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What makes a good piano opera transcription? #2811572 02/06/19 06:12 PM
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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: AAC127] #2811581 02/06/19 06:26 PM
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What are you asking? The transcription of a complete opera, a scene, a chorus, an aria, an overture? A transcription, an arrangement, a fantasy, a paraphrase, a "reminiscence"? There are so many options that maybe you could limit the scope of the question somewhat.

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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: AAC127] #2811614 02/06/19 07:20 PM
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I'll answer that question by asking one myself (like Mr Szell likes to answer a question with a question grin) - just how well does the operatic tune(s) translate to the piano? Or in other words - how pianistic will it sound?

So, let me illustrate what I mean by a good transcription and a bad one:

This is a good one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W46BKM0mg-g

And this is a truly bad one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9BO-YzSvLs

See - and hear - the difference?

Yet the composers are the same (both before and after the slash wink ) - and the second, truly atrocious transcription is actually the most well-known one in the entire universe (well, in the pianistic universe anyway), probably because it's relatively easy to play. In fact, even I can sight-read it......

Why is it so bad? Because it is so unpianistic, replete with tremolos from beginning to end - great on massed strings, truly horrible on the piano. The climax, which sounds cataclysmic on voice & big orchestra, sounds like an anaemic impala straining to aspire to be the powerful leopard, for which it's its favorite prey (sorry, folks, I recently watched them in a one-sided battle in Kruger NP, and afterwards had impala steak for dinner - yum! grin), when played on the piano, even by a powerful virtuoso as here, with its repeated chords and more tremolos.

Whereas the Tannhäuser transcription lends itself to lots of effective pianistic gestures (and sounds like a real piano piece: that's the impression it gives if one didn't know its provenance), but unfortunately, it demands a lot of stamina as well as sustained power which few pianists - including most virtuosi - want to venture into. (BTW, hooray for this slight, lithe female pianist, winner of the Chopin Competition, for her powerful performance - which shows you don't need Russian bears to play it thumb).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: bennevis] #2811628 02/06/19 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I'll answer that question by asking one myself (like Mr Szell likes to answer a question with a question grin) - just how well does the operatic tune(s) translate to the piano? Or in other words - how pianistic will it sound?

So, let me illustrate what I mean by a good transcription and a bad one:

This is a good one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W46BKM0mg-g

And this is a truly bad one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9BO-YzSvLs

See - and hear - the difference?

Yet the composers are the same (both before and after the slash wink ) - and the second, truly atrocious transcription is actually the most well-known one in the entire universe (well, in the pianistic universe anyway), probably because it's relatively easy to play. In fact, even I can sight-read it......

Why is it so bad? Because it is so unpianistic, replete with tremolos from beginning to end - great on massed strings, truly horrible on the piano. The climax, which sounds cataclysmic on voice & big orchestra, sounds like an anaemic impala straining to aspire to be the powerful leopard, for which it's its favorite prey (sorry, folks, I recently watched them in a one-sided battle in Kruger NP, and afterwards had impala steak for dinner - yum! grin), when played on the piano, even by a powerful virtuoso as here, with its repeated chords and more tremolos.

Whereas the Tannhäuser transcription lends itself to lots of effective pianistic gestures (and sounds like a real piano piece: that's the impression it gives if one didn't know its provenance), but unfortunately, it demands a lot of stamina as well as sustained power which few pianists - including most virtuosi - want to venture into. (BTW, hooray for this slight, lithe female pianist, winner of the Chopin Competition, for her powerful performance - which shows you don't need Russian bears to play it thumb).



Luckily, this is ONLY your viewpoint. I have read other concert pianists praise both of these transcriptions - c'est la vie.



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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: AAC127] #2811749 02/07/19 03:39 AM
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This is my current favorite Tannhauser transcription:

Donald Lambert: Pilgrim's Chorus

Give it half a minute to grow on you …

Actually I love the one Bennevis posted (and agree about the second one too).

Interesting question!


Last edited by Qwerty53; 02/07/19 03:40 AM.

