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Alkan=Overrated Difficulty (Read 28169 times)

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #100 on: December 16, 2006, 01:05:38 AM »
No, if you look close enough at anything, it seems complex.

Look at the bigger picture, by and large - digital speed is the primary factor in technical ability.

EVERYTHING else, every other ability, whether it be dynamic, control, anything - it all hinges on finger speed.

If you wish a point to be proven, let us set up a challenge.
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Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #101 on: December 16, 2006, 03:09:28 AM »
No. You're wrong. Speed is not paramount. That's childish logic, broskies. But don't worry, you're not a bad person. You're just wrong, wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Don't worry about it man.

If you want to challenge me, I accept (even though I don't know what kind of challenge).

 ;D
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.

Offline mephisto

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #102 on: December 16, 2006, 03:10:58 PM »
I like your how you give so good arguments ::)

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #103 on: December 16, 2006, 05:13:30 PM »
No. You're wrong. Speed is not paramount. That's childish logic, broskies. But don't worry, you're not a bad person. You're just wrong, wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Don't worry about it man.

If you want to challenge me, I accept (even though I don't know what kind of challenge).

 ;D


We could use either -

1 - a tape measure, a camera.

or perhaps more appropriately -

2 - a chopin etude, recording equipment, and a stopwatch.
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Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #104 on: December 16, 2006, 07:03:14 PM »
Use it for what? Can't you see that speed is not the ultimate test of difficulty? Could you play the first movement of the Scriabin Sonata-Fantaisie? Probably not. And even if you somehow learned the notes, I bet you anything you would play it very poorly. Prove me wrong.

~Max~
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.

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #105 on: December 16, 2006, 11:08:50 PM »
Since I have no desire to learn that piece, lets just both settle for a shoter piece that we both would wish to learn?

I am anticipating pwnage.
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Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #106 on: December 17, 2006, 02:54:47 AM »
The point is, there is much difficulty without speed. Some incredibly slow pieces are very difficult! You have already stated that EVERYTHING boils down to difficulty from speed.

Members of Pianostreet, do you agree that speed is the only factor of difficulty?

Fine - you choose a piece, I'll have it done.

~Max~
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.

Offline kriskicksass

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #107 on: December 17, 2006, 03:26:39 AM »
Actually, I do agree. The primary factor in the production of sound is the speed of the finger's descent onto the piano's keys. Even if the notes are passing slowly, a finger must come down with many varying speeds in order to produce varied volumes and articulations. As such, I would put finger speed as the most important aspect of technique if I had to choose one.

Disclaimer: I personally believe that there is no one aspect of technique that is the most important. You can have the most agile and flexible fingers in the world, but if you don't know how to use your arms, torso, or legs you're still likely to be unable to play anything well at all.

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #108 on: December 17, 2006, 04:26:33 AM »
You can have the most agile and flexible fingers in the world, but if you don't know how to use your arms, torso, or legs you're still likely to be unable to play anything well at all.

I'd like to see how a woman would use her inner labia in a performance of a Chopin Etude.

Actually, I do agree. The primary factor in the production of sound is the speed of the finger's descent onto the piano's keys. Even if the notes are passing slowly, a finger must come down with many varying speeds in order to produce varied volumes and articulations. As such, I would put finger speed as the most important aspect of technique if I had to choose one.

True, and by and large, dynamic control is only a major difficulty if taken at speeds which render the passage hard to control dynamically.

The point is, there is much difficulty without speed. Some incredibly slow pieces are very difficult! You have already stated that EVERYTHING boils down to difficulty from speed.

Members of Pianostreet, do you agree that speed is the only factor of difficulty?

Fine - you choose a piece, I'll have it done.

~Max~

I didn't say EVERY difficulty is based on speed, just by and large - and other difficulties that 'appear' to not be about speed - control, accuracy, rhythm - they almost always all come back to being about speed.

Glad to see you'd take up the challenge.

The piece I choose is -

Chopin Etude Opus10No.2
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Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #109 on: December 17, 2006, 09:26:40 AM »
Alright. In this etude, evenness and control of dynamics are more important than speed, and in the better recordings (Cortot, Perahia), you'll notice they aren't as fast as some others. But you'll agree that they sound better.

