Discussion:
Another list! Greatest technical virtuosos
(too old to reply)
James Lockhead
2003-08-16 12:49:00 UTC
Permalink
Hi everyone,

Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
ten':

Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )

(ones that nearly made the list - Godowsky (recorded evidence isn't
strong enough to judge), Horowitz, Michelangeli, Volodos, Kissin
(yes!))

Obviously there's bound to be a few I've never heard. Interested to
know what the rest of you come up with.

James
David Wake
2003-08-16 16:41:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
How do you measure "chops"?

Pure prestidigitation without regard to tonal production? (I'm
guessing this by your inclusion of Barere). Then surely Glenn Gould
should be included (as well as jazz pianists like Tatum).

Minute control of tone color? Then Michelangeli, Gilels,
Moiseiwitsch, Moravec and many others should be there.

Either way, Sergei Rachmaninov is the most stunning absence from your list.

David
James Lockhead
2003-08-16 20:47:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Wake
Post by James Lockhead
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
How do you measure "chops"?
I was being a touch facetious! :)
Post by David Wake
Pure prestidigitation without regard to tonal production? (I'm
guessing this by your inclusion of Barere). Then surely Glenn Gould
should be included (as well as jazz pianists like Tatum).
That's not a fair comment on Barere, I think. Gould could do
brilliant things, but there were also big limitations (see what Rosen
has to say in 'Piano Notes' about when Gould tried to play the octaves
in the Beethoven-Liszt Fifth Symphony. Tatum - absolutely, of course,
and numerous others, but have to limit this selection to the quaint
category of 'classical'!
Post by David Wake
Minute control of tone color? Then Michelangeli, Gilels,
Moiseiwitsch, Moravec and many others should be there.
Either way, Sergei Rachmaninov is the most stunning absence from your list.
David
Rachmaninov is one perhaps at least should have been included in the
nearly-rans, at least - simply I think the very nervous quality of
those recordings I know perhaps preclude me from putting him in my own
pantheon. Moiseiwitch - OK, fair enough. I don't really know
Moravec's playing. Gilels I'm not so convinced by in general.
Michelangeli could produce the most refined, perfected, playing of
almost anyone, but I get the feeling that it was only achieved with a
huge amount of concentrated work, leaving less room for spontaneity or
impulsiveness than the others I mentioned. Maybe I should have put
Horowitz in, though!

Overall, I'm looking for those who's spectacular pianistic facility
enabled them to achieve near anything they might wish to (whether you
like the things they wished to do is another matter!).

James
Andrej Kluge
2003-08-17 00:27:00 UTC
Permalink
Hallo James,
Post by James Lockhead
That's not a fair comment on Barere, I think. Gould could do
brilliant things, but there were also big limitations (see what
Rosen has to say in 'Piano Notes' about when Gould tried to play
the octaves in the Beethoven-Liszt Fifth Symphony.
What did he say, exactly? I'm intrigued.

Ciao
A.
James Lockhead
2003-08-17 11:16:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrej Kluge
Hallo James,
Post by James Lockhead
That's not a fair comment on Barere, I think. Gould could do
brilliant things, but there were also big limitations (see what
Rosen has to say in 'Piano Notes' about when Gould tried to play
the octaves in the Beethoven-Liszt Fifth Symphony.
What did he say, exactly? I'm intrigued.
'It is difficult, for example, to play bursts of virtuoso octaves
fortissimo when sitting very low. That is one aspect of piano
technique that Glenn Gould, for example, could not deal with (a
recording engineer at CBS Records told me that when Glenn recorded
Liszt's arrangement of Beethoven's Symphony no. 5, he first played
some of the virtuoso octaves in the right hand by using both hands and
overdubbed the left hand afterwards); nevertheless, the low seated
position enabled Gould to achieve a beautiful technical control of
rapid passage-work with different kinds of touch.'

Charles Rosen - 'Piano Notes', pp 3-4


For all the brilliance of his writing (and his playing at its best -
wish more of his recordings were available on CD), Rosen can be a real
bruiser!

