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"Ride of the Valkyries" arranged for 8 pianos
June 24, 2011 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" arranged for 8 pianos - performed by Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Claude Frank, Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, James Levine, Mikhail Pletnev, and Staffan Scheja.

"What's Opera, Doc?" with live orchestra
posted by Trurl (24 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's like the Three Tenors.

Except with 8 pianists.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:51 PM on June 24, 2011


Man who pushes piano down mineshaft get tone of A flat miner
posted by growabrain at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


meanwhile Debussy is rolling over in his grave
posted by polymodus at 10:13 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I appreciate what they're trying to do, and I love the piano. But it's just not as good. It lacks gravitas.
posted by sbutler at 10:46 PM on June 24, 2011


There is nothing, and I mean nothing, quite like listening to Ride of the Valkyries live, with a full orchestra and singers. It sends chills down my spine. Piano will never compare.

I am uniquely (among mefites) qualified to proclaim this, as I've listened to hundreds of hours of Wagner over the last month and a half, both rehearsal piano and full orchestra.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:28 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The hard part is getting all of those pianos into the helicopters.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:46 PM on June 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


ShutterBun, if Karlheinz Stockhausen was still alive...
posted by Jahaza at 12:37 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, what a collection of musical talent on one stage.
posted by gyc at 12:46 AM on June 25, 2011


The best part is the imagination.
I always see the Silver surfing to infinity.
posted by Mblue at 2:42 AM on June 25, 2011


No matter how hard I try, I couldn't listen to this without hearing Elmer Fudd in the back of my mind, singing "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the WABBIT!"
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 2:55 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading the description, I thought, "That's a stupid idea if ever I saw one." Seeing the performance didn't change my mind in the slightest. This piece brings together so many of my hates in one place: Wagner, gimmicks, Lang Lang, arrangements for more than one piano...
posted by outlandishmarxist at 3:42 AM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


More evidence that just because something can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.
posted by paulsc at 3:53 AM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh, I thought it was interesting. Maybe not what Wagner intended, but the *lack* of gravitas brings out a different nature in the song. The sound isn't very good, however. Maybe it can't be- that might only sound good if you are right on stage.

No matter how hard I try, I couldn't listen to this without hearing Elmer Fudd in the back of my mind, singing "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the WABBIT!"

And a red station wagon falling through the sky. I hate Illinois Nazis.
posted by gjc at 4:22 AM on June 25, 2011


There's a reason orchestras have more than one kind of instrument.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:45 AM on June 25, 2011


Man who pushes piano down mineshaft get tone of A flat miner

I've heard that one before.

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:06 AM on June 25, 2011


There's a reason orchestras have more than one kind of instrument.

Orchestra lobbyists...figures, fucking government corruption is everywhere.
posted by Fizz at 6:22 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


No matter how hard I try, I couldn't listen to this without hearing Elmer Fudd in the back of my mind, singing "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the WABBIT!"

The last link did make that difficult.
posted by Trurl at 6:43 AM on June 25, 2011


A single piano with a talented pianist is a wonderful thing. It's a percussive instrument with great melodic and harmonic potential.

There's a reason there's usually only one piano performing at a time--perhaps two for those rare occasions when you really want to go over the top.

Sometimes less is more. Thanks to this performance, we now know that in the case of pianos--much like electric guitars, drum sets, and vuvuzelas--less is a lot more.
posted by cleancut at 8:36 AM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man who pushes piano down mineshaft get tone of A flat miner
Man who drops piano on army base get tone of A flat major.
posted by Hactar at 8:46 AM on June 25, 2011


I had a nice conversation with Emanuel Ax the other day. He didn't mention this.
posted by Faze at 12:01 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


the *lack* of gravitas brings out a different nature in the song.

This. Or more generally, yeah, changing the instrumentation and voicing will absolutely change the experience of the piece of music, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

It's the same thing with 8 hand piano arrangements. I agree that Ride of the Valkyries is a pretty ambitious thing to take on with just a piano. I think something's also lost when you cover Miles Davis or even Michael Jackson with chiptunes, or when an a'cappella group covers Led Zeppelin. My own acoustic cover of Keane's Spiraling is missing some awesome things from their highly produced original.

But sometimes interesting things are revealed. And sometimes I think you even get this interesting phenomenon where you can see, by comparison, the "essence" of the piece of music better. In any case, though, one thing that you just do with music is transform it in different ways, whether within the same piece as it's developed, or in a reinterprative attempt.

Heck, you wanna know what else changes it? Recording. It's a different experience. If you're listening to a recording of Ride of the Valkyries, you are arguably having a an experience that's farther from its conception than this piano arrangement is from the orchestral. You could argue it's an inferior one, and it is sometimes (probably in particular for things as bombastic as this), but it isn't always so, it really depends on (a) what you're trying to do and (b) how good you are at producing work in the targeted medium. The same thing is more or less true for would-be revoicers.

As for whether piano is always inferior to orchestration.... well, compare Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition to Ravel's orchestration. Yes, Mussorgsky's is the original, and that's a little unfair, but I think it's a decent illustration.
posted by weston at 2:09 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man drops piano on army barracks, modulates to A flat major.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:24 PM on June 25, 2011


Thanks to this performance, we now know that in the case of pianos--much like electric guitars, drum sets, and vuvuzelas--less is a lot more

Ride of the Valkyries on massed vuvuzelas: that I would pay to see.
posted by flabdablet at 5:11 AM on June 26, 2011


Also: I don't care what anybody says. Two kits works.
posted by flabdablet at 5:26 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


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