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The level of perfection of Volodos' playing #2908036 11/03/19 05:28 PM
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I don't listen to him often, but every now and then, he re-emerges from the not-so-deep depths of my mind.

As infantile and misguided it is to focus on the cleanliness of the playing more than the music itself, I can't help it whenever I listen to him play, because the utter perfection of his playing almost overshadows everything else for me.

He's not my favorite pianist, but, without any exaggeration - he scares me. Massive, thick textures and frighteningly difficult passages in the works of Rachmaninov, Liszt and his own transcriptions played not just flawlessly, but with perfect evenness of touch, 100% of the time.

And he said he did not begin practicing seriously before he was 16.

What is he?

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Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908150 11/04/19 06:58 AM
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I guess not every post can spark a fiery debate.

And it seems that this forum is hostile towards Volodos, our saviour.

Repent, sinners, or may your fingers be forever cursed with uneven passagework.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908156 11/04/19 07:37 AM
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I certainly agree that Volodos has a gigantic technique, but I don't see how it's greater than many other pianists playing today and in the last fifty years. Not saying you're wrong, but it's not clear to me that he's technically superior to many other big technicians. e.g. Hamelin, Trifonov, Argerich, Kissin, Katsaris, or any of the recent winners of major competitions.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/04/19 07:38 AM.
Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908250 11/04/19 02:09 PM
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I agree, the guy is a freak. One of just a handful of living pianists able to pull off the most death-defying of stunts with the greatest of ease. It's really the sort of thing one's only generally likely to realize if one is a pianist though.

Strangely enough, he's one of the few pianists who has an even enough touch so as to not be disturbing to me on some level. Granted, I don't always care for his interpertations, but that's to be expected.

In my mind the only pianists with similar evenness of touch would be Berezovsky, Argerich, Lisitsa, Zimmerman, maybe Sampson Francois and Sergio Fiorentino on an "on" day. Very few of them advertise it as Volodos does though.

Really, it's a bit of a curse to be aware of these things. It's absence in a pianist can be very distracting. Yet, the lack of freak pianistic callabration, ease, and comfort doesn't make for less of an artist. There are are many wonderful pianist who don't have such ease but have fascinating things to say that are certainly worth one's time. Likewise there are a few pianist who have such ease, but aren't so compelling to listen to.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: pianoloverus] #2908251 11/04/19 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I certainly agree that Volodos has a gigantic technique, but I don't see how it's greater than many other pianists playing today and in the last fifty years. Not saying you're wrong, but it's not clear to me that he's technically superior to many other big technicians. e.g. Hamelin, Trifonov, Argerich, Kissin, Katsaris, or any of the recent winners of major competitions.


They can all play flawlessly, but have had their sloppy moments in live performance.

Volodos hasn't; at least it hasn't been recorded on none of the numerous live recordings of him. That was part of my point.

His technique and clarity of sound are not just flawless, but seemingly infallible. That is a mistery to me.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908261 11/04/19 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by NervousWreck123
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I certainly agree that Volodos has a gigantic technique, but I don't see how it's greater than many other pianists playing today and in the last fifty years. Not saying you're wrong, but it's not clear to me that he's technically superior to many other big technicians. e.g. Hamelin, Trifonov, Argerich, Kissin, Katsaris, or any of the recent winners of major competitions.


They can all play flawlessly, but have had their sloppy moments in live performance.

Volodos hasn't; at least it hasn't been recorded on none of the numerous live recordings of him. That was part of my point.

His technique and clarity of sound are not just flawless, but seemingly infallible. That is a mistery to me.


His Prok 2 has some flubs just as any other live one would. Yeah, he's unusually accurate, but he also phrases and groups things in ways that avoid risk which is fine, but it makes the playing a bit more mannered and likewise a bit less exciting than the other pianists I mentioned. I guess it depends on what one finds more important. Horowitz's 68 Rach 2nd sonata is riddled with mistakes, cheats, sometimes impossible tempi... can't think of another pianist who's played it so captivatingly and with such range.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but still it's something that I think is a constant consideration, and this is coming from a pianistic perfectionist.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908271 11/04/19 04:21 PM
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Maybe it's the pianos he chooses, but I feel that Volodos' tone is too consistently pretty or beautiful. I don't know if I'm making myself clear when I say that and am curious if anyone else gets this impression?

