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Author Topic: Beethoven symphonies piano transcriptions and Sonatas  (Read 10941 times)
stormx
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« on: June 17, 2005, 01:54:23 PM »

Hi !! Smiley Smiley

Recently, i have been listening to Beethoven's symphonies Liszt piano transcriptions (N 2, 4, 5, 6 and 9. Konstantin Scherbakov(sp?), NAXOS).

Let suppose you ignore they are indeed piano transcriptions of orchestral music, and analyse them as PIANO WORKS.

My questions:

How do they compare with Beethoven's piano sonatas?
Do they have the structure of a piano sonata?
Do they sound much different than Beethoven's piano sonatas?
What are, if any, the most obvious differences?

Thanks

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Sheet music to download and print: Beethoven Symphonies by Liszt
Daevren
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2005, 02:15:46 PM »

How do they compare? What do you mean?

No, they have the same shape as the symphonies.

Actually, I am not sure how close they follow the score of the orchestra works. I assume they do.

It doesn't matter what instrument plays the notes.


They do sound different. Beethoven sonatas are more simple, straightforward, less notes.

Most obvious differences? The lenght, the structure, the range, the number of notes per measure.

This a really hard question. You ask people to compare all Beethoven sonatas to all Beethoven symphonies and all the Liszt transcriptions.
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stormx
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2005, 02:20:40 PM »

...
No, they have the same shape as the symphonies.

Actually, I am not sure how close they follow the score of the orchestra works. I assume they do.

It doesn't matter what instrument plays the notes.
...

Thanks for your input  Smiley

Just to clarify, the idea of the topic was to ABSOLUTELY FORGET they are orchestral works transcribed for piano, but analyse them as PIANO WORKS.
So, saying they sound like the simphonies is not allowed  Grin Grin

For instance, let suppose you take some person with zero classical music knowledge (but good ear and good taste  Smiley, and over a period of time you make listen the 32 piano sonatas. Then, you come one day and just say "hey, i forgot to give you this other 9 sonatas from Beethoven", and you let him listen to the symphonies transcriptions.
Will our tester perceive that THEY ARE WORKS OF A DIFFERENT NATURE?
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Daevren
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2005, 04:21:00 PM »

I think they would be weaker than works written for piano.

Maybe one would say: "These are very strange works, they are full with 'mistakes' and illogicalities'."

This is because the sake of correctness will oppose musical value.

Think about repeats by different groups of orchestra instruments. It's hard to copy that with a piano and inpossible to imitate it exactly. So the transcripions have repeats that make no sense. For example the transcription of the 9th symphony is way too long and too many repeats.

Also in the 9th, when the solo vocalist comes it, the effect in the piano version is just missed totally. What is an important moment in the symphony is a strange redundancy in the transcription.
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ludwig
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2005, 03:19:25 AM »

How do they compare with Beethoven's piano sonatas?

It is different in sound, of course the musical materials are still in the style of Beethoven. The main thing that changes I feel is the texture of the piece, Liszt definitely organises the notes differently to Beethoven, the chordal structure is more dominant, and you can tell that the hands takes more than one line of music, in fact, it almost takes a 4-part role, with the placement of melody usually on the upper voices of the treble and sometimes bass clefs, so there is a thickness about the transcriptions. The articulation of the piano is not as flexible because of its capabilities to produce the attack and release of the notes to that of the orchestral instruments, so there is a feeling of "precision" to the piece, a little more restrained is what I mean, compared to the sonatas, however, it also depend on which transcriptions you're looking at, have a listen to the 3rd, 6th and 7th, they are different to the others and sound more like pieces for piano.

I also think that the progression of harmony is much more extended in the symphonies, sure there are more notes but to tailor to the orchestra, the stretching out of harmonies through the chordal textures differs from the sonatas, with the faster changing harmony lines. Also the melodic lines are less defined, with less repetitions of motifs and more fragments or reminiscences of the original melodic line, being extended. So yeah, more defined melodic line in the sonatas, and faster harmonic changes. The expression and dynamics however are pretty similar.

I guess the thing is you really cannot talk about the symphonies in isolation, because of the purpose and intentions of the transcriptions. They are basically note-by-note transcriptions (I've checked out all the scores and it is very precise and unbelievably, Liszt fits almost all notes from the orchestral score  into the piano transcription!! perhaps this is what makes it sound chordal and thick in texture and a little heavy at times for piano), but I love the transcriptions, they were written not only because Liszt was hugely influenced by Beethoven, but it was to bring the symphonies to the people, making them more accessible during times when it wasn't easy to just go to a concert and hear the symphonies. So they were and are suppose to be heard as transcriptions. I know that this is the whole point of the thread, but I think if you were talking about any of the operatic fantasias, or song transcriptions, you could totally analyse them as piano works, and they sound like piano works, but the symphonies are the exceptions...

ludwig
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"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."
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