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SiFi Offline OP
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There's probably at least a dozen of you out there who have learnt this. So my first question is tempo. How fast should this really go? My second question is should the fortissimos at various points present as local climaxes or should they build incrementally to the crazy apotheosis near the end?

I have some other questions about editions and (teaser) whether one middle C in the edition I'm using should really be a C#. If anyone recognizes what I'm talking about, well I may actually eat my hat.

This will not be a replay of the Los Requiebros Icelandic saga, I promise.

While I'm not a great fan of Yuja, there's just something irresistible about the video she recorded at the Steinway factory in Astoria, and the performance isn't too bad either. in spite of the "trademark dresses, significant stiletto booties, Gucci fur stole, and wrist warmers", I don't think this is just a stunt, because she plays all the right notes in the right order.



Anyone got any other favorite performances?


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The correct tempo is 0 bpm.

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I bet she can play the knife game, you know, the knife stabbing between fingers on a table game.

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I love this Toccata and have been trying to play it for maybe 20 years but it's WAY over my skills. There's an encore performance of it by Yuja Wang which I think sounds slightly better than the one from the Steinway Factory.


Last edited by CyberGene; 06/29/20 05:16 AM.

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I used to play it. I can still play bits of it, but I need to relearn it.

I have the Forberg/Jurgenson edition.

There's a knack to the most difficult passages that makes them much easier at a higher tempo.

120 BPM is good enough for Martha! 😃

Where's the C/C#?

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The booties are cute, as the rest of the outfit, in the proper setup. I find the performance fine, though I prefer some other versions. She has a fast, dynamic, percussive reading on the piece, as usual.

I have never tried to play the piece; from the versions I have listened to and from an auditor point of view, I find that a timing at 4mn is quite fast enough. Guilels plays it in 4:20.

I like the Horowitz version, though the recording is +70 years old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY7DAH-3Ikg

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I remember learning this piece out of revenge because some kid was always beating me in competitions with it and it also sounded flashy. Well it certainly felt satisfying once I was able to play and perform it myself, but now I've come to realize I don't even like the piece that much.


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Prokofiev played it himself. There's some digitized version done from a piano roll I think. The piece actually sounds like it has some rationality.

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SiFi - I also had to learn it as part of Mozart-Prokofiev series where each of us performed a Mozart Piano Concerto and an encore by Prokofiev. My performance included Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503 (with my teacher doing the orchestral part) and Prokofiev's Toccata Op.11 in D minor, and included completing a research paper on the Mozart concerto. I think I was about 19 at the time (1983) and a sophomore enrolled at University of Hartford's College of Engineering and the Hartt School of Music. Unfortunately, I cannot locate any recordings of the performance, but I remember them going well and well received by the audience. I still remember it a little bit, and remember the many hours I spent practicing it for the concert... my parents hated it during the learning phase, until I performed it!

The Emil Gilels recording was the one that I grew to know and love, as he does not take it at a frenetic pace, but does bring out many more nuances than the virtuostic performances of today by Yuja Wang, Tiffany Poon, which are incredibly exciting to watch from a technical perspective. I also think that the Gilels performance may provide one answer to your question on the C vs C#... The Horowitz recording is also a favorite of mine... it is quicker than Gilels, but still brings out many subtle shadings in the piece. wszxbcl you are correct! Prokofiev did play it himself, and I have a video recording of the Peter Phillips MIDI Emulation of Duo-Art Roll 6391 (issued 2-1921) as played on my M&H BB and PianoDisc system. Unlike the Ampico and Duo-Art rolls of Sergei Rachmaninoff and Harold Bauer, I think Prokofiev's roll recordings are not quite at the same level as those great pianists... yet it is still instructional and and I am immediately drawn to the tempo of his performance ... faster than Gilels, slower than Horowitz and much slower that Yuja Wang. Perhaps more than anything SiFi, you can see for yourself whether Prokofiev plays the C or C# you were asking about... I think I know the answer!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6WQeuUsnag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE4kXMi4MUM


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Originally Posted by SiFi
While I'm not a great fan of Yuja, ..

Anyone got any other favorite performances?

I'll offer an opinion unlikely to generate controversy: I think Martha's 1960 recording is quite stirring.

I was happy to see Yuja perform this piece live about 7-8 years ago. She brought the energy when she performed it, and it made my attendance worthwhile.

I am deeply taken by the piece but I'm unwilling to climb this particular Mt. Everest (without oxygen). My admiration for those that can play it--as it should be played.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
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I remembered when I came across this piece many years ago during my studies in the conservatory. I once heard that Prokofiev was studying in that same classroom during his years in the conservatory. By the way, some of my works like Time Tombs had implemented piano technique originated with Prokofiev.

Last edited by Nardo Brown; 06/30/20 05:00 AM.