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908274 11/04/19 04:29 PM
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Volodos has been my favorite of the 'younger' pianist for years. I have all his recordings and saw him at Carnegie years back. Not only does he have an outstanding technique but equally as impressive is his golden tone. Yes there are some his technical equal Hamelin, Berezovsky, Wang, Kissin etc. but they don't possess that soaring beautiful tone.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: pianoloverus] #2908277 11/04/19 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Maybe it's the pianos he chooses, but I feel that Volodos' tone is too consistently pretty or beautiful. I don't know if I'm making myself clear when I say that and am curious if anyone else gets this impression?


I think you just have different aesthetics for piano sound. The consistently even, balanced, pure tone can be cloying. Nothing wrong with that. I lean more toward the Volodos end of things.

Edit: It's of note that this Voldosian approach, if I may call it that, sounds very nice in hall. On recording, it can sound quite flat.

Last edited by MikeN; 11/04/19 04:45 PM.
Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: pianoloverus] #2908279 11/04/19 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Maybe it's the pianos he chooses, but I feel that Volodos' tone is too consistently pretty or beautiful. I don't know if I'm making myself clear when I say that and am curious if anyone else gets this impression?


I have the same opinion. Sounds too clean/perfect to my ears. I don't find the playing to be particularly expressive.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: Antihero] #2908298 11/04/19 06:41 PM
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I find his Brahms quite beautiful and expressive. I wish it was that easy just to find the right piano.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: MikeN] #2908299 11/04/19 06:48 PM
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I find beauty of tone an interesting topic. Some of the most beautiful sounding pianists can also be the most boring (to my ears). It sounds to me sometimes as if the beautiful tone is the goal, as opposed to the starting point.

Last edited by johnstaf; 11/04/19 06:49 PM.
Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908310 11/04/19 07:33 PM
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Shura Cherkassky had a beautiful tone as well and he was never boring. I miss him.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908410 11/05/19 05:59 AM
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I got sent to Keszthely in Hungary to record a radio interview this Volodos, back in 1998. He gave a concert at the Festetics Palace, starting with Scriabin, followed by some Rachmaninov and then finishing with 6 encores, all of which were Horowitz transcriptions. It was a disconcerting evening, because he did not come close to playing a wrong note and I've never heard such effortless control and mastery. And yet it was totally unengaging. There was no atmosphere or even excitement. Just a lot of perfectly played notes. One of the organisers was a trained Hungarian violinist who leaned over to me, after Volodos had tossed off the Horowitz Carmen variations and said "Ez tiszta masturbálás" (This is just masturbation.) A crude comment perhaps but it that was exactly how it seemed.

The interview was a complete waste of time, and although he was pleasant he would only give yes and no answers (apart from stating that Richter was the greatest of them all) and I felt l was in the presence of someone with some autism spectrum disorder (which I was warned about by his handlers.) I saw him playing Rach 3 on a later occasion and again it was perfect but there just was no sense of magic.

Zoltán Kocsis (who had one of the best techniques of the 20th century) told me Volodos was the best technician he'd ever heard and admired the wit of his Mozart variations and felt Volodos was an intellectual pianist when he wasn't showing off.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: kbrod1] #2908428 11/05/19 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by kbrod1
Shura Cherkassky had a beautiful tone as well and he was never boring. I miss him.
Many pianists have beautiful tone and are not boring. But with Volodos, I hear something different, as if he's very careful or just naturally is overly concerned with playing every piece with a beautiful tone even in passages where that might not be appropriate. For me, the tone in every piece he plays sounds the same somehow. None of the above means I don't think he is a terrific pianist.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/05/19 07:13 AM.
Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: CianistAndPomposer] #2908483 11/05/19 09:26 AM
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Many years ago I saw Earl Wild give a marathon recital in NYC of Liszt piano music which lasted 3 and a half hours. He didn't play a single wrong note. I enjoyed the concert but my only criticism which I heard at other recitals by him that when he played loud it sounded like he was banging. One doesn't hear this on his recordings though as I assume they adjusted the levels after the fact. I find his Rach 1st piano concerto the finest on record and he did tell me once that that was his favorite of the four.

Re: The level of perfection of Volodos' playing [Re: kbrod1] #2908712 11/06/19 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by kbrod1
Shura Cherkassky had a beautiful tone as well and he was never boring. I miss him.


I could not agree more


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