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Beauty and Hope in the 21st Century

The recently published compilation “Beauty and Hope in the 21st Century” contains contemporary solo piano pieces from many internationally renowned composers. Nikolas Sideris and Editions Musica Ferrum generously give access to complete scores of new piano pieces from the compilation that are available to download and print for Piano Street members. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Liszt B minor Sonata  (Read 5538 times)
phillipfawcett
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« on: April 21, 2002, 11:53:37 PM »

I have become captivated by this amazing work - to listen to,  as yet not to play!  So far my favourite recording is Bernard d'ascoli, even above Pollini, John Ogden and Alfred Brendel whose i have heard.  His (d'ascoli) rich tone, rythmnic placement, gradation, grasp of structure and dramatic power seem sublime to me  Smiley
Any comments at all from performers/listeners are welcome thx
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martin_s
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2002, 10:56:09 AM »

Try Martha Argerich's 1972 (?) recording. (Deutche Grammophone, nowadays available on CD coupled with her debut recording. A must have for the pianist in my humble opinion) I think that it's absolutely brilliant, although some people tend to hate it.

Or the early Horowitz recording (1932?) is very good too. But, as always, "suffers" a bit from the Horowitz syndrome, as it were. But I absolutely adore his Liszt playing. His Mefisto Waltz (live 1979) recording is super!! Not a single right note maybe, I agree, but what feeling and excitement!!! Like Eddie van Halen! (Did you know, BTW, the van Halen brothers were both trained to be concert pianists before switching to rock 'n roll?! Shocked)
Horowitz est tres cool!
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phillipfawcett
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2002, 08:20:49 PM »

I didnt know about the Van Halen bros!  I can imagine the Horovitz recording, i'm sure it would suit liszt! Another i want to find is barry Douglas ..have u heard of him ..probably the top british pianist nowadays . If his pictures at an exhibition is anything to go by then his B minor should be superb.  btw i wonder if u have come across Micheal Ponti over there, he's an american. I once saw a recital of his live over here and everybody was totally gobsmacked . Think of Horovitz and double it!  It was frightening.
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rachfan
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2003, 09:46:14 PM »

Claudio Arrau also did a marvelous recording of the sonata.  He was one of the last virtuosos of the great Romantic tradition,  and imbued his playing of this sonata accordingly.  
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steinway23
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2003, 06:04:49 PM »

I have 7 recordings of the Liszt B minor Sonata by different pianists.....namely argerich, zimerman, jorge bolet, pletnev, claudio arrau, li yundi, and evgheny brakhman presented by martha argerich...

And in my opinion, Krystian Zimerman did most  justice to this majestic and glorious work as compared to other artistes...

Chopin piano compeition winner, Li Yundi played well for this piece but he lacks maturity in his playing but im sure he will eat the piece up as he progresses.....

Martha Argerich displays virtuosity and fantastic colours in her playing and its a clear playing by instincts....

jorge bolet's playing is not as exciting to me....

claudio arrau's playing evokes a lot of thoughts in you... and its heavy weight.... i like it but its not as colourful...

pletnev's playing needs a lot of time to bake over it.... he is a fine pianist and i still haven't grasp his ideas yet in his recording...

brakhman is a young pianist... very precise playing and accurate note for note... he will understand the sonata better as he progresses im sure...

Adding on, Zimerman displayed an utmost respect to Liszt in his music. Liszt music has always been misunderstood as virtuosic but beneath it, Liszt attempts to evoke reminiscences of places he has been or sceneries that has captured his eyes...

It was a very evoking experience listening to Zimerman's playing of the sonata and he has let 10 years pass by before he decided to lay his piece in recording. 10 years is a long time to spend digesting a piece but it is a definite worth because the evident experience is priceless. Listen to his recording of the Liszt sonata and you will know what i mean....

Stephen Hough wrote... " As Noah was naming his animals or as Santa Claus wrapping even the most modest gifts in shimmering paper, Liszt imposed the flourish of an appellation to most of his pieces. Etudes became a " wild chase" or " evening harmonies". Nocturnes became " Dreams of Love" and waltzes were " melancholy", " mephistophelian" or even " forgotten". But when it came to his sole work in sonata form.... nothing; merely, " Grande Sonate pour le pianoforte par F. Liszt"

This is where the pursuit of what his thoughts were for the B min sonata begins....  i wish i really knew.... its too much a heavenly work to be ignored..... have fun in your pursuit....
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rachfan
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2003, 05:15:06 AM »

We should also mention George Bolet's wonderful recording of the sonata.  So many fine recordings to choose from!
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frederic
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2003, 01:15:47 AM »

I've got a recording of Andre Watts playing the Sonata. Hey! No ones ever mentioned him anywhere in this Forum! He's a brilliant pianist with fluent techinique. Though his Liszt Sonata tends to be a bit fast....

