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Author Topic: FRANZ LISZT - Sonata in b minor s.178 (a new "first" recording)  (Read 304 times)
cimirro
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« on: October 13, 2017, 08:56:02 AM »

Hello all,

I just uploaded the studio masterclass I did about Franz Liszt's Sonata in b minor and also my recording of the full sonata is available on a youtube link below:

http://opusdissonus.com.br/CIMIRRO_studio-master-class_002.htm

This is the Liszt's Sonata played according the "Scientific System of Interpretation or Musical Hermeneutics" where I discussed the long repeated mistakes from tradition which are not present in the score and the lack of recordings playing this as it was written by Liszt.
As you may notice, I try to make something more similar to the original ideas of Liszt during the period of 1853-57 despite of any revisions he made on the interpretation (specially after the premiere and after Friedhein's almost "new" version from 1880).

So this must be the way the piece would sound when composed and first played by Liszt, Bülow, Klindworth and Tausig.
I also posted 3 scores which are already available on internet: the manuscript, the first edition and Friedheins hand comments on Joseffy's edition.



Tell me how different it is for you Smiley

Best
Artur Cimirro
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 05:04:08 PM »

It's very interesting. I'm not sure how many people are going to agree with you; the question then arises - do they disagree because they are used to tradition?

I don't know the piece intimately from a performer perspective as I've only played around with sections of it, though I have of course heard dozens of recordings (it was one of my teacher's specialities, and I regret not getting round to studying it properly with him.)

My prevailing impressions are that you are probably correct in terms of interpretation of some of the staccato markings, with one general caveat which essentially stems from the following observation. My score (which is Dover, a reprint from a version edited by da Motta) only has pedal markings in a few specific places. Liszt wasn't, as I'm sure you know, always fastidious about writing out pedal markings, and so the absence of them doesn't necessarily imply no pedal. Consequently, your choices at, for example, around 15.00, 15.33 sound odd (albeit, to a conditioned ear) and I'm not convinced they make dramatic sense; it sounds like the bass part of the harmony is dropping out where its inclusion adds depth and gravity to the proceedings. Yes I know it's marked staccato, but staccato of course doesn't imply no pedal. On the other hand, there are also points where your pedalling choices result in things being heard in the left hand which the listener doesn't normally hear. There was one definite passage (from 22.15? - I spotted this first listen but didn't note it down; on second listen this matches my impressions) where the lh was clearly derived from the thematic material, so I'm inclined to feel your view has validity there. Similarly, the passage at 8.30 I felt I heard anew.

Overall I think the sound is maybe a bit brittle, but I don't know to what extent I attribute that to your pedalling decisions, to what extent to the recording, and to what extent to my own aesthetic preferences.

A bit of a superficial post I'm afraid, but I've not studied it properly enough to be more detailed, thus my own ideas about the piece aren't as developed as they might be. Certainly much food for thought in the performance however. Finally, it might be worth posting this in the audition room and see if there's feedback by that route.
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cimirro
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 06:26:50 PM »

It's very interesting. I'm not sure how many people are going to agree with you; the question then arises - do they disagree because they are used to tradition?

I don't know the piece intimately from a performer perspective as I've only played around with sections of it, though I have of course heard dozens of recordings (it was one of my teacher's specialities, and I regret not getting round to studying it properly with him.)

My prevailing impressions are that you are probably correct in terms of interpretation of some of the staccato markings, with one general caveat which essentially stems from the following observation. My score (which is Dover, a reprint from a version edited by da Motta) only has pedal markings in a few specific places. Liszt wasn't, as I'm sure you know, always fastidious about writing out pedal markings, and so the absence of them doesn't necessarily imply no pedal. Consequently, your choices at, for example, around 15.00, 15.33 sound odd (albeit, to a conditioned ear) and I'm not convinced they make dramatic sense; it sounds like the bass part of the harmony is dropping out where its inclusion adds depth and gravity to the proceedings. Yes I know it's marked staccato, but staccato of course doesn't imply no pedal. On the other hand, there are also points where your pedalling choices result in things being heard in the left hand which the listener doesn't normally hear. There was one definite passage (from 22.15? - I spotted this first listen but didn't note it down; on second listen this matches my impressions) where the lh was clearly derived from the thematic material, so I'm inclined to feel your view has validity there. Similarly, the passage at 8.30 I felt I heard anew.

