The opposite can also be true — sometimes Liszt will leave voices out, because in the piano transcription it will sound like there is an extra note if unison voices split up:. Another instance of changes occurring because of voice leading is during the second theme. He actually leaves out a dominant 7 th chord opting for a straight up major chord — he probably thought it sounded better without the 7 th , but it could also have been a voice leading consideration.
The crossing is interesting, but in a piano transcription with limited voice independence, it seems more appropriate to focus on the one that is more interesting. Furthermore, the bass line is moving upwards F — G — A , so Liszt seemed to want to focus on the contrary motion created with F — E — E. Some changes are more about voicing of chords, where because of the overtones of the piano, it sounds better to have a more open spacing of chords rather than closed.
Take for example the left hand here compared to the original cello arpeggios. The difference is small, but the wide spacing sounds better than the closed one on the piano — the broken third in the bass can end up being very muddy. There is a part of every pianist that wishes their left hand were just as good as their right hand, whether that be control of sound, speed, voicing, or any technical matter. However, I think it is just as well that the hands have their separate character. Liszt thought so, too, because he uses both the visual and aural effect of putting melodies in the left hand.
Take for example this second phrase of the opening:. Liszt goes through the trouble of crossing the hands so that the left hand can play the cello melody. Notice later he reverts back, but just the effect of having the melody suddenly be taken up by the left hand is a striking gesture.
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Not only is it visually interesting, but using the left hand ensures that the melody lies mostly between the thumb, index, and third fingers, which are the easiest fingers to use in terms of weight distribution. This allows for a warmer sound, emulating what the cellos would make. After the fireworks of the first section, the chorale comes back, and Liszt again uses the left hand, this time completely solo, for the first sub-phrase of the main theme.
The same effects as the above apply. The closest visual analogy I could find is something like the Kanizsa Triangle, where our brains make a shape out of the negative space.
Our brains ability to interpolate is a blessing to transcribers, because often times you just have to leave certain things out. One example is in the very first tutti section, where the right hand has to negotiate the broken descending scales. Here the melody alternates between being in both the right hand and left hand, and just in the left hand; thus, sometimes the melody fills up from the bass to the treble, and other times it only goes up to the tenor. No matter, our brains hear the melody as one line especially if the pianist voices adequately. As long as it is regularly occurring, our brains assume that the pattern continues.
He puts it on the second sixteenth note to make the tremolo pattern easier to play.
You can try to come up with alternatives, but none will be as elegant as what Liszt came up with. I think this figuration works because our ears group the first two notes together, so it sounds like a broken downbeat. In fact, we roll and break chords so often in piano music that our ears probably have adjusted to that. One of the challenges for transcribers is what octave to put notes on the piano.
Often we can just put it in the octave that the source is in, but some times that just does not sound quite right. Conversely, this passage in the violins is all the way at the bottom of the G string. Liszt opts to go all the way into the bass clef to convey the timbre of the low violin.
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Octave considerations can also apply to whether to put a melody in octaves or unison. Even though two instruments such as viola and violin could be playing the same melody in the same octave, the effect is one of rich overtones. Liszt appropriately goes for octaves on this melody. Liszt often gets a lot of flak for putting in runs and chromatic passages as fillers.
This piece is no exception, but I do think many of them serve more of a purpose in this piece than others. The orchestral version is loud and full of energy and texture. With only two hands, ten fingers, and two feet, Liszt had to find a way to create the same kind of excitement.
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In the transition between the first and second themes, Liszt changes the accompaniment figure from a sextuplet chromatic scale, to sixteenth-note chromatically ascending alternating sixths whew. This change accomplishes a few things. First, it spans a bit more of the range; Liszt gets to cover a bit more harmonic ground and not have a huge whole between the melody and the bass.
Third, the rotation of the hand in the oscillating sixths allows for a bigger crescendo. The beautiful soaring melodies after the second themes are accompanied by brilliant arpeggios. These arpeggios are not in the orchestral score, but they help to get across the effect of this nice legato melody after all of the octave chords previously. It also allows Liszt to showcase the ingenious dividing of the theme between the hands as the right hand climbs up the keyboard over and over again. The first is regarding the relationship between exposition and recapitulation. In the second theme, Wagner changes the orchestration of the accompaniment quite drastically.
This even applies to that beast of an ending with the flourishing of octaves. There really is no other way that should be transcribed. However, this is exactly why this piece is so difficult to play. The fact that it is so close to the original version, and that Liszt made very little compromises, especially in the little figurations, means that the pianist really has to be an orchestra.
That means singing individual voices, having different colors, filling out the entire dynamic range, and building up the stamina to perform such a work. The best part about transcriptions is that you get to hear the piece as the transcriber heard it the original source. Here, we get a glimpse into what Liszt heard when he heard the piece performed live I assume he did hear it. You can probably find where these changes should go easily. Without further ado:. It also helps that I have been with someone for a long time who plays in an orchestra.
As with performing recitals and auditions, the best and most effective way to learn how to be the best soloist you can be in front of an orchestra is by doing it over and over again. There simply is no better way. However, I hope some of these suggestions can help accelerate that process. If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments! Not only does the full score allow you to see what instruments are playing what, it also allows you to double check the notes and dynamics in your reduced score.
You can also work on your score reading! This sounds simple and obvious, but listening to recordings helps! That way you know your entrances, and you know what the orchestral part sounds like, as opposed to only hearing a second piano reduction. This offers yet another way to check your notes. I like to play along with a recording of the concerto, preferably with headphones. Knowing not only how the orchestra part sounds, but also how it sounds like while you are playing your part is very helpful, since the difference in timbre between instruments can throw you off.
It gives you a good sense of timing, and you get to familiarize yourself and internalize any interesting meter changes. I find it very, very helpful to sing certain important parts while playing through the concerto. You can also figure out what sort of timing you might have to take when you are accompanying a solo wind melody or something similar. This seems elementary, but all musicians should learn the different conducting patterns.