What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

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segoviajr07
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby segoviajr07 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:26 am

Re transcriptions, I had a devil of a time learning Empress of the Pagodas that Parkening transcribed.
On the other hand, I play the Tedesco Capriccio Diabolico, it isn't that difficult, not in the same league at all, IMHO, as the modern works mentioned here.

jstroud

Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby jstroud » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:45 am

If we include transcriptions how about mussorskys pictures at an exhibition?

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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby David_Norton » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:55 am

20-some years ago, I heard Jack Sanders (of the GFA) in L.A. attempt to perform a piece titled "Failing...." I don't recall the composer. The piece is designed for the guitarist to speak to the audience WHILE PLAYING, and both the music and the spoken part get increasingly more complex/difficult as it progresses along. The clearly specified intent of the composition is that the performer will not successfully make through to the end, thereby setting up this clever conundrum: if the performer can't complete the piece, he has failed to complete it. Yet, if he DOES complete the piece, then he has failed to meet the composer's specified intentions, e.g. to be unable to complete it. It's a double-bind. Hence the title "Failing..."
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby rever » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:33 am

The hardest piece that I have ever attempted to date is David Leisner's Nel Mezzo. It is coming although very slowly.

Jeremiah Lawson
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Jeremiah Lawson » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:57 am

I have Jack Sanders' recording of Frank Campo's Two Studies for Trumpet and Guitar. He seems to have had an interest in unusual pieces. That would have been around the same time he recorded the Campo studies, I believe.

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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Brian Brock » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:46 am

David_Norton wrote:Jack Sanders (of the GFA) in L.A. attempt to perform a piece titled "Failing...." I don't recall the composer.


This piece is by Tom Johnson. It was originally for upright bass, and can be found on Bang On A Can Live Volume One, which is a fine collection of "new music" from the group Bang On A Can. Sanders must have transcribed it, which is an idea which in its ridiculousness entirely fits the piece - of course, the transcription would somehow have to fail.... The piece requires the performer to begin improvising in the style of the piece, both instrumentally and rhetorically, as I remember...

Parkening's Empress of the Pagodas transcription is currently the most difficult piece on my horizon, although I'm sure there are technically more difficult works. Elliott Carter's Shard is also hard, although it has the advantage that most people will not notice your mistakes... I occasionally try to sight read it just to mess with my accrued habits of harmony.

Pedro_Rijos

Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Pedro_Rijos » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:05 am

anacrusis wrote:...of the available pieces there must be a few that stand out."Away From" is REALLY hard, and it may currently be the contender for the most difficult piece.

Pedro_Rijos wrote:
Pedro_Rijos wrote:Brian Ferneyhough - Kurze Schatten II

This is definitely hands-down the most difficult classical guitar work of all time.
Full with technical, rhythmic, harmonic, structural, stylistic and other difficulties, this is a piece that only the most advanced guitarists and musicians could ever play.

I forgot to mention that the work is also (in my opinon) utter rubbish, a complete waste of time and written by a "composer" who cannot compose


Both these pieces are the main contenders, imo.
It's interesting that both have been recorded by (and dedicated to) Magnus Andersson.

In order to better understand what these pieces are about, and what makes them so difficult, it is possible to listen to Magnus Andersson play them:
Sven-David Sandström's "Away From" can be legally listened to from the Phono Suecia website - it's on the recording "Chitarra con forza": link

Brian Ferneyhough's "Kurze Schatten II" can be found on youtube: search for "Ferneyhough: Kurze Schatten II for solo guitar (1983-89) Movements 1-4 (Part 1/2)"
A score sample for Ferneyhough's "Kurze Schatten II" is legally provided by SAM in England. (And yes, it is indeed written on 3 staves, often each one having different rhythm-tuplets. And yes, the scordatura-tuning does use microtonal quarter-tones... e.g. the 1st string having to be tuned to "e quarter flat")

I think to really find out what the most difficult work is, we would have to ask Magnus Andersson!!! It would be interesting to hear what he has to say.


Aryeh wrote:...
Elliott Carter - Changes
Elliott Carter - Shard
...

Ah indeed, these 2 works are also good contenders. One can legally listen to David Starobin performing Elliott Carter's Changes at the "Art of the States" website: link


anacrusis wrote:But it is not at the very limits of what is possible on the guitar. We will just have to wait for my 3 hour long piece, complete with 4 fugues (the last one being 36 minutes, micro-tonal, written across 4-5 staves, each in an independent tempi and rhythm), several instances of re-tuning during the piece, extended lengths of extremely fast polyphonic playing (the longest of which will last 56 minutes) that will utilize the thumb on the RH, and every known (along with a few unknown) extended technique.
:wink:

You might laugh, but there may be people who'll take you seriously. Watch out, if Magnus reads this, he'll probably commission a work from you!



I've noticed, that the original poster actually wrote this:
Nathaniel wrote:For you, what do you think is the most difficult (but still great) piece for classical guitar?

I cannot consider "Away From" or "Kurze Schatten II" to be great. Quite the contrary, they are rubbish (you can see my thoughts on that in my prev. reply).

