Think awesome is mastery of the many technical elements, elite is being able to carry off multiple qualities at once with musical details etc all in proportion. In order of Pianistic talent (not necessarily level of prep) cziffra friedmofo horowitz, richter and perhaps by grace of labor Michelangeli
It’s kinda splitting hairs imo, differentiating between elite and awesome. I think in terms of dexterity and general cleanliness, pianists today are playing better than ever. Where they are falling down is pedal technique (apart from Schiff) and general tonal variety and sound projection. The latter only matters in the hall though. Also, we don’t know how good the old timers where in that respect either.
So are you saying in the upper few thousand pianists in the world - just in technical terms - they’re all more or less on the same plane of ability and that there isn’t a smaller batch of elite 'Usain Bolt’s among them?
I have no idea; that’s a huge number of pianists, I doubt I’ve even listened to more than a few hundred in my life. Moreover, I’m discovering random pianists all the time with phenomenal mechanisms. Take Kristina Miller for example, she’s not famous at all but there are some things she plays that I can’t imagine being played any better (in a technical sense).
Nowadays a lot of peniztz have very big, secure techz, and not a lot of imagination. I’m not convinced a lot of thought goes into the actual end sonority in many cases.
The old school greats had both high level tech plus a sense of imagination and style (for me, good examples are Friedman, Cziffra, Wild). A knowledge of how to shape stuff and an understanding of emotional affect. For me, that’s why they are greats. Possibly today’s top virtuosi equal them in tech (apart from , who imo is sui generis), but not in musicianship.
Wasn’t there someone on youtube who beat Richter’s 10/4? It wasn’t even someone famous.
For me “rape” is a musical device, but not every pianist likes it. Even Richter only played it like that for musical reasons.