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Posted By: 3B43 Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 02:17 AM
After 40 years of not playing, I’ve returned, purchased a grand and am playing again. I’ve also been listening to classical pianists and have and a few.....questions. I really like Arrau, but finding CD’s is impossible...at a reasonable price. Radio Lupu I also really like. Lang Lang has some GREAT stuff, so I bought two CD’s and am disappointed. Any suggestions on who to look at......
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 02:46 AM
Grigory Sokolov. I think he's extraordinary.
Posted By: Wzkit1 Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 03:00 AM
Agree on Sokolov. A non exhaustive of my other favourites

Richter
Mikhail Pletnev
Shura Cherkassky
Vladimir Sofronitzky (if you can tolerate bad recorded sound and out of tune pianos)
Jorge Bolet.
Posted By: Nardo Brown Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 04:42 AM
Tamás Vásáry, György Cziffra
Posted By: BruceD Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 05:22 AM
Murray Perahia,
Radu Lupu,
Artur Rubinstein,
Vladmir Horowitz,
Krystian Zimerman,
Vladimir Ashkenazy,
Alicia de Larrocha,
Richard Goode,
Mitsuko Uchida
Alfred Brendel,
Andras Schiff,
Marta Argerich,
Daniel Barenboim
Maurizio Pollini
Maria Joao Pires
Yuja Wang
Stephen Hough
Daniil Trifonov
Benjamin Grosvenor


... shall I stop now, or ...

Regards,
Posted By: BruceD Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 05:30 AM
You can also do a Google search for "Great Classical Pianists" or "Modern Classical Pianists" or any similar title, and some sites will give brief bios of the pianists and some reasons (maybe biased, to some degree) why they name certain pianists on their lists.

Regards,
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 08:24 AM
I guess the pianist will depend on what kind of music you want to listen to.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 09:17 AM
Originally Posted by 3B43
After 40 years of not playing, I’ve returned, purchased a grand and am playing again. I’ve also been listening to classical pianists and have and a few.....questions. I really like Arrau, but finding CD’s is impossible...at a reasonable price. Radio Lupu I also really like. Lang Lang has some GREAT stuff, so I bought two CD’s and am disappointed. Any suggestions on who to look at......
Every (seasoned, experienced, long-in-the-tooth) pianist will have their own likes & dislikes, not just with composers and/or styles, but also with concerts pianists.

Personally, I find Arrau labored, heavy and deliberate in his mature recordings - including his Liszt and Brahms, let alone Mozart and Chopin (his very early ones on 78s are much better - like the Chopin Etudes), so I imagine my own preferences would be the polar opposite of yours smirk.

Grigory Sokolov would probably be the closest 'contemporary' equivalent to Arrau (and he does have the great technical reserves to lighten up occasionally when he chooses), so I suggest you start with him......though he's not recorded much on CD. With Sokolov's Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Prokofiev, and Lupu's Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, you have some of the important rep covered. Jorge Bolet's later recordings might plug a few gaps (Liszt, Rachmaninov). You could also try some of Emil Gilels's and Sviatoslav Richter's later recordings (of which there are lots).

But stay clear of the likes of Argerich and Pletnev (as well as Lang Lang, of course) whistle.
Posted By: Ubu Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 12:05 PM
Vikingur Olafsson is a young rising star, really good
Posted By: Peter K. Mose Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 01:59 PM
It seems to me that the repertoire itself should trump the pianist. You are not going to feel unfulfilled listening to a Beethoven or Schubert sonata, regardless of the performer. Or a Bach Prelude and Fugue.

