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Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Derulux] #2109906
06/28/13 08:45 PM
06/28/13 08:45 PM
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Michigan, USA
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Old Man Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Originally Posted by Old Man
Originally Posted by Derulux

Acrobatic folly: actually, a transcription of Brahms Hungarian Dance #5 that I once wrote specifically trying to make it as increasingly difficult as possible..

Now why would you go and do something like that? Are you a masochist, or vying to be the next Godowsky? Or maybe they're one and the same. grin

hahaha definitely not the next anybody, but a masochist? Maybe. grin

I did it somewhere around the time I graduated college. I was looking at Horowitz's Carmen Variations, specifically, and a few other transcriptions, and I wanted to write one of my own. Since the Brahms was such a popular tune and the only transcription I could find was Cziffra's, I thought I'd write my own.

I don't think it's particularly well-composed (transitions irk me), but I think it's pianistic enough to fit in to the hands. The last section is a bear, though.


Is this the Xenakis piece? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3qYqmOD-qU

Yep, you got the Xenakis right. Listened to the whole thing. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I can certainly understand the difficulties: Two, three, or four staves throughout - depending. Even Steve Gillmore would have problems sight-reading this baby!

And speaking of Cziffra, I never heard of the guy until I came to PW, but I've been reading about him recently. I know he receives a lot of criticism for his interpretations, but what a life! He went to he*l and back and still preserved his soul for music. I have to say, he was an amazing human being and pianist, regardless of what you may think of his music making.


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Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Old Man] #2109917
06/28/13 09:29 PM
06/28/13 09:29 PM
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Brendan Offline
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Originally Posted by Old Man

In fact, here's a post from that other internet piano site that certainly bolsters your statement about Xenakis.

Quote
The most difficult piece of music is unarguably, and I MEAN unarguably, as in any pianist with experience in these fields, or even seeing the sheets ought to prove it for you, is XENAKIS EVRYALI. Compared to Herma even, Xenakis HIMSELF says he wrote it to be difficult, and when Xenakis writes to be difficult...... well you know what that means. Only lasting about 10 minutes, Evryali is more difficult that Stockhausen Klavierstucke XII, Sorabji Opus Clavicembalisticum, Barrett Tracks, Finnissy's History of Sound in Photography or even the infamous piece "Trinity". Ian Pace, who plays the COMPLETE WORKS OF FINNISSY says that Evryali is the most rediculous and nearly-impossible piece of music to ever play. I have only heard what the sheets look like and I desperately want to see them; I have an MP3 so if anyone wants it I can send it.

Anyways... the lesson is when Xenakis writes something to be "a marathon for both the mind and body" you better get scared.

This guy's got me scared just reading about it. shocked


It's hard because the notation is stupid. Had Xenakis written it on two staves instead of four, it would be manageable. As is, it's just hard to visually decipher.

I'm always amazed by these "hardest anything ever" threads because while I've played most of the stuff that typically gets listed (Petrushka, Prokofiev Eight, Brahms 2, The People United, the Liszt Sonata) it's more challenging for me to play Bach well. Even when I originally learned those pieces, I still found them more manageable and comfortable to perform than an English Suite, Partita, or even a Prelude and Fugue. I dunno, maybe I just suck on some fundamental level!

Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Old Man] #2109922
06/28/13 09:42 PM
06/28/13 09:42 PM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted by Old Man


This guy's got me scared just reading about it.


Oh for pity's sake don't be. That guy's not a pianist, and clean playing is not a requisite for any of the these modernists, not even Messiaen.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Mark_C] #2109923
06/28/13 09:44 PM
06/28/13 09:44 PM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Mark,

Get over yourself, and get off this thread then. I mean, really, if we're talking about "the most difficult piece in the rep", then this is definitely not it. Go take some lessons

You can do better. Give it a go!

Last edited by laguna_greg; 06/28/13 09:50 PM.

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Brendan] #2109927
06/28/13 09:47 PM
06/28/13 09:47 PM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Brendan,

I hear that! It's easier, much easier to play loud and fast than it is to play sublime.

But getting back to the matter of gymnastics, how about the Scriabin etude in 9ths? Which requires the most squeaky clean playing? It's beautiful music, but it's also something I never want to perform in front of the public, and I have a really big hand...


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Kreisler] #2109928
06/28/13 09:52 PM
06/28/13 09:52 PM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Kreisler,

You actually put the Barraque Sonata on there? This is just hard to learn, and not very interesting. The Bartok sonata is much harder physically, and magnitudes more interesting for both the player and the listener. Bartok actually understood how to play the piano, and I cannot say the same thing for most contemporary composers.

Last edited by laguna_greg; 06/28/13 10:10 PM. Reason: a thought came to me

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Brendan] #2109930
06/28/13 09:55 PM
06/28/13 09:55 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
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laguna_greg Offline
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Brendan,

RE: the Xanakis "Everyali" I agree completely. Frankly, I think the Barber sonata 4th movement is much, much harder, and it has to be squeaky clean in order for the effect to through.

Cheers!

Last edited by laguna_greg; 06/28/13 09:58 PM.

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Kreisler] #2109932
06/28/13 10:08 PM
06/28/13 10:08 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
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laguna_greg Offline
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laguna_greg  Offline
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Oh Kreisler,

You put Sorabji on this list? I mean really! It's very dissonant, hard to learn. But not a single thing he writes is more difficult technically than Prokofiev 3rd and 7th Sonatas, and much less interesting. And neither of those sonatas qualify as the hardest things in the literature, although they do come close.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: laguna_greg] #2109939
06/28/13 10:17 PM
06/28/13 10:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,834
Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Oh Kreisler,

You put Sorabji on this list? I mean really! It's very dissonant, hard to learn. But not a single thing he writes is more difficult technically than Prokofiev 3rd and 7th Sonatas, and much less interesting. And neither of those sonatas qualify as the hardest things in the literature, although they do come close.


