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#2306006 - 07/23/14 02:50 PM Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone
Polyphonist Online   content
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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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#2306056 - 07/23/14 04:35 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
carey Offline
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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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#2306103 - 07/23/14 06:33 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
faulty_Damper Offline
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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 Online   content
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Yes, Hamelin seems to use rubato where the score indicates rall and a tempo - such liberties! ha
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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
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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 Online   content
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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
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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 Online   content
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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.
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#2306130 - 07/23/14 07:27 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: faulty_Damper]
Polyphonist Online   content
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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
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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
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Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 70
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 Online   content
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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 Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
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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
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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 Online   content
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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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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
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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 Online   content
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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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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
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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
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Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 70
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
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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
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6411
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??
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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
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Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 70
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
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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: 6411
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.
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#2306222 - 07/23/14 11:12 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: carey]
Vid Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 866
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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#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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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
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Posts: 70
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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
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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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#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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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 Online   content
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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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#2306334 - 07/24/14 08:23 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: argerichfan]
MikeN Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
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.



I find it rather remarkable that I've listened to the whole set multiple times in one sitting. I can honestly say the etudes have grown on me, and I'd actually prefer to hear them over the originals.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think they are greater pieces of music. As a matter of fact, I think they are of greatest use to pianist sorta like...*sigh* Super-Czerny. Terrible right?

Nonetheless, I really like some of them. I still don't think the effort justifies the end result though.

I personally think Godowsky's greatest music lies in the Sonata, Passacaglia and Strauss transcripts with glimmers of great ingenuity here and there.

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#2306618 - 07/24/14 05:08 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Verbum mirabilis Offline
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Posts: 208
Didn't Hamelin say this is (one of? )the hardest piece(s) he's ever played?
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#2306678 - 07/24/14 07:31 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: MikeN

I personally think Godowsky's greatest music lies in the Sonata, Passacaglia and Strauss transcripts with glimmers of great ingenuity here and there.


For me, his best is in the Strauss arrangements, although there are some nice short pieces in Walzermasken and Trikontameron and elsewhere. The sonata and passacaglia sound like empty gesturing to me - they are unconvincing as music.

Hamelin may be part of the problem there - his old Canadian recording of the passacaglia was my introduction to that work, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it simply goes in one ear and out the other without leaving a trace. It one of those peculiar Hamelin efforts where "we get all the notes, but where's the music?", as one critic memorably said.

But, eventually, I got the score, and after reading through it a few times, the piece still strikes me as a great deal of posturing in an attempt to sound like "important" music, but it is musically so thin as to be almost nonexistent. Ditto the sonata.

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#2306751 - 07/24/14 11:15 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
doctor S Online   content
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Both the Prelude and Fugue are very effective musically...I certainly feel no need to search Youtube for a "one-up" on Hamelin! Sparkling indeed! The "two-hand" impression goes beyond illusion...it really sounds like two hands. No disparagement of Godowsky here...there's several pounds of it on my piano...just wish I could play it!

As for 3 contrapuntal voices for one hand, my goldfish-sized musical brain knows of one: the Prelude and Fugue for the Left Hand by Manuel Ponce, which is (IMHO) very good, and fiendishly difficult (which explains why I have not attempted it). He wrote at least two other Preludes and Fugues, both better than his Prelude and Fugue arrangement of the Fugue (somewhat simplified and Busonificated) from Handel's suite in e minor.
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#2306772 - 07/25/14 12:20 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: wr]
MikeN Offline
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Registered: 02/18/10
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Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: MikeN

I personally think Godowsky's greatest music lies in the Sonata, Passacaglia and Strauss transcripts with glimmers of great ingenuity here and there.


For me, his best is in the Strauss arrangements, although there are some nice short pieces in Walzermasken and Trikontameron and elsewhere. The sonata and passacaglia sound like empty gesturing to me - they are unconvincing as music.

Hamelin may be part of the problem there - his old Canadian recording of the passacaglia was my introduction to that work, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it simply goes in one ear and out the other without leaving a trace. It one of those peculiar Hamelin efforts where "we get all the notes, but where's the music?", as one critic memorably said.

But, eventually, I got the score, and after reading through it a few times, the piece still strikes me as a great deal of posturing in an attempt to sound like "important" music, but it is musically so thin as to be almost nonexistent. Ditto the sonata.


To each his own. For me, the Strauss transcriptions are just too contrived.

At least I feel effort in the sonata. The melodic material seems to far outdo anything he came up with in the shorter pieces. I also don't feel like he's no just showing off what interesting variations he can come up with. The density seems more apart of the music, to me, than an added entity.

I can understand your take on the Passacaglia. I, for one, got acquainted with it with Hamelin's Hyperion rerecording where it was paired with the sonata. I was convinced by his take there. Recently, I came across some of his earlier recordings while browsing Spotify. The difference is really quite large. It seemed like he was having trouble really controlling some passages, and they come off flat.

I've heard at least half a dozen other pianist play the Passacaglia, and I have to say that it more often falls flat. It's hard to make that beast coherent and interesting. But when a pianist succeeds, it really is incredible.

