Never been a huge Liszt fan, but …

These things are fun! I love listening to what someone else’s impression is of the symphonies and seeing whether the same things that caught his ear are what catch mine. It’s also interesting to see how someone with that technique could “chunk” streams of notes. I’m still in the note-by-note mentality, although I can sense myself moving out of it slo-o-o-o-owly, and only because I’m shoving at myself to move out of it. But there are more than a few streams of zillionth notes in the scores that look more like a halftone photograph seen from a distance, where the dots resolve into something smooth and graduated. I’m still working dot-by-dot, and I may always tend that way. I remember when I did graphic art by hand, and my favorite piece of equipment was a rapidograph and not a brush. I may always tend to resolve things into dots unless I make myself squint and stand back, but it’s really neat to see the impression that those symphonies left on someone who could do both well.

And honestly, I also love the fact that my instrument can support so much complex music, and give a fairly decent impression of some really involved stuff, all on its lonesome. Pianos rule. 🙂

I got a huge kick out of seeing parts of the music with “hautbois, flute, viola, clarinet,” written over the phrases and thinking, “Yep, and it’s all on a piano!” Of course, the piano has a more limited tonal palette; you can’t bend notes on one, nor can you have a vibrato or a really smooth glissando, and you can’t sustain. But trading in all of that for the power to reproduce something that otherwise takes 105 people to bring it to life … that’s a fair trade in my opinion.

I wonder if Cameron Carpenter has ever contemplated moving these onto an organ? That’s another instrument that could do justice to this whole idea, and he’s moved pianistic things onto the organ before. Of course there’s a translation process that has to take place; some effects on a piano just don’t translate to a wind instrument, but Carpenter has negotiated that really well in the past. It’d be fun to see how he’d approach one of these things, especially #3.

(BTW, I’m not playing them. I’m listening to Konstantin Scherbakov play them. I’ve got some serious sweat equity to put in before I can even think about playing these things.)

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