Man, it's cool to be wrong sometimes. Just recognize.

~Max~
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.

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #110 on: December 17, 2006, 10:48:51 AM »
what?!

I mean a duel, MONO A MONO, me vs. you a BATTLE TO THE DEATH, let us both join swords in the 10/2, learn it and record it, and so shall I.

Where the flying dismemberedcorpse do you come up with the idea that 'In this etude, evenness and control of dynamics are more important than speed'?
It's also more than a BIT obvious that evennes and dynamic control in this piece are dependent upon digital dexterity and - you guessed it - SPEED.

I WILL NOT AGREE THAT THEY SOUND BETTER, I WILL NOT AGREE TO HAVING PENILE REDUCTION SURGERY!

I have never been wrong in my life, I wouldn't have a clue what it feels like, I believe you find it cool, but as has been proven thus far this evening - our tastes differ immensely.
I shall say nothing of our respective intellects...just that you are a lesser mortal than I.
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Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #111 on: December 17, 2006, 12:57:04 PM »
Actually, I do agree. The primary factor in the production of sound is the speed of the finger's descent onto the piano's keys. Even if the notes are passing slowly, a finger must come down with many varying speeds in order to produce varied volumes and articulations. As such, I would put finger speed as the most important aspect of technique if I had to choose one.

Disclaimer: I personally believe that there is no one aspect of technique that is the most important. You can have the most agile and flexible fingers in the world, but if you don't know how to use your arms, torso, or legs you're still likely to be unable to play anything well at all.

I love how your disclaimer completely contradicts, in the same vocabulary, the point you were trying to make a paragraph earlier.  It's very pianoforum!

Personally I think you are looking at this in a bit of a skewed general way, because when the previous person said "speed is the only difficult thing," they were really talking about playing fast.  And since 99.9% of pianists don't actually work to control the speed at which fingers come down, I would say this is a non-issue in technique.  Although it may occur, it occurs due to other circumstances, not due to personal control.  There was a lively discussion of this over in Student's Corner or thereabouts, where someone confused by this damaging idea of "fingers coming down in different speeds" reasonably concluded that if you play a chord of several notes with one note in prominence, that finger must be playing faster than other fingers.  This is truly madness, and then what if you have a chord in one hand where two notes have to be brought in relief but in proportion to the other, well you have to come up with three different "speeds.."

Basically we have different touches, which probably affect the speed at which the keys go down.  You can play the piano with different parts of your finger, and with different strokes.  This to me is the art inherent in piano playing, since the aspect of touch is unique to keyboards.  Even well-made mechanical action organs respond to touch, and the clavichord intensifies the problem to a huge degree.  It is in my opinion madness to try and control the speed at which the finger is playing keys, and much better to try and control the tempo of the piece.

Walter Ramsey

Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #112 on: December 17, 2006, 05:32:25 PM »
what?!

I mean a duel, MONO A MONO, me vs. you a BATTLE TO THE DEATH, let us both join swords in the 10/2, learn it and record it, and so shall I.

Where the flying dismemberedcorpse do you come up with the idea that 'In this etude, evenness and control of dynamics are more important than speed'?
It's also more than a BIT obvious that evennes and dynamic control in this piece are dependent upon digital dexterity and - you guessed it - SPEED.

I WILL NOT AGREE THAT THEY SOUND BETTER, I WILL NOT AGREE TO HAVING PENILE REDUCTION SURGERY!

I have never been wrong in my life, I wouldn't have a clue what it feels like, I believe you find it cool, but as has been proven thus far this evening - our tastes differ immensely.
I shall say nothing of our respective intellects...just that you are a lesser mortal than I.


LOL. You can't be serious bro. Join swords? Penile reduction surgery? Never been wrong in your life? Lesser mortal than you?

Have you actually listened to the kind of bile you vomit on this forum? How can you expect anyone to take you seriously. You sound and write like a 10 year old.

