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Thread: The hardest piano work

  1. #46
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahinton View Post
    So it took 35 posts before the name of Sorabji was even mentioned, which surprises me not a little!

    However, that sinlge reference so far includes "Opus Clavicembalisticum is over four hours long and unperformed in a sitting"; I do not know what this means, because the piece has so far received no less than 23 complete public performances - one by the composer (the première), one by Hiroaki Ooi, two by John Ogdon, three by Daan Vandewalle, six by Geoffrey Dougls Madge and ten by Jonathan Powell. Sorabji's second longest piano work, his Sequentia Cyclica super Dies Iræ, is almost twice the length of Opus Clavicembalisticum - it runs to 500 minutes - but even this has to date received five complete performances, all at the hands of Jonathan Powell, commencing with the première in 2010 (curiously in the same city as Opus Clavicembalisticum was premièred almost 80 years earlier - Glasgow); Jonathan has also recorded it but this recording - a 7-CD boxed set - awaits release. The longest public performance of a Sorabji work ever to have been given is not for piano; it is his Organ Symphony No. 2 which, in Kevin Bowyer's première (also in 2010 in Glasgow), took 540 minutes, but Kevin, who plans to perform it again next year, believes that this can be tightened up to less than 8 hours. The technical demands of both of these works are at the outer edges of possibility but that's not precluded their performances.
    I know Ogdon sight read the piece when he first got it, straight through. Of course anyone can write music which is difficult to play. Whether it is worth listening for that time to is another matter

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I know Ogdon sight read the piece when he first got it, straight through. Of course anyone can write music which is difficult to play. Whether it is worth listening for that time to is another matter
    ...and a matter on which the opinion of those who have done so - especially those who have done so more than once - is the one that counts!

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    There's also Sorabji's 100 Transcendental Etudes, currently being recorded by Ullen for BIS. The cycle will probably amount to around 6 CDs.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transc...dies_(Sorabji)
    http://www.sorabji-archive.co.uk/rec...CD.php?cdid=40

    And Michael Finnissy's works in general (concertos, solo pieces, 36 Verdi Transcriptions, The History of Photography ... )
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Finnissy
    Last edited by joen_cph; Dec-07-2018 at 15:39.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    There's also Sorabji's 100 Transcendental Etudes, currently being recorded by Ullen for BIS. The cycle will probably amount to around 6 CDs.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transc...dies_(Sorabji)
    http://www.sorabji-archive.co.uk/rec...CD.php?cdid=40
    It will be 7 CDs of which five have already been out for some time.

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    The remaining nos 84-100 are estimated to around 90 minutes, not 80 as I thought at first. They'll probably supplement with some further pieces.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holden4th View Post
    I've heard that the Beethoven symphony transcriptions by Liszt are well up there for technical difficulty....and while we're talking Liszt there is the Rhapsodie Espagnole. Just looking at the sheet music makes my eyes water....
    Liszt's transcriptions may be difficult, but I wouldn't consider them anywhere near the most difficult piano works.
    (Perhaps that's just because of my larger than average hands, though. And perhaps because I have only tried the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th.)

  7. #52
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    The piano work is difficult if you don't know the techniques of playing the instrument. Once you become a master in piano then none of the tunes are hard and you can also play the tunes like Liszt without any confusions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal the Drummer View Post
    "Mazeppa" from Liszt's "Transcendental Etudes" must be high on the list. I once heard Trifonov play the whole set live and even he had trouble with this one.
    From that set, I think Feux Follets is trickier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobilmente View Post
    From that set, I think Feux Follets is trickier.
    I agree! - especially if, as in these performances (all by the same pianist and the last in an unsympathetic acoustic), the delicacy implicit in the title remains to the fore despite the requisite precision of phrasing and articulation:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgNc9agA9DI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51aypDrkaJ4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQw71yce_bw

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    I'm rather surprised at the diversity of opinion in this thread; I thought that everybody would say either Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit or Balakirev's Islamey.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TapeMeasureTobias View Post
    I'm rather surprised at the diversity of opinion in this thread; I thought that everybody would say either Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit or Balakirev's Islamey.
    Gaspard is DAMN hard. Balakirev's Islamey was probably the hardest ever when it was written, but I think it's been topped.

    Anyway, for something MUCH harder than those two:



    Insanity....

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    I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but Ronald Stevenson's Passcaglia on DSCH is one of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire since it requires tremendous stamina (1.5 hours of nonstop playing) and virtuosity from the performer.

  13. #58
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agoukass View Post
    I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but Ronald Stevenson's Passcaglia on DSCH is one of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire since it requires tremendous stamina (1.5 hours of nonstop playing) and virtuosity from the performer.
    Someone mentioned that in another thread today... I listened to a bit of it. Kind of blew my mind. One would have to be pretty crazy to write a piece of music like that...

