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Thread: The hardest piano work

  1. #16
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Ravel - Gaspard de la Nuit - is apparently among the most difficult technically.
    Last edited by DavidA; Sep-25-2017 at 17:50.

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  3. #17
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    Hardest?

    Try playing a Mozart adagio or andante from piano concertos 20-27 or the andante from the piano sonata in F Major K 533.

    Anyone graduating from Curtis or Juilliard can play Liszt Transcendental Etudes or Chopin Etudes like a mechanical robot, not missing a note.

    The real virtuosity? A Mozart slow movement played in an emotionally satisfying manner that moves someone. Most difficult thing in music.
    “The sonatas of Mozart are unique; they are too easy for children, and too difficult for artists.”
    ― Artur Schnabel

    "In Mozart's keyboard works everything is exposed. There are relatively few notes and each of them counts. Not only that you find the right key, but that you give each key the right nuance, the right inflection. If you are not careful you fall into a trap. This is also why these pieces are relatively rarely performed. I think that most players shy away from them. They either don't see the complications and think the pieces are too easy, or they do see the complications and find them too difficult."
    Alfred Brendel
    Last edited by DavidA; Sep-25-2017 at 17:50.

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  5. #18
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    Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
    Don't be fooled by the opening, try to get this piece under your belt

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  7. #19
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post


    Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
    Don't be fooled by the opening, try to get this piece under your belt
    I must confess I have never got past the opening so my belt is rather narrow!

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  9. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I must confess I have never got past the opening so my belt is rather narrow!
    There is no problem listening to it, playing it is a very different matter .

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  11. #21
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    Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso and Balakirev's Islamay are two pieces I have some experience with. I truly believe that Islamay was intended as a ballet piece for orchestra. It is basically two melodies repeated umpteen times in different keys. Modulations by orchestra are easy but difficult on piano. It not so much challenges you as wears you out though it is very challenging. I slogged about half way through and realized that the rest was just more of the same. Too much work for too little reward.
    Alborada is a wonderful piece of music. I think the technical difficulty comes in the fact that Ravel crams all ten fingers into a small space. He must have had long slender hands as he also expects an octave and a third reach. It is a page turner. Every page presents a new challenge and offers a new reward.
    When contemplating such a challenge ask yourself: 1. Do I have the physical capabilities for this particular piece? Guys with wide hands and fingers probably are not suited for Ravel. 2. Can I dedicate 2 to 4 hours of practice per day for several weeks or months? 3. Is my piano up to the task? There was a sticky spot in Alborada which I could not play cleanly on my Knabe, and just conceded that I wasn't capable, until I wandered into a piano store that was selling some hand made Swedish piano for a ridiculous price. I sat down and played through the sticky spot without difficulty. The piano played like a dream.
    Yo Yo Ma plays licks on his cello that we can only dream of. Partly because he is good, partly because his cello is worth about $10,000,000.

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  13. #22
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    It's quite possible that Ravel wasn't up to the demands of his own most difficult piano pieces. Though a good pianist he was not a virtuoso. Nor would he have been alone in this - Schubert for example is said to have found parts of the "Wanderer" Fantasy to be beyond him.
    Last edited by Animal the Drummer; Oct-17-2017 at 14:07.

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  15. #23
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    Aha! I've never seen a picture of Ravel's hands. He was short and thin which would explain the tight fingerings, but I can't believe that he could reach an octave and a third.

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  17. #24
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Yes there is a recording of Ravel playing Sad Birds from Miroirs on youtube demonstrating he was a good player, but I think he left his most difficult works to others such as Ricardo Vines. I doubt he could stretch an octave and a third but then neither could Alicia De Larrocha, but virtuosos with smaller hands have tricks they use and ways around that.

    I think mastering a piece like Alborado would take more than 2 to 4 hours of practice a day for most. I think the majority of performers who play that kind of repertoire are more like in the 6 to 8 hour a day range (there are some exceptions).
    Last edited by tdc; Oct-18-2017 at 09:45.

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    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Godowsky's 53 Studies after Chopin('s Etudes). Incredibly technical demanding!
    In a world which is ruled by gangsters and maniacs, art means nothing but just a junk food and there's no hope for human's salvation throughout... (Shāmlou)

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  20. #26
    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Yes there is a recording of Ravel playing Sad Birds from Miroirs on youtube demonstrating he was a good player, but I think he left his most difficult works to others such as Ricardo Vines. I doubt he could stretch an octave and a third but then neither could Alicia De Larrocha, but virtuosos with smaller hands have tricks they use and ways around that.

    I think mastering a piece like Alborado would take more than 2 to 4 hours of practice a day for most. I think the majority of performers who play that kind of repertoire are more like in the 6 to 8 hour a day range (there are some exceptions).
    It has been said that it was actually Robert Casadesus who played Toccata (from Le tombeau de Couperin) and Le gibet (from Gaspard de lu nuit) for Duo-Art Piano Roll System in London on 30 June 1922. Gaby Casadesus, the widow of the eminent pianist later confirmed this and explained that Ravel, with his quite small hands, did not have enough reach to handle those two works.

    https://www.maurice-ravel.net/pianorolls.htm
    Last edited by Il_Penseroso; Oct-19-2017 at 13:15.
    In a world which is ruled by gangsters and maniacs, art means nothing but just a junk food and there's no hope for human's salvation throughout... (Shāmlou)

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  22. #27
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Il_Penseroso View Post
    It has been said that it was actually Robert Casadesus who played Toccata (from Le tombeau de Couperin) and Le gibet (from Gaspard de lu nuit) for Duo-Art Piano Roll System in London on 30 June 1922. Gaby Casadesus, the widow of the eminent pianist later confirmed this and explained that Ravel, with his quite small hands, did not have enough reach to handle those two works.

    https://www.maurice-ravel.net/pianorolls.htm
    Interesting thanks for the information. Here is the recording of Ravel performing Oiseaux tristes from Miroirs. If the article you linked to is correct this recording actually took place in 1922 and not 1912 as stated in the information under the video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDIAnwjFVVA
    Last edited by tdc; Oct-26-2017 at 01:12.

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  24. #28
    Senior Member arnerich's Avatar
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    In my opinion it would be Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata. It's not only extremely difficult to perform technically but a challenge to interpret.
    Find all my latest compositions here!

    Listen to my Sonata for Violin, Cello and Piano

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    I have followed the score to Scriabin's Vers la Flamme, and I do not know how that is playable.

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    What about Bach Well-Tempered works, and the Goldberg Variations very difficult

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