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Best Editions #916038 11/17/03 11:53 AM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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From time to time I have seen discussion here regarding the best editions of certain composers in various threads. I though it would be a good idea to start a thread where we can consolidate the major composers of piano music, and what are the best edition(s) of their music. If this thread is successful, it might make its way into the FAQs here.

Also, I would be interested in what you all think constitutes a good edition - useful commentary, fingerings, authenticity, etc.

So let's start off with what you think might be the best editions of the following composers, and we can add to the list as we go along:

Bach --
Handel -
Scarlatti, D. -
Haydn -
Clementi -
Czerny -
Mozart -
Beethoven -
Schubert -
Schumann -
Chopin -
Liszt -
Brahms -
Bartok -
Prokofiev -
Rachmaninov -
Debussy -
Ravel -

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Re: Best Editions #916039 11/17/03 12:32 PM
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you list of composers is way to long to go one by one so here are my general impressions.

for bach and baroque music in general, i would almost insist upon an urtext edition, simply because many of the edited editions out there were made in the late 1800's and were in a sense romanticised by people such as von bullow...they changed things and added things that weren't there in the orginial..therefore i look for the text with the least editorial changes of all, this also allows the performer to make up his or her own mind on how to perform the piece and gives an insight into just what the composer actually wrote and specified...the best edition ive come accross is barenreitter, very clean and concise on the pasge, almost no editorial ammendations at all, and there very judicious and well done where there are any...henle is a close second.

For everything later i still prefer urtext for all of the above reasons and usually buy henle as they seem to be the best made, and the cleanest on the page the layout is absolutely excellent. That said there really is nothing wrong with a good edited edition and there are many that are excellent and provide all kinds of very interesting and informative ideas on performing the piece. Arrau made an excellent edition of beethoven's sonatas for peters, cortot has made very very good and fascinating editions of chopin and debussy which should be examined by everyone interested in those composers, even for bach a good edited edition can give good ideas...mugelini's edition for example have ample notes and are informative.

but over all henle is the best wiener urtext is also very good,

many people seem to like paderewski for chopin, i suppose oweing to his being polish and i suppose have some sort of innate understanding of his fellow countryman's music...every edition ive bought has fallen apart, and given paderewski's penchant for vulgar over romanticizedoverblown performance im not sure id trust his editorial opinion..also henle and wiener look much better on the page.

now for what not to buy...do not buy Schirmirs (even though the price is temptint) there are terrible...all manner of things have been changed, notes added, octaves created, chords filled in...there are so many vast changes that at many competitions and in the Royal conservatory of music here in toronto those editions are not allowed...i once saw someone perform a bach peice from a schirmirs edition for a small competition and the judge stopped him half way through and said that was not the music bach wrote and ended his performance right there

for cheap inexpensive editions that are good quality and often edited by very good people...dover is the one to choose...they look horrible in terms of layout, but the editions are often quite good...and the price is great

those are my thoughts hope they're helpful

Re: Best Editions #916040 11/17/03 12:33 PM
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you list of composers is way to long to go one by one so here are my general impressions.

for bach and baroque music in general, i would almost insist upon an urtext edition, simply because many of the edited editions out there were made in the late 1800's and were in a sense romanticised by people such as von bullow...they changed things and added things that weren't there in the orginial..therefore i look for the text with the least editorial changes of all, this also allows the performer to make up his or her own mind on how to perform the piece and gives an insight into just what the composer actually wrote and specified...the best edition ive come accross is barenreitter, very clean and concise on the pasge, almost no editorial ammendations at all, and there very judicious and well done where there are any...henle is a close second.