Overall I think the sound is maybe a bit brittle, but I don't know to what extent I attribute that to your pedalling decisions, to what extent to the recording, and to what extent to my own aesthetic preferences.

A bit of a superficial post I'm afraid, but I've not studied it properly enough to be more detailed, thus my own ideas about the piece aren't as developed as they might be. Certainly much food for thought in the performance however. Finally, it might be worth posting this in the audition room and see if there's feedback by that route.
Dear Ronde
No, actually this is a very interesting post as you always do, thank you!
I understand everything you mention. The piano is not the best - specially concerning high notes, and the recording is of a performance in studio, so no edits on it. (I made other tracks in the same day in order to make an edition, but never did it. So there are notes here and there which may sound "out")

I think the most strange thing, which is where the traditional problems happens in my opinion, is the difference between the signs of staccato and spiccato.
Of course whe have the "staccato with pedal", but a "spiccato with pedal" will not have any use becasue it is not something one can hear the difference between "spiccato with pedal" (holding 1/4 of the full note) and staccato with pedal (holding 1/2 of the full note) both sounds the same since spiccato is not a marcato or martelato by any means.
So I can't see any reason for Liszt wasting time writing spiccato AND staccato in places where performers would be expected to use pedal.

My view is also that pedal is to be used several times, even without other Liszt indications.
And I use it several times, but never with spiccati, this makes this performance "weird" to others, and probably this explains why most people first disliked this in the first years and in Bülow's premiere.
In my opinion pedal is used too much in the standard performances of this work and the result is: No one observes the differences between the spiccati and staccati during the full work - not mentioning yet the marcati and martelati...

Thank you for the comments and also for the PM.

All the best
Artur
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mjames
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 07:22:37 PM »

Thank you so much for making the recording! Do you plan on doing similar projects for any other major works by major composers? Just curious. But nonetheless this was a fantastic recording, like a trip back to 1850s. Always fascinating to see how composers revise their works. Nice touch on those abrupt staccatos too, it adds so much color to the piece. Dayummn, can't express how much I'm loving this man...

*favorites*
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cimirro
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 10:53:34 PM »

Thank you so much for making the recording! Do you plan on doing similar projects for any other major works by major composers? Just curious. But nonetheless this was a fantastic recording, like a trip back to 1850s. Always fascinating to see how composers revise their works. Nice touch on those abrupt staccatos too, it adds so much color to the piece. Dayummn, can't express how much I'm loving this man...

*favorites*

Thank you so much, I'm very happy you enjoyed this and feel the intentions despite of the probably "weird" first impression.

I will do one more master-class like this, which is already planned, then after that I will do only by request because it takes a lot of time to do, since I need to check all the voice editing process etc, and as you can see my videos are not in system of "youtube payments" (nor its number of views would be of any help too)

So, hopefully this will be a way to make what people can be interested in. Somewhat similar to my youchoose project, which is already working well with two requests on its way and 2 which will be confirmed shortly!
http://www.opusdissonus.com.br/youchoose.htm
 
All the best
Artur
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pianoplayer002
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2017, 09:49:57 PM »

Those hyper short staccatos sound terrible.
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cimirro
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 12:18:50 AM »

Those hyper short staccatos sound terrible.
Clara Schumann and Hanslick are some names who would easily agree with you, no doubts.

Anyway, Liszt's intentions are written down, so it seems you prefer the "mistaken traditional interpreters" more than what Franz Liszt wrote (if you know music theory and read scores then you know what is a "spiccato" and how "short" they are - both staccato and spiccato are present in the score - just check the first and second page - there is no excuse for do not play them).

Anyway, thanks for trying! Smiley

Best
Artur
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klavieronin
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2017, 01:27:16 PM »

Well, here's an interesting find. It's a piano roll recording of one of Liszt's own pupils playing the B minor Sonata. Obviously the performance isn't quite captured on the piano roll but I think you get enough of a sense of how it would have been played.

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cimirro
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2017, 03:16:58 PM »

Well, here's an interesting find. It's a piano roll recording of one of Liszt's own pupils playing the B minor Sonata. Obviously the performance isn't quite captured on the piano roll but I think you get enough of a sense of how it would have been played.


Dear Klavieronin,
If you take the time to listen to the audio of the master-class I posted here:
http://opusdissonus.com.br/CIMIRRO_studio-master-class_002.htm
you will noticed I mentioned Friedheim's recording and I posted the score with Friedheim's handwritings about how to play the full work - and I also explain where is and why there is differences between Friedheim's version and Liszt's original intentions.
Friedheim's version is a revision of textures in order to make the public fells easier the connection between the different sections of the sonata,
Please, check the master-class audio before replying.
Thanks anyway.

