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Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW #2878522 08/11/19 10:14 AM
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pianoloverus Offline OP
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I'm almost finished with the first volume(names beginning with A-H) of Notable Twentieth-Century Pianists, a two-volume 900 page reference about 100 great pianists. Each of the 100 pianists have around a 10 page bio together with quotes from many reviews and comments about specific performances and recordings.

I think so many of these great pianists are too rarely discussed or mentioned on this forum. Endless mention of Horowitz, Argerich, and a few others but little about most of the other great pianists.

So I'm hoping to start a discussion or posting of recordings by some of these pianists(any either deceased or over around 60 you want to discuss).

Here are a few of the pianists in the first volume together with a recording or two:
Clifford Curzon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vZ1kFVknIc
John Browning
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6evRy3Jf6-E
Aldo Ciccolini
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkcHjmXmEg0
Grigory Ginzburg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4gyyuJUx6A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3RloBbt7rs
Ignaz Friedman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYuXYE3MpiQ
Gina Bachauer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA92si57KU8
Alicia de Larrocha
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0axKqlkilk

I'd be especially interested in hearing from anyone who has heard any of these pianists from the past live in concert.

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Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878541 08/11/19 11:44 AM
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All these pianists were well regarded when living and had fine careers. Friedman was a legend and sadly a huge amount of his recordings were dumped in a landfil in Australia if I'm not mistaken. A great loss like when Rachmaninoff wanted to record his entire repertoire and RCA wasn't interested.

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878571 08/11/19 01:07 PM
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Sir Clifford Curzon was still active in the concert hall when I was a student and I heard him live on BBC broadcasts a few times. I didn't know he was a really nervy performer, because what I heard of him live were the times when he was in relative control. His Brahms 1 with George Szell was always highly regarded:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iAE7ICLQqI

A story I heard of their collaboration was when a journalist asked the prickly Szell why his conducting was so much more involving when he partnered Curzon than when he partnered Gilels in that concerto, whereupon he replied: "And don't you think a conductor should respond to his soloist?" (BTW, to hear Szell's lack of chemistry with Gilels, listen to their recordings of the Beethoven concertos - precisely cut & dried).

I never heard John Browning perform live, but to my mind, he was always linked to Barber's concerto, having premiered it and made the first recording. Though when Browning was first given the score, he did a double take when he discovered that some of the piano part was practically unplayable. But when he took it back to Barber, the composer played the offending sections - at half speed - to show that it was indeed playable grin. It required Horowitz to convince Barber to rewrite those sections.....

BTW, Browning's recording of the original 1913 version of Rach's 2nd sonata is quite breathtaking in its virtuosity, and he is one of the few who doesn't run out of steam in the finale's coda in this version. Just listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlrW4vTG9RA

And Alicia de Larrocha's recording of the Liszt Sonata and Schumann's Fantasy in C was the one that introduced me to those works when I was a teenager (I bought the Decca cassette tape that had that coupling, and kept listening to them - especially the Schumann - over and over again on my Walkman). The Liszt I couldn't cope with then, but I had to learn the Schumann Fantasy for myself, and I did......and it was the first Schumann piece I learnt by myself, and then later performed it for my peers on an ancient (but well-preserved) grand in a huge mansion.

The only performance I heard Larrocha gave (which was broadcast live by the BBC) was of the complete Iberia, probably the work which she was most associated with - a breathtaking tour de force of unflagging energy and sustained virtuosity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8cj9LQT01I

I was hooked on Spanish piano music after that, but it was only a few months ago that I actually saw the places after which many piano pieces by Albéniz and Granados were named, when I visited Andalucia: Seville, Córdoba, Granados.....and the Alhambra grin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwjX-m4LkYk

Oops, this is a piano forum wink ......
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCJVd-P4VVU


"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: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878607 08/11/19 03:28 PM
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I did attend to several concerts by Aldo Ciccolini. A wonderful pianist and a great person. He recorded the full set of Satie's works; it is still one of the reference. Also a wonderful set of Chopin nocturnes (Cascavelle), one of my preferate, very different from Rubinstein and Arrau but very personal. There are not too many of his recordings on YT

Clifford Curzon , I remember I bought a long time ago his Decca recordings, some in mono still. Great performance on Mozart concertos. I never had a chance to attend one of his concerts though.

