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Hungarian Rhapsody #2 










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A century of recordings made by the top pianists provide indisputable evidence of faking Liszt's technique at the end of his most famous piece. 


The most common method of deception involves re-arranging the order of about 400 notes at the end so the hands don't have to move in opposite directions.


Pianists who don't compose virtuoso piano music lack the ability to fire out custom signals. This ability is developed as part of the composition process, and is a critical element to correct the hand movement patterns when something goes wrong. That is why pianists with incomplete development have to fake.  



"I never trust a virtuoso" 
        - Igor Stravinsky

Some of the recordings on this page were released while Stravinski was still alive.
 
 
Hungarian Rhapsody #2 ends with octave technique involving opposite hand movements that are impossible to most pianists.   


I grew up listening to recording artists from all over the world faking the ending of this piece.  As a student of composition and piano, I didn't have to fake like the professionals. My release on Virgin Records teatures the famous alternating octaves at the end of the piece as Liszt intended them to be played.  

Russian Vladimir Horowitz was an integral part of my education as I studied with one of his students. Like everyone else in his generation, he lacked the ability to play the octaves that move in opposite directions at the end, so he cut the 400 note technique and replaced it with a small sample of alternating octaves. He also simplified the chromatic chords, the second hardest passage, and misrepresented the level difficulty of his simplified arrangement with the  press.   

Austrian Alfred Brendel couldn't play the octaves that move in opposite directions at the end. He re-arranged the order of 400 notes, so his hands never had to move in opposite directions. He also simplified 22 note scales into 10 note arpeggios. 


Chinese Lang Lang's recording career was launched with many recordings of Horowitz's simplified version. His success is based on his record label saying that he can play anything (the packaging included a stiicker with a quote from the NY Times - "He can play anything"), even though he couldn't  play the most famous piece written for the instrument.     


Portugese Artur Pizarro used the same European scam as Alfred Brendel, where he re-arranged about 400 notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.




Franco-Swiss Alfred Cortot used the same European scam where he re-arranged the notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.




Italian Michele Campanella used the same European scam where he re-arranged the notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.




Polish Misha Dichter used the same European scam where he re-arranged the notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.




Polish Ignacy Paderewski used the same European scam where he re-arranged the notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.




Czechoslovikian Josef Bulva used the same European scam where he re-arranged the notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.



Hungarian Georges Cziffra used the same European scam, only with a twist. On his EMI recording, he played most of the alternating octaves on the last page as written. But when he got to the hardest part, he switched to the easier version where the notes are re-arranged to eliminate the opposite hand movements. He made an older recording that features a failed attempt at playing the ending as written.

Australian Leslie Howard borrowed the same European scam where he re-arranged the notes on the last page to eliminate all the opposite hand movements.



Russian Sergei Rachmaninoff used an interpretation scam to simplify the octaves an the end. Even though Liszt was emphatic about how loud he wanted the octaves to be played, Rach played quetly, clinging to the keys so the distance the hands move was shortened. This is a disengenuous interpretation, and he still missed one of the B octaves.

Canadian Marc Andre Hamelin makes a minor adjustment based on Rachmaninoff's interpretation scam that diluted the technique. Hamelin's version is different, because he brings the volume up to a respectable level. However, the octaves are a little easier when they are not hammered as loud as possible as Liszt directed. I call this the Canadian shortcut.

Russian Denis Matsuev played the octaves as written on his studio recording. He can execute the opposite hand movements in the studio, but he has not yet mastered playing them consistently in live performances. His Live at Carnegie Hall CD was released without this piece, which was the last thing he played. I was at the concert. It ended with a train wreck. Everyone knew he fell apart at the end. The recording released by the label does not include the ending of the concert.    
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