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Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382720
09/29/04 12:57 PM
09/29/04 12:57 PM
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Wales
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Wash Offline OP
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Wales
I am sixteen years old, a self-taught pianist of three years. And I'm learning Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No.1... what an idiot I am. ^_^

I was kinda inspired my Vladimir Horowitz' performance of this demonic piece. But...

I can't sight read and I have little theoretic knowledge. I just seem to be a good performer. My question is, to all experts: why does Horowtiz play this well. I mean, what it is in particular? What does he DO, technically, other than having a great artistic ability?

With particular focus on the first 'sub-movement'.

Thanks all,

Washy


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Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382721
09/29/04 01:03 PM
09/29/04 01:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,770
Hamilton Twp, NJ
curry Offline
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I would not rate Horowitz's Mephisto as a good performance of this piece, in fact many find it horrible. He has great technical ability, and can even at times show great musicality, but the Mephisto recording is a banging nightmare.


G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
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Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382722
09/29/04 01:10 PM
09/29/04 01:10 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,395
Brooklyn, NY
Requiem Aeternam Offline
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I haven't heard it myself but just to let you know from the sentiment on this message board, Horowitz's performance of that piece is notorious for its horrendous monstrosity.


"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."
Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382723
09/29/04 01:22 PM
09/29/04 01:22 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 605
toronto
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sandman Offline
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toronto
I agree with the above posters...that particular performance by horowitz is almost unanimously panned...i admit i dont think its terrible, but then again horowitz is a favortie of mine...

However..i think you asking the wrong question...anyone who records a piece professionally obviously has the technical ability to play it, what makes it a great performance or not is the artistry...and that very hard to pin down, and very personal...
i would suggest you simply listen to as many performances by as many different artists as you can, devlop you taste and your ear and your critical faculties....what its gonna come down to is how does the performance affect you...A great performance doesn't have to be the best sounding or cleanest, or prettiest, it can be monstrous if the performer can convince you as a listener that that is a valid way of presenting the work...Listen to weissenbergs chopin nocturns for example...there the least preety recording imaginable...but extreamly effective....

and for what its worth, William Kappel's Mephisto Waltz is by a long shot my favorit

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382724
09/29/04 01:48 PM
09/29/04 01:48 PM
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Posts: 1,395
Brooklyn, NY
Requiem Aeternam Offline
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By the way, 3 year self taught and already trying to learn that? I mean I am all for it, more power to you if you are able to do it but from my own self taught experience I will share with you that often its better to learn simpler pieces first because it's pointless trying to teach yourself a piece that will take you a long time to learn, take this example for instance. You can spend 12 months learning a piece completely out of your league and learn nothing else in the meanwhile. Or you spend 6 months learning preparatory pieces, 3 months doing strict technical exercises, and now that you're ready for this ultimate piece, you spend merely the last 3 months learning it. By the second method in that same 12 month period you have not only increased your technique exponentially but learned many other pieces along the way for your repertoire. By the first method you spent a year learning one piece, probably injured yourself multiple times along the way, and may have caused irreparable damage to your technique in the process.


"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."
Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382725
09/29/04 02:06 PM
09/29/04 02:06 PM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 160
Paris, France.
Ghost of Zephyr Offline
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I second what RA said. I've been 6 years with a teacher and I'm not even thinkin about tackling this piece.

"- So why are you trying to play that scherzo in c# minor ?
- Uh, got me."

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382726
09/29/04 02:18 PM
09/29/04 02:18 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,561
Canada
NAK Offline
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Canada

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382727
09/29/04 04:03 PM
09/29/04 04:03 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,336
TX
valarking Offline
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You can listen to this unholy tranwreck of a piece here:
http://members.lycos.co.uk/horowitzscores/scores/

Beware, I burst out laughing when I thought it was a blooper track from an amateur recital when I first heard it.

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382728
09/29/04 04:14 PM
09/29/04 04:14 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,893
Canada
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iamcanadian Offline
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Canada
Quote
Originally posted by sandman:
and for what its worth, William Kapell's Mephisto Waltz is by a long shot my favorite
Same here. I have 25 recordings of Mephisto Waltz, and my favourites are:

Richter
Kapell
Wild
Nojima
Ashkenazy


♪♫♪♫
Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382729
09/29/04 04:30 PM
09/29/04 04:30 PM
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Posts: 65
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Logos Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by valarking:
You can listen to this unholy tranwreck of a piece here:
http://members.lycos.co.uk/horowitzscores/scores/

Beware, I burst out laughing when I thought it was a blooper track from an amateur recital when I first heard it.
Oh my God...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382730
09/29/04 05:13 PM
09/29/04 05:13 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,561
Canada
NAK Offline
2000 Post Club Member
NAK  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,561
Canada

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382731
09/29/04 09:35 PM
09/29/04 09:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,336
TX
valarking Offline
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TX
Yeah... It's pretty bleak.

Thank god for Mozart and Scarlatti. They saved him from mediocrity.

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382732
09/29/04 10:26 PM
09/29/04 10:26 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
Kreisler Offline
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He didn't attempt the Mephisto Waltz after 3 years of being self-taught. wink

Seriously, though:

He started lessons at age 6 with his mother, a concert pianist, and entered a conservatory at age 15. There's just no substitute for that kind of focused training.

