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 Post subject: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:09 am 
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Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 12:11 am
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
A change from flashy paraphrases, this is Liszt's setting of the Recitative and Romance from Tannhauser.

A quick note about the piano: this is from a recital given on an approximately 125 year old Steinway and perhaps understandably the instrument shows some signs of age - the treble is a little weak and there is occasional noise from the action. On the other hand, the lower and middle register have a richness that doesn't tend to be found with the modern, more antiseptic, Steinway sound. I hope that the sound (and performance) are adequate for the purposes of the site.

Liszt - O du, mein holder Abendstern (Transcription from Wagner's Tannhauser) (7:52)


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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:04 am 
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Hi Andrew,

It's been a long time since I've even heard the original version of this music. At first I didn't recognize the Recitative as it's not as melodious as the Romance in my opinion. Anyway, I believe you play this piano transcription well. You're right though, it's not the typical Liszt treatment. That Steinway from the 1880s must have been a challenge. The treble sounds as though the hammer felts had seen much better days. The tenor and bass have very nice tone indeed and could hold their own against modern grands. It seems as though there is still good crown in the soundboard. I would bet that this piano could be rebuilt to enjoy a second life.

Thanks for posting it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:08 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
That Steinway from the 1880s must have been a challenge. The treble sounds as though the hammer felts had seen much better days. The tenor and bass have very nice tone indeed and could hold their own against modern grands. It seems as though there is still good crown in the soundboard. I would bet that this piano could be rebuilt to enjoy a second life.


It did present difficulties in trying to rebalance voicing, e.g. playing the upper treble louder than usual in an attempt to compensate. This piece was one of the easier ones to handle - I remember having awful trouble with some forte r.h. chromatic scales in minor thirds. The irony of it all was that it was a charity recital to raise money for renovating the church's organ! In spite of all that, the piano has a very suitable sound for a piece such as this.


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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:21 pm 
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That was lovely, Andrew! You played it very nicely. The piano did have some 'interesting' sounds, though. Quite a lot of noise coming from the action and the upper notes sound more like a toy piano. But even so, listeners can hear a nice recording of this piece. I will put it up tonight when I get home from work.

An idea - next time, maybe there can be an organ concert to benefit a new piano? Why don't you run it by the organ-izers (get it?...organ?....haha)

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:58 pm 
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This is up on the site. Few quibbles on either the sound or performance. The piano certainly has a beautiful characterful voice but these high tremolos are no joy to listen to. Good performance but I find your the Romance a bit timid and tentative. Maybe I'm just used to hearing this great tune a bit broader, a bit more assertive and confident. It will be a matter of taste.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:28 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
That was lovely, Andrew! You played it very nicely. The piano did have some 'interesting' sounds, though. Quite a lot of noise coming from the action and the upper notes sound more like a toy piano.


I did play around with Audacity trying to enhance the higher frequencies before uploading it to see if I could improve things but I wasn't convinced by the results. Probably it had the side-effect of enhancing harmonics as well, and I'm not very knowedgeable about doing such editing.

techneut wrote:
The piano certainly has a beautiful characterful voice but these high tremolos are no joy to listen to. Good performance but I find your the Romance a bit timid and tentative. Maybe I'm just used to hearing this great tune a bit broader, a bit more assertive and confident. It will be a matter of taste.


You could be right, I'm not sure. Liszt's dynamic markings never get above mf, and I was trying to do the expressive aspects through shades of pp to mp, also using strategic rubati and rits. I think my tempo is quite broad; I take a full minute longer than Leslie Howard (not that I've listened to his recording in ages, and in general I would never recommend his Liszt recordings), and Thibaudet (who plays it very well imo in terms of touch) takes less time still. As to broadness of colour, I'll think about that aspect. In the long term, I would prefer to re-record this on a piano in a better state of repair, but it is a shame that I doubt I will find one with such colour in the lower registers. I like to think that I played on a piano which was a contemporary of Liszt himself :)


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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 7:56 am 
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I wan't thinking of tempo when I wrote 'broader'. If anything you could well have been a tad swifter. I meant for the melody to be more flowing and cohesive. It seems a little too fragmented here, not sure how best to explain it.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt O du, mein holder Abendstern
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:19 am 
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I suppose my tempo is sufficiently slow that it makes it harder for the ear to follow the phrase groupings; I thought it worked in a pianistic context however. I listened to a few renditions of the aria and my tempo is slower (though not drastically), furthermore the different sustain characteristics of piano and voice might be worth taking into mind.


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