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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: AAC127] #2812061 02/07/19 05:29 PM
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Bennevis, I totally disagree with you on the Liszt/Wagner Liebestod, if played well it's great, if played not so well, it's a nightmare indeed, but to dismiss it as you did: NO! NO! NO! By the way, the rest of our species considers it as a fantastic adaptation. It all depends on the pianist, and isn't that true about all pianomusic?


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: dolce sfogato] #2812092 02/07/19 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Bennevis, I totally disagree with you on the Liszt/Wagner Liebestod, if played well it's great, if played not so well, it's a nightmare indeed, but to dismiss it as you did: NO! NO! NO! By the way, the rest of our species considers it as a fantastic adaptation. It all depends on the pianist, and isn't that true about all pianomusic?

+1 cool



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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: dolce sfogato] #2812096 02/07/19 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
By the way, the rest of our species considers it as a fantastic adaptation. It all depends on the pianist, and isn't that true about all pianomusic?

No! No! No!

Some piano music is just beyond the pale, and no amount of pianistic artistry or amazing pianism can rescue it. wink

Like.......the Wagner/Liszt Liebestod.

Compare and contrast that insipid Wagner/Liszt with this colorful Wagner/Tausig:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J33K4l3uKw


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: bennevis] #2812147 02/07/19 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
[...]
Some piano music is just beyond the pale, and no amount of pianistic artistry or amazing pianism can rescue it. wink
[...]


I know of one such piece! smile


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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: bennevis] #2812241 02/08/19 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
[Compare and contrast that insipid Wagner/Liszt with this colorful Wagner/Tausig:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J33K4l3uKw

Wow! I'll stay out of the Liebestod debate, but I agree with you that this is a tremendous transcription. Unfortunately, the YouTube post does not identify the (brilliant) pianist, but it does idenitfy the source as a Naxos recording. A visit to the Naxos website reveals two possibilities: Michael Ponti (a well-known name) and Matti Raekallio (a new name to me).

Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: Hank M] #2812269 02/08/19 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Hank M
Originally Posted by bennevis
[Compare and contrast that insipid Wagner/Liszt with this colorful Wagner/Tausig:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J33K4l3uKw

Wow! I'll stay out of the Liebestod debate, but I agree with you that this is a tremendous transcription. Unfortunately, the YouTube post does not identify the (brilliant) pianist, but it does idenitfy the source as a Naxos recording. A visit to the Naxos website reveals two possibilities: Michael Ponti (a well-known name) and Matti Raekallio (a new name to me).

Actually, if you click on "Show more" (in faint letters), you get the complete source, and the other composers represented on the CD (which is well worth having). The pianist is the brilliant Finn Matti Raekallio, and the CD is called "A Night at the Opera".

The record label is actually Ondine (which is Finnish, I think), which is distributed by Naxos.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: AAC127] #2812319 02/08/19 11:30 AM
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Personally, I like a nice, simple transcription that I can play around with - sorry, improvise around!
But, I've posted this on another thread (about lady pianists):
Gluck/Giovanni Sgambati: Melodie from Orfeo ed Euridice 4:24
Horowitz/ after Bizet: Carmen Variations 7:40



The Gluck/Sgambati I've downloaded and I'm playing around with at the moment (I think it's a bit odd, but with a bit of modification will be nice to play)
The Horowitz, not a chance!


regards
Pete
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: bennevis] #2812342 02/08/19 12:40 PM
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I love the comments on that YouTune video of the Ride of the Valkyries! “It must be two pianists at once!!”

Here is a different YouTube link that gives the info on the pianist, Matti Raekallio, and his album of opera music:

Seems like most of the album is on YouTube.... I’m off to give it a listen! Hiya To Ho!

Last edited by Qwerty53; 02/08/19 12:41 PM.

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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: dolce sfogato] #2812355 02/08/19 12:56 PM
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Better?


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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: Qwerty53] #2812367 02/08/19 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Qwerty53
Better?


OK -- I guess the Ride just doesn't lend itself to piano transcription as well as the Pilgrims' Chorus does. There's a reason why we have violins..... ;-)

What I'd love to hear -- and can't seem to find on the internet -- is a Mariachi version of the Ride. Does that sound like fun?


