Jessica Duchen's Classical Music & Ballet Blog. Novelist/journalist JD writes for The Independent, London
Wonderful: it confirms that Cziffra had plenty of poetry at his command too. However,Jessica, it would be more interesting to hear what you think, in as much detail as you have time for.
Everyone should listen to piano playing like this, then compare it to the ghastlinesses we are forced to sit through in concert halls today while people tell us that xyxy is among the most exciting artists of his/her generation. They crash their way through the same old few pieces without imagination, colour, sensitivity, understanding or anything worth saying, and you sit there wondering whether you remembered to turn the oven off, and if not, whether you should maybe put your head in it when you get home. There is only a little handful of pianists, not counting my personal friends, whom I'd cross the road to hear. I would queue all night for Cziffra.
I could not agree more, Jessica. Indeed, it is something I think often -- most recently, and this is an odd little Hungarian confluence, when I discovered on YouTube Annie Fischer playing the Liszt E flat concerto. I am always anxious to hear Sokolov, I listen to Perahia, Zimerman, Argerich, Moravec and few others with pleasure, but very few. I have, literally, no time to spare for all these young products of virtuoso hothouses. I turn almost always to Schnabel, Moisewitsch, Kempff, Petri, Friedmann, Solomon, Annie Fischer, Edwin Fischer, Cherkassky, Hess, et al., for their performances had for me revelations when first I heard them and they do still. It has been said that those of us who hold this opinion are like people who remember every childhood as an idyll of endless sunshine. Well, first, we have recordings, we do not have to rely on dim memories, and second, there were reasons those pianists played as they did. They were taught, not trained, often privately, sometimes in conservatories, but never with one eye on the music and the other on the next competition or the first recording contract. They were taught that technique is not solely, nor even primarily, about prestidigitation. In that sense, Gyorgy Sandor was spot on when he said that few of today's pianists have the techniques of those of yesteryear. They were taught by the musical children and grandchildren of great composers and the musicians associated with them, a lineage that has been lost. They were taught how to analyze a score, to use imagination to get beyond the notes, to get at the composer's intent, to ask questions of the music. Well, anyway, one could go on about all this at very great length indeed. Do check out the Fischer video if you have time. It was while watching Part 4 of that and coming to the end that I thought once again that the pianists of yore and those of today belong to quite different musical worlds. The continuity, the lineage, is broken.
Have you heard/seen him play the Grand Galop Chromatique? That really is extraordinary - very very fast and bordering on the silly but brilliant. And the film captures him allowing himself a little satisfied smirk at the end as if to say "yep, that was pretty cool". I used to play versions of the piece on Radio 3 from time to time, but listeners always wanted to come back to the Cziffra.
You know Jessica, Cziffra reminds me of one of my favorite classical pianists, RonnieSegev. He's a brilliant artist. If you aren't familiar with who he is, hehas this organization called toc that donatesmusic lessons and instruments to kids in need. He also plays around New YorkCity... I found his schedule online.I can get more information on him if you are interested. Oh! I almost forgot,I also found out that he has these musicsalons where you can actually go overto his place and listen to a bunch of people try out their piano music ( singing,violin, etc) on one other.
I agree with the comments here. Heard Evgeny Kissin last year at the Barbican and was so disappointed. Although I admire his technique, a lot of it came across as sound and fury and his Schubert was so dull I felt I could have made a better job of it.
Loved it - such a contrast to the show-offs who play Liszt loud and fast with no subtlety. I'd always wrongly thought that Cziffra was mainly about speed, as in Tommy's example of the GGC, and I have much more respect for him after hearing this.Taking up Philip's list of fine performers from the past, I recently watched film on YouTube of Myra Hess playing the first movement of Beethoven's Appassionata at the National Gallery in 1945. Really moving: immaculate playing, no mannerisms. Dame Myra was the Patron of my music school in Liverpool so I have a particular interest.I hope you will mention Piers Lane's Myra Hess Day at the National Gallery on November 25 in your blog some time: two concerts and a discussion which also covers the centenary of Howard Ferguson, who helped to organise the wartime concerts at the Gallery. He was a fine composer who had the modesty to give up writing music for the last 40 years of his life because he thought he'd said enough. I can think of a few others who ought to have done the same.
Thanks, Peter - as it happens, I'm just working on a feature for Classical Music Magazine about the Myra Hess Day. Had a lovely interview with Piers Lane about it the other day and will post the finished thing in due course.
"Classical Music Magazine": is this the same as "Musical Opinion Classical Muusic"? I have been looking on th web and am not sure.
No, Frank, they are completely separate magazines. Classical Music is really the music business trade journal. I was assistant editor of it for 3 years in the early 90s. Musical Opinion is an independent concern and carries more general musical content; it is a very good source for reviews of young musicians and unusual events that don't often have the chance to be reviewed anywhere else.
Tobias Mathay once said :'Technique is the handmaiden of interpretation' and I was reminded of this pereceptive remark while watching this superb performance.Thank God for YOU TUBE and thank you Jessica for posting it here.
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