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Topic: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?  (Read 2038 times)

Offline sevencircles

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Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
on: September 21, 2005, 04:19:26 PM
You get the impression that the works he is playing is to easy for him when you listen to recordings of Josef Hofmann in his prime.

You can hear that he could play them a lot faster if he wanted to but choose not to since it wouldnīt be very musical.

I wonder why he never recorded Come La Vent by Alkan as well as the Chopin trancriptions by Godowsky.

That would be more of a challenge for him , donīt you think?

Godowsky was alive at the time and that may be the reason that Hofmann didnīt wanna record his works but why did he never record Alkan?

Could his bad sightreading skills be the reason?

He never recorded Brahms 2 or Busoniīs concerto  either.

They actually made a piano with especially narrow keys that would make it possible for him  to reach intervalls wider then an octave.

Even an octave was a painfull stretch for his tiny hands with a regular keyboard.



Offline xvimbi

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #1 on: September 21, 2005, 04:51:20 PM
Perhaps, he was more interested in making music than in setting records.

Offline sevencircles

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #2 on: September 21, 2005, 04:59:32 PM
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Perhaps, he was more interested in making music than in setting records.

Maybe so. You donīt get the that impression when you listen to his later recordings unfortunately.

What pianist at the time (pre. 1925)  did perform Alkanīs hardest pieces by the way?

Offline stevie

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #3 on: September 21, 2005, 05:11:20 PM
hardly anyone, busoni played a few of his pieces, but not the very hardest, noone played the very hardest until petri did, petri was busoni's student i think.

Offline stevie

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #4 on: September 21, 2005, 05:16:24 PM
also - rachmaninov played comme le vent on his 1st american tour

Offline sevencircles

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #5 on: September 21, 2005, 05:30:26 PM
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also - rachmaninov played comme le vent on his 1st american tour

Too bad he didnīt record it.

Many people who heard Rachmaninov live claimed that  the recordings he did wasnīt even close to capture the greatness of Rach. live.

I assume that he got frightened when the performance was recorded.

Offline stevie

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #6 on: September 21, 2005, 06:11:15 PM
well of course recordings dont capture subtle nuances of sound, not even todays modern recording are as awesome as hearing the sound as in person.

my favourite rachmaninov recording is the 1st concerto, particularly the 1st movement, playing of that tension, drama, and emotion is very rare.

one thing is for sure though, you really can tell the technical abilities of the pianists from these old recordings, they didnt 'hold back', in fact - they stressed extremes more, because the recording equipment wasnt as dynamically sensetive.

Offline sevencircles

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #7 on: September 21, 2005, 06:42:33 PM
Stevie: Can you hear why many people think that Rachmaninov is the greatest pianist of the 20: th century by listening to his recordings?

 I canīt.

Offline pianowelsh

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #8 on: September 21, 2005, 11:00:47 PM
Maybe he didnt like them! :o

Offline brewtality

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #9 on: September 22, 2005, 12:12:57 AM
Maybe he didnt like them! :o

This is definitely a possibility. The thing about Hofmann is that he didn't make many recordings period. Its well known that he distrusted the recording process, and constantly worked in his leisure time to help improve the recording quality (he was an inventor as I'm sure you're aware). Thus, his commercial and test recordings are entirely comprised of minatures, which allowed him to not waste his effort recording more serious music only for the nuances to be lost due to the primitive recording technology.

The majority of his recordings that make up his complete discography are live broadcasts, where the formula was to play maybe one movement of a concerto and some familiar minatures (usually Chopin), apparently the feeling was that the audience couldn't handle an entire sonata or concerto perfomance. I think that this goes a long way towards explaining why he didn't record alkan or the chop-gods (but then again, did Godowsky even record them?). His sightreading has nothing to do with it, since he had the even more valuable skill of total aural recall (in fact this is probably the reason for his poor sightreading).   In the case of comme le vent he probably didn't like it (I know I don't) and wasn't interested in a speed race.

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Maybe so. You donīt get the that impression when you listen to his later recordings unfortunately

I didn't get that impression at all, would you kindly clarify this statement by listing the relevant recordings?
I find his later recordings to be often more agreeable musically than the earlier ones, even though alcoholism had taken its effect on his technique.

Offline da jake

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #10 on: September 22, 2005, 12:23:09 AM
Good analysis, Brew.

Comme Le Vent is a pretty crappy start to the Opus 39, admittedly.

Big shame that Erwin Nyiregyhazi never got a chance to record the AlKanCerto. He played part of it for Lewenthal, which caused the latter to claim it was with the most remarkable tone he had ever heard (and this included Cortot!)
"The best discourse upon music is silence" - Schumann

Offline mrchops10

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"In the crystal of his harmony he gathered the tears of the Polish people strewn over the fields, and placed them as the diamond of beauty in the diadem of humanity." --The poet Norwid, on Chopin

Offline thierry13

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #12 on: September 23, 2005, 02:26:26 AM
Comme Le Vent is a pretty crappy start to the Opus 39, admittedly.

please, Comme le vent is an amazing piece, and the middle theme is very catchy. The piece is awesome.

Offline stevie

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #13 on: September 23, 2005, 06:35:42 PM
please, Comme le vent is an amazing piece, and the middle theme is very catchy. The piece is awesome.

hahaha, hilarious,. i can see both of your points, comme is a great piece, but its possibly musically the weakest of all 12 etudes, that isnt to degrade the great piece though, just gives you an idea of how AWESOME the rest is.

Stevie: Can you hear why many people think that Rachmaninov is the greatest pianist of the 20: th century by listening to his recordings?

 I canīt.

yes, i can.

he isnt my favourite, nor do i think he is the greatest, but certain things he did in his concerto recordings are unmatched, in terms of musical tension and climax.

Offline sevencircles

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #14 on: September 24, 2005, 09:03:26 AM
Stevie. Some examples of Rach.s playing please. Can they be found on that Russian site, often linked here?

Offline stevie

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #15 on: September 24, 2005, 01:30:20 PM
https://classic.manual.ru/Rachmaninov-performer/Rach-1.html

the performance of his 1st concerto is unmatched IMO.

check out the cadenza of the 1st movement....

Offline etudes

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #16 on: September 25, 2005, 07:15:58 PM
Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?  because he recorded normal piece and make it hardest!!
Piano = my life
My life = piano

Offline bernhard

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #17 on: September 25, 2005, 10:09:22 PM
He may not have the final word on what to record. Probably the recording company producer's decided on it in regards to what the paying public would be willing to buy. Horowitz wanted to record a lot of Clementi but his recording company would have none of it. >:(

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline ted

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #18 on: September 25, 2005, 10:36:05 PM
That has a ring of truth to it. Waller played a lot of Bach privately and, according to reliable sources, made recordings of it for RCA which were rejected out of hand lest they interfere with sales and his public image.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline da jake

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #19 on: September 26, 2005, 03:07:16 AM
Fats Waller recorded Bach? That would have been pretty cool to hear. Shame about the producers.  >:(

"The best discourse upon music is silence" - Schumann

Offline ted

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Re: Why didnīt Hofmann record the hardest pieces?
Reply #20 on: September 26, 2005, 06:22:17 AM
Yes, he actually played a lot of classical in private. The excellent little book, "They All Played Ragtime" discusses this RCA business. Rumours still persist about it but nobody has ever found the recordings. He used to play Bach straight first and then improvise swinging variations, so in those days they could have suppressed it for fear of offending the long-hairs I suppose.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce
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