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#483505 - 11/03/08 11:53 AM Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
Shosty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/06
Posts: 59
Hey everyone. I've been working on The Devil's Staircase for a number of months and I had to record it to send it in for Pre-screening for Master's Auditions. It took me the entire summer just to learn the notes, so getting it to the level that I'm able to record it is a huge accomplishment for me.

It's not perfect, but I've spent the last two days and this is the best take that I have. I thought that some of you might be interested, just because it's Ligeti.



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#483506 - 11/03/08 04:59 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I'm no Ligeti expert, but it sounded good to me.

You must have a nice recording setup. The sound was clear with excellent dynamics. But what happened in that extended passage in the upper register? It sounded like it was in another room.

Great job, IMHO!

PS--what piano did you record this on? Sounds like a mid sized grand to me, but I'm not sure.
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

#483507 - 11/03/08 05:25 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
William A.P.M. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
good job! The only thing I see that is very difficult to bring out from etude no. 13 is the dynamics in the high registers, and the inner voices in the left during the legato playing.

What I am specifically referring to is the section marked 'poco a poco quasi senza pedale.'
You can see the left hand part having marcato signs and these are the ones hard to bring out. Failing to do so can make this harmony quite boring and the simultaneous playing of both hands just sound like staccato notes all over the place.

I did notice your performance was very good and very well memorized as well, as there were no signs of a horrible slip here or there.

I applaud you for your success!

#483508 - 11/03/08 07:15 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
jtattoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 328
Loc: Austin TX
Bravo Bravo!! I am impressed. Thanx for sharing the performance and what an awesome piece.

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#483509 - 11/03/08 08:16 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
lisztonian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/07
Posts: 266
Is there any free sheet music of this? Can't seem to find any...

#483510 - 11/03/08 09:36 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 6162
Loc: Down Under
Originally posted by rinforzando:
Is there any free sheet music of this? Can't seem to find any... [/b]
Surely it's still copyright - Ligeti only died 2 years ago!
Du holde Kunst...

#483511 - 11/04/08 02:54 AM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
shaun arundell Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Sydney

I'm very interested in attempting this piece and it going to be a big investment.


Can you take a few moments and give us some thoughts on the best way to go about it - what you found difficult and what approaches you found useful ?


#483512 - 11/04/08 05:50 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
jtattoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 328
Loc: Austin TX
Here is the link for the music Published by Schott


#483513 - 11/05/08 05:29 AM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
Shosty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/06
Posts: 59
Thanks everyone for your responses.

Horowitzian - It was recorded using a Zoom H2 on a Yamaha grand piano (not sure of the size) in a large acoustically wet room. The piano is not fantastic - much of the treble range sounds very brittle and harsh - works well for Ligeti, but not so much for Beethoven (I'll post my other recordings soon).

William - thanks for the advice. That section is particularly difficult for me, I never seem to be able to play measure 37 right....

rinforzando - i have a pdf of all of his etudes. send me your email addy and I'll sent it along to you.

Shaun Arundell - First of all, good for you for wanting to tackle it. It's an incredible piece, but I do have to be honest, it is extremely discouraging to learn. Just learning the notes was a serious endeavor - I'm talking >4 hours a day for about 2 months just to get the notes under my fingers. If I could learn 2 lines in an entire day (~5 hours at the piano) then it was good day. The mental focus required was extreme. And in the end, you only have less than 5 minutes of playing to show for it!

There were SO many times that I cursed myself for deciding to learn it and I feel like this piece did take over my life a bit. I thought so many times that I would never be able to play it. I thought several times that this piece would beat me. I still kind of feel like I will never really be able to play it (that recording is the best take from probably a lot of recording!).

So I would say this: If you have a lot of patience, self confidence in your abilities, and you really want to play it, then do it! For me, if I hadn't given it my all, I would have not gotten even this far with the piece (of course there's still plenty to work on).

If you have any more questions about it, I'd be happy to help in any way.

#483514 - 11/05/08 04:42 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1873
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
Enjoyed it immensely Shosty! I can imagine the work you must have put in there. The recording was a bit "wet" has you said, but your playing still shines through.

I bought the entire volumes of the Etudes a year or so with the intention of learning one or two..they're still sitting in my book case..haha. Maybe someday I might tackle one of the easier (are there easier??) ones.

It is inspiring every time I hear someone play these pieces. Thanks and great job!

2005 NY Steinway D , Yamaha CP4, CP5

#483515 - 11/05/08 09:28 PM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
L'echange Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 634
Loc: Romney WV
Ligeti is a modern genius, akin to Beethoven because he is always looking through the leaks of time, finding music that lasts forever.

You play the hell out of this piece! (Would that be a requirement for a successful interpretation of this piece? \:D ) Great job, and great, no doubt difficult, work. You should be proud.

Your recording has such great intensity, brooding mystery, dynamic contrast, and rhythmic understanding... most important it has great atmosphere. Ligeti was a master of atmosphere, and no doubt this was one of his main concerns.

I've never studied the piece, and certainly have no authority, but I'll try to make some comments and criticisms... "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies"-Bokonon


This piece is really hard to jump into from nothingness... you do it very well. One of my immediate reactions was that you might be doing your crescendo a bit too fast, and not reaching a high enough peak. We may differ in opinion here, but try a bit of a slower crescendo with a louder peak. Of course you know, Ligeti was a revolutionary of dynamic marking... intentionally of course (bar 23, ffffff?). He wanted to explore the pianos timbral and musical limits. So go crazy when it is clear that you should \:\) .

Then bar 26 is really a different world, isn't it? What do you make of it? I just love the thick, low harmonies. The temporal relations of the rhythms seem a bit rushed here... I think both you and the listener (maybe) could make more sense of it if it went slower. A clear ABA'... and I think that the B section could stand out much more... besides I like it played more slowly. \:\)

I always imagined the piece in a bit of a strage way in regards to the ABA':

Imagine yourself as a passenger in a car. The piece starts and you are looking at the trees or buildings at a right angle to the direction of motion (out the side window). The trees go by so quickly that they seem blurred. Then (at the B section) you instantly look directly ahead of you... everything becomes more rational, images are easier to decifer. While you are still in the same vehicle, your perspective has changed.

Wonderful job, ONE of the BEST recordings I have heard on this site... and that isn't because Ligeti is one of my favorite composers... it is because Ligeti speaks directly through you. I know this as an absolute truth. ("All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies")


"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,


#483516 - 11/06/08 08:41 AM Re: Ligeti - L'escalier du Diable
Shosty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/06
Posts: 59
Jim, thanks for such kind words. I'm really glad that you enjoyed the performance.

Several of those things that you mentioned are certainly battles that I have been fighting - the pacing of the initial crescendo, not rushing the B section.....

Your analogy about riding in the car is very interesting. For me, it's this moment of complete sensory overload. Especially the last section before the subito pp is almost dizzying to me.

Thanks again. I also recorded Arc-en-ciel the other day, maybe I'll post that here too.



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