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#2306006 - 07/23/14 02:50 PM Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
I find myself continually astonished by Godowsky's pianistic ingenuity. The fugue, especially, is extraordinarily innovative - no composer before or since has been able to create works like this for only half a pianist. Godowsky is famously quoted as saying that if one hand can be made to sound like two, two hands can be made to sound like four. And if anyone was capable of that, it was Godowsky. Here is the work, performed by Marc-Andre Hamelin, whose control of the keyboard and immaculate technique makes his interpretation sparkle like none other.



Opinions?
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Polyphonist

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#2306056 - 07/23/14 04:35 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6884
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Pretty amazing - both the writing and the performance.

Kudos to Hamelin - whose masterful interpretation truly sparkles !!

In terms of the compositions themselves - on first hearing I felt the Fugue was more effective than the Prelude - only because the Prelude seemed to run a bit too long.

Thanks for sharing these !!
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Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2306103 - 07/23/14 06:33 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
I hear the performer taking too many liberties with rubato which slows forward momentum. A straight performance would most likely sound much better. Also, the performer fails to accentuate the melody so it gets lost in both pieces. This could be a recording issue, though, but it can't be discerned from the recording so lets blame it on the performer. (However, knowing who the performer is, it's most likely a performer error.) It could be a bit faster overall because momentum and energy is slightly lost.

About the compositions, they are really nice, especially the Prelude. I don't know how effective a one-handed, 3-part Fugue can be since the range is severely limited.

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#2306107 - 07/23/14 06:42 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Vid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1116
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2306118 - 07/23/14 07:03 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 121
Loc: Vancouver
A lovely recording! Amazing what can be done with one hand.

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#2306119 - 07/23/14 07:06 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Aside from Godowsky's technical achievement in the composition of this work, there is also the musical element, and there are some very beautiful passages in both the prelude and the fugue.
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Polyphonist

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#2306123 - 07/23/14 07:12 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Vid]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
Originally Posted By: Vid
Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha


This is the difference between a musician and a typist: a musician can hear on his own, a typist must be given instructions.

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#2306129 - 07/23/14 07:24 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: faulty_Damper]
Vid Offline
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Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1116
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: Vid
Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha


This is the difference between a musician and a typist: a musician can hear on his own, a typist must be given instructions.


That is a false comparison. A better one would be a musician vs a player piano. But a musician still needs instructions otherwise you get into improvisational style music or they are the composer.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2306130 - 07/23/14 07:27 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: faulty_Damper]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: Vid
Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha


This is the difference between a musician and a typist: a musician can hear on his own, a typist must be given instructions.

So who is at fault here - Godowsky for writing in the markings, or Hamelin for following them?
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Polyphonist

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#2306131 - 07/23/14 07:29 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5108
Loc: USA
Neither of them are at fault. Markings are simply what the composer hears. Whether to actively try to emulate that or not is another discussion.

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#2306138 - 07/23/14 07:35 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: JoelW]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 121
Loc: Vancouver
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
I hear the performer taking too many liberties with rubato which slows forward momentum. A straight performance would most likely sound much better. Also, the performer fails to accentuate the melody so it gets lost in both pieces. This could be a recording issue, though, but it can't be discerned from the recording so lets blame it on the performer. (However, knowing who the performer is, it's most likely a performer error.) It could be a bit faster overall because momentum and energy is slightly lost.


Is there a recording of this you prefer? Unfortunately with Godowsky, there seems to be so little with which to compare various interpretations of the music.

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#2306140 - 07/23/14 07:37 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: JoelW]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Neither of them are at fault.

Obviously; I'm trying to see if Mr. Faulty is up to having a logical discussion or not.
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Polyphonist

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#2306142 - 07/23/14 07:38 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MALDI_ToF]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: MALDI_ToF
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
I hear the performer taking too many liberties with rubato which slows forward momentum. A straight performance would most likely sound much better. Also, the performer fails to accentuate the melody so it gets lost in both pieces. This could be a recording issue, though, but it can't be discerned from the recording so lets blame it on the performer. (However, knowing who the performer is, it's most likely a performer error.) It could be a bit faster overall because momentum and energy is slightly lost.


