Which pianist has the most beautiful "touch"?

Started by Skogwald, March 25, 2024, 06:21:00 AM

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Holden

I wonder how many pianists from the past would qualify and can't really because of the limited recording technology of the time.
Cheers

Holden

Todd

Quote from: Holden on March 26, 2024, 12:32:57 PMI wonder how many pianists from the past would qualify and can't really because of the limited recording technology of the time.

Probably a goodly number.  I didn't include Kempff because he had been mentioned several times, but to be sure he could be included, and to my ears his 1920s and 1930s recordings make a better case for that than his late recordings.  Lhevinne could be included, probably, as could Levitski and Moiseiwitsch.  I'd have to trudge through more ancient recordings and go for the most ancient recording friendly listening setup I have - my tube headphone amp and Denon closed back headphones - to really suss them out. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

Atriod

Quote from: (poco) Sforzando on March 25, 2024, 05:03:40 PMHaving heard him live at Carnegie in the Chopin etudes I'm inclined to agree. He's got a devoted fanbase and phenomenal technique, but I thought the finale of his recorded Moonlight much too aggressive. He can be very delicate in slow nocturne-like pieces, but he pushed himself pretty hard at Carnegie in the Revolutionary and the last big three etudes of op. 25. Exciting stuff, as were his Liszt etudes and Rach 3 from the Cliburn, but already he's having to cancel some performances due to strain in one hand.

Jan Lisiecki has a beautiful touch. (And incidentally based on his social media presence, seems like a genuinely nice guy.) From the little I've heard of her (just a Chopin etude in thirds on YouTube), Beatrice Rana might qualify. And also George Harliono, who didn't make the top 30 in the 2022 Cliburn, but his YouTube version of Chopin 10/8 stands out to me for elegance and humor.

I do consider myself a big fan of Lim, a pianist's touch is not something I worry myself about too much unless it's particularly ugly and Lim is perfectly acceptable to me.

As for finale of Moonlight I don't hear much in the way of aggression. The tempo is brisk but the old masters like Lhevinne and Hofmann also play it a similar tempo. I think it does need some contrast against the first movement. Another reason why I think Beethoven was correct with his tempo indications for the first movement of the Hammerklavier, it needs to be adhered to contrast against the final two movements.

I also think Lim plays well beyond his age. If I heard him blind there is no way I would have guessed his recordings were those of a 17-19 yo. I did a blind comparison with Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, loaded up a playlist in JRiver one pianist after another for each etude, shuffled then added some silence after each pianist so I could make a brief ranking. The pianists were Claudio Arrau (Philips/Pentatone), Yunchan Lim, Kirill Gerstein, and Haochen Zhang. Only Zhang didn't fare so well. Arrau was my overall favorite but Lim did very well, even in the more reflective etudes like a-flat major.

I agree with you on safe technique and not pushing himself too much, hopefully these are things he works out to sustain a long lasting career.

Atriod

Quote from: Dry Brett Kavanaugh on March 26, 2024, 08:20:14 AMAndrzej Wasowski.

Superb choice! Desert island Chopin Nocturnes and Mazurkas, just gorgeous.

(poco) Sforzando

#24
Quote from: Atriod on March 27, 2024, 02:12:00 PMI do consider myself a big fan of Lim, a pianist's touch is not something I worry myself about too much unless it's particularly ugly and Lim is perfectly acceptable to me.

As for finale of Moonlight I don't hear much in the way of aggression. The tempo is brisk but the old masters like Lhevinne and Hofmann also play it a similar tempo. I think it does need some contrast against the first movement. Another reason why I think Beethoven was correct with his tempo indications for the first movement of the Hammerklavier, it needs to be adhered to contrast against the final two movements.