Best
Artur
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pianoplayer002
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2017, 10:31:58 PM »

Clara Schumann and Hanslick are some names who would easily agree with you, no doubts.

I'm familiar with the backstory of the work and the reactions it recieved from the above mentioned people. Unlike them however, I'm a big fan of the work (I studied and performed it last year).

Quote
Anyway, Liszt's intentions are written down, so it seems you prefer the "mistaken traditional interpreters" more than what Franz Liszt wrote (if you know music theory and read scores then you know what is a "spiccato" and how "short" they are - both staccato and spiccato are present in the score - just check the first and second page - there is no excuse for do not play them).

Spiccato is to my knowledge a violin bowing technique, but I understand you are referring to the wedge version of the staccato mark, which is often called staccatissimo. The thing is, regardless of what you call it, none of these marks have a meaning that is cut in stone, and the way you play and interpret them varies based on taste and context.

For example, "spiccato" as in the bowing technique can be done with various length of notes, and in softer and harder variants.

Staccato, and staccatissimo, on the other hand, were often used inconsistently even by composers such as Beethoven. Sometimes one wonders if years of debate among Urtext scholars are based around Beethoven having a sloppy day and throwing down his staccatos with a more careless stroke of the pen.

In the case where they WERE put down with the outmost care by the composer, the interpretation of the staccato marks is still very context based.

For example, a staccato on a quarter note might be longer than a staccato on an 8th note in the same piece. Or again, it might not.
Then there is the question of staccato or staccatisimo at the end of a slur. Sometimes, this indicatation softens/lengthens the staccato/staccatissimo, at other times it doesn't. Again, context and taste.
A staccato or staccatissimo might indicate a shorter note, but at other times, it is used to indicate an accent that is perhaps different from the accents produced by the other three common accent marks, <, - and ʌ. For example, the composer might feel that the common accent mark > will make the performer accent the note too heavily and too long, but he is still not after a crazy short note without any pedal. Sometimes, in a texture with lots of notes, staccato/staccatissimo highlights important melody notes indicating that this note needs to be distinct in the texture. This can be achieved by playing it shorter and with more tone than the rest. A good example of this is the first movement of Beethoven's Pathetique sonata, in the Eb major theme towards the end of the exposition.

Occasionally, the way the staccatissimos were performed was convincing, but at many times, the effect was that the playing sounded like it was trying to prove/make a point, rather than concerned with how to portray the music as convincingly as possible according to Liszt's intention. If something draws attention to itself, away from the piece, it's usually overdone.

But that's just my taste.
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klavieronin
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2017, 11:35:04 PM »

Dear Klavieronin,
If you take the time to listen to the audio of the master-class I posted here:
http://opusdissonus.com.br/CIMIRRO_studio-master-class_002.htm
you will noticed I mentioned Friedheim's recording and I posted the score with Friedheim's handwritings about how to play the full work - and I also explain where is and why there is differences between Friedheim's version and Liszt's original intentions.
Friedheim's version is a revision of textures in order to make the public fells easier the connection between the different sections of the sonata,
Please, check the master-class audio before replying.
Thanks anyway.

Best
Artur


Dear cimirro,

I hope you don't think that my posting that video was a criticism of your interpretation. I just thought that since there was a discussion about the interpretation of the sonata that people here might be interested to hear one of Liszt's pupils play it. That's all.

I didn't know you mentioned Friedheim's recording before I posted that video because I had only listened to your recording of the sonata (as I suspect is the case for most of us here).

I have listened to most of your master class now and followed along with the score. It was interesting and for all I know (which, to be honest, isn't much) you may be exactly right. Even so, I think I still prefer Bolet or Hough.
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cimirro
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2017, 12:38:31 AM »

I'm familiar with the backstory of the work and the reactions it recieved from the above mentioned people. Unlike them however, I'm a big fan of the work (I studied and performed it last year).
That's great! If you studied and performed it, then you may be able to answer me some details about the work, would you kindly answer them, please?:

1 - which is the signal used in the first bar? I call it "spiccato" because this is in agreement with several theory books but if you want me to call it "short staccato" I don't mind changing this in our speech, really no problems.

2 - from bar 10 - have you noticed the sign used here is "staccato"?