OK, Annie Fischer. Wilhelm Kempff. Are dead pianists ok?
Posted By: 3B43 Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 02:54 PM
Thanks. I’ve listened to my favorite Beethoven pieces, by various folks, and some pianists are playing the notes perfectly, but are totally missing emotion/feeling of the music. I realize that may be some what subjective, but......
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 03:01 PM
Sign up for Apple Music or Spotify or IDAGIO (it’s a dedicated classical music service). You can listen without limits to all the music on earth for a fixed monthly price. And choose your own preferred pianists because, you know, we’re all different and have differing tastes smile And then you can still purchase what you like on CD-s if you are so much about CD-s (although the streaming services offer the same quality).
Posted By: Pianosearcher Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 03:05 PM
I think a better approach would be when you are learning a piece, find a variety of artists who have recorded it and compare their interpretations. I have found this very helpful in my learning process. And you may be surprised about the breadth of what is available on YouTube and elsewhere that you don't have to purchase.

Ok, there are some pianists that I especially admire ...

Sir Andras Schiff (Bach)
Martha Argerich & Hélène Grimaud (almost anything they play)
Mitsuko Uchida
Oscar Levant & Earl Wild (Gershwin)
Leon Fleischer (Mozart, Brahms)
Keith Jarrett (did an amazing CD of Handel's Suites for Keyboard)

And so far, nobody has mentioned Glenn Gould!
Posted By: Peter K. Mose Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 03:10 PM
Originally Posted by 3B43
Thanks. I’ve listened to my favorite Beethoven pieces, by various folks, and some pianists are playing the notes perfectly, but are totally missing emotion/feeling of the music. I realize that may be some what subjective, but......

Oh, you're not wrong at all. We all have our favorite pianists, and we all think our favorite pianists get us closer to the music than the ones who leave us cold. If we think they get us closer, they probably do - at least for us.

There's no right and wrong in this game. The goal for you perhaps is to find Arrau recordings at a cheaper price. Or to cut back on something else in your life and pay top dollar for Arrau recordings.

If you want cheap and capable, stick with Jeno Jando, the Hungarian house pianist for Naxos Records. He has recorded more of the piano repertoire than I ever knew one person could record. I don't know when he has time to practice.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 03:48 PM
I still have the complete set of Beethoven sonatas and the 5 concertos by Arrau on LPs (Philips). I have no idea what it is worth.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Classical Pianists - 09/05/20 03:55 PM
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
If you want cheap and capable, stick with Jeno Jando, the Hungarian house pianist for Naxos Records. He has recorded more of the piano repertoire than I ever knew one person could record. I don't know when he has time to practice.
Actually, I think Vladimir Ashkenazy might trump Jandó in the comprehensiveness stakes.

He's recorded the complete Chopin (more complete than anyone else), and almost all of Beethoven and Schumann. Probably all of Rachmaninov and Scriabin too. And almost all the Mozart piano concertos. And let's not forget Bach, Brahms, Bartók, Schubert, Ravel, Shostakovich.

Personally, I think his Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Shostakovich and Mussorgsky epitomises the "Russian soul" more than any other pianist.

Just about the only major keyboard composer he hasn't recorded is Scarlatti. He discarded Liszt very early on (after winning the Tchaikovsky Competition, in fact).

His big boxes of Decca CDs are still generally available quite cheaply.

And best of all, he isn't 'cheap & cheerful' - a lot of his recordings have stood the test of time, even against young upstarts with flashy fingers.
Posted By: leemeadowcroft Re: Classical Pianists - 09/06/20 11:44 AM
Picking a pianist before a composer is a little backwards. I find certain pianists excel at some repertoire but not at others, even then there are better recordings of different types of music from the same composer but from different pianists e.g. Sokolov for the Chopin preludes, Joao Pires for the Nocturnes and Perahia for the Ballades are my favourite.

Others I like are Chamayou for the Saint-Saens piano concertos, Lugansky's Rachmaninov preludes, Yuja Wang's Gershwin Concerto and Levit's Beethoven sonatas.
Posted By: leemeadowcroft Re: Classical Pianists - 09/06/20 11:52 AM
Definitely recommend Idagio for classical music. I have the HD subscription which streams at CD quality whereas the quality is less good on Apple or Spotify, only really noticeable when playing through high-quality headphones or speakers.