And by the way, he wasn't saved by Scarlatti and Mozart. His early career was launched by concerto performances. Rach 3, Beethoven 5, and Tchaikovsky if I remember correctly... smile

And yes, his recording of the Mephisto is a mess. I must admit it bringing a smile to my face, though, ya gotta admire the spirit! laugh

Quote
Originally posted by Wash:
I mean, what it is in particular? What does he DO, technically, other than having a great artistic ability?


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382733
10/01/04 06:04 AM
10/01/04 06:04 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,717
Cleveland, Ohio
Hank Drake Offline
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Cleveland, Ohio
Quote
Originally posted by valarking:

Thank god for Mozart and Scarlatti. They saved him from mediocrity.
I'll leave that howler pretty much alone, except to remark that Horowitz didn't play much Mozart until he was in his eighties (by which time he was already a living legend), and that far from Scarlatti saving Horowitz from mediocrity, it's more accurate to state that Horowitz saved Scarlatti from obscurity--as least as far as pianists are concerned.

Horowitz's performance of the Mephisto Waltz is one of the worst things he ever did. A colleague who heard him play it in his early-Russian career noted that when he played it in the 1920s, it was overwhelming. But old age combined with poor medical choices let to the 1979 abberation. Pity. But then, how many of us will even be able to do that when we're 75.

Kapell and Wild can't be beat in the Mephisto Waltz. Cliburn's not bad, either.


Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell
Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382734
10/01/04 03:44 PM
10/01/04 03:44 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,336
TX
valarking Offline
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Posts: 2,336
TX
Hank, I meant, as viewed by me. If it weren't for his performances of those 2 composers I wouldn't listen to any of his stuff.
Pity, because some of his transcriptions are quite good. But Volodos saves some of those.

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382735
10/01/04 08:07 PM
10/01/04 08:07 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,561
Canada
NAK Offline
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NAK  Offline
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Canada

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382736
10/02/04 07:22 PM
10/02/04 07:22 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 20
Wales
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Wash Offline OP
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Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 20
Wales
Some interesting replies, all. Thanks for your interest.

Requiem, I doubt I would have listened to anyone else say what you said; I find unusual reassurance from the impartiality of internet-obtained advice! I agree that it's about time I stopped messing around with this pretentious music. It's exciting, yes. And my technique is impressive, but... there's no doubt about it: I am messy. I suppose it doesn't help that the fourth thing I ever learned was the first movement cadenza from Rach 3 (ossia). Heh...

So, the general consensus is that the performance itself is awful. I can see where you are all coming from: saying it is 'far from perfect' is a dire, punishing understatement. However, in defence of Horowitz...

Is it THAT bad? Is that not part of Horowitz's charm the rustic recording quality... the mistakes... they are all slightly irritating. But. He has the ability to make the best of his mistakes in fact, most amateur listeners could not tell a mistake of his. Artistically, I think his Mephisto Waltz is a great lesson to us all. Sure, all right, it's all over the place. But it's different, isn't it? It's exciting. It's outrageous. And I think that fearlessness is the difference between Horowitz and all those frightened sheep that don't see past the ink on the page.

I personally was inspired by this performance, probably because it was a performance that made the Waltz seem not too far out of my league. Still, as I say, I'm going to have a break, and take on some smaller challenges. Something calm a little Debussy perhaps. But just to keep my technical mind stimulated does anyone have any suggestions of shorter pieces which are still fairly virtuosic?

Allow me, then, to rephrase the question. Your personal emotional reaction to this performance set aside, on a purely technical level:

a) Does this performance deserve any kind of merit, on any basis? If so, what and why?
b) Conversely, on what particular levels would you criticise Horowitz?

I challenge ye all to go a little deeper.

And one more question for those ravenous vultures and pestilent rodents that insatiably crave more. Do you know where I can get hold of the sheet music for Horowitz's transcription of Liszt's Rkczy March? I promise I won't play it. ^_^


No.
Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382737
10/02/04 08:10 PM
10/02/04 08:10 PM
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Posts: 48
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fletchpac Offline
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the 4th thing u ever learned was the ossia cadenza to the rachamaninoff 3rd? WTF .

.

.

...

WTF

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382738
10/02/04 08:15 PM
10/02/04 08:15 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,336
TX
valarking Offline
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valarking  Offline
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Posts: 2,336
TX
Wash, I couldn't stop laughing after reading this... Oh man...

Quote
But. He has the ability to make the best of his mistakes in fact, most amateur listeners could not tell a mistake of his. Artistically, I think his Mephisto Waltz is a great lesson to us all.
Just listen to that catastrophe at 0:58. That can be noticed by anyone from about a mile. I think the only lesson I learned from it was to stop buying Horowitz CDs from that decade.

Quote
But just to keep my technical mind stimulated does anyone have any suggestions of shorter pieces which are still fairly virtuosic?
If you want a real toughie from Debussy, check out L'Isle Joyeuse. It's not terribly long, and it's virtuosic and fun.

Quote
And one more question for those ravenous vultures and pestilent rodents that insatiably crave more. Do you know where I can get hold of the sheet music for Horowitz's transcription of Liszt's Rkczy March? I promise I won't play it.
Email me at valarking@gmail.com and I'll get it to you.

NAK:
Yes, his Scarlatti is the best out these IMHO and his Mozart really shines too. Email me at valarking@gmail.com and I'll see if I can show you some.

Re: Horowitz' Mephisto Waltz #382739
10/02/04 09:01 PM
10/02/04 09:01 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,561
Canada
NAK Offline
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