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 Post subject: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:41 am 
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Hello, everyone. I'm new to this site, and although I have made an effort to understand the rules, if I do violate some protocol, please assume it's just because I'm a newbie.

First, let me start by thanking the members of pianosociety.com for exposing me to some corners of the piano repertoire that I found so compelling, I just had to learn them, with a special thanks to the überperformers like Chris, Monica, and John. My life has been greatly enriched as a result of your efforts.

A few years ago, I downloaded a few nocturnes of John Field from the web site and liked them so much, that I asked for CDs for Christmas, which I got. Then I discovered that I absolutely adored all of them, so I decided to learn the complete set. After doing an informal recital last month for my family and noticing that there are only recordings of 4 of them available here, I decided to record them and share them so that others can become familiar with these unaccountably neglected pieces. So I guess my initial audition is to present the complete set of the nocturnes. Even if my submissions are not accepted, I will feel I have accomplished something if others who are more advanced than I are motivated to learn the pieces. I may re-record some of them later, but for now, I have a piano concerto to learn (see my bio for context).

This is the first time I've ever tried to record myself, so it's possible that I haven't mastered the physical mechanics yet, but I think that the recording quality sounds pretty good. As for the performances, well, let's just say that none of them is flawless, but I'm not desperately unhappy with any of them either. Recording is really hard!

I'm also attaching a text file with my biographical information.

Enjoy!
--Mark


Attachments:
field-nocturne-1-nodine.mp3 [3.09 MiB]
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field-nocturne-2-nodine.mp3 [3.49 MiB]
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field-nocturne-3-nodine.mp3 [2.91 MiB]
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field-nocturne-4-nodine.mp3 [4.53 MiB]
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field-nocturne-5-nodine.mp3 [2.38 MiB]
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field-nocturne-6-nodine.mp3 [4.13 MiB]
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field-nocturne-7-nodine.mp3 [4.42 MiB]
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field-nocturne-8-nodine.mp3 [3.57 MiB]
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field-nocturne-9-nodine.mp3 [2.7 MiB]
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field-nocturne-10-nodine.mp3 [2.95 MiB]
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field-nocturne-11-nodine.mp3 [3.97 MiB]
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field-nocturne-12-nodine.mp3 [2.43 MiB]
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field-nocturne-13-nodine.mp3 [3.25 MiB]
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field-nocturne-14-nodine.mp3 [7.1 MiB]
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field-nocturne-15-nodine.mp3 [2.77 MiB]
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field-nocturne-16-nodine.mp3 [3.49 MiB]
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field-nocturne-17-nodine.mp3 [7.73 MiB]
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field-nocturne-18-nodine.mp3 [4.36 MiB]
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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9479
Location: Netherlands
Wow, that is a real barrage of Field recordings :shock:

First of all welcome to PS, and great that you find many things of interest here.

I have to confess that I have zero affinity with Field's music. Probably my loss, but I can't bring myself to listen to all of this. So I sampled nrs. 1, 10
and 18. Assuming these are chronological it does not seem like there was much evolution in Field's music. It all seems the same to me, much RH note spinning over simple (dare I say trite) melodies, accompanied by standard LH figurations. Mind, this is just one person's narrow perception. Perhaps
there's much more to Field than meets the (my) eye. There must be, should be, if Chopin admired and took his clue from them.

Both the sound quality and playing seem quite acceptable to me, although in no.18 there are rather too many fumbles in the tricky-sounding RH passage work. This would normally be reason to ask for a re-recording. This puts me in a difficult position. I can't properly judge whether to admit
all of these pieces as they are without listening to them all in detail. Which I cannot do as it goes in one ear and out the other. I hope that some more
Field-minded people here will help out by reviewing these on a technical level. One general comment I can make is that you could employ a firmer touch
and create more dynamics and contrasts. And that the passage work should really be more fluent and glittering (that being where this music most relies on).

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:13 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
Hello, an interesting set of recordings. I'm probably more temperamentally attuned to these than Chris, so I'll have a little look at a few them (I don't have time to listen to all just now). I've listened to the ones Chris has plus a couple of others.

From what I've heard I think there is no reason not to put them on the site - the playing is clearly competent and, without having recourse to the scores, sounds accurate. I have a few general concerns about the presentation - there is a slight "sameness" within the sound. The playing is a little introverted, which is fine, one wouldn't want to be overly melodramatic with such music. However I think it would benefit from more dynamic variation and shading - I think particularly at the p/pp end of the spectrum which would also make the fortes more effective. Whether this is a piano issue, a microphone position issue, or a general issue of touch, I have no idea. These seem like pieces with some charm if played delicately enough and they come across as slightly humdrum - with music not of the first rank I feel one really has to put in that little bit of extra effort to get the character across.

There is a tendency to force some louder treble notes, for example the high Bb at 3.08 in the first piece (the high Gs c 2.20 in the second are slightly out of tune and I have a few concerns about nearby notes). Also there I heard a few marginal evenness/articulation problems in scalic passages and some ornamentation but it didn't trouble me all that much.