It's fantastic for sorting pieces by composer/artist and finding mutliple recordings of the same piece. Though it still doesn't have everything recorded e.g. Chopin Mazurkas by Kolesnikov which is highly recommended by Gramophone but I'm yet to hear.
Posted By: Vikendios Re: Classical Pianists - 09/09/20 11:07 AM
I join you as a great fan of Idagio. All my Cd's are now in storage, and kept only in case of an internet meltdown. But IMHO the key to Idagio is the BlueSound node 2i streaming black box, not crappy Bluetooth speakers.

https://www.whathifi.com/reviews/bluesound-node-2i

This device will resurrect that old hifi set-up that you had practically given up on, and that you will from now on pilot entirely from your tablet or smart phone.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Classical Pianists - 09/09/20 03:54 PM
Originally Posted by Vikendios
I join you as a great fan of Idagio. All my Cd's are now in storage, and kept only in case of an internet meltdown.

I am still in the pre CD period !
Posted By: Florestan7 Re: Classical Pianists - 09/10/20 03:12 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=3B43]
But stay clear of the likes of Argerich and Pletnev (as well as Lang Lang, of course) whistle.


I'm very surprised that anybody would advise staying clear of Argerich, who is one of the greatest pianists alive.
Lang Lang (a totally different sort of pianist) is a pianist if you like dull showmanship and little else, and Pletnev is average.
Posted By: piano_advocate Re: Classical Pianists - 09/10/20 04:40 PM
I have been listening to Moravec’s Chopin. Nocturnes and Preludes. Really great performances and great sound considering the recordings are 50yrs old.
Posted By: vmishka Re: Classical Pianists - 09/10/20 05:29 PM
I agree with Sokolov, Zimerman, Lupu, Ashkenazy, Perahia, and Lugansky. I don't see that anyone has mentioned Paul Lewis yet. His Schubert Sonatas are outstanding. Evgeny Kissin hasn't been mentioned yet, either. If you want to hear an extraordinary 12-year-old (or 13; I don't know her exact birthdate), listen to the YouTube recordings of Alexandra Dovgan.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Classical Pianists - 09/10/20 06:03 PM
Originally Posted by Florestan7
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=3B43]
But stay clear of the likes of Argerich and Pletnev (as well as Lang Lang, of course) whistle.


I'm very surprised that anybody would advise staying clear of Argerich, who is one of the greatest pianists alive.
Lang Lang (a totally different sort of pianist) is a pianist if you like dull showmanship and little else, and Pletnev is average.
I disagree: Argerich is predictably impulsive and hasn't changed since she was a young tigress. I used to like her Chopin, until I felt seasick with all those surges of tempi and tone which she does time and again with little to no variation.

Whereas Pletnev and Lang Lang are often totally unpredictable and therefore interesting. Both also indulge in extremes, but in a quite different manner to Argerich (with whom, interestingly, both have performed on several occasions. Pletnev also arranged Cinderella for her).
Posted By: BruceD Re: Classical Pianists - 09/10/20 08:12 PM
Originally Posted by piano_advocate
I have been listening to Moravec’s Chopin. Nocturnes and Preludes. Really great performances and great sound considering the recordings are 50yrs old.

I agree that Moravec's Chopin Nocturnes are beautifully performed and finely recorded examples of this performer's art.

Regards,
Posted By: Florestan7 Re: Classical Pianists - 09/10/20 09:37 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Florestan7
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=3B43]
But stay clear of the likes of Argerich and Pletnev (as well as Lang Lang, of course) whistle.


I'm very surprised that anybody would advise staying clear of Argerich, who is one of the greatest pianists alive.
Lang Lang (a totally different sort of pianist) is a pianist if you like dull showmanship and little else, and Pletnev is average.
I disagree: Argerich is predictably impulsive and hasn't changed since she was a young tigress. I used to like her Chopin, until I felt seasick with all those surges of tempi and tone which she does time and again with little to no variation.

Whereas Pletnev and Lang Lang are often totally unpredictable and therefore interesting. Both also indulge in extremes, but in a quite different manner to Argerich (with whom, interestingly, both have performed on several occasions. Pletnev also arranged Cinderella for her).


