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Posted By: JGonzalezGUS Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/03/10 09:43 PM
Chopin Fantasie in f minor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s2mtaQZQn0

Superb!!!
Copy-pasted her video discription:

"This is Chopin's response to Liszt's "Funerailles" ( I know, I know, Liszt wrote it AFTER Chopin died - so let's say it was Liszt's response to Chopin's Fantasy) The same plan - starting with a funeral introduction , same f -minor, same abundance of octaves... But Funerailles is a great piano war-horse, favorite of any "virtuoso" with a decent octave technique - sure and cheap way to impress and thrill the audiences. Fantasy in comparison is a poor cousin , underappreciated and often misunderstood : the worst offenders are often female pianists ( LOL, huuuuuge grin goes here ) playing it in overly sentimental and romanticized way - complete with hands flailing , eyes rolling and hair flying :-) Guys just can't do it :-)
How did it happen? Liszt was a great self-promotion and marketing guy - he discovered a neat trick of "programming" in music , forcing music "to tell a story"- and listeners suddenly thought " Gee, now we understand what this music is about , how cool !" This was his trademark -but it was certainly not his invention. In fact , most if not all music has a "program" , something composer thought of when composing and something we think of when we listen .It can be something very concrete and extremely detailed ( Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique for example)- or just a vague hint of an idea that makes us think further ( Beethoven 5th Symphony ).The problem with detailed programs is that music can become "dated" , tied to a certain event that might be of no importance to future listeners. People can relate in perpetuity to " the fate knocking on the door" of the 5th symphony. But we can never again ( hopefully ) feel what French audience must have felt on Berlioz' premiere during the third movement with its guillotine strike. I bet their hair was standing up and Goosebumps were covering the listeners who still remembered Terror some years before...I think that even watching Avatar in 3D is nothing in comparison to that experience :-)
Chopin was much more subtle in his "programs"-he catered to more sophisticated smaller audience of salons rather than big concert halls. These people knew the historical context and could understand him without need to spell it out . In order to fully appreciate his music we must know at least a bit of history too. Then it becomes clear that Chopin was so different from a stereotyped effeminate ,sickly romantic virtuoso image. He was a true titan, not in body but in spirit - singlehandedly ( with few brethren poets ,artists etc.)keeping the whole people from oblivion and cultural destruction. For his people , his country, was at this time a mere geographic term . Formerly a proud and powerful nation ,one of Europe superpowers, Poland has fallen so low because of internal discord that it was picked piece by piece by strong and brutal neighbors until it disappeared. New "owners" were bent on wiping national identity and pride to secure their new acquisitions. They would have succeeded was it not for Chopin. You know that musicologists call him a first" national" composer. For a good reason - he created an epic of his nation in music just as Homer created his in Odyssey or Virgil in Aeneid... And we are not only talking about things like Polonaises or Mazurkas fitting into this "national" category. Fantasy is a prime example of thinly veiled national music. Why? Bear with me while I take you through last foray into history. Chopin and his family ended up in a part of Poland that was grabbed by Russian Empire. He traveled abroad with Russian passport ( Chopin , a Russian composer ? LOL) and he had to lie on his exit visa application ( yes, I am serious ) that he is in transit to New World, Americas. He lived for almost whole his life with a stamp " in Transit". The single event in history that changed his life was Polish uprising of 1830-31, a noble but doomed to fail attempt by patriots to overthrow occupying forces ( Revolutionary Etude was written the night he got the news of Russian Cossacks entering Warsaw , he didn't know if his family even survived all carnage and rape ) . The rebels was brutally destroyed and all the hope of freedom was lost. Chopin realized that he will never see his native land - or even his family. All his life he was carrying in his soul - and in his music - the memory of this event and of its unsung heroes. Fantasy is an ode to all those who lost their lives in the fight for freedom."
Posted By: debrucey Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/03/10 10:54 PM
Her also recent C# Minor Polonaise is rather special.
I think, that however humorous this is, it's also a lot of nonsense to put it mildly...
Posted By: pno Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/04/10 12:02 AM
She plays it with bare feet! hahaha
Valentina Lisitsa is such an inspiration.
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
I think, that however humorous this is, it's also a lot of nonsense to put it mildly...


I was curious, hehe...
Posted By: Carey Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/04/10 02:31 AM
This may be the single most impressive performance I've seen Ms. Lisitsa post on you tube. I've heard many many performances of the Fantasy by various artists over the years - and I've performed it myself. Valentina's interpretation is superb. A breath of fresh air. The only thing I might take issue with is the tempo of the "march" in the middle and final sections of the piece. A bit too fast for my taste. The concert grand is pretty amazing as well. And if playing in bare feet works for Valentina - then so be it !! thumb

Posted By: debrucey Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/04/10 03:24 AM
I think its nice when lady pianists play with bare feet. It's almost fairy-like. smile
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
I think, that however humorous this is, it's also a lot of nonsense to put it mildly...


I was curious, hehe...

Interesting notes from Lisitsa -and grand playing of one of Chopin's greatest compositions!- but why does she fail to mention that Liszt's Funérailles was written in response to the brutal put-down and resultant loss of lives in the 1848 Hungarian uprising? Liszt did not have Chopin in mind -even if it technically commemorates the Ab Polonaise. Wiki backs me up on this.

But I see such a divergence of intent in these two pieces. Chopin's Ab Polonaise is a triumph for his Poland, a country always prone to invasion because of geography and easy pickings. But Funérailles is no triumph. It is a cathartic crying out of injustice and horrible bloodshed.