Best,
James
John Gavin
2003-08-17 01:29:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Lockhead
Post by David Wake
Post by James Lockhead
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
How do you measure "chops"?
I was being a touch facetious! :)
Post by David Wake
Pure prestidigitation without regard to tonal production? (I'm
guessing this by your inclusion of Barere). Then surely Glenn Gould
should be included (as well as jazz pianists like Tatum).
That's not a fair comment on Barere, I think. Gould could do
brilliant things, but there were also big limitations (see what Rosen
has to say in 'Piano Notes' about when Gould tried to play the octaves
in the Beethoven-Liszt Fifth Symphony. Tatum - absolutely, of course,
and numerous others, but have to limit this selection to the quaint
category of 'classical'!
Post by David Wake
Minute control of tone color? Then Michelangeli, Gilels,
Moiseiwitsch, Moravec and many others should be there.
Either way, Sergei Rachmaninov is the most stunning absence from your list.
David
Rachmaninov is one perhaps at least should have been included in the
nearly-rans, at least - simply I think the very nervous quality of
those recordings I know perhaps preclude me from putting him in my own
pantheon.
If Katsaris, and Katchen are on your top ten, and Rachmaninov is
perhaps a nearly-ran then we have very different ideas about
virtuosity. Go the the Rachmaninov set and listen to the Mendelsohn
Etude op 104 #2, the Midsummer Night's Dream Scherzo or Liszt's
Gnomereingen Etude - I can tell you that Katchen or Katsaris couldn't
come close.

Moiseiwitch - OK, fair enough. I don't really know
Post by James Lockhead
Moravec's playing. Gilels I'm not so convinced by in general.
Michelangeli could produce the most refined, perfected, playing of
almost anyone, but I get the feeling that it was only achieved with a
huge amount of concentrated work, leaving less room for spontaneity or
impulsiveness than the others I mentioned.
Impulsiveness wasn't Michelangeli's way, but I can't see how that
affects his ranking as a technician. Listen to his Brahms Paganini
Variations or Liszt Totentanz - his virtuosity is transcendental. His
stage repertoire might have been relatively small, but privately he
played practically everything.
James Lockhead
2003-08-17 12:36:58 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Are you? You rule out Rachmaninov because of the "very nervous
quality" of some of his recordings (I'd be interested to hear you talk
about which recordings give this impression). You rule out
Michelangeli because of a perceived lack of "spontaneity or
impulsiveness". It sounds as though you are in fact looking for
pianists whom you like, rather than for pure pianistic facility.
David
Whatever, we probably all spend too much time being negative about
some musicians/recordings/etc - I'm most interested to hear people's
positive comments about dynamite performances/recordings they have
heard.

James
Wayne Reimer
2003-08-21 05:24:08 UTC
Permalink
<...>
Maybe this is just a matter of personal preference, who knows?
Wouldn't by any means necessarily give my list of ten as a 'ten
greatest pianists' list, but in terms of pianistic facility they all
certainly do have something extra-special, I think.
Best,
James
It may have to do with personal nervous systems, too. We're not all wired the
same, and can hardly be expected to have the same perceptions. I think a good
deal of the differences of opinion here in rmcr are probably actually based
somehow on differences in how we actually hear things, instead of what seem to
be the assumed differences in taste, sophistication, training, etc.

wr
benjo maso
2003-08-16 21:18:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Wake
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
How do you measure "chops"?
Pure prestidigitation without regard to tonal production? (I'm
guessing this by your inclusion of Barere). Then surely Glenn Gould
should be included (as well as jazz pianists like Tatum).
Minute control of tone color? Then Michelangeli, Gilels,
Moiseiwitsch, Moravec and many others should be there.
Either way, Sergei Rachmaninov is the most stunning absence from your list.
Or Josef Hofmann.

Benjo Maso
Alan Watkins
2003-08-16 22:21:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Wake
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
How do you measure "chops"?
Pure prestidigitation without regard to tonal production? (I'm
guessing this by your inclusion of Barere). Then surely Glenn Gould
should be included (as well as jazz pianists like Tatum).
Minute control of tone color? Then Michelangeli, Gilels,
Moiseiwitsch, Moravec and many others should be there.
Either way, Sergei Rachmaninov is the most stunning absence from your list.
David
To slightly parody the talented Mr Ives I would have thought this was
"The Unanswerable Question". The only thing I can say is that all the
greatest technical virtuosos have one thing in common: they all make
mistakes.