Yundi Li's Liszt album is out already??!!
I've got his Chopin album and i couldn't wait for the next one! Well its certainly not out in NZ.
Gee, thats the problem with living in the other side of the world. We may be the first to see the sun but we're obviously not the first to get all those recordings!
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frederic
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2003, 01:18:10 AM »

Or anything else that is....   :-/
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"The concert is me" - Franz Liszt
amee
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2003, 02:19:48 AM »

I saw an ad for Yundi Li's Liszt album in the paper so it might have come out in NZ already.
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titos
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2003, 10:22:35 PM »

  I will definitely agree with RachFan about Arrau's recording! I think it is the only one with all the dramatic elements, which are necessary to play the Sonata. We must be grateful to Martin Krause for teaching Arrau to play so beautifully Liszt! ( Arrau refused to continue having piano lessons after Krause died, that means his last piano lesssons were at the age of 16!)
  I would point out the incredible way Arrau plays the theme in D (Grandioso). He is the only pianist who can start a crescendo from ff and sing the melody so nicely without playing the accompanying chords softer! It is absolutely great playing by a trully WISE pianist...
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eddie92099
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2003, 06:31:52 PM »

Quote
   ( Arrau refused to continue having piano lessons after Krause died, that means his last piano lesssons were at the age of 16!)
 


15 actually...
Martha Argerich is unparalleled in the Liszt sonata - and I have 6 recordings. I cannot imagine any better playing put to disc,
Ed
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allchopin
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2003, 12:51:45 AM »

I have a wonderful recording of the Sonata, but I don't know who it is performed by.  Someone with multiple recordings, please tell me which performance is 12:05 long (mvmt. 1).
Also, how do you know where 1 mvmt. ends and another begins, because in this sonata, it is not stated.  The composition reaches a double bar line yet the recording goes on, until finally it stops at the Andante Sostenuto and key change.  Why there?
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eddie92099
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2003, 01:08:15 AM »

It is a one movement work,
Ed
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allchopin
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2003, 06:42:18 AM »

Oh, well I guess I own half of a recording then. Great  :-/
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thracozaag
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2003, 04:39:01 PM »

Quote
I have become captivated by this amazing work - to listen to,  as yet not to play!  So far my favourite recording is Bernard d'ascoli, even above Pollini, John Ogden and Alfred Brendel whose i have heard.  His (d'ascoli) rich tone, rythmnic placement, gradation, grasp of structure and dramatic power seem sublime to me  Smiley
Any comments at all from performers/listeners are welcome thx


 I have a friend who is obsessed with this piece, I think he has over fifty plus performances of it, recorded and live.  Of the performances I've heard several stand out:

Jorge Bolet--not the recording but a live performance from Tully Hall in 1972.  

Emil Gilels--another live performance, can't recall the date.

Ernst Levy--amazing, amazing rendition.  How this pianist never got famous is beyond me.

Horowitz--the early recording is far superior and far less self indulgent than the 70's recording.

Zimmerman--not usually a huge fan of his playing, but his Liszt sonata is phenomenal.

 Haven't heard the Ogdon, but I'm sure it's fantastic.
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eddie92099
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« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2003, 07:05:02 PM »

"I find [Martha Argerich's] account of the Liszt sonata stunning at all levels. Obviously, her hands have mastered the notes. However, her ability to find the music in all the notes amazes me. I should say that I've never particularly liked the Liszt sonata, or any 19th-century sonata after Schubert. The Liszt in particular has always seemed to me a compendium of cliches and over-reliance on diminished triads and sequence. I've heard Horowitz's EMI recording, Brendel, and Arau. I've not heard my two all-time favorite Lisztians, Cziffra and Howard, in this particular work and, in fact, don't know whether recorded performances exist. Schwann is silent.

The Liszt bears as much resemblance to classical sonata form as a platypus does to a duck. The trick for the pianist is to overcome the obviously sectional nature of the work and make the listener forget that each section is more than a rush to another climax - a tall order, since that's practically Liszt's entire rhetorical strategy. Under hands only vaguely connected to the brain, the piece comes off as a garage sale of spare parts. Argerich shows you how Liszt builds an impressive structure from two or three little bits, not even full-fledged themes, and how the composer's incredible sonic imagination (allied, I'm sure, to his miraculous technique) inventively transforms these bits into new themes, rhythms, and textures. One reads about this in essays on the subject, but Argerich is the first to show this in action. I never realized to what extent the opening downward run in the bass generated the thematic transformations before. It leads to an all-important "repeated note" gesture (4 repeated notes, a little downward fillip, and an upward leap, followed by a chromatic descent of 2 notes), which in turn leads to an important lyrical idea, varied just enough in rhythm and tempo to disguise its parentage. At other points, Liszt breaks up the idea among widely disparate registers. "Repeated note" even gets a fugal treatment. Stuff like this happens throughout the sonata. To Argerich's immense credit, she never loses the thread or the listener.