Despite my concerns, this is a worthy effort and to put a set like this together is an achievement in itself. I'd like to reiterate my opinion based on what I've heard so far that these should be on the main site.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:26 pm 
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Location: New Jersey, USA
I just downloaded all of them and noticed that there are several that had not yet been downloaded.
Can we agree to wait until members have listened to all of them - I'll commit to doing just that over the next couple of days.

It would be great if they were put up; they're of real historical importance (at least I think I remember that from my music history course some decades ago!) and a complete set.

I'll report back soon. Perhaps others will too, and include in their comments which they've listened to.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:31 pm 
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A complete set like this is indeed quite an achievement, and a worthwhile addition to the site. yes, the playing is indeed competent and accurate.
What I need to know is whether some of these should be re-recorded, as we often ask people (including ourselves) to do, if we feel that there are
too many flubs. I really have my doubts about no.18 here but maybe we've gone overly picky over the years.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:35 pm 
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I've listened to the first six and will post my comments later, although I'll point other members so far to #3 for their opinion.

However, I have a request to make now for Mark.
In my edition (the Liszt), what you have indicated for #7 is #13. I listened to the beginning of what you have as #13, and it corresponds to #15 in my score.
Could you take a little time and double-check that you have the numbering right (at least according to your edition)? At least start with #7 and #13.
And tell us what edition you're using.
Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:37 pm 
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And, while I'm at it, here's my notes for the first six (the numbers of which agree with the Liszt edition):

#1 on the turns, notes can get lost. One would like more rubato, IF this can be judged in the same way that a Chopin Nocturne is. I feel it could be a bit slower - "Molto Moderato" suggests that it should never feel rushed. A few notes get lost in fast passages (that might be faster than they need to be), but otherwise accurate.

#2 - the sixths on the first page demonstrate the tuning problems in the treble mentioned by andrew. However, this is played much more expressively than #1 and is quite acceptable as a performance. There are differences between the edition used and the one I'm using (the Liszt).

#3 - could use just a little more space at the beginning - I doubt that the silences is more than a half second. (We recommend one second.) This is for future reference. The little section in E Major does not sound very confident.
At measure 9, my edition's phrasing marks make it look like the E-flat's in the RH are part of the melody. I.e, the melody in the first 3 beats is A-flat E-flat E-flat. Perhaps using only the A-flat is tradition?? Difference in editions?
The 2-hand arpeggio at the end is very good.
But this, so far, is the best candidate for a re-recording IMHO. Hopefully other members will comment on this one.

#4 - much better, if just a touch too fast IMHO. However, again we have turns which have not been "worked out" in practice and sound like they're being "thrown away". Right after the 3-minute mark there are several measures in which the only melody is in the LH but it's getting lost - don't be afraid to bring this out more.

#5 - nice tempo. Nicely played, too. Be sure not to go any faster than this, though - could get clunky.

#6 - possible reading error at measure 4: Instead of A-G-F in the melody, my edition has A-A-F. Not a big deal, IMO. The 32nd notes in this piece come off sounding like they have not been practiced enough - very uneven. It's possible that this piece was not meant to go quite this fast. Not sure I like the mic placement here - we're hearing the jangling in the upper treble.

More to follow, perhaps after we look at the numbering problem (?!?)

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:31 pm 
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Location: Uppsala, Sweden
I listened to the first three. No2 is by far my favourite. I can understand what Chris means but wouldn't go that far myself, they have some charming qualities, but to listen to all at once is a stretch. If you want to inspire people to listen and comment you might consider commenting on other members' efforts, that's how this place works.

Not knowing the music at all I'm with Andrew, if we don't have these before what I heard is good enough for the site. It will take some time before I listen to all of them though.

Joachim


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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:09 am 
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Posts: 14
techneut wrote:
Wow, that is a real barrage of Field recordings :shock:

First of all welcome to PS, and great that you find many things of interest here.


Thanks, Chris.

techneut wrote:
I have to confess that I have zero affinity with Field's music. Probably my loss, but I can't bring myself to listen to all of this. So I sampled nrs. 1, 10
and 18. Assuming these are chronological it does not seem like there was much evolution in Field's music. It all seems the same to me, much RH note spinning over simple (dare I say trite) melodies, accompanied by standard LH figurations. Mind, this is just one person's narrow perception. Perhaps
there's much more to Field than meets the (my) eye. There must be, should be, if Chopin admired and took his clue from them.


Sorry, there's not much I can do about that. As they say in my native tongue: De gustibus non disputandum.

techneut wrote:
Both the sound quality and playing seem quite acceptable to me, although in no.18 there are rather too many fumbles in the tricky-sounding RH passage work. This would normally be reason to ask for a re-recording. This puts me in a difficult position. I can't properly judge whether to admit
all of these pieces as they are without listening to them all in detail. Which I cannot do as it goes in one ear and out the other. I hope that some more
Field-minded people here will help out by reviewing these on a technical level. One general comment I can make is that you could employ a firmer touch
and create more dynamics and contrasts. And that the passage work should really be more fluent and glittering (that being where this music most relies on).