For everything later i still prefer urtext for all of the above reasons and usually buy henle as they seem to be the best made, and the cleanest on the page the layout is absolutely excellent. That said there really is nothing wrong with a good edited edition and there are many that are excellent and provide all kinds of very interesting and informative ideas on performing the piece. Arrau made an excellent edition of beethoven's sonatas for peters, cortot has made very very good and fascinating editions of chopin and debussy which should be examined by everyone interested in those composers, even for bach a good edited edition can give good ideas...mugelini's edition for example have ample notes and are informative.

but over all henle is the best wiener urtext is also very good,

many people seem to like paderewski for chopin, i suppose oweing to his being polish and i suppose have some sort of innate understanding of his fellow countryman's music...every edition ive bought has fallen apart, and given paderewski's penchant for vulgar over romanticizedoverblown performance im not sure id trust his editorial opinion..also henle and wiener look much better on the page.

now for what not to buy...do not buy Schirmirs (even though the price is temptint) there are terrible...all manner of things have been changed, notes added, octaves created, chords filled in...there are so many vast changes that at many competitions and in the Royal conservatory of music here in toronto those editions are not allowed...i once saw someone perform a bach peice from a schirmirs edition for a small competition and the judge stopped him half way through and said that was not the music bach wrote and ended his performance right there

for cheap inexpensive editions that are good quality and often edited by very good people...dover is the one to choose...they look horrible in terms of layout, but the editions are often quite good...and the price is great

those are my thoughts hope they're helpful

Re: Best Editions #916041 11/17/03 12:37 PM
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Henle are very reliable. They're the most professional editions I've seen.

Paderewski is some people's choice for Chopin, although I've never actually used one.

ABRSM are good too, but they are not as well-made as Henle.

Re: Best Editions #916042 11/17/03 01:48 PM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Sandman and fuoco,

Thanks for your responses.
I agree, urtext is usually advisable. However, a lot of people swear by the Paderewski editions of Chopin, and prefer the Wiener Urtext of his works to the Henle.
Also, some people say the Peters editions of Bach is preferrable.
In addition to the Henle editions of Beethoven, the Tovey - for its commentary - and the Schnabel - for its fingerings are considered very useful.

Sorry about the long list of composers, but it is still far from complete, and a lot of people like different editions for different composers.

Thanks again.

Re: Best Editions #916043 11/17/03 01:56 PM
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Henle urtext is my favorite. There's little tempering with the text by the editors and the layout is great. The cream color paper is easier on the eyes especially when you play at night.

Another excellent publisher is Breitkopf & Hartel. They have their own team of musicologists for all the music they publish. There's no fingering in their books because it's a subjective matter. They do provide a good preface with background information about the works.

Re: Best Editions #916044 11/17/03 02:19 PM
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I'm not an expert on different editions - and some might cringe on my preferences. But as a teacher, I love using the Alfred's editions with my students. The reason why is because Alfred writes out all of their onamentations in a nice subtle grey which is extreamly useful for students.

I found the comments about Schirmer interesting. The only editions my piano teacher alowed when I was a child was Schirmer. When I took lessons in collage, the very first edition my professor gave me was a Schirmers edition of Bach's French Suites. My later professors seemed to prefer the Henle editions.
Blessings


Ruth

Re: Best Editions #916045 11/17/03 02:26 PM
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Bach -- Neue Bach Ausgabe, Breitkopf und Hartel
Handel - Henle
Scarlatti, D. - Schirmer (Kirkpatrick)
Haydn - Vienna Urtext (Landon)
Clementi - Doesn't matter
Czerny - Doesn't matter
Mozart - Presser (Nathan Broder)
Beethoven - Henle
Schubert - Henle
Schumann - any
Chopin - Paderewski
Liszt - Editio Musica Budapest
Brahms - any
Bartok - Boosey & Hawkes
Prokofiev - doesn't matter
Rachmaninov - Boosey & Hawkes
Debussy - doesn't really matter, although some newer editions by Alfred and Peters are good
Ravel - Alfred (Bricard)


"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: Best Editions #916046 11/17/03 02:39 PM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Thanks, Aida and Archer1 for your responses.

Kreisler, thank you too. You say Schumann doesn't matter, but I have seen a lot of variation between editions - especially Peters vs. Henle.
Also, what do you think of the Badura-Skoda (Wiener Urtext) editions of Chopin. They seem to be well repected.

