Is my Liszt faster than Kissin’s?

Post from the Ukrainian pianist Dinara Klinton:

Just seen a comment on some random channel that posted my other recording of “Feux follets”. The guy was accusing me for not being as fast as Kissin. I hope this one reaches him with my sincere apology for having upset him.

Compare for yourselves.

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  • Guys–it is only marked Allegretto, leaving room for charm, beauty, and whimsy. However, these are both clean-as-a-whistle performances. But, this piece is not about the speed. Adele M taught it the way J Lhevinne played it and taught it. He would say, ‘Don’t play it fast as you can. It goes by too fast, and loses the elegance and charm.’ These were his words as told by The Divine Miss M. (Marcus).

  • Great playing ! Bravo !!
    I am and always was unable to play double notes virtuosic passages … So, I stayed away from the Chopin Etude, or Schumann Toccata, or Feux Follets instead of killing myself practicing, risking injuries, who knows !
    I did perform Brahms 2nd Concerto, and ‘cheated’ on the double-thirds runs in last movement, playing one third once every 3 or 4 notes … (don’t tell anyone) …
    (Even my teachers never noticed !!!)
    – Anyway, there is plenty of piano music without double- thirds so I don’t miss them.

    • Double notes are not easy. The way I was taught was legato 4 and 5 fingers, light and/or staccato thumb and second finger. And I like singing the upper melodies out loud to reinforce the fingers to bring those out more than the lower notes. It is basically strengthening the weaker part of the hand (4 and 5) and lightening up the stronger part (thumb and 2). Loose wrists too. Perhaps this may be helpful to you to give it a try?

  • I was at Juilliard with Jeffrey Biegel and still remember him playing a brilliant Feux Follets all those years ago. After hearing it, it never even occurred to me to try to learn it (at any speed!)

    • Dear friend-you are so kind! Here’s a deal-I’ll give you a Feux follets for your gorgeous Brahms 1 and what I remember as the most beautiful Chopin F minor Ballade at Leeds 1984. One of the most mesmerizing musical experiences if my life.
      Back to the thread- Dinara plays so effortlessly, cleanly and her hands are made for the piano. She makes a delightful game of the piece. It is so even and fleet. And Evgeny brought out ear-catching inner voices and swells in phrasing that Are breathtaking. Although the tempo indication is only Allegretto, the pulse is in 2, not 4 eighths, which both videos capture with such ease. I think as we get older, our old fingers which were Presto become Alllegretto! True!!

  • Kissin is indeed a little faster but who cares and who should care? Klinton’s performance is indeed very fast but it has not merely extraordinary clarity and precision but great delicacy, wit and phrase shaping that puts it in a class above Kissin’s, to my mind. Is Gibbons’ Alkan faster than Hamelin’s or Maltempo’s and Libetta’s faster than the late Ronald Smith? Again, who cares and who should?

  • P.S…

    Dear Ms Klinton,

    You have not the slightest reason to apologise to anyone for anything about your exquisite performance of this delightful study!

    • I love it too. There is ‘air’ within the performance, lightness, charm and perfection-even if written Allegretto, she makes it seamless and ear-catching. Hope to hear more of her over the years.

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