The Argerich/Pletnev is very good, I believe it won a Grammy. Some of Pletnev's recordings are very good, and he's a great conductor - but not one of my favourites, I'm afraid. I also don't mean to jump on the anti-Lang Lang bandwagon - but I do find lots of his recordings a bit boring, or superficial (although he obviously has a great technique). I'd recommend listening to them, however - it's always good to hear a variety of pianists, as I'm sure most on this forum will agree.
And if I may make the case for my favourite pianist - the wonderful Argerich - I'd say that she is not as predictable as you make out. There's so much to her playing - there is a real beauty and musicality as well as the fire and passion that is so often mentioned. She has, in my opinion, a special ability in bringing out what needs to be heard in the music, without ever being laboured.
To compare (especially the last two movements):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3_ZI0qvnaw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wPOUbjb8nw

I also like Yuja Wang, Joao Pires, de Larrocha Richter and Freire. Ashkenazy for Rachmaninoff. I also think Olaffson is excellent, as is the under-rated pianist Behzod Abduraimov.
Posted By: Vikendios Re: Classical Pianists - 09/13/20 10:18 AM
I was invited to the Steinway Christmas Party at their new Paris showroom last year. Many "Steinway Artists" were present, if only for the excellent wines and petits fours as this promotional event was organised together with some of the best Wineries from Burgundy.

There was an unannounced surprise appearance by Alexandre Kantorow, and he gave us a one hour recital with pieces by Lizst and Ravel. I never had the experience of sitting two metres from such amazing raw young talent at work. His pieces were unknown to me, and not my favourite, but the quality of his playing seen from up close was fascinating. He seemed to operate in his own far, far, away bubble, in a sort of trance.

He was playing not for a public, but for an audience of his peers, and he knew it. He was flaunting his Tchaikovski first prize with youthful self-confidence, and I could not help feeling very proud of him as if he was family. After the dutiful applause, I could feel the politics of the room as the champagne passed around and we enjoyed the delicious catering. It was not all pretty-pretty. He had few groupies of his age. You could spot the spiteful envious glances of have-been piano luminaries.

As I exchanged with Alexandre a few polite banalities, I could not but think of his young glorious namesake, Alexander the Great. Would this youthful conqueror succomb to hubris and nemesis? Time will tell. But for now he makes the list of my favourite young talents, with Seong-Jin Cho.
Posted By: Vikendios Re: Classical Pianists - 09/13/20 01:50 PM
I would like to add that we are living right now through an extremely fastuous period of piano playing, fully comparable to the times of Schnabel, Brendel, or Gilels, not to mention Rubinstein or Horowitz. We have the Czar Sokolov. We have the two Goddesses Yuja and Kathia. We have a whole court of Knights: Zimerman, Matsuev, Kissin, Sunwook Kim, Trifonov and many more. And some Jesters like Lang, Fazil Say, or Debargue. An abundance of riches.

I am more concerned with the Violin scene. Nobody there able, IMHO, to take on the mantle from the Imperial but ageing Itzhak Perlman.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Classical Pianists - 09/13/20 03:48 PM
Originally Posted by Vikendios
I am more concerned with the Violin scene. Nobody there able, IMHO, to take on the mantle from the Imperial but ageing Itzhak Perlman.
You are somewhat behind the times.

Of course, the days of lush, vibrato-laden violin playing (Perlman, Zukerman etc) are largely in the past, but surely someone interested in harpsichords and lutes like you would understand that. Augustin Dumay and Jean-Jacques Kantorow (father of Alexandre) are the last French proponents of that kind of playing. Even Viktoria Mullova (who cut her teeth on Sibelius and Tchaikovsky concertos) has moved with the times.

