For instance, there's the concluding upward scale passage in Chopin's Scherzo No.1 which he plays as interlocking octaves......even in his old age.

Of course, there's always the possibility that he is conserving his energy (a few calories, no doubt wink ) playing that scale like that, rather than as a normal two-handed scale we youngsters would do....
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"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2017904 - 01/20/13 03:36 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4820
Loc: USA
Maybe he just didn't feel like leaning to the right.

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#2017939 - 01/20/13 04:49 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6369
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: carey
Of course, we're all entitled to our opinions - but in reality, we'll never know Horowitz's motivation for doing this.

Maybe, but I have no doubt. smile

And I'd guess (with doubt, however) ha ....that you don't either, at least broadly.

I have no doubt that he did it for effect. (And I said what I thought the effect was, but never mind.) grin
Do you doubt that? Do you think there's any possibility he left out a few of the last few notes of a left hand scale to conserve strength, or any other such thing?


Nah - you're right !! No doubt whatsoever !! I figured he was doing it for effect - rather than conserving strength. ha
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#2018025 - 01/20/13 08:06 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Well now I have no idea what you're being serious about or not, even with the exclamation marks and haha, maybe especially because of them! ha

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#2018061 - 01/20/13 09:59 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
Damon Online   happy
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Registered: 09/22/06
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Loc: St. Louis area
Whatever the reason, it sounded better when he didn't do it.
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#2018062 - 01/20/13 10:01 PM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Damon]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Damon
Whatever the reason, it sounded better when he didn't do it.

The scale in the Polonaise?

If that's what you mean, I don't agree. It gives a very "special effect" which IMO adds to the performance.

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#2018097 - 01/21/13 12:34 AM Re: Just discovered this 'cheat' that Horowitz does.... :-) [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6369
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Well now I have no idea what you're being serious about or not, even with the exclamation marks and haha, maybe especially because of them! ha

I'm actually agreeing with you. Seriously - why else would he do it ??
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