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878613 08/11/19 03:48 PM
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Don't feel that the discussion on the thread should be limited to the pianists I mentioned in my OP. I just chose a few of the 50 in the first volume of the book I mentioned.

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878636 08/11/19 05:06 PM
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Nikolai Petrov, astounding technique.


Schumann is the mann.
Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878640 08/11/19 05:47 PM
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I always assumed that Larrocha was one of the most famous. It's surprising that she's not discussed more. I remember Ciccolini's as a star in the past, but I don't hear much discussion about him at all now.

Cécile Ousset and Andrei Gavrilov are two who have lower profiles now than they did. Sometimes, pianists seem to fade away in the public consciousness. Shura Cherkassky is another.

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878654 08/11/19 06:36 PM
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Mikhail Pletnev is the most individual living pianist among the "Great Pianists of the 20th Century", a massive 200-CD box featuring 72 pianists which was released by Philips in 1999 and sponsored by Steinway.

Which is why I'm choosing this recent all-Rachmaninov recital to represent him, because he's playing on his current favorite piano, Shigeru Kawai grin (- though he did flirt with Blüthner for a few years when he played the Beethoven concertos):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaIS8KWt5Fs

I heard him play it in the Edinburgh International Festival, and all his hallmarks are there - effortless virtuosity and a truly re-creative and unique take on tone color and rubato and tempi manipulations (you can't mistake his playing for anyone else's, whereas many current virtuosi sound pretty much like each other when they're all in form), and not a little wit when the music calls for it. Even though in Russian music, there's that unmistakable "Russian soul" in his playing, he wears it lightly, and his flights of fancy takes one's breath away in their audacity as well as in their execution.

All the same virtues were already there when he won the Tchaikovsky Competition at the age of 21, as evidenced by a CD of the Moscow winner's concert that he gave soon after (which includes brilliantly articulated Bach, Scarlatti and Beethoven plus a stunning Chopin 3). Who else would dare play his own transcription of the Nutcracker Suite in such a competition (a transcription which is now part of many virtuosi's rep)?

And in more conventional virtuoso rep.......well, just listen to the coda thumb:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHNSRhC9hHk


"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: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878671 08/11/19 07:49 PM
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I have many wonderful recordings by Pletnev, superb Scarlatti, and a beautiful Schumann Fantasy. I've heard Shura Cherkassky live many many times and enjoyed every concert. He would bring out inner voices much like his teacher Josef Hofmann did. But the most remarkable thing about him was his absolutely beautiful tone which never has been reproduced well in the recording studio. Even recording of the concerts I went to pale on disc for some reason. Ivan Moravec had a beautiful tone which can be heard in some of his recordings. I once heard Witold Malcuzynski at Carnegie and he had a nice tone as well. Not the greatest technique but I guess he was similar to his teacher Ignace Paderewski.

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878680 08/11/19 08:21 PM
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I heard Larrocha live in recital around 1976 or 77. That was decades before I first took up piano, so I was unable to form a critical opinion. Let's just say that as a lay audience member, I was very impressed.


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Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878681 08/11/19 08:22 PM
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Ciccolini made a wonderful recording of the Chopin Waltzes that I have on vinyl. There is this on youtube, which suffers from compression:



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Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878685 08/11/19 08:37 PM
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Quite a few legends all together here:



I had a teacher who was very impressed by Gina Bachauer's live playing.


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Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878686 08/11/19 08:40 PM
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I forgot to mention Solomon. One of the true greats.

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: kbrod1] #2878700 08/11/19 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kbrod1
I have many wonderful recordings by Pletnev, superb Scarlatti, and a beautiful Schumann Fantasy. I've heard Shura Cherkassky live many many times and enjoyed every concert. He would bring out inner voices much like his teacher Josef Hofmann did. But the most remarkable thing about him was his absolutely beautiful tone which never has been reproduced well in the recording studio. Even recording of the concerts I went to pale on disc for some reason. Ivan Moravec had a beautiful tone which can be heard in some of his recordings. I once heard Witold Malcuzynski at Carnegie and he had a nice tone as well. Not the greatest technique but I guess he was similar to his teacher Ignace Paderewski.