Is there a recording of this you prefer? Unfortunately with Godowsky, there seems to be so little with which to compare various interpretations of the music.

I don't know of any other recordings of this particular piece except for a couple by unknowns on Youtube, which I am fairly certain are not better than Hamelin's.

Godowsky's music needs more attention.
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Polyphonist

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#2306144 - 07/23/14 07:40 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5108
Loc: USA
I second that notion. Pianists need to focus on his real music, not the Chopin etude transcriptions. Those should be shunned from musical society.

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#2306145 - 07/23/14 07:41 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: JoelW]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I second that notion. Focus on his real music, not those Chopin etudes. They need to be ignored forever.

I really cannot tell when you are being sarcastic.
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2306147 - 07/23/14 07:42 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5108
Loc: USA
His Chopin transcriptions are in poor taste, and it's a shame that they're what Godowsky is known for.

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#2306148 - 07/23/14 07:43 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: JoelW]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: JoelW
His Chopin transcriptions are in poor taste.

In your opinion.

Originally Posted By: JoelW
...it's a shame that they're what Godowsky is primarily known for.

Agreed.
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2306153 - 07/23/14 07:55 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: Vid
Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha


This is the difference between a musician and a typist: a musician can hear on his own, a typist must be given instructions.

So who is at fault here - Godowsky for writing in the markings, or Hamelin for following them?


This is still the typist analogy you're hinting to. A musician wouldn't need the expressive markings on the score. He can hear it on his own. Here's a real life example: you read a book aloud. There are no expressive markings anywhere on the page. More direct comparison, you read J.S. Bach's works. There are almost no expressive markings on the score. A more stylistically similar analogy: Alkan's Trois Etudes dan le genre Pathetique - no expressive markings anywhere, neither tempo nor dynamics, etc.

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#2306154 - 07/23/14 07:55 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: JoelW]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 121
Loc: Vancouver
Originally Posted By: JoelW
His Chopin transcriptions are in poor taste, and it's a shame that they're what Godowsky is known for.


I must respectfully disagree. But it is a shame that Godowsky is most famous for that set or transcriptions.

I still prefer the original Chopin Etudes though.

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#2306155 - 07/23/14 07:59 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5108
Loc: USA
I agree with you, faulty.

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#2306162 - 07/23/14 08:29 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: faulty_Damper]
Carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6884
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Originally Posted By: Vid
Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha


This is the difference between a musician and a typist: a musician can hear on his own, a typist must be given instructions.

So who is at fault here - Godowsky for writing in the markings, or Hamelin for following them?


This is still the typist analogy you're hinting to. A musician wouldn't need the expressive markings on the score. He can hear it on his own. Here's a real life example: you read a book aloud. There are no expressive markings anywhere on the page. More direct comparison, you read J.S. Bach's works. There are almost no expressive markings on the score. A more stylistically similar analogy: Alkan's Trois Etudes dan le genre Pathetique - no expressive markings anywhere, neither tempo nor dynamics, etc.
Just curious - do you believe that there is only ONE valid way for a musician to interpret a work (markings or no markings)? In other words, should all "true" musicians hear things the same way??
_________________________
Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2306165 - 07/23/14 08:34 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 121
Loc: Vancouver
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

I don't know of any other recordings of this particular piece except for a couple by unknowns on Youtube, which I am fairly certain are not better than Hamelin's.


Konstantin Scherbakov has a pretty good recording of it. I don't know of any other recordings beside Hamelin.

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#2306207 - 07/23/14 10:45 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
faulty_Damper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/14
Posts: 69
Last comment about expressive markings and performance:

There are many times that performers take expressive markings and overdo them to the point where the music sounds farcical. Take for example Beethoven's Op.111, first movement. There is the instruction "poco ritenente". If you listen to virtually all performers, they take this way too far, almost halting the forward flow of the piece. Why? Probably because they don't know why that instruction was there so they obey without listening. For musicians, they would naturally hear the ritardando (and slight subito piano, even though this is not indicated) because it's the best interpretation of the notes, which is like an echo. However, they would never take it so far as to almost halt the piece. It's just an echo.

