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Thread: Bach-Busoni Chaconne

  1. #1
    Senior Member chu42's Avatar
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    Default Bach-Busoni Chaconne


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    Senior Member Enthalpy's Avatar
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    I dislike Busoni's transcription. He introduced plain mistakes in the tonalities, in the style... Alas, many arrangers copied his mistakes to other instruments, as if it were difficult to listen to the original and exercise discretion.

    And may I say: a piano doesn't fit the Chaconne well? Play in on the lute, the guitar, the harp, the accordion, the organ, even on the violin - but not on a piano.
    Last edited by Enthalpy; Dec-28-2021 at 23:45.
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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    Me neither, to think that Philips made a whole series of CD's about it. Unsalable .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpy View Post

    And may I say: a piano doesn't fit the Chaconne well?
    Why is that?

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    Member 96 Keys's Avatar
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    I love Busoni's arrangement and I thought you played it very well.

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    The arrangement of Brahms for the left hand is pretty amazing, I think.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Your playing sounds good, I just wonder why you play some of the chords in the intro as broken chords. The last note of the chord falling later than the other notes, sounds a bit weird to me. You play the first few chords as solid chords then the next several seem to stutter. Perhaps that is to mimic the way those chords sound on a violin? Maybe that is another reason I've always loved the sound of this work on a guitar. If I played the piano arrangement I would smooth out those intro chords, just my tastes.

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    Member Festus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpy View Post
    And may I say: a piano doesn't fit the Chaconne well? Play in on the lute, the guitar, the harp, the accordion, the organ, even on the violin - but not on a piano.
    Al least give him a half-mark for playing the piece well even though it may not be to our liking.

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    Meh, the debate on the merits of Busoni's transcription is beside the point here. Fine playing, chu42.

  12. #10
    Senior Member chu42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Your playing sounds good, I just wonder why you play some of the chords in the intro as broken chords. The last note of the chord falling later than the other notes, sounds a bit weird to me. You play the first few chords as solid chords then the next several seem to stutter. Perhaps that is to mimic the way those chords sound on a violin? Maybe that is another reason I've always loved the sound of this work on a guitar. If I played the piano arrangement I would smooth out those intro chords, just my tastes.

    There is a lot of variation to how people interpret the opening chords. Seems to me that the music indicates that only the left hand ought to be used, and in that case there are chords that must be broken due to their wide span. Furthermore, it does imitate the way the chords are played on the violin.

  13. #11
    Senior Member chu42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpy View Post
    I dislike Busoni's transcription. He introduced plain mistakes in the tonalities, in the style... Alas, many arrangers copied his mistakes to other instruments, as if it were difficult to listen to the original and exercise discretion.
    I used to feel the same way as you; but then I listened to the work as its own entity instead of as a direct transcription (which it clearly is not meant to be...after all the Brahms already existed at the time which is a true transcription).

    It is a superb study in pianistic effects and certainly brings something new to the original work. I think the issues arise when people try to bring a "historically informed" veil to the work, which is not at all the original intention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chu42 View Post
    I used to feel the same way as you; but then I listened to the work as its own entity instead of as a direct transcription (which it clearly is not meant to be...after all the Brahms already existed at the time which is a true transcription).

    It is a superb study in pianistic effects and certainly brings something new to the original work. I think the issues arise when people try to bring a "historically informed" veil to the work, which is not at all the original intention.
    Busoni wrote “I start from the impression that Bach’s conception of the work goes far beyond the limits and means of the violin, so that the instrument he specifies for performance is not adequate.”

    So Busoni thought that the violin wasn't a good instrument for Bach's conception - and by implication the piano piece is better at expressing Bach's conception.

    Busoni was trying to express an idea he thought he found in Bach’s music.

    By the way, I love the recording that James Brawn made of the Bach/Busoni for its restraint.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-21-2022 at 20:28.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Busoni wrote “I start from the impression that Bach’s conception of the work goes far beyond the limits and means of the violin, so that the instrument he specifies for performance is not adequate.”

    So Busoni thought that the violin wasn't a good instrument for Bach's conception - and by implication the piano piece is better at expressing Bach's conception.
    The fact Busoni stated this makes it even more bizarre to me that he built some of the violin's limitations into his own transcription by indicating chords with a wide span be played only with the left hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Busoni wrote “I start from the impression that Bach’s conception of the work goes far beyond the limits and means of the violin, so that the instrument he specifies for performance is not adequate.”

    So Busoni thought that the violin wasn't a good instrument for Bach's conception - and by implication the piano piece is better at expressing Bach's conception.

    Busoni was trying to express an idea he thought he found in Bach’s music.
    ...
    OK, I'll bite, although the following has nothing to do with chu42's playing. The Chaconne is all about transcending boundaries. Yes, a violin is "inadequate" but Bach near-miraculously makes it adequate. That's part of what makes that piece and all of the solo works for violin and cello so great. That's also why I would prefer Brahms' transcription for the left hand alone. He follows Bach in setting up a boundary -- the pianist in effect has to play it with one hand tied behind his/her back, so to speak.

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