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Re: GG: Charles Rosen (overdubbing story)

At 09:36 AM 10/20/1999 -0700, you wrote:
>There's a article of interest by the always interesting Mr. Rosen up on
>the NY Review of Books website.
>The height at which one sits does affect the style of
> performance. It is difficult, for example, when one is
> sitting very low, to play bursts of virtuoso octaves
> fortissimo, as with the following famous passage of the
> Tchaikovsky concerto in B-flat minor: 
> Figure1 
> That is one aspect of piano technique that Glenn Gould,
> for example, could not deal with. (A recording engineer
> at CBS Records told me that when Gould recorded
> Liszt's arrangement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5,
> he first recorded some of the virtuoso octaves in the
> right hand by using both hands and overdubbed the left
> hand afterward.)...

I wonder about this story.  It doesn't seem that playing the two notes of an
octave with separate hands would create a greater sound than playing both
notes with one hand (granted, with your weaker hand - I assume from GG's
signature that he was left-handed).

As an experiment, I just tried on my piano playing a scale of octaves with
just my left-hand (since I'm right-handed) and then with two hands, each
playing one note, and the one-handed version was louder.

For playing "double octaves" (simultaneous octaves in both hands), as in the
Tchaikovsky and parts of the Beethoven/Liszt, I would again think an
overdubbed version (record each hand's octave separately, then combine)
would be weaker, even more so than with single octaves.  The two octaves
wouldn't be nearly as precisely together rhythmically as when your whole
body in one take was playing both hands together, and the echoes within the
piano, the soundboard, etc., would all be different.

GG used and experimented with overdubbing for various artistic ends, but I
don't see how it would have helped him technically here.  And frankly, it
all smells a little of the old argument that GG didn't play the standard big
Romantic repertoire because he was physically unable to (Brahms concerto
review, etc.), as opposed to taking on face value what he said were his
reasons for not playing Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff...