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Chopin Madmen of the piano redux Piano Piano Freaks Only!

Madmen of the piano redux

In an earlier posting titled “Madmen of the piano” I focused on composers. Here let’s focus on the pianists.

I’ve recently spent a lot of time updating my Chopin collection; seeking out the greatest pianists I can find.  The more I listen to these virtuosic dynamos … the more amazed I am that the human body can accomplish these feats. How can fingers move so rapidly? How can the rythym and timing of striking the right note go on and on … when it’s different between the two hands? – Sometimes a variable speed, rythm, reach and tone going on between the two hands. I don’t get it. I mean… they don’t all have a touch of Tourettes Syndrome do they!?

(*I remember reading that some Tourettes people have much faster reflexes and mechanical movements than normal)

Just listen to, and watch, what 10 fingers, 2 hands, 2 wrists and forearms can do!

(My vote for the “impossible” goes to Cziffra in the video)

Claudio Arrua plays Chopin’s Etude #1 op. 10


Georges Cziffra – Chopin Etude Op. 25 No. 2


Martha Argerich – Chopin prelude 16, op. 28


Vladimir Horowitz – Franz Liszt / Tarentella

You have to see this to believe it!

Beethoven Diabelli Opera/Vocal Piano Piano Freaks Only!

Piano Freaks Only!

UPDATE: As a result of the two comments above (thanks again Taneyev!) – I’ve replaced the “sleeping pianist”! with the master Maurizio Pollini

If you Google stuff like: Greatest Piano pieces or Greatest Piano Compositions; you’ll find a wealth of information. And you’ll almost always find in the list: Beethoven’s Variations on a theme by Diabelli. It’s a really strange story.

This guy Diabelli who wasn’t exactly a shining star in the composition world at the time! – Asked all the “Greats” of the day, to compose some variations on this roughly 1 minute piece. Then he would use the proceeds for charitable donations. (perhaps a forerunner of Bob Geldorf!?)

So what does Beethoven do? He composes 33 Variations on this piddly little theme! (*the critics evaluation of Diabelli’s initial effort range from praise, all the way to this trashing by critic William Kinderman, who says: “Banal, trite, a beer hall waltz”)

The full story is here

(AND you get to listen to bits of Beethoven’s Masterwork)

First we have the original piece by Diabelli, followed by Beethoven. I’ve only included 6 of the 33 variations he did. Afterall … how many “Piano Freaks” are there out there?!

Diabelli theme


Now … here’s what “The Man” – The Big B … did with them. NOTE: Some of the variations are often included in the most difficult to play categorie.