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#405531 - 02/17/02 08:09 PM Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
Are there any other serious pianists out there like me who have been beaten their brain (and hands) crazy over trying to play the first Chopin Etude in C without mistakes (and w/o having one's right arm feel like it wants to drop off half-way through)? Well, after twenty-some odd years of trying to get it right I said "To hell w/ it" and decided to cheat. Now I just split the arpeggios up between both hands and let the damper pedal carry the bass octaves. Once in a while I have to take the stretches when the octaves in the left land get busy but, all in all, it works out real good. Now I sound like John Browning (or take your pick) taking it up to concert tempo w/o a mistake and actually making it sound like beautiful music. Am I a low-down dirty dog for taking the easy way out?

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#405532 - 02/17/02 08:51 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5298
Loc: McAllen, TX
Yes. Etudes are meant[/b] to develop technique.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#405533 - 02/17/02 10:16 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Jemima Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/01
Posts: 140
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
I AGREE BRENDAN!
their MADE to kill ya!

good-luck
_________________________
Jemima Martin

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#405534 - 02/18/02 12:06 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Eldon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 597
Loc: Illinois
No...you're not a low-down dirty dog; BUT you might call yourself a "cheater". \:D
_________________________
Sincerely,
Eldon

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#405535 - 02/18/02 12:16 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
aznxk3vi17 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 701
Loc: Johns Hopkins University
I'm sorry, but doing that just completely defeats the purpose of learning the etude. While you may sound like you're playing it well, and people might like it, you're not doing yourself any good by "cheating," especially since you're supposed to use only the right hand for the arpeggios. I suggest you try harder in trying to learn it. You will be much more proud of yourself.

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#405536 - 02/18/02 01:22 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3914
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
Let me quote Ann Landers (as best I can remember the text) from many years ago:

"Dear Ann Landers,

Is the pill foolproof?

(Signed) Wondering

Dear Wondering:

Nothing is foolproof in the hands of a fool.

(Signed) Ann Landers"

On a more serious note, when the composer is him(or her)self an accomplished pianist, part of the effect he is aiming for is bound up in the technical aspect of the way the music is composed. Nobody, I think, would try to make the beginning of the Op. 106 Hammerklavier easier by playing the first note with the right hand. It just wouldn't feel right, and you'd probably end up with a rushed feeling at the beginning anyway.

Or when D. Scarlatti interchanges the two hands in Kk. 27, he's aiming, I think, for a certain effect (probably from a two manual instrument), but one should be able to obtain a close approximation by follwing his instructions, even though the hand division is more difficult than not interchanging.

Cortot's edition of the études has marvelous technical aids. Consider using it.

[ February 18, 2002: Message edited by: Palindrome ]
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#405537 - 02/18/02 04:56 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17917
Loc: Victoria, BC
"foolproof"? I think the only person you are fooling is yourself.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#405538 - 02/18/02 08:46 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Joe,

I personally don't see anything wrong when you 'cheat' as long as you get the musical results. If, however, you're playing professionally I would not recommend doing that. Decades ago Op.10/1-2 are the very first Etudes I ever touched. I was given these two with Op.25/6,11 to include in my recital. I did struggle tremendously with all of them except 25/6. Imagine to put 10/1,2 back to back! I was advised to practice very SLOWLY 20 times in a row for each every day 7 days/week. I toiled for four months with other pieces of a full length recital. Finally I was able to performe them at quite a presentable level that wowed my audience. I guess I was one of those technically 'untalented' so that I have to work real hard for it. Just my $.02.

BTW, I intentionally picked a friend's piano with a stiff touch to practice on for about 4 hours/day for a few months for 'training'. The result wasn't bad at all. His is a rented piano so he did not mind my 'pounding' on it...

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#405539 - 02/18/02 12:59 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
AndrewG,

No, I'm not a pro and certainly would not advocate someone doing this in competition. I'm only after the results. I've given up fooling myself that I can pull it off w/ one hand. It only aggravates a nerve condition I have in the index finger of my right hand. Before the injury, I could make a decent showing of it. Now, after a fifteen year layoff, I cannot get that old magic back. This is the next best thing. BTW, I got the injury playing the Poulenc Toccata. It calls for the right hand to cross over the left and strike the low A at the bottom of the keyboard at the end of the piece. I was feeling showy that day and threw my hand way up into the air, came down and miscalculated, striking the block of wood at the base of the keyboard. Ouch! The doc said I would always have twinges in there that would come and go. I can control them w/ only one or two hours a day of practice. When I get my website up and running I'm going to put five Rach Preludes on streaming video on it: B-flat Major, D Major, G-minor, E-flat Major and Gsharp-minor. I'm trying to work up the Eflat-minor, which I absolutely love, but it's similar to the Chopin Etude in thirds, except mostly in sixths, and I have a hell of a time getting the two notes struck in sync at rapid tempo. Maybe with time.

