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Cobo vs Lisitza - Estudio 1 op. 10 de Chopin

Updated: Apr 5

Given the arrogance of foreigners, and non-foreigners (I had a couple of disastrous students who couldn't even play the Para Elisa and who didn't last long with me, they blamed me for not being able to play like Lisitza, and of course not, I play much better), for using the pianist Lisitza as a weapon to crush the real pianists, I put here on my blog this comparison of Etude n. 1 op. 10 by Chopin, in the versions by Valentina Lisitza, and me (Alberto Cobo).

[ I don't know if it will be this : a pianist who has studied the work but plays it at a quarter piano level (among ten at the Conservatory)...]


Although the two versions apparently have a similar duration because the videos mark 2 minutes, this is not the case, Lisitza ends on the last note at 1:58 and I at 1:51 seven seconds less (eight seconds because the Lisitza's video also starts a second later), which is a lot for the astronomical speed that Chopin wrote: Allegro - the quarter note at 176 -. Speed that I do meet but Lisitza no way. Lisitza's, anyone who stops to listen and compare will notice her, she will notice that she is slower, she plays slower and her fingers have a harder time moving, even though she performs this Study well above.

Then there is the fact that the instrument she plays is an old Bössendorfer, since you can see in the keys that the wood on the sides is darkened, proof of the age of the instrument. Being older, it is in practice easier to touch it because the felts are already quite "seasoned" and barely rub. It should therefore help to achieve faster implementation. The Steinway D piano from Galaxy Studios (Belgium) that I play in this video, on the other hand, was very well maintained and barely showed any signs of aging.

Apart from Lisitza's "roosters" at 1:49 and 1:53 that hits several "dirty" keys (hits the ones next to it apart from the real note), which in a studio recording is something inadmissible today .

As for the realization, that is, pure realization, not interpretation (a word that contains a more artistic and special background) it is not perceived that he is feeling anything, even spiritual or metaphysical, or internally, although at one moment he makes a softer arpeggio. Nothing, just stirring the omelet, as if I were preparing a French omelette and I was used to doing this every day.

At 0:47 the bass appears forced to pick up the arpeggio again, a change in which I would need to work more so that it came out more harmonious and linked more naturally. At 1:07 the upper C note is barely audible, you can see that it is pressed but in a somewhat stuck way. At 1:10 it also happens that the bass takes it too hastily, and this does not favor its expressive strength or phrasing.

I will point out that the finale, crushing the last octave, was not written that way by Chopin, he was not such a beast, and it was the opposite, he put a descending regulator to attenuate the sound. The truth is that this sounds terrible if you play it loudly, I know that it is more effective and that the listener better perceives that the Study has been completed, but as a work of Art (all of Chopin's Studies are), it is like putting a brushstroke on it. in the entire face to a portrait of Velazquez (to understand each other). Well, just like Lisitza, almost all pianists do it and have done it. Awful.

I understand that in her day she attracted attention due to the appearance of these videos on YouTube, a young, blonde girl, but that today she is no longer so young and her beauty is quite withered by the passage of time.

In short, a decaffeinated version for my taste, perhaps also for Chopin's, who loved it when Liszt played it (in fact, the entire op. 10 is dedicated to Franz Liszt).

Etude n. op. 10 Chopin - by Alberto Cobo

[ If you don't see the video here, click this link since they manipulate everything as they want. ]

Chopin Etude Op10 No. 1 Valentina Lisitsa

[ If you don't see the video here, click this link since they manipulate everything as they want. ]


Chopin's technique, said those who had the opportunity to hear him at a recital in Vienna, was very special as if it were a raft. Then this already clarifies that not all articulated or clear notes should be heard, as in Clementi, but rather looking for harmoniousness, lightness, legato and expressiveness, and some rubato (the fair and necessary) in the phrases. The test of: quarter note equal to 176 in the "tempo" indication, shows that Chopin was a virtuoso, to extreme limits. A true piano athlete at 18 or 20 years old. The fact that he later felt worse due to tuberculosis is another matter. Or that the Paris editors were not visionary enough to realize that these pages, the 24 Studies, would be the most famous in the history of the piano, and would force him to compose things much more accessible to a living room audience in a more commercial.

I have been playing this Studio and others almost all my life, and in many recitals as well. I have tried playing them like this, like that, above, below, actively and passively. And not only that, but also many works by Chopin. I have been studying Chopin for many years and I have recorded two of his Sonatas, I have played both concertos, many of the nocturnes, all the waltzes, mazurkas, polonaises (and polonaise-fantasies), impromptus, ballads, scherzos, barcarolle op. 60 (which was a required year at the Royal Conservatory when I took the exam). Also as a producer I have had the opportunity to record some works by Isidro Barrio, such as Fantasía in F minor, in addition to listening to him play many others.

I have heard, one could say, thousands of versions of this Study, both live by pianists and on record recordings. And I keep listening. I know very well that many became famous with these works, just remember the recently deceased pianist, Maurizio Pollini, Gavrilov, Lugansky, and a very long etc. that never ends...

Well, my recording contains all that, and more because the recording itself is unique (AURO 3 D). I know it may seem conceited to say it, but I don't know of anyone who has overcome it, nor do I think anyone could. It's not just about playing fast or fast, but the sound.... THE SOUND (harmony, harmonics, pedal, what you hear), and to perceive that you also have to have a lot of ear and very trained, be careful (that many They think they have it and they don't even realize it.

ALEXANDER GADJIEV – Etude in F major, Op. 10 No. 8 (18th Chopin Competition, first stage)

I have also caught the same critic commenting on this other video of the second place finisher at the Warsaw Chopin Competition, where he attacks him saying that not all the notes can be heard because he plays it too fast and also praising Lisitza...


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