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Playing Bach on an Elephant

In this interview Schiff explains and demonstates his ideas on this widely discussed topic on how to play J. S. Bach’s music, and more specifically, the “Well Tempered Clavier” (BWV 846-893) on a modern piano. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Liszt Sonata  (Read 3652 times)
dnephi
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« on: November 21, 2006, 03:31:03 PM »

How difficult, technically, is the sonata?  According to the amateur Van Cliburn blog, two of these were played in the same day on the finals (45 minute programs).

When I watched it, they seemed very showy and rather difficult, not to mention my opinion on its musical value.  Where do the difficulties arrive?  Are they technical, or, as Duchable feels (http://youtube.com/watch?v=NhrlOyFhrOA) are they easily handled after developing one's "technique base."  Then, it would be musically extremely difficult. 

Discussion has been done here: (http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,20287.0.html)

Thanks.

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For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

piano sheet music of Sonata
ramseytheii
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2006, 05:32:06 PM »

I think the Liszt sonata, no matter how strong the technique base, is just a lot of work.  But luckily, the way it is structured, you can work on passages fro mthe beginning and end together, and that alleviates some of the labor.  Even if your octaves are good, for instance, it is rather difficult to play the double octaves passages without a mess of wrong notes, and it just has to be practiced.  The fast finger runs are not difficult to sight-read, but it is hard to get a real grasp on them and get just the right sound.

I used to think this piece was lacking in texture, but it just requires a very sophisticated approach to producing sound on keyboard, and actually, that is one of the true difficulties of the piece.  To get just the right sound, at just the right tempo, of leggiero, or appasionato, or non-legato, marcato, fortississimo, all these things have to sound totally different.

The mechanics that this sonata requires for piano technique are beyond conventional, but not that far beyond.

Walter Ramsey
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liszt-essence
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2006, 06:02:37 PM »

More important: grasp it's musical value.. and you shall be rewarded
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mikey6
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2006, 04:31:47 AM »

I think the biggest challenge of the piece is the pacing issue - it's so long and to jugde the overall structure would be tricky.  And becuase it's so long, there's gonna be stamina issues which is why I think the octaves at the end would be difficult.
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Never look at the trombones. You'll only encourage them.
Richard Strauss
minor9th
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2006, 05:51:39 AM »

I just heard Garrick Ohlsson play the daylights out of it in SF. Not as good as Berman or Richter, but amazing enough.
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steinway43
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2006, 08:43:35 AM »

More important: grasp it's musical value.. and you shall be rewarded

I have to agree. I've played this piece for years now. My suggestion when first learning it is not to worry about playing it full tempo right away, let the piece settle into your system over time as you study the mystery, the poetry, the magnificent range of colors that roam through the interdeveloped themes. Really get to know it. That is where the magic lies.



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bflatminor24
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2006, 08:13:31 AM »

I just heard Garrick Ohlsson play the daylights out of it in SF. Not as good as Berman or Richter, but amazing enough.

I was at the same concert. Where were you sitting? Do you live in SF? I drove there with my gf from Stanford.

-Max
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My favorite piano pieces - Liszt Sonata in B minor, Beethoven's Hammerklavier, Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit, Alkan's Op. 39 Etudes, Scriabin's Sonata-Fantaisie, Godowsky's Passacaglia in B minor.
minor9th
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2006, 05:50:45 PM »

I was in the Upper Orchestra row Y. No, I live in Davis...my wife and I drove up. He grew up just a few miles from her in NY!

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ralessi
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2006, 02:30:35 AM »

I have been loving and researching the Liszt sonata for a few years now  (recently started actually playing it) and I would DEFINATELY say that difficulty lies EVERYWHERE in this piece.  This piece is SUCH an important work in piano rep...probably one of the most important pieces of music written, defintately most important work among romantic composers as far as structure, reasons for structure, and where classical music went after it.  Anyway, I think that successful melodic projection is undoubtedly the most difficult aspect of this piece.   With his unmatched use of thematic (melodic) transformation, you really have to know and understand every single in-and-out of this piece in order to capture any bit of what Liszt intended for this work.  This definately falls under the musicality category, but is not just a matter of ''making it sound pretty.''  There are EASILY twice as many horrible recordings of this piece as there are good recordings.  I think that this piece, today, is completely misunderstood and butchered wayyyy too much simply because people say, ''I want to play and record the Liszt Sonata!'' and they dont want to take the time to learn the significance of the piece and play the piece the way it should be played. .  I definately believe that i'm rambling now and i'll go on for days if nobody stops me.  My conclusion is that this piece is a bear everywhere..and successful performances are rare so try to play it well!....after 2 years of preparation!

Cheers!
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