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Originally Posted by wolfgangmeister
The Emil Gilels recording was the one that I grew to know and love, as he does not take it at a frenetic pace, but does bring out many more nuances than the virtuostic performances of today by Yuja Wang, Tiffany Poon, which are incredibly exciting to watch from a technical perspective. I also think that the Gilels performance may provide one answer to your question on the C vs C#... The Horowitz recording is also a favorite of mine... it is quicker than Gilels, but still brings out many subtle shadings in the piece. wszxbcl you are correct! Prokofiev did play it himself, and I have a video recording of the Peter Phillips MIDI Emulation of Duo-Art Roll 6391 (issued 2-1921) as played on my M&H BB and PianoDisc system. Unlike the Ampico and Duo-Art rolls of Sergei Rachmaninoff and Harold Bauer, I think Prokofiev's roll recordings are not quite at the same level as those great pianists... yet it is still instructional and and I am immediately drawn to the tempo of his performance ... faster than Gilels, slower than Horowitz and much slower that Yuja Wang. Perhaps more than anything SiFi, you can see for yourself whether Prokofiev plays the C or C# you were asking about... I think I know the answer!
This is incredibly helpful; thank you! (1) It's the first time I've listened to Gilels's performance, though I knew OF it. Wow! I can't imagine how it could be played better. I think the tempo is perfect. The grinding energy and inexorable rhythmic momentum are almost physically palpable, like I could feel my heart starting to beat faster as it went on. And the ending is the most dramatic I've ever heard. I love the Horowitz recording, but this to me is something else. Just marvelous. (2) I frankly didn't think all that much of the Prokofiev version, BUT: I slowed it down to one quarter speed and watched carefully and lo and behold, there was the definitive answer to my question, clear as day: C natural! You can't see it on the Gilels recording and there's so much going on that it's virtually impossible to hear until you know the answer. But watching it on a player piano reproduction with nothing in the way made it easy. So I get to hear the composer's interpretation and resolve my editorial question all in one. A veritable twofer! Thank you again.

I'm wondering if you reached the same conclusion about the C natural?


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I know exactly what you're talking about. I have a very strong hunch, without seeing the manuscript that C should be a C-sharp. I checked on various editions and that seems to be the case -also, it makes sense in the sense of those running third passages . Are you using the Dover edition?

Enjoy the hat!

(edited to ask about the edition)

Last edited by apianostudent; 06/30/20 10:41 AM.
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I used to play it. I can still play bits of it, but I need to relearn it.

I have the Forberg/Jurgenson edition.

There's a knack to the most difficult passages that makes them much easier at a higher tempo.

120 BPM is good enough for Martha! 😃

Where's the C/C#?
1. I'm learning it for the first time and really enjoying it. Did you ever make a recording of yourself that you could share? Are you actually planning to relearn it?

2. I assume you have the 1980 F/J edition. Do you think it's the best one out there? (I believe it's been republished recently.)

3. Any tips you could give me would be wonderful, particularly for bars 161 - 172. I also find 33 - 40 and 48 - 56 really awkward.

4. 120 is fast! I guess you already knew that. smile I'm definitely setting my sights quite a bit lower.

5. The C/C# thing is in bar 171, 4th semiquaver in the left hand. If you follow the pattern established in the descending double-note scale starting in bar 170, all major 3rds, you'd expect an A/C# dyad, which would make the pitch set of the total sonority at that point (RH + LH) more akin the the one preceding it, though admittedly not the same. But Prokofiev himself plays a C natural (see my response to wolfgangmeister) so that settles that. I do have one other query, however. Does your edition indicate that the B natural 6th semiquaver in the LH of bar 115 is optional?

Thanks so much for the response. Hoping you can share some of the knacks with me, perhaps via PM?


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Oh, it looks as if I'll have to eat my own hat. I just saw the Prokofiev recording it does indeed show a C natural! Has anyone seen the manuscript?

I have several favorite recordings of this but one astounds me is Cocchia's recording. I've never heard it played so clearly and with such speed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DTtO-HDNrA

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SiFi Offline OP
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Originally Posted by apianostudent
I know exactly what you're talking about. I have a very strong hunch, without seeing the manuscript that C should be a C-sharp. I checked on various editions and that seems to be the case -also, it makes sense in the sense of those running third passages . Are you using the Dover edition?

Enjoy the hat!

(edited to ask about the edition)
Boy, I hope I'm allowed to put ketchup or steak sauce on the hat before I eat it. Maybe some Texas Pete extra hot as well. I can't believe two people found what I was talking about in 226 bars of really dense piano music!

FYI, I'm using the Kalmus reissue of Levon Atovmyan's 1955 "Urtext" edition of the collected works. That has no accidental in front of the C and no C#s earlier in the bar. (All the Cs in the right hand are C#s, but that doesn't mean much, of course.) Two other early editions I checked, one by Forberg and one by Jurgenson (the latter supposedly the first edition) have the same thing. So I'm curious which editions you looked at? The video posted by wolfgangmeister makes it clear that Prokofiev himself plays C natural.


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Originally Posted by apianostudent
Oh, it looks as if I'll have to eat my own hat. I just saw the Prokofiev recording it does indeed show a C natural! Has anyone seen the manuscript?
No, I still have to eat mine because the challenge was simply to identify what I was talking about, not necessarily to resolve it.

I would second a call out to anyone who might have access to the MS.


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One thing about piano rolls is that they can and were edited note by note. So they should be good for resolving textual questions.


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Originally Posted by johnstaf
120 BPM is good enough for Martha! 😃
Looking at another thread, I'm wondering if we could go with WW's split beat theory, viz. 60 BPM. Woo hoo, I'm done learning it already!


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Ah I never got around to starting on this, I want to do it someday though. My favorite is Martha Argerich's recording, when I hear someone playing it slower I just feel like it's not lively enough.

Then again, that's my attitude towards most pieces, even though I feel like I'm neurologically not wired to play fast, so it means I spend disproportionate amounts of time practicing technical passages to get them faster.

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