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Comparison of five performances: Liszt Consolation No. 3 (Piano-videos)

After listening intently to Horowitz’s reading, I was curious to find others to compare.

No doubt a diversity of opinion surrounds any performance, but I had some ideas about why I liked one reading over another.

Daniel Barenboim: I always find that his playing is not only inspiring but thoughtful. He delivers an intimate performance here in beautiful simplicity not trying to overdo any Romantic effect by applying extreme rubato. He respects the natural flow of phrases and lets them almost play themselves. What I’ve noticed in general about his artistry, is that he is likely to take a slower tempo than most, and yet, he can rivet the listener to his every phrase, because he communicates the music on more than one level. I gain insights by each of his readings.

Lang Lang:

This pianist always impresses with his color palette, glowing phrasing and nuance, as well as energy abundance. In this reading, the flourishes in the upper range are played a tad too quickly compared to Horowitz and Barenboim. And more liberties are taken, in the rubato arena, perhaps a bit exaggerated at some moments–although in the main, I find Lang Lang to be so wonderfully connected to whatever music he plays, that fussing over this or that detail of interpretation may be superfluous.


George Li
at 16, renders an age-defying, riveting performance. It has all the desired elements of great playing. A nice, wide palette of dynamics and nuance; a sustained singing tone approach; rubato that is not overdone; a going with the flow, sinuous phrasing that is well-spun. Li holds listeners in his hands from beginning to end.

I applaud George for this reading! Bravo!! May more people visit this site and enjoy your artistry! And Congratulations on the Oberlin Conservatory scholarship. (My alma mater!)

A bit about George lifted from his website:

2010 was a Milestone Year for pianist George Li. In July, George performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland Orchestra and won first prize in the Cooper International Piano Competition 2010; the prize package includes a full, four-year scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and concerto performances in Beijing and Shanghai, China. In November, George won first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, awarding him debut recital opportunities in New York, Washington D.C., and Boston.

Born in August 1995, George Li (黎卓宇) is a 10th grade student at the Walnut Hill School and the New England Conservatory (NEC) Preparatory School, where he studies piano with Ms. Wha Kyung Byun (卞和暻). George’s previous piano teachers include Mrs. Dorothy Shi (杨镜钏) and Mr. Yin Chengzong (殷承宗).

Seymour Bernstein:

A heartfelt, Old World, nuanced interpretation, with especially poignant, affective transitions from minor to major. The final sonority has Bernstein’s emblematic, to-die-for delay, that leaves the listener spellbound. I personally like the slower, lingering performance which does not over indulge rubato.

Back to Vladimir Horowitz and what I said about his performance in my last blog posting.

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/horowitz-plays-liszts-consolation-no-3-and-why-its-so-beautiful-to-our-ears/

Aimi Kobayashi, Brahms, Elaine Comparone, Glenn Gould, great pianists, Johannes Brahms, keyboard technique, Liszt, Murray Perahia, music history, Myra Hess, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, New York City High School of Performing Arts, pianist, piano, piano society, Piano Street, piano student, piano teacher, Piano World, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, scales, Scarlatti, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Steinway and Sons, Steinway console, Steinway grand piano, Steinway M grand piano, Steinway piano, talkclassical.com, Teach Street, technique, uk-piano-forums, Uncategorized, video performances, Vladimir Horowitz, word press, wordpress.com, Yamaha piano, you tube, you tube video

My Favorite Video Performances of Beloved Pianists: Do you have some to share? (UPDATED)

Update: Approaching still another New Year, I will add more favorite performances by pianists to the group: These inspiring players include Irina Morozova, Cyprien Katsaris, and Georgy Cziffra plus Yeol Eum Son playing Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.”

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Since it’s the New Year, here are some of my picks, though I’m a bit of throwback to the old days, when modern technology had not yet invaded the recording studio. There are few reel to reel interspersed performances, and one special concert appearance that dates to the World War II era, when pianist, Dame Myra Hess played the Mozart concerto in G Major, K. 453 in London’s National Gallery,  joined  by the Royal Air Force orchestra. Let’s start with this one, and move forward in time. (with zigzagging here and there)

This concerto has special meaning for me since it was the very first one I studied, and was fortunate to have performed at the annual winter Concerto Concert of the HS of Performing Arts Orchestra. Though my heart was set on playing the Beethoven Bb Concerto, Murray Perahia and Robert DeGaetano earned the honors, and rightfully so.

Speaking of Murray Perahia, I can say with certainty, that those who took classes beside him at “P.A.” (Performing Arts High) were indelibly influenced by his artistry, up front and personal. Here is one of my favorite performances of his, that is a bit scratchy, but resonates with Perahia’s singing tone, vibrant energy and shimmering passage work.  For Mozart Concertos, I would recommend his CDs of ALL 27!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnMKeShFOd0

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And don’t forget the  middle (slow) movement of this concerto that was adapted as the movie theme for “Elvira Madigan.” Who says the MAJOR key can’t be soulful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7335XDZQP0

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Let’s back track a bit. Watch Glenn Gould practicing Bach at home on his old Chickering grand (not the beloved Steinway written about in Katie Hafner’s book) Excuse his singing, but it does give life to the pianist’s phrasing.

Lang Lang plays Liszt’s “Liebestraume” at his Carnegie Hall debut recital.

Krystian Zimerman performs the Schubert Impromptu No. 3 in Gb Major Op. 90 in a lovely parlor setting.

Vladimir Horowitz plays the Chopin “Black Key” Etude, Op. 10, No. 5. While the video and audio clarity is not perfect,  this performance has historical value. Horowitz was interviewed in his Manhattan apartment in the presence of his wife Wanda, who is the daughter of the famed maestro, Arturo Toscanini. The impromptu playing of the “Black Key” Etude is worth a listen, minus all the recording studio edits, splices, etc.

And in the present, my favorite young pianist who reminds me of a   young Richter or Gilels, whose concerts I attended at Carnegie Hall.

In this appearance at the 2010 Chopin International Piano Competition in Poland, Evgeni Bozhanov from Bulgaria plays the Chopin Waltz in Ab Major, Op. 42

Notice the Yamaha piano that Bozhanov selected over a Steinway and Fazioli. Interesting story going back to the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition in Texas: Bozhanov was not pleased with the Steinway grand sent to his host family, so he chose to practice on a Yamaha Clavinova. (digital piano) I thought it was charming to see him perched at the Clavy rehearsing some of the warhorse concertos, minus the orchestra, of course.

Aimi Kobayashi (age 14).. not just a child prodigy, but a fully developed young artist who communicates music from the heart with an abundance of technique to spare. Here’s the Chopin Etude no. 4 in C# minor.

Excuse this departure, but I must include one particular, resonating harpsichord performance.

The artistry of Elaine Comparone is displayed in this performance of the Scarlatti Sonata in D minor, K. 517:

And to come full circle, looking back over a panorama of wonderful pianists and their performances, here’s a sample of Dame Myra Hess’s artistry, reel to reel, playing Brahms selections.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX9TgQUclfg (Looks like the account was closed down)

Once again, who says that the MAJOR key cannot be beautifully soulful and melancholy.  (Brahms Intermezzo in C Major)

Please share your own preferences and choices. I look forward to seeing/hearing your selected artists and their videos.