View Poll Results: Who was the greatest pianist?

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  • Vladimir Horowitz

    9 9.09%
  • Sviatoslav Richter

    29 29.29%
  • Emil Gilels

    7 7.07%
  • Artur Rubinstein

    5 5.05%
  • Artur Schnabel

    1 1.01%
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff

    8 8.08%
  • Claudio Arrau

    6 6.06%
  • Glenn Gould

    6 6.06%
  • Alfred Brendel

    3 3.03%
  • Edwin Fischer

    0 0%
  • Josef Hofmann

    0 0%
  • Alfred Cortot

    2 2.02%
  • Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

    4 4.04%
  • Martha Argerich

    7 7.07%
  • Other

    12 12.12%
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Results 61 to 75 of 187

Thread: Greatest pianist?

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
    He's also excellent in Haydn piano sonatas. My most treasured Kocsis performance is his Rach. 3rd.
    His Rach 3 is unbelievably good, the speed (yes I am that vulgar), the momentum, the consistency, the articulation are incredible.

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  3. #62
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    The thing about Kocsis is that he is fast, he makes the music move forward with extraordinary intense energy. That was Edwin Fischer’s trademark too.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-08-2020 at 05:28.

  4. #63
    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    The thing about Kocsis is that he is fast, he makes the music move forward with extraordinary intense energy. That was Edwin Fischer’s trademark too.
    Impressive! Rachmaninoff Concerto #3. Zoltan Kocsis, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ivan Fischer
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Jul-08-2020 at 05:56.
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  5. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniversalTuringMachine View Post
    This is a great assessment. But I would like to defend Richter's lack colorization and roughness as austere aesthetics (like Wabisabi aesthetic but not taken to an extreme). His style is a bit like Klemperer's monochromatic approach to orchestra in that respect (he play on any piano). Richter is also free of mannerism that often plague Cortot or Horowitz. So I would argue that Richter's style always create a forceful, assured yet natural, honest impression on the listener.

    I will not compare him to Rachmaninoff or Hofmann. But Cortot and Horowitz can be too idiosyncratic and too self-indulgent (and I love both). Gieseking is always wonderful but lacks the temperament and masculinity in Richer. People like Michelangeli or Zimmerman are too consumed by the idea of the perfect sound and they always sounds nervous and lack spontaneity. Rubinstein, let's face it, is not terribly exciting (although he can be). Gilels and Arrau I have absolutely no problem with them. So I definietly think Richter deserve more love, he is not the kind of musician that tries to make reference recording, and he does not have a gigantic ego, but he always put music first and is free of extraneous concerns.
    Your argument is logical and plausible, thank you, I love it! Even though the lack of color still bothers me, I must admit that this gives a natural and honest impression on the listeners. It is something special to give such an effect in slow tempo without the beauty of sound, although sometimes I think it doesn't work but I always respect it, this is unique. Zimmerman, sometimes Rubinstein and Michelangeli bore me too, I always prefer Richter to them. My comparison was just color oriented. Therefore not my cup of tea (except for some composers), nevertheless he was great

    I see that you do not have personal problems, maybe you don't mean that and this is an open-ended discussion yet I disagree with argument that Horowitz and Cortot made " ego" interpretations or this interpretations are too unfaithful or self-indulgent...

    Cortot's piano approach and interpretation characterization very similar to Debussy and Chopin (Rubato, pedalling, touch, phrasing, timbre or vitality, variability, originality, flexibility interpretion etc.), at some point he is very composer focused, satisfied what Chopin and Debussy wanted. Cortot worked with one of Chopin's pupil and became Debussy's close friend. He also tried to understand composers in every sense: He even wrote biography books, studied the orginal manuscripts and emphasized on the programs of the works. For example, he met Liszt's daughter Cosima because he wanted took Liszt's personal notes before playing Liszt's Sonata. Chopin says you can't play the piano without knowing how to sing, Cortot and Horowitz knew the 19th century Bel Canto tradition, but what about other modern pianists? Cortot one of the most original pianists but also consistent and loyal to the composer in a romantic tradition. Who fulfilled the composers wish? Who really depends on the composers? It's a dilemma. But most major old romantic composers would prefer Cortot and Horowitz.