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#405540 - 02/18/02 01:12 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
May I ask which Eb minor, Prelude or Etude-Tableaux? Very curious...

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#405541 - 02/18/02 01:17 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Diarmuid Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 219
Joe,

Here are some good links regarding MPEG stuff (you asked on another thread, can't remember which one :)).
http://www.crs4.it/HTML/LUIGI/MPEG/mpegfaq.html
http://www.mnsi.net/~jschlic1/

And hey, I'd play Op.10 No.1 any way I could, if I could. It's all very well for some very talented people who play pretty much full time to be purists. But that isn't me.

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#405542 - 02/18/02 09:05 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
For AndrewG and Diarmuid:

Andrew, I mean the Prelude, Op. 23 #10, I think. Second to the last in the opus. I love the thing to death but when I hear the tempo Ashkenazy takes it I figure it'll be a cold day in hell before I get it there.

Diarmuid. thanks for the links. I'll check them out and hope they have the answer I'm looking for. BTW, anyone know a good deal on a web host were 50 MB's can be had cheap? I figure this streaming 15 minute video I want to put on my site will run at least that much space. Geocities wants $12/mo. for 50MG's.

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#405543 - 02/19/02 07:21 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Yes Joe,

VA is outstanding in these complete Preludes. If in the event you have not, please listen to those played by S.Richter and see what you think. Rach Preludes is one area where S. Richter outshines everyone in this world, IMHO, of course. Unfortunately SR seldom played the 'complete' cycle of anything besides Bach's WTC.

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#405544 - 02/19/02 12:40 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
Yes, I did happen upon a CD of SR giving a recital and the B-flat Prelude was on there. Electrifiying performance. The rolling base was unbelieveably quick. VA's performance is my fav because he gives the middle section a chance to really sing. His rubatos are wonderful. This is one reason why I shy away from Rach performing his own music. The performances are so intellectual (and fast) that I lose the feeling contained within the music. I'm one of those hopeless romantics who likes the music broad and expansive (hence slower tempi) My absolute favorite rendition of the Rach #2 is Weissenberg w/ Karajah (did I spell that right?) While most pianists knock off the second movement is 10-11 minutes, W. takes it at a comfortable 14 and a 1/2 minutes, giving the melody line sufficient time to "sing". I notice more pianists are slowing the tempos down, getting away from the cerebral interpretations of Rach and the fiery ones of Horowitz. I have a theory that part of the reason why Rach took his tempos so incredibly fast was that he felt self-conscious about gushing displays of emotion. It just wasn't in his character, if you've read analyses about him. Course I've caught hell from a lot of people who immediately jump to his defense, accusing me of being too musically tone-deaf to hear the emotion in a performance that whizzes by at 200mph. Well, maybe. But inthe final analysis, what we look for is what moves us deeply and profoundly, right? Some get it w/ Rach's playing. I, unfortunately, don't.

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#405545 - 02/19/02 02:30 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
I am with you all the way regarding the great Rachmaninov and his playing. I've listened to ALL his available recordings. I came to the exact same conclusions as your. I guess I'm another hopeless minority.

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#405546 - 02/19/02 02:49 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Diarmuid Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 219
I'll join you in that minority. I have the complete RCA recordings of Rach (haven't checked recently but about 10 CDs worth). I love most of it but simply can't get over the way he rushes his own concerti. I have a lingering suspicion that he might have had to to fit them on the old records of the time, I'm probably wrong but that's the best I could come up with.