Now you want me to learn a piece you probably spent most of your time learning...Get a grip buddy.  Even if I wanted to learn the piece, I have no way of recording it other than my concert performances, which I perform in four times per year. And sadly for you, my repertoire is already chosen, you can find it on a previous thread under performance called "What say YOU?" and I believe it is a step above your repertoire but if you insist on a duel, then why don't you learn one of the ten pieces I have to perfect by that time. I'll even let you choose.

~Max~
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.

Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #113 on: December 17, 2006, 05:35:31 PM »
Oh and I forgot to mention. You may also choose any Rachmaninoff prelude or sonata, Chopin prelude, sonata, or Liszt etude but I seriously doubt you have those technical abilities.
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.

Offline jakev2.0

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #114 on: December 17, 2006, 05:48:06 PM »
How about we just hold the first annual Big F*cking Pianoforum Pissing Contest?

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #115 on: December 17, 2006, 08:59:24 PM »
Oh and I forgot to mention. You may also choose any Rachmaninoff prelude or sonata, Chopin prelude, sonata, or Liszt etude but I seriously doubt you have those technical abilities.

While I sit on your lap, I will practice these pieces, to provide word to your anachronistic perveliatoristics.

Get real, Harry.
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Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #116 on: December 18, 2006, 05:36:40 AM »
While I sit on your lap, I will practice these pieces

This contest is getting fun!

Walter Ramsey

Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #117 on: December 18, 2006, 06:27:52 AM »
While I sit on your lap, I will practice these pieces, to provide word to your anachronistic perveliatoristics.

Get real, Harry.

What are you talking about broskies.
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.

Offline jakev2.0

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #118 on: December 18, 2006, 06:32:32 AM »
This contest is getting fun!

Walter Ramsey


Ehh...Only if one of them happened to be Jessica Alba.

Offline opus10no2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #119 on: December 18, 2006, 07:32:56 AM »
What are you talking about broskies.

Put a comma in there, before I put you in a coma.
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Offline bflatminor24

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #120 on: December 18, 2006, 07:28:23 PM »
Ok broskies put me into a coma you twelve year old kid.
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.

Offline presto agitato

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #121 on: September 02, 2011, 06:05:15 AM »
When I met Marc Andre Hamelin (he has recorded the most difficult woks of Alkan, Albeniz, and Godowsky) I asked him about the most difficult piece he had played. His answer was convincing: “It’s a tie between Reger’s variations on a theme by Bach and Scriabin’s late sonatas” he said.

When I talked to Leslie Howard (he has recorded the complete works of Liszt) I asked him about the most difficult piece he had played. His answer was convincing: “Beethoven’s Hammerklavier by far” he said.

Conclusion: Yes, Alkan=Overrated Difficulty.
The masterpiece tell the performer what to do, and not the performer telling the piece what it should be like, or the cocomposer what he ought to have composed.

--Alfred Brendel--

Offline nostromo2

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #122 on: October 16, 2011, 08:58:39 PM »
Alkan is an acquired taste, some people just don't like his music. It is quirky and overtly technical and much of it requires a straight-ahead interpretation. Many of the greats don't play him, not because they can't, but because there is not much room for interpretation compared to say Liszt or Ravel (This is not to say that it has no depth). As far as difficulty goes, much of it is breathtakingly relentless and does not lend itself to a slower, more deep and meaningful interpretation. When we hear someone playing Alkan, we want Jaw-dropping technical feats that bring out its quirky nature. You can bluff Liszt, Ravel, Chopin and even Beethoven by hiding within the musical interpretation, but there's no hiding place in Alkan. This is what makes it more difficult than Scarbo, Islamey and the rest. It's not more technically difficult, but your technique has nowhere to hide and can be a reputation breaker.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #123 on: October 16, 2011, 09:53:30 PM »
When I met Marc Andre Hamelin (he has recorded the most difficult woks of Alkan, Albeniz, and Godowsky) I asked him about the most difficult piece he had played. His answer was convincing: “It’s a tie between Reger’s variations on a theme by Bach and Scriabin’s late sonatas” he said.

When I talked to Leslie Howard (he has recorded the complete works of Liszt) I asked him about the most difficult piece he had played. His answer was convincing: “Beethoven’s Hammerklavier by far” he said.

