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#2306334 - 07/24/14 08:23 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: argerichfan]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
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
Full Member

Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 208
Didn't Hamelin say this is (one of? )the hardest piece(s) he's ever played?
_________________________
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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#2306678 - 07/24/14 07:31 PM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: MikeN]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7892
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 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 137
Loc: Western PA
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.
_________________________
"I will hear in Heaven." Beethoven

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#2306772 - 07/25/14 12:20 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
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: 7892
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 Online   sick
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8903
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?)
_________________________
Jason

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#2306940 - 07/25/14 11:22 AM Re: Godowsky - Prelude and Fugue for left hand alone [Re: argerichfan]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

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
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
To paraphrase Godowsky himself, Schubert's inconsistent quality stemmed from the fact that he composed "too fast." grin
_________________________
Regards,

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.

_________________________
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: 7892
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: 5318
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 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 137
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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