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#405547 - 02/19/02 03:16 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
Diarmuid, you have a real good point there. I hadn't considered that the 78's were very limited, timewise in those days. probably why he took all the cuts he did (another reason why I don't listen to Good ol' Rach's recordings, though that's not his fault). On the subject of Evgeny Kissin, elsewhere, listen to his opening of the third, recorded live. He takes the soulful melody in the beginning slower than anyone I've heard so far, yet it doesn't drag or get distorted. It's aboslutely mahvellous! We'd never get that kind of soul out of Horowitz. BTW, I have Howowitz's TV recording of the third, made w/ Mehta back in 1978 on the anniversary thing of his American debut. Commendable for a guy pushing 75 or so, and interesting as a historical record but i heard the Ormandy live performance was so bad that they had to go back into the studio to retape portions for the CD release. Check out my other post about a so-called famous concert pianist who has some streaming videos. That's interesting, but from a whole different perspective. So it seems Andrew and Diarmuid, we are a small but growing minority, judging by how interpretations are doing an about-face on the performances of Rach concerti these days. I'd love to hear Naida Cole's rendition of the third. BTW, again, you can hear several competition interpretations of the third in its entirity by going to the Van Vliburn Foundation website and linking to audio recordings of the finalists. Included is Olga Kern's hair-raising performance that got her the gold.

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#405548 - 02/19/02 03:18 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17917
Loc: Victoria, BC
While Rachmaninov rushing performances of his own works may partly have been due to time limitations of the recording process of the time, it might also have something to do with performance practices of the period, too. Emphasis on virtuosity - which at some times in recent history has been equated with velocity - seems to be giving way IN SOME CONTEXTS (please note the emphasis) to a more lyrical, more reflective playing style, albeit without sacrificing brilliant pianism and phenomenal technique for which some modern pianists are celebrated.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#405549 - 02/19/02 03:33 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
It's a good move, if you ask me.

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#405550 - 02/19/02 04:25 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Eldon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 597
Loc: Illinois
AndrewG,
I also agree with you totally. Richter's Rach. preludes are the VERY BEST...IMHO \:\)
_________________________
Sincerely,
Eldon

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#405551 - 02/19/02 04:28 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/01
Posts: 306
Loc: Lubbock, TX
I would like to plug a lesser-known but FANTASTIC recording of the Op. 32 Preludes by Lilya Zilberstein. It's on the Deutsche Grammophone label with the first Shostakovich sonata.

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#405552 - 02/20/02 01:03 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Hello Joe and everyone!

I'm one of those that reads on this forum, but rarely post. Shy. . .
When studying the Chopin Etudes years ago, I was fortunate to be studying with teachers that knew many Tricks of the Trade (so to speak). Much of this had to do with practice techniques, application of a "Russian School" approach to Chopin, Brahms, or in effect anywhere.
What I find interesting, is the Cortot edition of the Chopin (with English translation) contained many of these practice techniques which helped in mastery of the technical difficulties. One should view Cortot's suggestions seriously, even if some of his ideas seem like overkill. He obviously spent much time on the Chopin editions, regardless of the rather bad press he received over the years regarding his playing and scholarship.
As anyone that has played the Etudes knows, you have to overcome the technical difficulties, and discover the "secret" (so to speak). The way NOT to study the etudes, is to try to beat them into submission, with marathon sessions trying to somehow build muscles, or grin through the pain.

Years ago, I saw Ozan Marsh teach Op. 10/1 to a young student, that could barely reach a 9th. About 8 weeks later, the kid darn near had the work mastered to tempo, and could play it over and over using what he had learned from a teacher that understood what the true difficulties were, and how to overcome them without tension and strain. Cortot doesn't touch on the subjects of arm movement/positioning and wrist, which are also essential. But if you haven't come across the Cortot, it would be interesting if nothing else. Of course one would not want to use the Cortot as a primary source, but only as a reference for practice.

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#405553 - 02/20/02 08:05 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
rvaga,

I know exactly what you're talking about. Thanks for bringing this up. I grew up with the Russian pedagogical practices and style of piano playing. My teacher used to own over 400 LPs with the lables like Melodya, Supraphone, Eterna, Electra, etc. As a matter of fact Eastern bloc's playing style was the only thing we had access to. In retrospect it was not a bad thing at all. I'm familiar with the so-called tricks in various Chopin etudes including 10/1 & 10/3 middle section, etc. I fully appreciate and understand your take on this. One has to have, however, tremendous amount of talent to tackle these almost impossible 24, with only a few that are technically approachable. What I'm trying to say is that with all the 'tricks of trade' a pianist has to be technically gifted to really nail down any of them. One talented girl student of mine learned and recitaled the complete set of 24 without a glitch. She learned all the 24 plus other Chopin pieces within the time frame of 6 months. She recitaled every thing from memory without any mistakes. I taught her with all the tricks that I know about. I was still immensely amazed that she pulled through these in one breath! Her performance, BTW, was on a very high level. What she accomplished, IMHO, is not mere hardwork. Anyone can reach a 'certain' level of accomplishment, beyond that one has to be endowed with that indescribable gift. Example, take a look at jodi's art work one will quickly come to conclusion that she has tremendous talent. Hardwork and 'trick of trade' is not enough. My $.02, I guess.