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#2306845 - 07/25/14 08:04 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7974
Originally Posted By: MikeN


I can understand your take on the Passacaglia. I, for one, got acquainted with it with Hamelin's Hyperion rerecording where it was paired with the sonata. I was convinced by his take there. Recently, I came across some of his earlier recordings while browsing Spotify. The difference is really quite large. It seemed like he was having trouble really controlling some passages, and they come off flat.


I have the Hamelin Hyperion Godowsky too - which still fails to do anything for me.

For me, Godowsky is generally much more interesting to read through than to hear in performance. Purely as writing for the piano, much of it is remarkably inventive and is entertaining, and even technically useful. But as music...well, if you like it a lot, then I guess you do.

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#2306849 - 07/25/14 08:21 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: wr]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
I guess it's just an acquired taste. Oh well.

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#2306925 - 07/25/14 10:48 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: MikeN
To each his own. For me, the Strauss transcriptions are just too contrived.

Is that your feeling about the genre in general or just those of Godowsky?

Of the (possibly) thousands of Strauss transcriptions/paraphrases, I have managed to hear or examine in score a modest sampling, and I must say that Godowsky's are by far the most ingenious, with honourable mentions to Tausig and Schulz-Evler.

To each his own indeed! grin

BTW, have you ever heard Godowsky's smothering of Schubert's Moment Musical in F minor? (Had he no shame?)
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#2306940 - 07/25/14 11:22 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: argerichfan]
MikeN Offline
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Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
Oh I definitely agree that Godowsky's transcriptions, rightly called symphonic metamorphoses, are the greatest I've heard of the genre. He really does elevate the form to something else. I just think they sit below the sonata in Godowsky's overall output. This is probably just because of the less serious nature of the works.

I actually had never heard the original. I've just listened to the original and I'm listening to transcription as I type. I honestly can't stop laughing. The whole thing seems so tongue in cheek. It interesting to note that Godowsky didn't hold Schubert's writing in the highest of regards. He proposed that the sonatas be chopped up to create a sort of amalgam of all the best writing. ha

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#2307067 - 07/25/14 04:40 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7705
Loc: New York City
To paraphrase Godowsky himself, Schubert's inconsistent quality stemmed from the fact that he composed "too fast." grin
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Polyphonist

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#2307094 - 07/25/14 05:39 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 687
Loc: Virginia
Godowsky may not have cared much for Schubert, but he certainly knew how to embellish his music tastefully (though it appears argerichfan has a different view). Here's his arrangement of the Moment Musical in F minor (transposed, for some reason, into F# minor):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x5I5nBf0m4

And perhaps the best encore performance I've ever heard live was Nelson Freire's account of the Albeniz/Godowsky Tango, a vast improvement over the original, IMHO:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtBQhLMlVQ0

Thanks to Polyphonist for pulling this neglected ghost out of the attic.

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Phil Bjorlo

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#2307117 - 07/25/14 06:48 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7974
Originally Posted By: MikeN
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: MikeN

I personally think Godowsky's greatest music lies in the Sonata, Passacaglia and Strauss transcripts with glimmers of great ingenuity here and there.


For me, his best is in the Strauss arrangements, although there are some nice short pieces in Walzermasken and Trikontameron and elsewhere. The sonata and passacaglia sound like empty gesturing to me - they are unconvincing as music.

Hamelin may be part of the problem there - his old Canadian recording of the passacaglia was my introduction to that work, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it simply goes in one ear and out the other without leaving a trace. It one of those peculiar Hamelin efforts where "we get all the notes, but where's the music?", as one critic memorably said.

But, eventually, I got the score, and after reading through it a few times, the piece still strikes me as a great deal of posturing in an attempt to sound like "important" music, but it is musically so thin as to be almost nonexistent. Ditto the sonata.


To each his own. For me, the Strauss transcriptions are just too contrived.



But you just listed them as being among those works where one could find his greatest music, right there in the quote included in my post!!!

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#2307134 - 07/25/14 07:31 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: MikeN
Oh I definitely agree that Godowsky's transcriptions, rightly called symphonic metamorphoses, are the greatest I've heard of the genre. He really does elevate the form to something else. I just think they sit below the sonata in Godowsky's overall output. This is probably just because of the less serious nature of the works.


I think this rightfully expresses how I feel. Yes, I do feel the transcriptions are among his greatest works. I also feel that they are contrived. I love them anyway.

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#2307327 - 07/26/14 11:03 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: faulty_Damper]
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5325
Loc: McAllen, TX
I think that Godowsky's Strauss arrangements are amazing in their own right. They don't aim to be on the same level as the Mozart Requiem, but there's lots of great piano writing, interesting textures, and loads of humor and fun. I started learning Kunstlerleben but never got around to finishing it. Maybe in the next few years.

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.


LOL
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#2307340 - 07/26/14 11:49 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: Polyphonist]
doctor S Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 143
Loc: Western PA
Regarding the OP, is it possible that some textures, lush and gorgeous as they are, are so dense that halving from two hands to one, or slowing down, may enhance enjoyment?
_________________________
"I will hear in Heaven." Beethoven

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