We used a speed gun to measure how fast a pianist played Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2

31 August 2015, 20:30

To celebrate the crowning of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 as the no.1 in the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame, we asked star pianist Valentina Lisitsa to take part in a science experiment...

Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 is a difficult piece to play.

Exhibit 1 (to be played in about eight seconds):

It is also beautiful, which is probably why, in the 20 years that the Classic FM Hall of Fame has been going, our listeners have never allowed Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 to slip out of the top three. That amazing consistency of popularity has assured it of its No.1 place in the new Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame, which combines all the votes of the past two decades into one chart.

See the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame chart >

So, how do you measure virtuosity in a piece of music?

Radar gun!

Kyle with radar gun

Yes, if it's good enough for traffic cops, it's good enough for us. We're going to measure the speed of a pianist's hands while they perform bits of 'Rach PC2'.

And it's not just any pianist. We're talking about star concert pianist and YouTube sensation Valentina Lisitsa. We filmed Valentina at the Yamaha Music store in London, where she played the version of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 that we've used on the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame album.

How fast are Valentina Lisitsa's hands? Press play:

How fast do a pianist's hands play?

01:42

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