Kind regards,
Alan M. Watkins
Clovis Lark
2003-08-17 15:50:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Wake
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
How do you measure "chops"?
Pure prestidigitation without regard to tonal production? (I'm
guessing this by your inclusion of Barere). Then surely Glenn Gould
should be included (as well as jazz pianists like Tatum).
Minute control of tone color? Then Michelangeli, Gilels,
Moiseiwitsch, Moravec and many others should be there.
Either way, Sergei Rachmaninov is the most stunning absence from your list.
What about Anton Rubenstein, Liszt, Ellington and Cortot?
Post by David Wake
David
Sonarrat
2003-08-16 22:49:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
Robert Casadesus would be my top pick. He could play anything with ease and
sophistication.

Others, in no particular order:

Sviatoslav Richter
Vladimir Horowitz
Gyorgy Cziffra
Maurizio Pollini
Alexis Weissenberg
Marc-Andre Hamelin
Gyorgy Sandor
Vladimir Ashkenazy
Raymond Lewenthal

-Sonarrat.
Gerrie Collins
2003-08-17 01:10:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
(ones that nearly made the list - Godowsky (recorded evidence isn't
strong enough to judge), Horowitz, Michelangeli, Volodos, Kissin
(yes!))
Obviously there's bound to be a few I've never heard. Interested to
know what the rest of you come up with.
James
Martha Argerich certainly belongs in my "Top Ten" list, at or near the
top, along with Horowitz and Volodos.

-Gerrie C
Bridgerec
2003-08-17 14:32:53 UTC
Permalink
Leon Fleisher belongs there too.

ds
notrump15-17
2003-08-20 03:21:25 UTC
Permalink
Also Graffman, Gulda, Janis, R. Serkin.
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting another
of these 'top ten' lists! Who would you say are the ten greatest
technical virtuosos of the piano? Not greatest pianists, finest
musicians, just those with the best chops! (I know how anoraky this
is, but just feel like being that way today!). Here's my 'starter for
Josef Lhevinne
Simon Barere
Gyorgy Cziffra
Sviatoslav Richter (on a good day)
Grigori Ginsburg
Earl Wild
Lazar Berman
Julius Katchen
Cyprien Katsaris
Marc-Andre Hamelin (I'm waiting for the responses! :) )
(ones that nearly made the list - Godowsky (recorded evidence isn't
strong enough to judge), Horowitz, Michelangeli, Volodos, Kissin
(yes!))
Obviously there's bound to be a few I've never heard. Interested to
know what the rest of you come up with.
James
Dan Koren
2003-08-20 07:32:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by
suggesting another of these 'top ten' lists! Who
would you say are the ten greatest technical
virtuosos of the piano?
Are/were there any non-technical virtuosi?

Just curious....



dk
James Lockhead
2003-08-20 14:39:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dan Koren
Post by James Lockhead
Hi everyone,
Just thought I'd put the cat among the pigeons by
suggesting another of these 'top ten' lists! Who
would you say are the ten greatest technical
virtuosos of the piano?
Are/were there any non-technical virtuosi?
Just curious....
dk
A term like 'technician' has too many derogatory overtones; maybe 'the
pianist with the greatest facility'? Whatever, every term is going to
be questionable, but I think you know what I'm getting at! :)
Sonarrat
2003-08-21 20:34:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dan Koren
Are/were there any non-technical virtuosi?
Artur Rubinstein, Edwin Fischer, Alfred Cortot...

-Sonarrat.

booba
2003-08-20 14:02:50 UTC
Permalink
and your top ten has no Ignaz Friedman? No Josef Hoffman? No Kissin?
No Richter? and no Rach?

One point about Rach - his recordings may not be all that thrilling
for some, but there are definite traits about his playing that tells
me he could just play the most difficult and treacherous of passages
for you even if you pull him up from his sleep, giving you that sense
of ..hey, this is a piece of cake.. kind of feeling.

Agree with Alan Watkins that all of em made mistakes.

Cheers
Ee Bin
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