3 - now, have you checked how many times Liszt wrote the first sign (spiccato) and how many times he writes the second (staccato)? And how many times they appear together in a single bar? if necessary I can post here a score marking all the different signs with different colors, so maybe this will be easier to anyone pay attention to what is written.

4 - if you already noticed this, so, why do you think Liszt would waste time writing all these signs when he could easily use only one "staccato" mark - which would result in the same interpretation the pianists often do - despite of, in my opinion, they have not read carefully the score.

5 - Liszt is not Beethoven, I understand your argument, but the problem is that Liszt was not an inconsistently writer for piano music, specially after he made Weimar his "home" and become dedicated to compose and revise music. So what is used inconsistently in this case?
(And Beethoven was not exactly "inconsistently notated" in my opinion regarding these marks - we had different standards for some periods, yes, but I'm very inclined to believe the most part of specialized interpreters have been not too interested in these matters and prefer to keep traditions without solid ground for such details) Anyway, we can't explain Liszt's Sonata using Beethoven's scores to explain the use of signs. This will be a historical mistake.

6 - When you mention "A staccato or staccatissimo might indicate a shorter note, but at other times, it is used to indicate an accent that is perhaps different from the accents produced by the other three common accent marks, <, - and ʌ." - that is true for several composers, but once you study Liszt, you may notice he always write what he wants with a special sign (exactly as he did with his piece "Lyon" concerning tempo changings signs) - So I may ask, why this case would be different? Because of a decision of tradition of pianists who have never been able even to notice what was a melodic theme developed during the Pathetique Sonata by Beethoven? You want me to believe or have faith on this? if not, I would love an exact explanation not related to "sometimes things are different because of context" because it will be fallacious without any theory behind - so please, give me the "context" for these signs in Liszt and, if possible, in Beethoven's Patetique sonata theme and their relations as I explained  here:
http://opusdissonus.com.br/CIMIRRO_studio-master-class_001.htm

The thing is, regardless of what you call it, none of these marks have a meaning that is cut in stone, and the way you play and interpret them varies based on taste and context.
We just need to be careful about this kind of statements because very often people forget music theory basis and justifies this with "taste and context" which is not the case here.
By the way, a "presto with staccato" will always sound like "cut in stone" no matter if this is the traditional decision of pianists since the use of pedals are just a way they found to "hide" the difficulty of playing the work as written
By the way (2), wasn't the classical music teachers known for speaking a lot about the respect of what is written in the score? So how about giving coherency to an interpretation playing staccato where is staccato and marcato where is marcato, of course, after reading the history around the composer/work.

For example, a staccato on a quarter note might be longer than a staccato on an 8th note in the same piece. Or again, it might not.
And here, in Liszt's Sonata this is another statement which will not be true. This Sonata is not a product of someone who don't know how to use elements from music theory, it is made by someone who is easily involved with several details about how to interpret music.

Remembering, we are speaking about Franz Liszt, he is not a composer of a music where you can do anything you want on it, so this is beyond my taste, beyond tradition. This is what he wrote. That's all.

After hearing my audio masterclasses, If you can answer me explaining me why this would not be Liszt's intentions according to his letters, scores, stories, you are most welcome.
Of course, nor my taste nor yours are the focus here, so let's not waste time on this. I'm trying to find explanations with a theory ground. Opinions can be found as much as humans in the earth.

Best
Artur Cimirro
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cimirro
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2017, 12:43:36 AM »

Dear cimirro,

I hope you don't think that my posting that video was a criticism of your interpretation. I just thought that since there was a discussion about the interpretation of the sonata that people here might be interested to hear one of Liszt's pupils play it. That's all.

I didn't know you mentioned Friedheim's recording before I posted that video because I had only listened to your recording of the sonata (as I suspect is the case for most of us here).

I have listened to most of your master class now and followed along with the score. It was interesting and for all I know (which, to be honest, isn't much) you may be exactly right. Even so, I think I still prefer Bolet or Hough.

No problems, I understand.
I just asked to listen the masterclass in order to avoid misunderstandings about what I mean since I mentioned Friedheim. Smiley

I also recommend listening as much interpreters as possible, including d'Albert (who was a Liszt student but have not studied the Sonata with Liszt), Cortot (which I dislike for this recording, but have some interesting approach here and there), or any other.

There is no problem in prefer other pianists, this is about taste, and I would never discuss someone's taste Smiley

Thank you so much for listening and for the comments anyway!
Best
Artur
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