Whatever, the Hapsburgs eventually got pushed off into history with the Great War of 1914.
Posted By: wr Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/04/10 09:46 AM
Only made it about two-thirds of the way through (mostly because I was intrigued that there seemed to be an improvement in her general level of finesse), but then I realized that I was hearing a patchwork of generically "expressive" stuff, which seemed not terribly personal to her, and which didn't hold together all that well. Wasn't convinced, got bored, turned it off. Plus, the contrary-motion octave passages sounded like she totally reverted to her old reliance on unmusical "fast and loud" playing.

The playing is akin to the writing.
Posted By: Carey Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/04/10 03:38 PM
Originally Posted by wr
Only made it about two-thirds of the way through (mostly because I was intrigued that there seemed to be an improvement in her general level of finesse), but then I realized that I was hearing a patchwork of generically "expressive" stuff, which seemed not terribly personal to her, and which didn't hold together all that well. Wasn't convinced, got bored, turned it off. Plus, the contrary-motion octave passages sounded like she totally reverted to her old reliance on unmusical "fast and loud" playing.



I've listened to the recording again after a good night's sleep. I would tend to agree with you (i.e., improvement over her general level of finesse, expressive but not always convincing, etc.). BUT - the contrary motion octaves (in my edition at least) are marked FF with a crescendo - and no indicated change in tempo from the previous passage. Most folks - who have the chops to do so - usually play them fast and loud. smile
Originally Posted by carey

I've listened to the recording again after a good night's sleep.

I just did too. More of a 'modified rapture' the second time. Back to Rubinstein's recording for me.
Posted By: wr Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/05/10 12:10 AM
Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by wr
Only made it about two-thirds of the way through (mostly because I was intrigued that there seemed to be an improvement in her general level of finesse), but then I realized that I was hearing a patchwork of generically "expressive" stuff, which seemed not terribly personal to her, and which didn't hold together all that well. Wasn't convinced, got bored, turned it off. Plus, the contrary-motion octave passages sounded like she totally reverted to her old reliance on unmusical "fast and loud" playing.



I've listened to the recording again after a good night's sleep. I would tend to agree with you (i.e., improvement over her general level of finesse, expressive but not always convincing, etc.). BUT - the contrary motion octaves (in my edition at least) are marked FF with a crescendo - and no indicated change in tempo from the previous passage. Most folks - who have the chops to do so - usually play them fast and loud. smile


It wasn't the fast nor the loud that bothered me, in themselves, it was the manner in which it was done.

OT usage question: is "fast and loud", as a phrase, understood by most people here as more than the simple literal meaning of the words? For me (depending on context), it can imply a certain shallowness of musical thought and perhaps an attitude of virtuosity for its own sake. I get the idea that many people involved with classical piano use the phrase that way, but I could be wrong.
Posted By: beet31425 Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/05/10 12:20 AM
Originally Posted by wr
OT usage question: is "fast and loud", as a phrase, understood by most people here as more than the simple literal meaning of the words? For me (depending on context), it can imply a certain shallowness of musical thought and perhaps an attitude of virtuosity for its own sake. I get the idea that many people involved with classical piano use the phrase that way, but I could be wrong.


I completely agree-- I don't think you're wrong at all. The phrase implies fast and loud at the expense of other good musical things. I only wonder how much beyond the world of classical piano the phrase is used pejoratively. (Maybe a lot.)
Posted By: gooddog Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/05/10 12:29 AM
Originally Posted by wr
Only made it about two-thirds of the way through (mostly because I was intrigued that there seemed to be an improvement in her general level of finesse), but then I realized that I was hearing a patchwork of generically "expressive" stuff, which seemed not terribly personal to her, and which didn't hold together all that well. Wasn't convinced, got bored, turned it off. Plus, the contrary-motion octave passages sounded like she totally reverted to her old reliance on unmusical "fast and loud" playing.

I agree. Her playing is fluid and very nice but I'm always left with the feeling that there is something missing. Maybe you have nailed it. However, I'd give my eyeteeth to play as well as she does!
I would like to hear her play this piece in, say, 10 years again.
Posted By: Carey Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/05/10 04:50 AM
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
I would like to hear her play this piece in, say, 10 years again.


Ms. Lisitsa has been playing the piano for almost 40 years. I doubt that another decade will dramatically alter her approach to this particular work.

I've been playing the Fantasy myself for almost 40 years. Unfortunately, my own interpretation hasn't changed much during that time. grin
Originally Posted by wr
Only made it about two-thirds of the way through (mostly because I was intrigued that there seemed to be an improvement in her general level of finesse), but then I realized that I was hearing a patchwork of generically "expressive" stuff, which seemed not terribly personal to her, and which didn't hold together all that well. Wasn't convinced, got bored, turned it off. Plus, the contrary-motion octave passages sounded like she totally reverted to her old reliance on unmusical "fast and loud" playing.



Same experience here. And I usually like her stuff.
Posted By: stores Re: Valentina Lisitsa - new YouTube Chopin - 12/05/10 09:43 AM
Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
I would like to hear her play this piece in, say, 10 years again.


Ms. Lisitsa has been playing the piano for almost 40 years. I doubt that another decade will dramatically alter her approach to this particular work.

I've been playing the Fantasy myself for almost 40 years. Unfortunately, my own interpretation hasn't changed much during that time. grin


You'd be surprised what time can do sometimes. A decade is more than enough time to alter one's thinking about anything and/or everything (not just the fantasy).

That said, what began as what I thought might be a promising performance turned out to be more "eh" from Lisitsa.
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