However, not everyone listens for this kind of thing, and if the performance consisted of only this, a computer-generated account would suffice. Argerich brings even more, leaving aside the sheer physical excitement of her playing. Listening to the disc a number of times, I've discovered that she routinely builds incredibly long spans of music. She not only knows how to shade a phrase through sensitive, momentary builds and releases, she carries this method over longer spans. She knows precisely not only where the high point of a phrase or a section lies, but of an entire piece, even one this long. Other great pianists do this as well. In fact, this for me practically defines a great pianist. The buildup of volume comes more easily than the release, because it's a primary device of increasing tension and excitement, just as getting faster is. Unfortunately, a player might reach his peak before the music. This occasionally happened to Bernstein, particularly in Richard Strauss. He needed to get louder, but had already shot his dynamic wad, so to speak. The release is much harder: a player often just loses focus and the piece momentarily dies. Argerich always has someplace to go, up or down, and reaching the valley is just as urgent as attaining the summit. The rapid octaves leading to the long, "dying fall" of the coda demonstrate this clearly.

Magnificent."

(Steve Schwarz, 1998),

Ed

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tph
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« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2003, 07:27:34 PM »

Has anyone heard Pogorelich's Liszt sonata recording?  I find it the closest in interpretation to the Faustian theme, which almost certainly influenced Liszt at the time of the sonata's composition.  Also, I recall that Richter's recording was very impressive (it's been a couple of years since I last had a listen).

tph
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JohnOgdon
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2003, 07:46:19 PM »

Without doubt the most incompetent recording of this is John Ogdon in 1987 in Canterbury, on a BBC classics cd. I swear that a gifted amateur could sight read it with more accuracy than that and it is so bland and dull i am amazed that it is the same pianist who......... produced one of the best recordings, done in 1968 for EMI, which is tremendous. I disagree with ed that the argerich is the best ever, but it is a marvellous recording. So is Simon Barere and Cziffra. i loath the ancient Richter's recording, it is a wonder the piano didn't bleed afterwards. I personally favour early horowitz, it is just so moving and beautiful, yet (in the right places) so passionate and terrifying, I love it! (dont even think about it, Konstantin). And as for the piece, it defies description...........
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eddie92099
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2003, 08:33:46 PM »

Quote
Without doubt the most incompetent recording of this is John Ogdon in 1987 in Canterbury, on a BBC classics cd. I swear that a gifted amateur could sight read it with more accuracy than that and it is so bland and dull i am amazed that it is the same pianist who......... produced one of the best recordings, done in 1968 for EMI, which is tremendous.


He was, of course, having severe mental difficulties at the time,
Ed
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thracozaag
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2003, 08:56:38 PM »

Quote
Without doubt the most incompetent recording of this is John Ogdon in 1987 in Canterbury, on a BBC classics cd. I swear that a gifted amateur could sight read it with more accuracy than that and it is so bland and dull i am amazed that it is the same pianist who......... produced one of the best recordings, done in 1968 for EMI, which is tremendous. I disagree with ed that the argerich is the best ever, but it is a marvellous recording. So is Simon Barere and Cziffra. i loath the ancient Richter's recording, it is a wonder the piano didn't bleed afterwards. I personally favour early horowitz, it is just so moving and beautiful, yet (in the right places) so passionate and terrifying, I love it! (dont even think about it, Konstantin). And as for the piece, it defies description...........


 We are in complete agreement here.  I've also recently heard a live Gilels rendition that is tremendous.  You should discuss this piece with a friend of mine...The Liszt B minor is his absolute favorite piece and he owns over 300 performances of it!
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thracozaag
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« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2003, 08:57:08 PM »

Quote


He was, of course, having severe mental difficulties at the time,
Ed


 Was he on Lithium?
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« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2003, 10:39:49 PM »

Quote
Well, so many recordings to listen! Of course, depends what you are "looking for". For people who want to enjoy the music of this masterpiece, Krystian Zimmerman's recording is if not the best, but definately the MOST serious of all. During this 30 minutes or so, he is the only one (and I've heard hundreds) who will not "forget" what he is playing, or he will not do something "stupid", but he will be concistant about Liszt and musical thoughts.
That's my modest opinion, and of course you will know by now, that I consider Argerich's, Horowitz's, Watt's (who cares about him anyway) playing at least stupid and foolish.  



