Editor’s update (1/17/13): Here is video of our student assistant, Ruiquan (Richuan) Hu performing with the UR Orchestra last semester. Bravo, Richuan!
As a part of the upcoming concerto performance that features the Music Library’s own Richuan Hu, we’d like to present a previous blog submission that Richuan wrote about his thoughts on studying a famous piano work by Franz Liszt. Please come out to the UR Orchestra concert on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:30pm in Camp Concert Hall, so you can hear Richuan in action as he performs the first piano concerto by Chopin. Richuan is the winner of the 2012 concerto competition!
Franz Liszt’s Third Concert Etude: Un Sospiro
by Richuan Hu
First, enjoy a link of the piece performed by Marc-Andre Hamelin in Tokyo.
Note however, that Hamelin makes his own modifications of the piece by extending the ending a little bit, which I don’t think is necessary. Maybe the reason that he does it is to make the conclusion more fluid? Otherwise I think his interpretation is personally sort of more agreeable then the other ones I found online. If you’d like to see the actual printed music, here’s a link for the music provided by IMSLP. I started playing this piece around the end of March last year in preparation for a competition and performance in June. The nature of this piece makes it easy for people to try implementing different interpretations (you can argue this for any piece, but I think it applies a bit more with Liszt), and the technical difficulties are personally not as demanding as some other online descriptions make it sound i.e. Wikipedia. While my changes to interpretation were gradual, I can identify mainly three stages. At first I chose to play the piece at a fast tempo. Perhaps due to lack of familiarity, I emphasized the technically more demanding left hand of rapidly moving notes, to the point that I overlooked the overall connections between the phrases. By the time I went to perform this at the competition, I was technically prepared but my interpretation was a bit tense and strict. After I realized that I slowed down but did not change my overall approach. When I got to Richmond, Professor Becker helped me with recognizing the phrases and defining them more to bring out the melody while pacifying the accompaniment.
Therefore, after my experience with the piece thus far, some advice I would give to people working on this piece is thus follows:
1. Try not to get caught up in the technical stuff as to forget the music
2. The third staff looks intimidating but through some hand-switching, it is definitely doable with both precision and expression
3. Always look for the melody, it will come up everywhere (top of arpeggios, bottom of chords)
4. Don’t play it too fast, or else I feel all the nice things in the piece would not get enough time to be appreciated
5. Think of something calm like a clear lake by the mountains before you start, since the beginning is very tranquil.
6. Feel free be flexible with tempo as long as you don’t disrupt the flow of the music.
This list is very general, but without actually sitting down going through the piece line by line, it’s hard to come up with an exhaustive list of advice for all the things I’ve learned or find useful for this piece. As any musician knows, any kind of musical advice is subjective, so feel free to take all, some, or none of my advice. Anyone that has worked on this piece is welcome to add to this list. Unlike math problems, music has no right or wrong and I think everyone’s musical opinions are worth sharing.