    They want music should be 'interpreted', the expectation of the romantics was that his works come to life. They didn't even write most details on the score and criticized the pianists who played the written only score, there was a limit to this but Cortot and Horowitz did not exceed. Of course Ravel or maybe Saint-Saens wouldn't want it, they wanted pure loyalty for scores, but seems like Debussy, Brahms, Scriabin, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Chopin wanted creativity, rhythmic vitality, rich tone palettes, individuality and ornament, even many composers wanted interpreters, they said the notes were not enough. This is a thin line... Glenn Gould's approach is possibly exaggerated but Horowitz and Cortot's interpretation is within certain limits for Romantics, it is legal and normal. I think interpretations of Rachmaninoff sometimes it can be more contrary to Cortot and Horowitz. Rachmaninoff's Schumann Carnaval and Chopin Second Piano Sonata is one of the peaks of piano art however they also have a lot of individual additions, it has Rachmaninoff's texture. It's not just Chopin that we hear, it is now Rachmaninoff/Chopin or Rachmaninoff/Schumann! Cortot wouldn't have made so many changes or additions; when Horowitz did it, he would say "arrangement".

    Debussy was quoted as saying that Ricardo Viñes playing was "too dry", Vines was faithful to score (He was one of Ravel's favorite) but Debussy didn't like this, because he was expecting more. On the other hand Eugène Ysaye, one of the most idiosyncratic violinists of all time, was one of Debussy's favorites; many composers (including Debussy) dedicated works to him.
    One of Mahler's favorite conductors was Mengelberg, another idiosyncratic artist. Examples can be reproduced...

    In the past, Cortot-like musicians would not be perceived as today. In short I claim that Horowitz and Cortot did not deviate from what the composer gave. On the contrary, they are closer to the romantic composer's wishes. It wasn't the big ego or individual opinions, just the romantic tradition. So that's why I do not remove them from the greatest list and why i disagree with you

    Thank you again for this beautiful and rich discussion.

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  7. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    What about Aimard? Could Aimard be the greatest pianist of all time? (Like Arditti is at least the greatest living violinist.) I don’t think you can claim to be the greatest pianist of all time if you just cut yourself off from the music of your own time - being a reactionary is a disqualifying handicap for greatness.

    Or, better idea than Aimard maybe - David Tudor.
    Aimard is certainly one of the best living pianists and so one of the best ever. I can't really get why he is not a lot more popular.

  8. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    The thing about Kocsis is that he is fast, he makes the music move forward with extraordinary intense energy. That was Edwin Fischer’s trademark too.
    And on top of it all he was the best conductor of Bartok that we have ever had!
    Last edited by Enthusiast; Jul-08-2020 at 11:50.

  9. #67
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    I am not very familiar with Kocsis outside of his quite electric set of Chopin waltzes, will have to explore further. I have his various albums of Bartok piano music queued up since that’s a blind spot of the repertoire for me.

    Aimard is arguably the greatest living exponent of modern piano music (Ives Concord sonata, Messiaen’s Vingt Regards, Ligeti’s etudes are all sensational in his hands) but among the greatest of all time is a lofty claim. I occasionally enjoy his WTC for a very straightforward approach but it is quite clinical sounding, as if Boulez was a pianist. He does have a version of the album where he speaks briefly about each prelude and fugue before playing, which is quite interesting.
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  11. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    I am not very familiar with Kocsis outside of his quite electric set of Chopin waltzes, will have to explore further. I have his various albums of Bartok piano music queued up since that’s a blind spot of the repertoire for me.
    His Rach concerto set is one of the strongest overall, it's a pickem between Kocsis, Hough, Andsnes and Wild for full sets. His set includes the Pag, and he also has another disc with Rach's second sonata and a few selected preludes that is one of my favorite versions of that sonata.

    His Bach concertos are excellent too, if you're not too HIP for piano versions of the concertos. He and Andras Schiff trade off lead piano for the two hand ones, and the cds include the less frequently recorded concertos for 3 and 4 keyboards. Extremely fun and lively. And of course, his Bartok piano performances are practically authoritative.