Re: Best Editions #916047 11/17/03 04:37 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Bach -- Neue Bach Ausgabe, Breitkopf und Hartel
Handel - Henle
Scarlatti, D. - Schirmer (Kirkpatrick)
Haydn - Vienna Urtext (Landon)
Clementi - Doesn't matter
Czerny - Doesn't matter
Mozart - Presser (Nathan Broder)
Beethoven - Henle
Schubert - Henle
Schumann - any
Chopin - Paderewski
Liszt - Editio Musica Budapest
Brahms - any
Bartok - Boosey & Hawkes
Prokofiev - doesn't matter
Rachmaninov - Boosey & Hawkes
Debussy - doesn't really matter, although some newer editions by Alfred and Peters are good
Ravel - Alfred (Bricard)
I am in total agreement with you pretty much everything, except for Mozart and Schubert, Vienna Urtext would be a first choice for me; so much detailed commentaries which I feel lack in Henle. For Schumann and Brahms I'd choose Henle, Boosey&Hawkes for Russian and Durand for any French composers but it's only my prejudice. Outside the musical content in it, Henle cannot be chellenged in terms of durability .

Apparantly the new edition published by Polish Chopin Institute is very good but I couldn't afford second urtext copy. Any comments would be appreciated. smile

Re: Best Editions #916048 11/17/03 08:44 PM
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For Scarlatti, Ralph Kirkpatrick's edition is generally preferred. The Longo edition is way out of date and is packed with mistakes and tampering with the text.

For Beethoven I prefer the Schenker edition, which is not only reliable textually, but recreated the visual layout as Beethoven wrote it (but a lot neater!). One edition I would avoid is the Schnabel edition, which alters Beethoven's phrase marks and generally imposes the pianist's ideas on the performer (ironically, Schnabel's own recordings are often poles apart from his own editions!).

For Chopin, I use the Paderewski or the Mikuli. There is a misconception that since his name is on the edition, Paderewski's mannerisms are somehow also present. In fact, Paderewski was only one of several members of a committee which laboriously edited Chopin's works, and the notes on the performance of his music are pretty much confined to the proper placement of ornaments, grace notes, etc. It's still a valuable edition.


Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
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Re: Best Editions #916049 11/17/03 08:57 PM
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The only two that I would feel strongly enough to differ from Kreisler would be my preferences on these:

Debussy: Durand
Brahms: International Music Company

I agree that it's hard to beat the Paderewski for Chopin. Some make the point that once the Iron Curtain closed, access to some Eastern European libraries, museums and archives was cut off. Thus, the Paderewski editorial committee was somewhat limited to western sources for manuscripts and other materials. While there is probably some truth to that, the Paderewski Edition is still formidible. It is meticulously researched, and so many mysteries and fine points are revealed in the committee's careful and detailed commentaries. While I do like Henle for some other composers' works, I continue to be well served by the Paderewski for Chopin.

Re: Best Editions #916050 11/18/03 09:27 AM
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Thank you all. The Paderewski seems to be coming up a lot.
Although not "definitive," the Cortot edition of the Chopin etudes is worth mentioning because of the exercises, and commentary.
Hank, you're right about the Schnabel not being authoratative. I like to refer to the fingerings, though.

Re: Best Editions #916051 11/18/03 09:33 AM
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Two comments:

Durand, although the original French publisher of Debussy and Ravel, is known to have many errors. (Nancy Bricard has corrected most of these in the editions she prepared for Alfred. The footnotes in her Ravel editions alone are worth the money.)

Vienna Urtext Chopin isn't all Badura-Skoda. Ekier did the Ballades, for example. (And Ekier's Ballades are wonderfully edited.)

Also, I just say Schumann and Brahms don't matter because several are good. Henle, VU, even Dover. I've never seen much difference between them. (Although thanks for the heads up on Peters' Schumann, I'll be sure to watch out for them!)


