da SDC speaketh: da gratezt mofo of da 78-rzmp era


  • Cortot
  • Feinberg
  • Friedman
  • Gieseking
  • Ginzburg
  • Kempff
  • Moiseiwitsch
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Schnabel

0 voters

I know this is a ridiculous question, but I’d be curious on what the consensus is with this… if you could only pick ONE. I originally meant to leave it unbounded as long as the pianist left recordings, but noticing how space restricted the polls were I’m splitting it up in four - 78, LP, CD, FLAC/Mp3.

I’ve included 10 of the most lauded contenders above which can reasonably be said to belong to the 78-rpm era (as many as the poll allows), but there are numerous others of course. If your pick isn’t included -> comments.

Cortot, Rachmaninoff or Schnabel. I have to sleep on this one.

Cortot - amazingly immersive playing, takes you by the hand and won’t let loose till the final bar
Rachmaninoff - unashamedly arrogant while radiating absolute authority over whatever piece he plays
Schnabel - always makes me feel like he’s able to use a larger part of his brain than any other pianist

This one is heart-aching for me as well. I like all of them, and the only ones I can rule out relatively easily from the top position are Gies/Ginz/Mois.

Today, I think I’m going to vote Hofmann. There’s something fresh and vital about his commercial sides, and although I’m less taken by his later stuff he did show a lot of imagination and wasn’t afraid to take unconventional paths, which I somehow appreciate. Kempff’s early Beethoven sonatas are extraordinary though - perhaps better than anything Hofmann left IMO - Schnabel’s likewise which also FEEL like Beethoven. Friedman is the one I listen to most frequently from the above, and I couldn’t have said it better myself about Cortot, which is a remarkable quality.

Hehe or about Rach for that matter. :smiley: That’s him in a nutshell. But personally I prefer later pianists who kept developing this style - Horowitz to some degree, and Pletnev in our time.



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How is Kempff on there!!! :unamused:

Recorded 30 years of 78s, 30 years of LPs?

He was better here. 8)

Or what, you don’t like him?

For me Hofmann, though I couldn’t be without most of these pianists.

live Hofmann. His imagination combined with his technique enabled him to produce a tone and interpretations no other pianist dared. but on another day I might answer Rach.

Hard to say with both chaps because their recordings don’t reflect much of their repertoire, especially with Rach, as opposed to say Cortot.

Not a huge fan, no.

If I had to pick ONE out of those unique mofos, def da RACH

For me it’s: Friedman -> Rachmaninoff -> Gieseking

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Fuck, I’m voting my way through these now but here I can’t even make up my mind about my own poll. It’s exceedingly tight between Friedman, Hofmann and Kempff. I just listened to Hofmann’s Ballade 1 and it’s awesome and awful at the same time. Now listening to Friedman who I find it easier to agree with, but it just doesn’t have that stature of JH’s playing.

Think I’m going to ride this one out and give whoever lags behind at the end a sympathy vote.

I didn’t know there was a Friedman recording of the First ballade ? I love his Third though. I think Friedman’s style is more suited to minatures (the ballade being an exception). In this way, he’s a bit like Kreisler.

Hofmann’s Ballade 1 =)
Golden Jubilee 1937

Oh! I love that recording, although it’s full of devices that I don’t like anymore. Such as the way he has to play the repeated motif differently every time (in this case it works). There are also some subito pianos, if I remember correctly. Overall, it’s one of my favourite versions along with the Horowitz video. I remember Cortot doing something nice in it too, but I haven’t listened to his recording in years.

Difficult but Rach edges it from Friedman, for me.

This is cruel. I need some more glasses of Talisker (straight) before I dare to vote here.

Did you make up your mind with this yet Erwin?

I think I’d need an entire bottle Talisker before this becomes clear. :confused:

I have to admit, even in a state of intoxication I am utterly incapable of picking only one…