Liszt at AMTA

Atlanta MTA presented a pianist Dr. Aaron Stampfl from
Benedictine and DePaul Universities in Chicago with a lecture-recital
“Interpreting Liszt‘s “Dante Sonata”.

Thanks to an impressively extensive research of Alan Walker,
Liszt has not perceived as a superficial virtuoso anymore.

I was lucky to purchase a newly published Barenreiter’s book of rare performed pieces for the Intermediate Level at the recent ABRSM Conference in London, UK (Liszt, Leichte Klavierstucke und Tanze). One might be astonished by subtleties of extremely refined, unpredictably harmonically deviating events of the texture, and full of flowing tender or dramatic nuances in some of these “easy” pieces.

Apparently, duality of Liszt’s personality (diabolic, infernal and divine, sublime) had drawn his interest to Dante’s and Faust’s medieval-rooted stories.

However, when a student works on the compositions like Dante Sonata or Mephisto-Waltz — I feel some kind of internal discomfort, as I have to reveal to students and require from them a profound degree of the devilish presence in the performance, most often seems ending with the glory or victory, at least, of the dark power. It reminds me Thai theatre where actors were considered among of the lowest castas, as they had to impersonate evil.

“Dante Sonata” contains heavy, pesante chords in abundance. Every piano teacher is familiar with the students “bang” problem. All kind of explanations gets involved to prevent it– from physical descriptions (in the vertical, fast drop a hummer hits a string fast — that produces harsh sound; use arm’s big muscles; rotation; indirect “landing” and so on and so on) to the metaphorical ones (from ”pet” the keys, “walk on the swamp or sand dunes” to the swim/golf swing analogies…). I like Mr. Stampfl’s reply on my question about the sound control in chords:” You feel like forte sustains after you play a chord”.
He widely waived his hand as if sending crecs. into infinity…

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