Conclusion: Yes, Alkan=Overrated Difficulty.


What an illogical conclusion! Does this also mean Sorabji is overrated in difficulty, or the Chopin Etudes (and Godowsky's studies upon them)? Is the above story really supposed to have any bearing on Alkan's music whatsoever?

Offline precipitato

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #124 on: October 18, 2011, 02:27:12 AM »
hi
at times i feel that, learning alkan's music is just displaying your current technical skills. there isn't actually too much to learn from it overall...
but still, to those who accomplished alkan's music, well done. to see things like gaspard de la nuit, the musicality, along with the immense technique (the beginning left hand repeated notes are already a hurdle... :X) needed too, they're harder. thats another reason why i don[t play much of alkan's works.

Offline octavius_trillson

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #125 on: October 18, 2011, 07:01:54 PM »
I think it's a much greater challenge to incorporate musical expression into a technically difficult piece. It's one hurdle to play fast enough but the even greater hurdle is to control that speed/power and forge something beautiful from it. To clarify, what I am saying is dynamic contrast is very difficult at speed or if what you are playing is too complex.

It may be that we haven't yet heard someone who has the control and requisite technique to transform Alkan's works into things of beauty.


Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #126 on: October 18, 2011, 07:21:59 PM »
It may be that we haven't yet heard someone who has the control and requisite technique to transform Alkan's works into things of beauty.


Offline octavius_trillson

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #127 on: October 18, 2011, 08:05:13 PM »


I must admit I'm not too fond of that particular piece, I hope you won't hold it against me. I'll listen to Lewenthal's recordings of something I like more. :)

Just to be clear I really like Alkan's music I listen to him on a daily basis, what I meant was that to the common listener it takes a REALLY special performance to get them effectively hooked on Alkan with the exception of Le Festin d'Esope, Concerto, and Symphony.

It mustn't be 'dry' like how you would normally play a Hannon Excercise or a scale (though even these can be played beautifully). according to my knowledge there are sonatas by (I think) Scarlatti which have no dynamic markings in them, one could choose to play them like a machine and no one would like Scarlatti but pianists know better than that and fill them to the brim with musical expression and their own dynamic ideas and make fans of me and you.

With Alkan it's much much harder to do this, I think some people treat his music as a thing to learn the notes and play at speed, as something to show off with, a warhorse and this manifests itself in harsh sounds and sometimes dry playing. I listen to people play (even Hamelin) and I think sometimes they shouldn't have done that there or they could have played that differently, it may be that they are just following the score but it's not unheard of for pianists not to be 100% faithful to the score.

To answer the original question I say Alkan is VERY VERY difficult, it's one thing to play a piece through and an entirely different thing to make it sound beautiful. I hope I have made my point clear


Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #128 on: October 19, 2011, 03:15:18 AM »
I must admit I'm not too fond of that particular piece, I hope you won't hold it against me. I'll listen to Lewenthal's recordings of something I like more. :)

Just to be clear I really like Alkan's music I listen to him on a daily basis, what I meant was that to the common listener it takes a REALLY special performance to get them effectively hooked on Alkan with the exception of Le Festin d'Esope, Concerto, and Symphony.

It mustn't be 'dry' like how you would normally play a Hannon Excercise or a scale (though even these can be played beautifully). according to my knowledge there are sonatas by (I think) Scarlatti which have no dynamic markings in them, one could choose to play them like a machine and no one would like Scarlatti but pianists know better than that and fill them to the brim with musical expression and their own dynamic ideas and make fans of me and you.

With Alkan it's much much harder to do this, I think some people treat his music as a thing to learn the notes and play at speed, as something to show off with, a warhorse and this manifests itself in harsh sounds and sometimes dry playing. I listen to people play (even Hamelin) and I think sometimes they shouldn't have done that there or they could have played that differently, it may be that they are just following the score but it's not unheard of for pianists not to be 100% faithful to the score.

