I know all about virtuosos and trembalos and arpeggios. I can do it all.

For anyone who doesn’t know the reference in my title, and for anyone who does and wants to revisit that joy, the link:

http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail36.html

Anyway, pianists. The thing I notice most is the individual styles. For simplicity’s sake, I’m listing them.

Thalberg seems to do a lot of 3-hands texture (or more, really). Other than the repeated notes, I don’t hear anything that sounds really difficult except for the coordination. I could be very wrong – I am not looking at a score. What really got me in the “Moses” Fantasy was that I didn’t hear any harmonic buildup. Even in traditional variation forms, there is usually some kind of deviation from the theme before the climax, but here I was missing it. It was just texture, all the way.

Liszt. It was really fascinating to see how he struggled with reconciling piano vs. violin. When the piano idiom overtook the violin, when the violin overtook the piano, and in the end, when it was exactly a violin played exactly for a piano. Amazing.

Alkan. The texture is really thick compared to everything else I’ve heard. Even when it’s sparse, it’s relatively dense, or bottom heavy, or tightly rhythmic. And holy cow, it sounds difficult. Not even ‘with a little work it’s do-able’ like Liszt, but really hardcore difficult. It’s everything all the time. There never seems to be a break, just a switch from one kind of intensity and difficulty to another. I am getting tired listening to it.

Herz. This was pretty much what I expected from an opera transcription, and it was thoroughly charming. Some of the double thirds and repeated notes were really impressive. This wouldn’t make me faint (like Liszt) or need a nap (like Alkan) but I definitely smiled.

Gottschalk. His style, his harmonic language is different from everyone else on the list. It’s a little simpler, and when the harmonies crunch, they crunch a little more. I definitely want to check out more of his music.

Tausig. I feel that this is what Liszt would sound like if he stuck more to functional harmonies. Many of the figurations are similar, as are the techniques. The characters too.

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