-- J.S.

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Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: petebfrance] #2812372 02/08/19 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by petebfrance
Personally, I like a nice, simple transcription that I can play around with - sorry, improvise around!


The Gluck/Sgambati I've downloaded and I'm playing around with at the moment (I think it's a bit odd, but with a bit of modification will be nice to play)
The Horowitz, not a chance!

Why not try making your own piano transcription of a lovely tune like O mio babbino caro?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1C8NFDdFYg

It works well on the piano because your LH can do arpeggios just as on the orchestra - make them as easy as you like.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: bennevis] #2812393 02/08/19 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by petebfrance
Personally, I like a nice, simple transcription that I can play around with - sorry, improvise around!


The Gluck/Sgambati I've downloaded and I'm playing around with at the moment (I think it's a bit odd, but with a bit of modification will be nice to play)
The Horowitz, not a chance!

Why not try making your own piano transcription of a lovely tune like O mio babbino caro?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1C8NFDdFYg

It works well on the piano because your LH can do arpeggios just as on the orchestra - make them as easy as you like.

Tempting, it's a lovely piece (and a nice version too). I'm not very good at getting the 'basics' - with somebody else providing the tune (I can get the notes easily enough but my timing is abysmal so writing it down is a chore) and basic chords I'm fine. Actually, I'll give it some thought, some more opera would be good. Somewhere I have a rather, well, interesting arrangement of 'One Fine Day' (off-hand can't think of the 'real name') and that was tremendous fun to play with for a while - real drama!


regards
Pete
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: petebfrance] #2812414 02/08/19 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by petebfrance
Somewhere I have a rather, well, interesting arrangement of 'One Fine Day' (off-hand can't think of the 'real name') and that was tremendous fun to play with for a while - real drama!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-r2vu4t9-g

I'm not sure this will work well as a piano transcription. Whose arrangement is yours?


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: bennevis] #2812422 02/08/19 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by petebfrance
Somewhere I have a rather, well, interesting arrangement of 'One Fine Day' (off-hand can't think of the 'real name') and that was tremendous fun to play with for a while - real drama!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-r2vu4t9-g

I'm not sure this will work well as a piano transcription. Whose arrangement is yours?


Sorry, no idea. When I stopped playing 8 or 9 years ago (after my bicycle accident) a lot of music was 'stored' in the basement. I can search it out if you like, but it will take some time I'm afraid - and it was one of those voice and piano arrangements, 3 pages with cover designed to entice. I picked it up second-hand at an 'Antique Fair' many years ago (along with a copy of John Field nocturnes and some Dvorak piano pieces and other bits and pieces).
Btw, there is a nice Liszt transcription of 'Oh Star of Eve' from Tannhauser which I found in one of the other books I bought then (long since disintegrated, I'm afraid) but that can be found on IMSL. I've downloaded it, but at the moment my hands are too out of practice and my piano is in deep trouble, so I'm relying on an old keyboard and this would not sound anything on it. The only version I could find on you-tube didn't really chime with me, but as somebody pointed out in the comments, is OK from about 2 minutes 40 in. Better to download the score and enjoy.

Last edited by petebfrance; 02/08/19 03:24 PM.

regards
Pete
Re: What makes a good piano opera transcription? [Re: petebfrance] #2812445 02/08/19 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by petebfrance

Btw, there is a nice Liszt transcription of 'Oh Star of Eve' from Tannhauser which I found in one of the other books I bought then (long since disintegrated, I'm afraid) but that can be found on IMSL.

I bought the cheap Dover edition of "Liszt's complete transcriptions from Wagner's operas" several years ago (for the princely sum of £13.95 (USD15.95) - and pretty decent print quality too), and have played my way through it, including O, du mein holder Abendstern, which I agree works quite well on the piano.

Some music works better than others in piano transcription. There are other good transcribers of Wagner's music (like Louis Brassin), which have also been recorded by enterprising pianists:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfc-ewL90_Q


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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