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#405554 - 02/20/02 12:47 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
That girl wasn't just talented, she was the find of the century!! Where is she now and did you get that performance on tape? If you say her name was Naida Cole, I'll kill myself.

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#405555 - 02/20/02 01:34 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Joe,

She is in her late 40s now. She was never a professional pianist. She taught piano for many years to mostly youngsters in Far East. She is financially doing more than fine. Last time I visited her at her beautiful spacious apartment she had a Steinway grand sitting side-by-side with a newly acquired Boserdorfer grand. I don't remember the size of both. Bosendoefer was a present from her husband.

As to the gigantic musical instincts or gifts I'd venture to say that most, if not all world class professional pianists have some of the unique qualities, be it a fast learner, photographic memory, indelible muscle memory, lightening reflex, beautiful singing tone, etc. The list goes on and on. At least one thing, it seems, is shared by most great pianists. It is the fast learning pace. Ashkenazy, Dichter, Marc-Hamelin, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Richter, Barenboim, Bachauer, Haebler, Hess, Argerich, Schiff... The quickiest learners that I know are the Turkish Dame Biret, and Haskil. It is a known fact that Clara Haskil learned Brahms 2nd in TWO days. All 4 movements memorized. Now, that's a feat! Or rather, miracle?

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: AndrewG ]

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: AndrewG ]

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#405556 - 02/20/02 07:25 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
JoeTownley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 77
Loc: Glendale Ca
It's musical feats like the ones you describe that my puny intellect has difficulty grabbing ahold of. I cannot conceive a human pulling off those kinds of things. I suspect that had i not injured my hand early on I still would have flunked out as a serious pianist. And i pat myself on the back for once memorizing the 1st movement of the Schumann G-minor Sonata in a week! What a letdown!!!

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#405557 - 02/20/02 09:38 PM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5298
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by AndrewG:
It is a known fact that Clara Haskil learned Brahms 2nd in TWO days. All 4 movements memorized. Now, that's a feat! Or rather, miracle?
[/b]


Maybe she made a deal with the other side... \:D
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#405558 - 02/21/02 08:03 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Of course learning pace is not the only deciding factor. Two young aspiring pianists were preparing their Liszt Sonata to enter the first G. Enescu Competition. They started on the sonata at the same time with the same professor. Pianist A managed to memorize it in around 10 days while pianist B struggled for one full month to nail the notes down. B was always a slow learner. The end result? Pianist A did not even pass through the first round. Pianist B ended the winner of the competition! That was in 1958.

Today if one is a slow learner he/she probably would not make the cut to be a professional performing soloist. Nowadays the expectation of the repertoir of a performing artist is simply mind-boggling. My point? A quick learning pace will not make one a great artist. It is, however, one basic skill or qualification of anyone attempting a soloist career. Any thoughts on this?

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: AndrewG ]

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#405559 - 02/21/02 08:32 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
okat47 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/01
Posts: 193
Loc: Canada
I'm not suggesting that I am anywhere near being a concert pianist, but I do learn things fast and I'm a good sight reader. I actually enjoy it when someone gives me a piece and says "learn this for next week". The only problem is that in my excitement about learning the piece, I sometimes skim over the important details. Then I have to work harder to get the things that I missed the first time through. So faster is not necessarily better.
A fast learning pace is definitely useful for getting the 'big picture' of a piece, of for those short-notice accompaniment gigs, but in the long run, "slow and steady" does win the race.

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#405560 - 02/21/02 08:49 AM Re: Foolproof way to play the Chopin Etude op. 10 #1
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1659
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Tempos were generally faster back in the 1930s, and have been slowing gradually since the post-war era. There is evidence for this not only in studio recordings, but in live recordings and air-checks. If one listens to pianists such as Horowitz, Rubinstein, and especially Arrau, the tempos they used back then were markedly faster. And the slowing in later years wasn't becuase of deteriorating technique, because it's easier to bluff your way through a work at high speed that play all the notes with integrity. For an example of the "fast & bluff" style, check out Rubinstein's 1946 recording of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata in Volume 14 of RCA's Rubinstein Collection.

Speaking of bluffing, I could easily redistribute Scriabin's Prelude for the left hand alone so that it's easier to play with both hands--but that kind of defeats to purpose, doesn't it?
_________________________
Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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