"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: Best Editions #916052 11/18/03 09:35 AM
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Oh, and keep in mind there's an old Paderewski and a new Paderewski edition of Chopin. The old one is actually fine and is mostly what Dover reprinted. The new one is even better.


"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: Best Editions #916053 11/18/03 09:52 AM
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Bricard did prepare a fine edition of Gaspard, but sometimes it's difficult to see what the text really is because of the numerous footnotes. I wish that she would have just made the corrections on the score instead of footnoting everything.

Durand/Costalot publishes a very nice Debussy edition. It does, however, cost a lot.

Re: Best Editions #916054 11/19/03 03:08 AM
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Kirkpatrick's 60 Scarlatti Sonatas is a must-have for every library, but there are many other good editions of Scarlatti now, including the new complete edition from Ricordi. What makes Kirkpatrick so important is his notes on performance, which everyone should read.

A while back ago someone pointed out a real flaw in the layout of the Henle edition of Brahms short pieces, so I would go with Schirmer's, which has corrections which are not in other printings of that edition. Actually, I have the Henle, Schirmer's and Dover. I play from the Dover because it opens better than the Schirmer's, but I refer to the Schirmer's for the corrections, which are listed in the notes.

There are in fact several editions which are better for playing than some of the editions which are better researched. I play from the Kalmus edition of Mozart sonatas, from the Breitkopf original (Rudorff), which is not a bad edition, but I have the Broder edition to consult.

The Paderewsky edition of Chopin is pretty heavily edited, not what you would want if you want to get what Chopin wrote. It certainly is not urtext. I have a few of the original Kistner Mikuli editions, including the beautiful volume of chamber music, with the introduction and the parts of the individual pieces laid separately within a pair of cloth-hinged cover boards. It is one of the treasures of my extensive collection of sheet music.

The Henle edition of Beethoven's Sonatas that I play from is pretty threadbare, so when I found another copy in good condition at a good price, I bought it for when the first copy falls apart. Henle's binding can be pretty weak. I think the hard covers are even less sturdy than the soft covers.

There are a number of good editions from Barenreiter, which I don't think people have mentioned.

But the best advice I can give is to get to know what to look for in an edition, and look for what you want. Not all editions by a given publisher are the same quality. Not everyone needs urtext, or would even know what to do with it.

Also, remember that errors appear in the best of editions. The only way to deal with them is to use your own experience, knowledge and instincts to know what to do. I recall spending some time going through the Mozart concertos. By the time I had read through a number of them, it didn't matter whether I was reading from a good edition, like the Fischer editions from Peters or a number of the Steingraber editions as reprinted by Schirmer, or some of the poorer editions from Schirmer, like one that actually has a high G, which wasn't even on Mozart's piano. You get to know his style so well that you know what to play, even when the edition is wrong.


Semipro Tech
Re: Best Editions #916055 11/19/03 10:10 AM
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Thanks again everyone. I'm learning a lot by reading through this.

Re: Best Editions #916056 11/20/03 05:48 AM
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I agree with Kreisler's list, except we don't have access to that Bach here, and use Henle or ABRSM.

What I would be careful of is French paper, as many of my Durand's were totally wrecked in five years. I tend to buy United Debussy now, as I can check against the Durand, but the paper is better.

Re: Best Editions #916057 11/20/03 07:08 AM
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I think if you ask for the best edition you need to ask "for whom"?

I am an amateur pianist. I am happy if I can play a piece moderatly well - I don't care so much for urtext etc., but I am very happy if there are proposals for fingerings etc. If I don't like them, I can change them, but I think that they save a lot of time.

Besides, the editions are usually by people who are much smarter than me with respect to piano playing, hence I appreciate all suggestions regarding tempo, dynamics etc. This does not mean that I actually follow all suggestions. I also appreciate footnotes differentiating editorial additions from urtext.

I imagine that for a professional player the situation is a bit different. He will probably want the urtext only and create his completely own interpretation of the piece.

Klaus

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