  14. #59
    Senior Member chu42's Avatar
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    To clear things up, the difficulty list for the top 100 ought to look something like this:

    Sorabji- Symphonic Variations/Symphonies for Piano
    Sorabji- Opus Clavicembalisticum
    Finissy- A History of Photography in Music
    Sorabji- Piano Concerto
    Sorabji- Piano Sonatas
    Martino- Pianississimo
    Finnissy- Piano Concerto No.4
    Ligeti- Piano Concerto
    Rautavaara- Piano Concerto No.1
    Stockhausen- Klavierstücke 1-X
    Busoni- Piano Concerto
    Alkan- Concerto for Solo Piano
    Xenakis- Synaphai
    Carter- Piano Concerto
    Messiaen- Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus
    Hamelin- Etudes
    Ferneyhough- Lemma-Icon-Epigram
    Liszt- Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini
    Barber- Piano Concerto
    Ligeti- Etudes
    Alkan- Le Preux
    Xenakis- Mist
    Busoni- Fantasia contrappuntistica
    Bolcom- Twelve New Etudes
    Feinberg- Piano Sonatas
    Finnissy- English Country Tunes
    Bartok- Piano Concerto No.2
    Szymanowski- Etudes Op.33
    Stevenson- Passacaglia
    Ginastera- Piano Concerto No.1
    Alkan- Trois Grandes Études
    Meraux- “Bravura” Etude
    Hamelin- Etudes
    Boulez- Piano Sonatas
    Hamelin- Variations on a Theme by Paganini
    Penderecki- Piano Concerto
    Messiaen- Oiseaux Exotique
    Chopin-Godowsky- Studies on Chopin
    Schoenberg- Piano Concerto
    Villa-Lobos- Rudepoema
    Mereaux- Etude No.45
    Beethoven-Liszt- Symphonies
    Prokofiev- Piano Concerto No.2
    Beethoven- Hammerklavier Sonata
    Ives- Concord Sonata
    Rachmaninov- Piano Concerto No.3
    Liszt- Grandes études de Paganini
    Vine- Sonata No.1
    Ornstein- Danse Sauvage
    Berlioz-Liszt- Symphonie Fantastique
    Alkan- Scherzo Focoso
    Mozart-Liszt- Reminiscences de Don Juan
    Brahms- Variations on a Theme of Paganini
    Godowsky- Passacaglia
    Ravel- Gaspard de la nuit
    Liszt- Transcendental Etudes
    Prokofiev- Piano Sonatas
    Chopin-Rosenthal- Minute Waltz
    Lutoslawski- Two Studies
    Alkan- Comme Le Vent
    Crumb- Makrokosmos I/II
    Brahms- Concerto No.2
    Alkan- Grand Sonata
    Balakirev- Islamey
    Wagner-Liszt- Tannhauser Transcription
    Babbitt- Piano Concerto
    Liszt- Grande Fantaisie de Bravoure sur la Clochette de Paganini
    Prokofiev- Piano Concerto No.3
    Sciarrino- Piano Sonatas
    Rachmaninov- Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
    Liszt- Sonata in B Minor
    Strauss- Burleske
    Scriabin- Piano Sonatas
    Stravinsky- Trois mouvements de Petrouchka
    Alkan- Le Festin d'esope
    Ravel- Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
    Rossini-Cziffra- William Tell Overture
    Liszt- Rondo Fantastique
    Godowsky- Etudes
    Rachmaninov- Piano Sonatas
    Alkan- Symphony for Solo Piano
    Mozart-Volodos- Turkish March
    Kapustin- Piano Concerto No.6
    Rachmaninov- Scherzo from Midsummer’s Night Dream
    Prokofiev- Toccata
    Rachmaninov- Etudes Tableaux
    Tchaikovsky- Piano Concerto No.1
    Franck- Violin Sonata
    Khachaturian-Cziffra- Sabre Dance
    Chopin- Piano Sonatas
    Chopin- Etudes Op.10, Op.25
    Franck- Symphonic Variations
    Schumann- Toccata
    Liszt- Reminiscences de Norma
    Moszkowski- Piano Concerto No.2
    Albeniz- Iberia
    Schubert- Wanderer Fantasy
    Ravel- Toccata
    Ginastera- Toccata
    Scriabin- Vers la Flamme
    Alkan- Etudes Op.35
    Kapustin- Preludes and Fugues
    Last edited by chu42; Jun-25-2019 at 01:16.

  15. #60
    Senior Member caters's Avatar
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    Hardest? Try Chopin's "Octave" etude. Not only are there lots of octaves, but you have to play them legato.

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