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MMD > Archives > October 2006 > 2006.10.21 > 01Prev  Next

Improvisation on Classical Music Rolls
By Mike Walter

Hi all,  Randolph Herr recently wrote about piano roll artists changing
piano pieces when they were recording a roll label.  There are two
pieces that come immediately to mind for me.

The first that comes to mind is the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodie #2 that
was recorded by Alfred Cortot for Hupfeld and then released by Ampico.
The Ampico version (59263), as far as I know, is the most recognized
version played in the USA.  A number of years ago a friend had the
opportunity of purchasing an 88-note version of the Hupfeld recording.
He thought that it would be nice to compare Hupfeld to Ampico, since
they were both supposed to be identical to each other.

The Hupfeld recording went merrily along, as was expected, until late
in the piece when Cortot flies off into a cadenza with much flourish
and many runs.  There is no hint of this cadenza in the Ampico recording
and one can posture as to the reason why it had been eliminated from
the Ampico recording.

The second recording that ably demonstrates the versatility and
individuality of roll artists is the Schulz-Evler "Blue Danube"
arrangement recorded by Ethel Leginska on an early Ampico recording
(53927).  Miss Leginska had been known to be a pyromaniac on the
keyboard and this particular recording demonstrates her capabilities
very well.

She does take a few liberties throughout the piece, adding an
embellishment here and there, but the final recap of the theme is the
show stopper.  Besides having an embellished melody line and the normal
accompaniment, Ethel also includes a few measures of another Strauss
waltz thrown in for good measure, while keeping the Danube flowing on
its merry way.

This certainly demonstrates the individuality of piano artists during
the first part of the 20th century, as well as showing off their
pianistic prowess.

A third possibility is the Ampico recording of "Hark, Hark, the Lark"
(Schubert-Liszt) by Benno Moiseiwitsch (59731).  The recording is very
fine and it flows nicely.  A pianist friend, who heard the roll one
day, said the pianist had taken many liberties when playing the piece.
Since I do not have another recording for comparison, I can't say for
certain if this is true, but it does sound plausible that Mr. Moiseiwitsch
may have changed it for some reason.

Happy listening!
Mike Walter

(Message sent Sat 21 Oct 2006, 03:53:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Classical, Improvisation, Music, Rolls

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