I also think Lim plays well beyond his age. If I heard him blind there is no way I would have guessed his recordings were those of a 17-19 yo. I did a blind comparison with Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, loaded up a playlist in JRiver one pianist after another for each etude, shuffled then added some silence after each pianist so I could make a brief ranking. The pianists were Claudio Arrau (Philips/Pentatone), Yunchan Lim, Kirill Gerstein, and Haochen Zhang. Only Zhang didn't fare so well. Arrau was my overall favorite but Lim did very well, even in the more reflective etudes like a-flat major.

I agree with you on safe technique and not pushing himself too much, hopefully these are things he works out to sustain a long lasting career.

I consider myself a fan as well, though my rapture is somewhat modified. His Liszt etudes and Rach 3 are superb. (But I cannot go so far as some of his devoted followers on Facebook, one of whom states that "He is truly a phenom who has graced us from the heavenly realm," and another that "in many aspects, and in comparison to many other previous pianists, Yunchan is already the greatest of all time. The truth is that Yunchan has already surpassed all the other legendary pianists in some [not all] key repertoires. That is not a mean feat considering his age. As mind-boggling as "greatest of all time" sounds for a 20-year old, it can't be denied." So there. The truth has been revealed.)

My objection to his Moonlight finale is less tempo than articulation. And he takes the middle movement too slowly.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Dry Brett Kavanaugh

Quote from: Atriod on March 27, 2024, 02:13:00 PMSuperb choice! Desert island Chopin Nocturnes and Mazurkas, just gorgeous.

It was Mandryka's recommendation!

Atriod

Quote from: (poco) Sforzando on March 27, 2024, 04:16:41 PMI consider myself a fan as well, though my rapture is somewhat modified. His Liszt etudes and Rach 3 are superb. (But I cannot go so far as some of his devoted followers on Facebook, one of whom states that "He is truly a phenom who has graced us from the heavenly realm," and another that "in many aspects, and in comparison to many other previous pianists, Yunchan is already the greatest of all time. The truth is that Yunchan has already surpassed all the other legendary pianists in some [not all] key repertoires. That is not a mean feat considering his age. As mind-boggling as "greatest of all time" sounds for a 20-year old, it can't be denied." So there. The truth has been revealed.)

My objection to his Moonlight finale is less tempo than articulation. And he takes the middle movement too slowly.

I am definitely not a fanboy of him or any other musician, you know the type of people that think a musician can do no wrong and automatically assume a future recording is going to be good because of musician X. I haven't even preordered the new Babayan/Trifonov album though I'll be coming up on combined 10+ hours of driving to see the former. And also wondering if it could really top Kazune Shimizu and Yusuke Kikuchi, not that it would have to if they're excellent performances.

Brian

Quote from: Atriod on March 29, 2024, 01:25:21 PMAnd also wondering if it could really top Kazune Shimizu and Yusuke Kikuchi, not that it would have to if they're excellent performances.
Oh man...I didn't know about this album, with two favorite artists, and it's tipped me off to the fact that Exton/Triton isn't on Qobuz. Looks like it's deep out of print. I'll find a way!

Todd

Quote from: Brian on March 29, 2024, 04:56:49 PMOh man...I didn't know about this album, with two favorite artists, and it's tipped me off to the fact that Exton/Triton isn't on Qobuz. Looks like it's deep out of print. I'll find a way!

HMV Japan has it: https://www.hmv.co.jp/en/artist_Rachmaninov-Sergei-1873-1943_000000000021245/item_Suites-Nos-1-2-Six-morceaux-Kazune-Shimizu-Yusuke-Kikuchi-P_4181476

Actually, HMV Japan has the above linked CD version and then two different SACD versions.  So they really have it.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

atardecer

I agree with Brendel. Schiff also comes to mind, Zimerman. There are a lot of pianists I admire in this area. I've been listening to Julius Katchen's Brahms lately and I'm very impressed with his control of dynamics. I find Sokolov is a pianist who is able to strike the keys with much force but doesn't sound harsh in his playing.
"Science has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness." - Aldous Huxley

"Specialized meaninglessness has come to be regarded, in certain circles, as a kind of hallmark of true science." - Aldous Huxley