Expressive markings are there to help the performer hear, not necessarily perform. This is probably a remnant of the 19th-20th century where boatloads of students took to the instrument and sounded like ****, hence the need for composers to give explicit instruction so that they aren't tortured by amateurs butchering their compositions.

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#2306220 - 07/23/14 11:08 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: faulty_Damper]
Carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6884
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Last comment about expressive markings and performance:

There are many times that performers take expressive markings and overdo them to the point where the music sounds farcical. Take for example Beethoven's Op.111, first movement. There is the instruction "poco ritenente". If you listen to virtually all performers, they take this way too far, almost halting the forward flow of the piece. Why? Probably because they don't know why that instruction was there so they obey without listening. For musicians, they would naturally hear the ritardando (and slight subito piano, even though this is not indicated) because it's the best interpretation of the notes, which is like an echo. However, they would never take it so far as to almost halt the piece. It's just an echo.

So, there are performers - and then there are "musicians."

Quote:
Expressive markings are there to help the performer hear, not necessarily perform. This is probably a remnant of the 19th-20th century where boatloads of students took to the instrument and sounded like ****, hence the need for composers to give explicit instruction so that they aren't tortured by amateurs butchering their compositions.
Interesting theory.
_________________________
Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2306222 - 07/23/14 11:12 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Carey]
Vid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1116
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Expressive markings are there to help the performer hear, not necessarily perform. This is probably a remnant of the 19th-20th century where boatloads of students took to the instrument and sounded like ****, hence the need for composers to give explicit instruction so that they aren't tortured by amateurs butchering their compositions.
Interesting theory.


I would like to see historical documentation that backs up this theory.
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Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2306226 - 07/23/14 11:22 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Roland The Beagle Offline
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Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 268
Loc: California
We should all be so thankful that Hamelin exists - he was clearly born to play Godowsky, and if it weren't for him we wouldn't get to enjoy so many works like these.

There's something very distinctive about Godowsky's counter-point - it's a unique invention that's entirely his own, and yet certainly one he hoped to be expanded upon. The only trouble is pianists with technique like Godowsky are so incredibly rare. I hope at some point Hamelin seriously devotes himself to the pen and leaves us with some wonderful treasures like this, both written and recorded for posterity by the maestro himself.
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Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2306240 - 07/24/14 12:10 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Roland The Beagle]
MALDI_ToF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 121
Loc: Vancouver
Originally Posted By: faulty_Damper
Expressive markings are there to help the performer hear, not necessarily perform. This is probably a remnant of the 19th-20th century where boatloads of students took to the instrument and sounded like ****, hence the need for composers to give explicit instruction so that they aren't tortured by amateurs butchering their compositions.


An interesting hypothesis which I have not heard of before. What is the source?

Originally Posted By: Roland The Beagle
I hope at some point Hamelin seriously devotes himself to the pen and leaves us with some wonderful treasures like this, both written and recorded for posterity by the maestro himself.


He did write a bunch of etudes in the minor keys and recorded them. I find most of them to be nice, but there are a few that I don't really care for.

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#2306264 - 07/24/14 01:42 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5888
Loc: Europe
Faulty: Apart from the score, there's also the (oral) tradition, which is very very valid (unfortunately if you ask me) in classical music.

Do you know what it's like to be playing a work by Brahms, commenting about something and the horn player telling you that "this is how Johannes wanted it. I was there when he was conducting"? grin
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http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2306267 - 07/24/14 02:01 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MALDI_ToF]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 9073
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: MALDI_ToF

I still prefer the original Chopin Etudes though.

Very much agree, and I have made this observation before when the subject of the Godowsky arrangements has arisen.

With pleasure I can listen to all of the Chopin etudes in one sitting, but cannot get through more than four or five of the arrangements at one time. His overly rich -some might say fin de siècle- harmonies simply tire my ear after a while. In fairness, though, I don't think Godowsky ever intended them to played in more than small groups.

Alas, and perhaps heresy to some, Godowsky's music tends to be more interesting to look at on the printed page than actually listening to.

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#2306273 - 07/24/14 02:57 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: argerichfan]
Polyphonist Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8418
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Alas, and perhaps heresy to some, Godowsky's music tends to be more interesting to look at on the printed page than actually listening to.

One could say that of all music.
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Polyphonist

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