Today, there are several fine proponents of the Romantic rep like Frank Peter Zimmermann, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin and Christian Tetzlaff. And we also have many younger violinists who might use gut strings for the Baroque and classical rep, and deploy vibrato judiciously (or no vibrato in Bach) even if they're playing the same Strads & Guarneris - Julia Fischer, Vilde Frang, Alina Ibragimova, Lisa Batiashvili, Renaud Capuçon.....
Posted By: Vikendios Re: Classical Pianists - 09/13/20 05:28 PM
Well, I guess I am a sucker for that old vibrato gipsy sound that would be syruped into fat duchesses' ears in boites russes as in the "Third Man". cry

Focusing only on violonists that I have heard myself in concerts, I saw Tetzlaff last year in a very conventional rendering of Beethoven's Concerto, no way on par with Perlman's three performances of the Beethoven + Brahms combo that I have witnessed over the years. I heard Julia Fischer in Shubert's quintet, but the cellos rather than the violin are for me the stars of that work. Capuçon I have often seen, he is very reliable but not a superstar : all a matter of opinion of course.

Of the names that came up in the NYT's Perlman-bashing article of last week, Hillary Hann and Janine Jansen, I can say I liked their sweet style, but I can't see them in the shoes of Stern, Menuhin or Oistrakh, which is the level I am looking for. IMHO.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Classical Pianists - 09/14/20 06:00 AM
My favorite violinist from the young generation is Isabelle Faust.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Classical Pianists - 09/14/20 08:21 AM
Originally Posted by Vikendios
I am more concerned with the Violin scene. Nobody there able, IMHO, to take on the mantle from the Imperial but ageing Itzhak Perlman.

I dont see much difference between piano and violin. Today violinists have a technique that is at least equal if not better than those of the past. It is just a different period with different interpretative style and as such people appear differently than those of the past. In fact i could say the same thing about the old piano figures like Richter, Rubinstein, .... maybe also that the violin takes a lesser role than it used to have.

Nostalgia makes us see things in a different perspective. You can also add to your list the numerous baroque violinists that did not exists at the time of Rubinstein, like Rachel Podger. There is today a variety of players with an incredible technique that makes the musical scene much more interesting and diverse than it used to be.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Classical Pianists - 09/14/20 08:44 AM
Originally Posted by Sidokar
Nostalgia makes us see things in a different perspective. You can also add to your list the numerous baroque violinists that did not exists at the time of Rubinstein, like Rachel Podger. There is today a variety of players with an incredible technique that makes the musical scene much more interesting and diverse than it used to be.
+1

I participate in some closed forums about classical music and I often see how (especially with age) people tend to idolize and romanticize old (and long gone) performers, correspondingly dismissing younger generations. It's all subjective and a matter of opinion of course, but IMO there are young musicians that are technically superb, yet offer a very wide spectrum of interpretative skills and deep understanding of the music they perform.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Classical Pianists - 09/14/20 08:49 AM
Originally Posted by Vikendios
We have the two Goddesses Yuja and Kathia.

That is interesting that you mention these two pianists. For me i think thay are both excellent pianists but for now, their reputation exceeds their artistic value. Richter, Horowitz, Rubinstein were the stars of their time but they were also exceptional pianists and artists. Ms Wang and Buniastishvili are technically extremely talented but we have put at the pinnacle of the star system (like Mr. Lang Lang) pianists that are better at marketing their look and technicality than at artistic interpretation. Of course they play at an extremely high level and sometimes (though rarely) reach top interpretation (Gershwin for example in the case of Ms Wang) but their Chopin and other mainstream composers is rather disappointing in comparison with their reputation. Of course it is a purely personal point of view.
Posted By: Vikendios Re: Classical Pianists - 09/15/20 03:00 PM
Originally Posted by CyberGene
I participate in some closed forums about classical music and I often see how (especially with age) people tend to idolize and romanticize old (and long gone) performers, correspondingly dismissing younger generations.

You are right, of course, and I plead guilty. But is not this the essence of classical ? Change the world "performers" to "composers", and you have it...
Posted By: Florestan7 Re: Classical Pianists - 09/15/20 03:42 PM
I'm surprised that there's been so much mention of classical violinists, but no mention of Maxim Vengerov!
Posted By: bennevis Re: Classical Pianists - 09/15/20 04:07 PM
Originally Posted by Vikendios
Originally Posted by CyberGene
I participate in some closed forums about classical music and I often see how (especially with age) people tend to idolize and romanticize old (and long gone) performers, correspondingly dismissing younger generations.