    I actually think that Chopin waltzes disc is probably my least favorite thing I've listened to from him. It's good but it's not competitive with the best for me. I think he's more of a etudes/polonaises pianist than a mazurkas/waltzes one, it's a shame he never got to record them.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Jul-08-2020 at 17:33.

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  13. #69
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    Commercial Kocsis recordings I remember liking, where he plays piano:


    Mozart concertos and solo sonatas -- here you hear the ghost of Edwin Fischer.
    Schubert sonatas and klavierstucke
    Brahms sonata/trio -- he has to be good if he can make me like the Brahms sonata.
    Beethoven sonatas -- esp. the DVD with op 111.
    Debussy

    I can't recall the Haydn that Bulldog mentioned, not so keen on the Art of Fugue from memory but I can't remember the details. The Chopin waltzes are too speedy for me really, but there certainly worth hearing. I can't recall his Bartok well, except for the feeling that it's excellent -- Bartok's piano music is a bit peripheral for me. I certainly remember years ago listening to him do Bk 4 and 5 of Microcosmos and being impressed (but slightly thinking that Ranki was even more interesting, who knows what I'd say now? )

    As I'm typing this I'm listening to him do Mozart PC 19, for the first time in years. It's fabulous! The drive! The momentum!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-08-2020 at 19:39.

  14. #70
    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    His Rach concerto set is one of the strongest overall, it's a pickem between Kocsis, Hough, Andsnes and Wild for full sets.
    I have Wild, so don't see a compelling reason to pick up the Kocsis set, but will keep it in mind if ever spotted in a bargain bin.
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  15. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    I am not very familiar with Kocsis outside of his quite electric set of Chopin waltzes, will have to explore further. I have his various albums of Bartok piano music queued up since that’s a blind spot of the repertoire for me.

    Aimard is arguably the greatest living exponent of modern piano music (Ives Concord sonata, Messiaen’s Vingt Regards, Ligeti’s etudes are all sensational in his hands) but among the greatest of all time is a lofty claim. I occasionally enjoy his WTC for a very straightforward approach but it is quite clinical sounding, as if Boulez was a pianist. He does have a version of the album where he speaks briefly about each prelude and fugue before playing, which is quite interesting.
    Aimard's musicianship is undisputed, but it's hard to be excited about his playing, as you have put it perfectly - clinical sounding (and the Boulez comparison is apt). His Liszt album is very interesting, which shows how forward looking Liszt's late composition was by juxtaposing them with Scriabin and Berg.

    Kocsis is the complete package, the champion of Bartok's music. His Rachmaninoff is brilliant, exciting, and cerebral, his Debussy imaginative. Try his Rachmanioff Sonata No.2.

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  17. #72
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    The thing which made me convinced that Aimard is the greatest living pianist was seeing him play Stockhausen's klavierestucke 1-10 in London a couple of years ago. Michael Finnissy was page turner, which probably helped.

    Commercial recordings by Aimard of music pre 1950 which I like

    Mozart concertos -- esp 27
    Beethoven op 110
    Debussy etudes


    I haven't heard his Schumann, or the WTC. A can't remember the Messaien.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-08-2020 at 20:20.

  18. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    The thing which made me convinced that Aimard is the greatest living pianist was seeing him play Stockhausen's klavierestucke 1-10 in London a couple of years ago. Michael Finnissy was page turner, which probably helped.

    Commercial recordings by Aimard of music pre 1950 which I like

    Mozart concertos -- esp 27
    Beethoven op 110
    Debussy etudes


    I haven't heard his Schumann, or the WTC. A can't remember the Messaien.
    Playing that would certainly relegate him on my list to undesirable pianists!

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  20. #74
    Senior Member Caryatid's Avatar
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    I recently listened to Aimard's recording of Schumann's Symphonic Etudes and Carnaval. I wasn't listening very closely, but my impression was that the Carnaval was excellent but the Symphonic Etudes were too restrained.

  21. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I haven't heard his Schumann, or the WTC. A can't remember the Messaien.
    Aimard's WTC is quite interesting. I haven't heard it in a couple of years, but I remember him putting in quite a few jazz-type phrases.

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