This is a legendary example. The description tells an amazing story :
This is a legendary recording.In his book “Horowitz,” Glen Plaskin writes,"the french master (Cortot)did give him(Horowitz) occasional lessons and assignments. These began in 1928 and continued sporadically for the next few years. Cortot was struck by the clarity and projection of Horowitz’s tone but showed distain for the idea of making a career on temperament and technical brilliance. ‘Horowitz has a great genius for getting things ready for performance’ Cortot would tell his students. But Cortot made no secret of his reservations about Horowitz’s intellect,and was never convinced that as a performer he desired to be a re-creator in service of the composer. A Cortot pupil,Thomas Manshardt,remembered that Cortot believed Horowitz 'came to study in order to discover how he,Cortot, managed the double notes in the Etude en Forme d’une Valse by Saint-Saens,which Horowitz concidered a miracle of velocity and light brilliancy as played by Cortot. Cortot thought this an inadequate reason for studying. Years later he gleefully declared “I never told him how it was done.” ’
Can you think of any other recs from pianists not known as ‘ubervirtuosi’ displaying some insane tech?
(Edit : Or cheating )
Not really. Maybe Uchida playing 10/2, but seeing as how it’s in the wrong key it was pozz quite a bit slower
Most great pianists were also great technicians. I said it before but Cortot’s tech was actually underrated (and his musicality overrated).
They practically invariably go hand in hand. There are a few exceptions - a few - but even common examples like Schnabel pop like a balloon when you look in to them. Arrau is on record saying Schnabel, while still in Germany, before Hitler, was one of the most flawless pianists he heard - with a super impressive mechanism.
And I think you’re right about Cortot - though only a little. He never was a Hofmann, and his best recs are formidable. But he wasn’t the complete schmuck people always call him out for, nor was he this holy light of elevation from the dark depths of the past - which is the other context you usually hear his name in.
Well, if we’re talking in terms of degree, I think his musicality was more overrated than his technique was underrated. I’m not sure how a pianist like him, famous for his memory lapses, would be able to make a career as a performer today.
I really need to return to him, I heard all his recs in quick succession when the EMI box came out and I have/had heard very little both before and after it. I can’t think of any specific counter examples, but I remember there were several things among his recordings I thought were the work of a genius.
I am acting the devil’s lawyer though - I do think he is overrated too, but I don’t think he wasn’t a great pianist.
I actually like Cortot, especially his preludes which are probably my favourite version. But I don’t believe the narrative around him any more than I believe the same things being said about Rubinstein (who is a top 10 pianist for me, but for his remarkable personality, not because he had superior musical insights).
Some of the sheeyat I’ve heard him do is just miraculous which puts him up there in my book. Completely unique sound and style. It never sounds like mere piano playing to me which is something I rarely encounter (totally subjective opinion clearly).
Obviously the later recs can be quite disastrous but amongst it (I think I’ve mentioned before), the late symphonic etudes has the most phenomenal texture in the slow variation.
Exactly. I can “visualize” what makes him great, but I really can’t put it in words. There is something purely musical about him in a very rare way. Texture is a word I’d like somewhere in there as well.
da paradox is dat when u look past mere mechanics n you set yo goal at a gensui interp…
den sumhow, yo azz end up presenting sum WTF insane tech command.
da sofro for example, wuz not known fo being a frothing at da mouth virtuoso cock swinger, but den his ass sit down and unleash gensui Liszt Feux Follets da PIMP BACH fant n da fuckin Scrib 8.
basically, tech dat is not da result of sheer mechanics ends up being mo gensui in da long run.
in da 21st century, “accuracy” n “tech” is erroneously viewed as synonymous.
Let’s not forget that Cortot was born in 1877.
Which means he was already almost 50 when this Liszt recording was made…for me, still one of the most impressive Rigolettos ever recorded, also in terms of technical brilliance, even if it’s not always 100% accurate.
“accuracy” is not always an indication ov “tech” anyway aiiiiite