To answer the original question I say Alkan is VERY VERY difficult, it's one thing to play a piece through and an entirely different thing to make it sound beautiful. I hope I have made my point clear



Absolutely. But this is where Lewenthal is outstanding, for me. He's "dry" but generally captures exceptional musical quality. It's not too often I feel there's something missing. For me, he gets pretty much the perfect balance for Alkan. There's not a lot of fooling around, but neither is there a sense of an unmusical buffoon who thinks the music comes from playing the notes. But beyond that, sometime his dryness of exection sounds a good deal more expressive than someone like Hamelin (contradictory as that might seem).

Offline pianoplayjl

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #129 on: October 30, 2011, 02:05:50 AM »
Alkan's music is not over rated difficulty. I reckon his stuff is just as comparable with the etudes of Liszt although not as high the musical quality. I really like his esquisses and his etudes though.
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Offline octavius_trillson

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #130 on: October 30, 2011, 06:57:50 AM »
Alkan's music is not over rated difficulty. I reckon his stuff is just as comparable with the etudes of Liszt although not as high the musical quality. I really like his esquisses and his etudes though.

It's best to be clear as what you write here may affect someone's opinion of Alkan profoundly. I reckon what you meant when you said "not as high musical quality" is nearly as high musical quality but not quite there yet?

There is a myriad of distinct musical ideas in the Concerto and Symphony, and for the most part these ideas fit together seamlessly, few composers have achieved such musical variety in an original piece for solo piano. If we regard all the transcendental etudes as one piece, then I fully agree with you, but no one piece of Liszt can compare in that respect.

In my opinion Liszt's ideas in the Transcendental Etudes are more original than Alkan's in Op.39 but then again I believe the Transcendental Etudes to be the most masterful composition (regarded as a whole set) for piano solo I have yet heard, so comparison with them is misleading. If we are tasked to find any other work that surpasses Alkan Op.39's (or even just the Concerto's) musical and technical variety while still being blissfully beautiful we'd surely come up dry?

Offline pianoplayjl

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #131 on: October 30, 2011, 08:43:29 AM »
I mean that Alkan's etudes are up there but if it was between liszt TE or Alkan I would choose Liszt.
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Offline ahinton

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Re: Alkan=Overrated Difficulty
«Reply #132 on: October 30, 2011, 08:45:36 AM »
Alkan is an acquired taste, some people just don't like his music. It is quirky and overtly technical and much of it requires a straight-ahead interpretation. Many of the greats don't play him, not because they can't, but because there is not much room for interpretation compared to say Liszt or Ravel (This is not to say that it has no depth). As far as difficulty goes, much of it is breathtakingly relentless and does not lend itself to a slower, more deep and meaningful interpretation. When we hear someone playing Alkan, we want Jaw-dropping technical feats that bring out its quirky nature. You can bluff Liszt, Ravel, Chopin and even Beethoven by hiding within the musical interpretation, but there's no hiding place in Alkan. This is what makes it more difficult than Scarbo, Islamey and the rest. It's not more technically difficult, but your technique has nowhere to hide and can be a reputation breaker.
For music to have "not much room for interpretation" might at least suggest that its transparency leaves not much room for misinterpretation, which can surely not be a bad thing? But your conclusion that the music of Alkan leaves little room the the artistic license of the performer might perhaps suggest something else about it which you've not mentioned - i.e. that its presentation in the score is one of extreme clarity that leaves less doubt about what he wants performers to do with it than may be the case with some other composers' music. I am minded to think about this in the context of my own experience of a pianist preparing the première of a 90-minute piano work of mine, which he did, splendidly, in a most remarkably short time and, when ging through it with him before the performance, I hardly had to ask for anything to be done differently to the way in which the pianist was playing it. A colleague said afterwards that this was at least in part because I'd made my intentions very clear and unequivocal. OK, the pianist was not merely Mr. Average brilliant player but Jonathan Powell, so I guess that I had ample reason to expect just the results that I'd been hoping for, but I'd like to think that I'd not left too much room for doubt about what I wanted in the piece.

That said, I have heard some interpretations of Alkan's works that are noticeably more convincing than others, so I'm not even certain to what extent your caveat applies here in any case.

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
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