Well among difficult works, that are still great, I'd have to mention...
*some solo works by Castelnuovo-Tedesco e.g. 24 Caprichos de Goya
*some solo works of Joaquin Rodrigo e.g. Invocación y Danza, ...
*some solo works of Antonio Lauro e.g. Sonata
*some arrangements from other instruments, e.g. Paganini's 24 caprices (originally for violin)

But just being able to play these pieces certainly is not enough. There are more than enough sloppy performances around. (Magus Andersson's performance of "Away From" - see above - is no exception, most notes of fast scales are subdued or drowning!)
The really difficult (but worthwhile) thing is to perform a piece (a good one!) in a way that it does not sound difficult at all, but comes across naturally.
Last edited by Pedro_Rijos on Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

dunholy

Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby dunholy » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:52 am

What about all those famous transcriptions by Yamashita?
Also Jorge Caballero (Perú) plays some wicked original (I think) arrangement of Bach´s French Suite #1

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Denian Arcoleo » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:05 am

The original question is not an interesting one, for me at any rate. Rating pieces of classical guitar music according to how physically difficult they are to execute is an activity very close to train-spotting in my opinion.
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby anacrusis » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:12 am

Pedro_Rijos wrote:It's interesting that both have been recorded by (and dedicated to) Magnus Andersson.

I think to really find out what the most difficult work is, we would have to ask Magnus Andersson!!! It would be interesting to hear what he has to say.


You might laugh, but there may be people who'll take you seriously. Watch out, if Magnus reads this, he'll probably commission a work from you!

I cannot consider "Away From" or "Kurze Schatten II" to be great. Quite the contrary, they are rubbish (you can see my thoughts on that in my prev. reply).

(Magus Andersson's performance of "Away From" - see above - is no exception, most notes of fast scales are subdued or drowning!)
The really difficult (but worthwhile) thing is to perform a piece (a good one!) in a way that it does not sound difficult at all, but comes across naturally.


I've always thought of Magnus Andersson as sort of the Ian Pace of the classical guitar world. Both commission extremely modern works!

And I was only KIND of joking about writing that piece. I do intend to write a massive Sorabjian piece one day...though not to that extent.

Although I mainly agree with you about "Kurze Schatten II", I do quite like "Away From". I don't think they are at all alike, aside from a decidedly "modern" aesthetic.

It may be interesting to note this excerpt from the score, in regards to your comments about Magnus Andersson's performance of "Away From":

"The performer should not try and give an elegant performance or simplify the composition by compromising. The gap between an ideal performance and what the performer can achieve is part of the musical discourse."

As far as pieces being "great" that is subjective. I really do like "Away From". Interestingly, I can't stand "Changes" or "Shard".

Pedro_Rijos

Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Pedro_Rijos » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:22 pm

anacrusis wrote:
Pedro_Rijos wrote:(Magus Andersson's performance of "Away From" - see above - is no exception, most notes of fast scales are subdued or drowning!)


It may be interesting to note this excerpt from the score, in regards to your comments about Magnus Andersson's performance of "Away From":

"The performer should not try and give an elegant performance or simplify the composition by compromising. The gap between an ideal performance and what the performer can achieve is part of the musical discourse."


Well you might want to know that Stefan Östersjö plays "Away From" somewhat cleaner (but it's also a much more recent recording - I am sure that Magnus Andersson has improved a lot since his "Chitarra con forza" recording which came out way back in 1988!!). There's a sample of Östersjö's playing here - click Provlyssna. By the way: the recording by Östersjö is called "Impossible guitar parts" ...

Saying that a musicians' struggles is part of the musical discourse, is not what I consider a good compositional inspiration.
Consider that in a few years some Chinese student will perhaps be able to give a stunning near-ideal performance of "Away From": Where then is the "discourse" that results from "the gap between an ideal performance and what the performer can achieve" ??
Is this really what the score says about this work????

anacrusis wrote:As far as pieces being "great" that is subjective.

Agree.

P.
Last edited by Pedro_Rijos on Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:20 am, edited 3 times in total.

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segoviajr07
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby segoviajr07 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:36 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:The original question is not an interesting one, for me at any rate. Rating pieces of classical guitar music according to how physically difficult they are to execute is an activity very close to train-spotting in my opinion.


"Train-spotting"? Sorry..does not compute...what's that mean? Sorta like "counting Hawaiian license plates" here in the 48 states?

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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Denian Arcoleo » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:42 pm

segoviajr07 wrote:"Train-spotting"? Sorry..does not compute...what's that mean? Sorta like "counting Hawaiian license plates" here in the 48 states?


errr, yes.
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby paulcroft » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:16 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:The original question is not an interesting one, for me at any rate. Rating pieces of classical guitar music according to how physically difficult they are to execute is an activity very close to train-spotting in my opinion.


Agree with that totally Denian: it also predicates the possibility of an objective answer when clearly "difficulty" is largely a problem for the individual and, to an extent at least, is subjective. The thread seems mainly an opportunity to bandy the names of obscure composers and compositions around and I'm not sure what one does with that information at the end. On the other hand trainspotting, especially in adverse weather conditions in the UK, is a real challenge.
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Re: What is the most difficult piece for classical guitar?

Postby Pedro_Rijos » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:22 pm

PaulCroft wrote:The thread seems mainly an opportunity to bandy the names of obscure composers and compositions around and I'm not sure what one does with that information at the end. On the other hand trainspotting, especially in adverse weather conditions in the UK, is a real challenge.

So is Brian Ferneyhough's "Kurze Schatten II" and its immense challenges aren't even weather-dependent! :) Though I'm in agreement with Denian Arcoleo and you Paul, it's still interesting to know the odd obscure ultra-modern difficult composition, even if talking about the most difficult... is absurd.
Lets see this thread as what it is: a freak-show! (well at least those pieces that are serious contenders for being the most difficult.)


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