I think 18 is one of my worst entries. The hardest ones, in my opinion, are 17, 18, and 14.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:21 am 
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andrew wrote:
There is a tendency to force some louder treble notes, for example the high Bb at 3.08 in the first piece[/quote/

I guess I overdid the sf.

andrew wrote:
(the high Gs c 2.20 in the second are slightly out of tune and I have a few concerns about nearby notes).


True. I just checked and the E,F, and G are all about 4-5 cents flatter than the surrounding notes. My piano was tuned last month, but it goes out of tune very quickly, sometimes a few cents within a day or two. According to my piano technician, Baldwin was cutting corners about the time I bought my piano and was saving $0.02 per piano by installing an inferior grade of wire for the strings. I'm strongly considering having my piano restrung next month.

Thanks for your comments.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:38 am 
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techneut wrote:
A complete set like this is indeed quite an achievement, and a worthwhile addition to the site. yes, the playing is indeed competent and accurate.
What I need to know is whether some of these should be re-recorded, as we often ask people (including ourselves) to do, if we feel that there are
too many flubs. I really have my doubts about no.18 here but maybe we've gone overly picky over the years.

I don't disagree with you about the flubs. 18 is probably the hardest one to get a complete recording of. I'm assuming that the standard is to record each piece from start to finish without any patching or splicing. It has a fast tempo with very little let-up technically. It was also impossible to play it at speed and still be able to turn the pages reliably on my iPad, so for this piece only, I printed out the 7 pages and splayed them all across the music stand.

Perhaps you could give me some recording advice. I've adjusted my mechanics a little bit since I started recording, and I have three+ recordings of each piece, not to mention many false starts. What I eventually settled on was to practice the piece I intended to record at about half speed, making sure that I had every note right first time, but not doing much with dynamics. I would then gradually increase the speed and expressivity until I felt ready to record. However, I found that it was easy to hit a plateau after a few hours where it actually got worse with additional practice. So many times, the recording I wound up with was one where I had almost all the notes right, but there was unevenness in the passagework because of fatigue. I also found that many of the wrong notes were just after navigating a difficult passage, where there was a let-down in concentration (mental fatigue, I suppose), sometimes in places I had never played wrong before. Perhaps I just need to spread my recording out over a longer period so that fatigue isn't as much of an issue?

I'm aware of where I've hit wrong notes and where there is unevenness. The frustration is knowing that I can do much better, and that for every wrong note in the recordings, I played that same passage correctly countless times. I'm happy to try rerecording some of them, in fact, I probably will do so, even if the current set is accepted. However, realistically, I think I need a break from them, and it will probably be better to wait until after my piano is restrung to resume.

Thanks, Chris, for sacrificing to listen to three of them. For the record, my personal favorite is 12.

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:52 am 
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StuKautsch wrote:
I've listened to the first six and will post my comments later, although I'll point other members so far to #3 for their opinion.

However, I have a request to make now for Mark.
In my edition (the Liszt), what you have indicated for #7 is #13. I listened to the beginning of what you have as #13, and it corresponds to #15 in my score.
Could you take a little time and double-check that you have the numbering right (at least according to your edition)? At least start with #7 and #13.
And tell us what edition you're using.
Thanks.

Stu, I'm really thankful for your comments! I'll have to wait until tomorrow to respond to your detailed comments on 1-6, but let me address your issue on numbering. I was aware soon after I started working on the pieces that there is an inconsistency in numbering in different versions. I honestly don't know who was the publisher of the version I used; it can be found here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/09790. However, I do note that the numbering in this edition matches the numbers used by John O'Conor in his recording. For the record, here's how my version corresponds to the Liszt numbering:

My Liszt
1-6 1-6
7 13 Liszt is missing arpeggiations in LH
8 7
9 8
10 9
11 11
12 14
13 15
14 16
15 17
16 18
19 10, similar, but Liszt is missing 1st page and has other differences
18 12

--Mark

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:45 am 
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I've listened to some more of the nocturnes that were mentioned here. No.3 seems a little clunky, a borderline candidate for a re-recording.
The ones you say are most difficult, 14, 17, and 18, indeed sound hard on account of all the RH passagework, and it is here that quite some
accidents happen. If you promise to re-record these in the none too distant future we can put this complete set on the site. Indeed it seems wise
to take a little break for now before digging into them again. Perhaps by that time the piano will stay a bit better in tune, too :)

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:43 pm 
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BTW - I did not see that attachment with your bio !?

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 Post subject: Re: Field Nocturnes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:16 pm 
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techneut wrote:
I have to confess that I have zero affinity with Field's music.

Have you listened to any of his piano concerti?


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