Konstantinos,

I've never heard the Zimmerman recording. Thanks for mentioning it, I must look it up. He is one of my favorite pianists.
I used to have a recording of Curzon years ago that I liked. I have to look that one up, as well,  to see if I still like it.
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« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2003, 10:52:04 PM »

Quote
 
To be honest, I'm not familiar with Curzon's recording, but I will look it up.


The last time I heard the recording was in my teens - and it was on vinyl. If you don't like it, you can blame my bad taste at a younger age.

I agree about Zimmerman, which is why I think his recording of the Chopin Ballades is my favorite. He is a lot more true to the score than just about anyone else.
For example: why is it that so many people take the coda in the 4th Ballade at such a fast tempo, when there is no tempo change indicated? It seems like a herd mentality.
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« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2003, 11:04:09 PM »

I think I have the Zimmerman recording and I love it (no wrong notes Smiley).  The Richter isn't bad but there are a few mistakes in the beginning.  Horowitz's is kinda rubato and "pulse-y"- it's almost like he is forcing it out of his fingers against Liszt's will Sad.... Cziffra's and Sgouro's (havent heard much of him despite amazing natural talent and SPEED abilities) are both excellent, but topped by Gilels, whose (I think) closely resembles Zimmerman's recording in style etc.

Hmoll: What coda?
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Hmoll
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« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2003, 11:11:46 PM »

Quote

Hmoll: What coda?


The coda to the 4th Ballade starts about 29 measures before the end.
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eddie92099
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« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2003, 11:40:27 PM »

Quote


...and that's probably the reason why some people like it.. Feeling depressed or that life is unfair to you, for sure Horowitz is the master to make you feel better.. Thnk about it. (and leave your nasty comments to your self).


The real John Ogdon was having mental difficulties at the time of his recording, not the member JohnOgdon at the time of his writing! I would never be that rude to someone!  Roll Eyes,
Ed
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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2004, 01:05:34 AM »

Again any discussion on the Liszt B minor Sonata would be incomplete without Artur Rubinstein's recording on the RCA label, usually coupled with Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy. I have some 20 versions of this sonata on disc . . . most of those mentioned above. Brendel is another I like very much.
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« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2004, 08:46:26 AM »

    Despite my infatuation with Argerich, I don't believe that her recording of the sonata is close to the best.  It is actually one of my least favorite Argerich recordings.  
    Her musical ideas about the piece are magical, and of course she can do anything she wants due to  her god-like technique; however the sonata is so musically complicated and layered that the speed with which she takes it at seems a bit rediculous (and boy does she go like a bat out of hell!).  I first encountered the sonata when listening to her recording, and I thought that her interpretation was just grand; yet when I listened to other recordings of it/started working on it myself, I noticed numerous things that I did not when listening to her recording.  (just for the record, one of my least favorite Argerich recordings is more important to me than like anybody else playing anything)
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« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2004, 04:42:55 AM »

I have heard most of the previously mentioned recordings and I really like Richter and Cziffra. Cortot is also great with the Liszt Sonata.  
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« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2004, 04:31:42 PM »

I'm not an obsessive record collector, and I have only heard a few recordings of this magnificent work (Argerich, Pollini, Bolet). But I would like to enlight you about a rare live recording, possibly mentioned earlier. Emil Gilels did more than one recording, but the one I'm talking about was done in Moscow in the early 1960s, released on the Soviet Union's (only) National label Melodya, and later distributed abroad - possibly via the DDR. (The other side of the of the LP includes Chopin's first sonata from the same recital.) Well I tell you, if you can get hold of that record, it will be worth it. Technically it's not flawless - some cords are dangerously near cluster mode - but it's live, and what you hear is a pianist in the middle of a hurricane taking a lot of chances and performing for his life! The broadly sounding grand piano is certainly hammered to the floor, and some string's lack of pitch is eventually audible. In the quieter moments, the atmosphere of the hall has such a presence that if a pin dropped it would likely be heard. Instead, you'll hear a few coughs from a russian audience, either with a cold or in an emotionally stirred state. But that's okay!    
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Recital
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« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2004, 03:58:30 PM »

Try Alberto Cobo, maybe it hasn't a great quality of recording but the performance is superb. You can to listen to:
http://www.superopera.com/sLiszt/SLiszt.htm
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pianiststrongbad
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« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2004, 06:47:14 PM »

I have several recordings of this peice- Argerich, Pollini, Bolet, Richter, Cziffra, possibly a few others that don't come to mind.  Out of all of these, I like Richter the best.  
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« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2004, 02:17:56 PM »

i reccomend leon fleisher's recording. i listened to it recently and was quite surprised at how good it is. probably the best liszt sonata i've heard so far.
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