Holst Venus: Piano transcription

Holst Venus: Piano transcription: Played and transcribed by Gary Lloyd

Mr. Peabody Says:

Holst wrote a two piano transcription of his own music, but for me it does not quite work. My impression is that the sound of all of those instruments somehow has be expressed in the spirit of the music, and that means changing some things. The idea is to carry through the moods, textures, dynamics, overall feelings, which is hard.

So to make this come alive I added some things, changed some things. For instance, where there are just long half and whole notes, I lightly repeated chords. I also made different choices of notes at times, since it is absolutely impossible to play everything written in a symphonic score. It’s a delicate thing.

Liszt was the master:

I learned how to do this from studying what Liszt did with his Beethoven symphony transcriptions. In his time most people could not usually hear those symphonies, so they had to study the music from two piano versions, but Liszt made it all happen on one piano. He subtly changed many things, but in ways it actually made the music sound more like the full orchestral versions, not less. He was a magician.

9 thoughts on “Holst Venus: Piano transcription

  1. I believe that you successfully transposed the original symphonic arrangement into piano. After comparing it with the original, the feel is still clearly there. The enchanting yet dangerous feel of “Venus” is still existent here. While some aspects couldn’t be replicated, it is still an enjoyable and relaxing piece to listen to.

  2. I have always loved Holst’s masterpiece. I receive it the way he offered it; with a sense of child-like wonder.

    You have created a wonderful transcription!

    Listening to the orchestration I would not have thought it possible to bring this off for solo piano, but you did it, and your playing is better than excellent because I know too well how hard it is to sustain long, long phrases, and the fewer the notes (as opposed to waves of arpeggios to sustain an effect) the harder it is. But you brought it off.

    Congratulations! Really fine, elegant work, and worth putting up on YouTube if isn’t there already.

  3. An interesting interpretation of the original. A lot of rubato in this piece which makes it feel like its always building up to something but I suppose adds to the space like feeling being free of time. The phrasing and dynamics of the ending (around 6:40-7:24) almost felt like the piece was in a way rowing and I think is likely the part of the piece that is furthest away from the original.

    Overall, not a huge fan of the original piece but I enjoyed the rendition.

  4. I first listened to the original, because I wanted to have a sense of it, and then listened to your transcription. To my ears, it is superb. If there were no Holst and his Venus, and this were piano music in its right, it is already perfect. I also feel the spirit and nature of Holst’s work, which as you say, cannot be done by pure copying of notes, because the instruments differ.

    One thing I have learned from you as a student is the importance of the pedal, “soul of the piano” per Rubinstein. My attention was caught at times by a bass note that continued on and on, while the other “instruments” played on – as though there were a bass section giving its effect in an orchestra – loved it.

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