Some Sorabji is pretty nice, actually... And honestly, not hard on the ears compared to many other composers in the 20th century.

Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Old Man] #2109945
06/28/13 10:29 PM
06/28/13 10:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 9,328
New York City
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Polyphonist Offline
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Polyphonist  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
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New York City
A few concertos for consideration:

Rachmaninoff 3rd
Brahms 2nd
Prokofiev 2nd
Bartok 2nd


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Polyphonist] #2109950
06/28/13 10:32 PM
06/28/13 10:32 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
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laguna_greg Offline
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Yeah Poly, what you said.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Orange Soda King] #2109956
06/28/13 10:51 PM
06/28/13 10:51 PM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King

Some Sorabji is pretty nice, actually... And honestly, not hard on the ears compared to many other composers in the 20th century.


The Barber 4th Movement is much harder. It requires that you actually play the piano. And I have to say that it's more interesting, but that's beside the point of the gymnastics involved.

Do you play the Barber, Soda?


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Old Man] #2109964
06/28/13 11:03 PM
06/28/13 11:03 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,063
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wr Offline
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wr  Offline
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Quote
Only lasting about 10 minutes, Evryali is more difficult that Stockhausen Klavierstucke XII, Sorabji Opus Clavicembalisticum, Barrett Tracks, Finnissy's History of Sound in Photography or even the infamous piece "Trinity". Ian Pace, who plays the COMPLETE WORKS OF FINNISSY says that Evryali is the most rediculous and nearly-impossible piece of music to ever play.


I would tend to trust Ian Pace's evaluation - he actually is pretty familiar with a lot of this stuff. I think at one point he was saying that Barrett's Tracks was the most difficult piece he'd ever run into, so I guess it probably is the runner-up to the Xenakis. IIRC, it was purposely designed to be at the very edge of possibility.


Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: laguna_greg] #2109968
06/28/13 11:12 PM
06/28/13 11:12 PM
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wr Offline
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg


And if we're really just talking acrobatics and not contest or concert rep, we should include the Leopold Godowski transcriptions of the Chopin Etudes. You know, the ones where the black key etude is written for the left hand, or the one where the left hand plays the winter wind while the right hand plays the one in thirds? There are 24 of them, and they're all awful.



There are 53 of them, not 24. And there isn't one that combines the Winter Wind with the one in thirds, regardless of which hands play what. And some are, if not exactly easy, certainly within the reach of most professional pianists and some amateurs.


Last edited by wr; 06/28/13 11:21 PM.
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: wr] #2109971
06/28/13 11:25 PM
06/28/13 11:25 PM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted by wr


I would tend to trust Ian Pace's evaluation - he actually is pretty familiar with a lot of this stuff.


You did not just say that!

How about your own evaluation?



Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: laguna_greg] #2109980
06/28/13 11:53 PM
06/28/13 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King

Some Sorabji is pretty nice, actually... And honestly, not hard on the ears compared to many other composers in the 20th century.


The Barber 4th Movement is much harder. It requires that you actually play the piano. And I have to say that it's more interesting, but that's beside the point of the gymnastics involved.

Do you play the Barber, Soda?


I don't, and I wouldn't care to. And as great a piece the Barber piano sonata is, it just isn't my cup of tea (same with Bartok). Also, I don't care if the Barber requires one to "actually play the piano." Sometimes, I am in the mood for "out-there" music, so I resort to something like the Hindu Merchant's Song Pastiche. Problem?

I was not arguing any difficulty, by the way.

Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: laguna_greg] #2109985
06/29/13 12:02 AM
06/29/13 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
You can do better. Give it a go!

I did! I've performed it. (Many times!) I got 2nd prize in a competition with it.

(But yeah, just 2nd prize.) ha

And I'm saying it's the hardest technical thing in the Chopin Sonatas.

Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: wr] #2109988
06/29/13 12:03 AM
06/29/13 12:03 AM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted by wr

There are 53 of them, not 24. And there isn't one that combines the Winter Wind with the one in thirds, regardless of which hands play what. And some are, if not exactly easy, certainly within the reach of most professional pianists and some amateurs.



Oops. I made a mistake counting. I only have the original editions of 12 of them. I'd like to see you plays some of them. Can you post them on youtube? Frankly, I dare you to try. They are never included on contest programs because they are just too darn hard, and not the interesting musically.

"...And there isn't one that combines the Winter Wind with the one in thirds,..."

Are you sure?

Yours,


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Mark_C] #2109992
06/29/13 12:06 AM
06/29/13 12:06 AM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

(But yeah, just 2nd prize.) ha

And I'm saying it's the hardest technical thing in the Chopin Sonatas.


Then it can't have been that hard, or I wouldn't be able to play it either. There are things that are harder.

I can't play Islamey well enough to win a contest with it (nor would I want to).

Can you?


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Five Most Difficult Piano Pieces (Classical) [Re: Orange Soda King] #2109993
06/29/13 12:09 AM
06/29/13 12:09 AM
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laguna_greg Offline
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Well Soda, the question was not what we liked best, or were most interested in, but what was THE MOST DIFFICULT gymnastic trick we'd seen in the piano literature. That's why I'm writing this.

Shall we try again?


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
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