You are right, of course, and I plead guilty. But is not this the essence of classical ? Change the world "performers" to "composers", and you have it...
Only if you close your mind to anything unfamiliar or "contemporary".

When I was a kid in a tiny land far, far away, never having heard anything classical (except for possibly one or two tidbits in movies), my only notion of 'classical piano music' was the theme from Love Story (by Francis Lai), because, well, there was a piano in it, and smooching strings later on, so I thought that anything written for piano and/or orchestra and in a Western idiom was classical. So, when I started piano lessons and my teacher played me Bartók, that was classical, as was Bach. When you know nothing, you take everything into your stride, as I did then. cool

But I did know that I felt nothing much for most (but not all) atonal music. No nice sounds, no feelings, no excitement. And of course, tuneless pop and rock which depended on lots of (head-)banging and theatrics (like smashing an expensive electric guitar) for effect. (If you don't know how to sing or compose, just make a lot of noise......) Same for a lot of noisy jazz.

Composers with strange names (most Western names were strange to me then. Chopin was probably the strangest - is that short for choppin' - as in chopping veg? wink ): well, if their music 'spoke' to me, that was OK. Which was why I treated living or recently deceased composers the same way as I treated names that kept popping up in the music I was playing, like Mozart - if their music meant something to me, that was all that mattered, nothing else. So, if Kimmo Hakola's Piano Concerto appealed to me, and Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de loin stirred my emotions, I'd buy the recordings and keep listening to them, even though (at the time) I'd never heard of them, nor their music.

Therefore, my affinity for musicians also went the same way. Perlman and Ashkenazy (and a few others like Zukerman and Barenboim) were the big names in the standard rep when I was a kid, whereas Richter and Horowitz held sway on stuff - like Liszt, Rachmaninov and Scriabin - that were way out of my league at the time. Almost all the recordings with violin featured Perlman, almost all recordings with piano had Ashkenazy. When I finally had the money, I bought cassette tapes of lots of rep - concertos, sonatas etc - with them at the helm, just because there was nothing else. (Who else recorded all the Beethoven violin sonatas then?)

But I was definitely not wedded to their recordings, nor to their way of playing music, just as I was not wedded to familiar-sounding composers. I'd happily jump ship if a more appealing manner of playing (to my ears) came along - which is why my preferred Bach solo violin recordings are not Perlman's (which was my first purchase) but Fischer's. As for Menuhin, sorry to say, but his technique cannot match younger upstarts'. When I heard Kyung-Wha Chung in the Mendelssohn violin concerto, I discarded Menuhin's immediately smirk .
Posted By: Vikendios Re: Classical Pianists - 09/15/20 05:27 PM
Originally Posted by bennevis
When I was a kid in a tiny land far, far away...

I love to learn from others' experiences, and you may open my mind to new ideas in music like Appollo descending from that Scottish Parnassus...

I would like to offer a definition of "classical". My mother was an archeologist. She taught me greek by the time I was ten and dragged me to all these digs in the Levant. So I may have an undue reverence for the past. What I retained from Plato, however, was that beauty was immanent, intangible, and far removed from man's control. A gift of the gods if you will, even if there are no gods, but certainly not in the eyes (or ears) of the beholder.

And for us feeble humans, the only clue to beauty was, in the end, that it stood the test of time. Fashions come and go, obviously, so it has to be a long process. My lifelong art education was to try and emulate this process, and I may of course never succeed, but I try to separate the "classical" from the "brave attempts". We humans are biological machines, subjects to the laws of Chance and Necessity. Geniuses are those who, by luck as well as mechanics of the mind, stumble on these beauties and on these truths, like Mozart or Einstein.

Sorry to sound abstruse. It's only whimsical, take it with a smile. Back to Clementi...
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