My taste in pianists is very similar to yours, though I never heard Malcuzynski.
Cherkassky and Moravec are what I would term as "colourists" - pianists whose magnificent dynamic and colouristic range clearly sets them apart, particularly when it comes to the softer, mellower end of the dynamic spectrum. That beautiful sound, alongside their sense of timing makes for deeply moving performances of more lyrical, slower music.

Listen to this performance of Ravel's Pavane by Cherkassky. Unconventional and probably too romantic for many, but absolutely spellbinding in my opinion



Or Cherkassky's Saint Saens/Godowsky Le Cygne



Moravec's Chopin Barcarolle is gorgeous. Recorded I believe on a Bosendorfer



Pletnev is a fantastic colourist too, although with a more whimsical approach and (when required) a more demonic, visceral edge to his sound. Still my favourite living pianist today.
Love this 1987 recital


Sauter Delta 185, Bosendorfer 225, Ibach F III 215


Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878701 08/11/19 09:47 PM
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I heard Ciccolini and Bachauer live long ago. I have gone to many concerts since then, and after a while, I forget the details. So I go to concerts not for the name, nor necessarily for the repertoire, but just to enjoy the music as it is played. Other people may experience music differently, but that is how I am.


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Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878707 08/11/19 10:04 PM
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Vladimir Sofronitsky is another one of my all time favourites. Though he was often recorded on less than ideal instruments, his range of colour and ability to sing on the instrument still coming through gloriously

This all Scriabin recital captures him in great form, as one would expect of Scriabin's son in law..


..as does the recording of the Scriabin's Fantasie


But I found his Chopin incredibly moving as well, case in point being his recording of the Barcaroll...


..along with his recording of the Schubert-Liszt Lieder


Sauter Delta 185, Bosendorfer 225, Ibach F III 215


Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878745 08/12/19 01:36 AM
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Another of the greats we don't hear too much about is Vlado Perlemuter.


Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878750 08/12/19 02:55 AM
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Here's a pianist that I just came across. I figured this thread is a good place to put this.

I don't know if we'd call her "great" but maybe we could, and not only do we never talk about her -- I never heard of her before.

PATRICIA PARR

I came across her while looking up stuff about another musician in the New York Times archives (online).
Seems she was one of those "child prodigies." What I came across was the review of her New York debut, in 1948, playing the Mendelssohn G minor Concerto -- at age 10 -- at which time evidently she played under the name "Patsy" Parr.

The review is sexistly quaint. Like:
"The little pianist was wearing a blue dress while her pigtails were tied with pink ribbons."

Then it talks about how before she started playing, she crawled under the piano to make sure the "risers" on the pedals were OK.
Eventually it does actually say a little about her playing -- very little, basically just that "she knew what she was doing."

She didn't become well known but she didn't totally disappear either. Apparently she did have a career, mainly in chamber music. Some of her performances are on youtube, and I think they're very, very good. They haven't gotten much notice; in fact, I just put the first and only comment under this one:

Patricia Parr -- Schubert B-flat major Trio

She also has written an autobiography, which is the main highlighted thing on this website which also gives her bio:
Website

.......and apparently it does tell a lot about what happened with her. Here's a remarkable review that summarizes it, including some details of what she endured as a prodigy, the discomfort with performing that she developed later, and medical problems which were perhaps related to the stress.
review

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878766 08/12/19 04:41 AM
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Igor Zhukov. He recorded some fine Chopin and Scriabin performances as well.
https://youtu.be/tAUkximrwHw
Also Tatiana Nikolayeva:
https://youtu.be/XVAl47CpwOQ

Re: Great pianists of the 20th century rarely discussed on PW [Re: pianoloverus] #2878787 08/12/19 06:13 AM
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Nina Lelchuk. Her recording of the Schumann Fantasy for me is right up there with Richter, Horowitz, Argerich..etc :


https://youtu.be/Nc6GDV60b1I

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