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 Post subject: Medtner: Sonata-Reminiscenza, Op. 38 No. 1
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:36 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:29 am
Posts: 191
Location: Bloomington, IN
This is the first vaguely worthwhile recording with my shiny new Edirol. I'm mostly happy with my playing, but this take is probably not publication-worthy due to the various human and elevator noises in the background. (Grrr!) Campus pianos better situated for recording are on lockdown during the semester break, so this is probably the best I can do until at least late January.

Medtner: Sonata-Reminiscenza, Op. 38 No. 1


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 8:10 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
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Location: Netherlands
This is good, Amitai ! At last we can have some Medtner on the site.

First of all, sound quality is perfectly fine. I did not hear any extraneous noises, except from some audible page turns (you may want to take care of those - if one occurs nicely between phrases it is easy to cut it out with an editor). Obviously this piece is too long to use photocopies taped together :) I find that baby grand a bit feeble in the bass department - did you have the lid open or closed ? Maybe your Edirol positioning and equalizer setting (if you use any) can help too. I think Medtner needs to sound a bit deeper and darker than it does here.

Technically, your playing of this piece is consummate. Apart from one little stumble in the finale, I could not detact any slips or read errors worth mentioning, and I know this piece intimately (I have been thinking about recording some Medtner, and this one would have been a candidate). This may be an easy one by Medtner standards, but it is still quite a handful and you do a great job.

On interpretation, I have some observations which may be purely personal. I think you underplay the drama of this piece by taking it a mite too slowly and politely. Especially in the stormy middle section I miss the power, urgency, and dark undercurrent. Where are Medtner's minaccioso and tenebroso ? Not sure whether he uses these directives here, though ... would have to check the score. One other thing that does not help is your tendency to slow down and make pauses between phrases. A good thing in itself but it must not lead to breaking up the music in disjointed parts (as I felt happens a couple of times in the finale). I fear that listeners not (yet) attuned to Medtner's sometimes longwinded music may well lose interest somewhere during this very long piece.

I understand why you take a very lyrical view of this piece - after all it is wistful and nostalgic most of the time. So I am not suggesting that your interpretation is not right - only that perhaps more urgency and drama is needed in places. It is by all standards a very good rendition which I'll be happy to put up the site. Can you provide me bio information and (optionally) a photo ?

Also, I have just made up a new rule .... The first one to introduce a new composer on the site gets to write the composer bio :D But you don't have to ... it's just I am getting a bit fed up with all this bio researching/writing for the site.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2006 6:27 pm
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Location: Sweden
While I have limited experience with Medtner, I cannot think anything else that this must be a really great recording and that you are a very skilled pianist!

I too did not hear the background noice. Perhaps the sound from the grand could have been better but that does not disturb me at all.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:51 pm 
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Location: Bloomington, IN
It amuses me that you heard pages turning; I can't remember the last time I looked at the score! Maybe what you're hearing is some creaking noises from the bench and/or pedal; neither was quite silent. Also there were "dings" every so often from the nearby elevator, and someone shuffling behind me a couple times, and a couple blowings of a nose, and someone walking around with a cane. (It was a little distracting, especially near the end.)

The piano was a Yamaha baby grand with the lid fully open. The Edirol had just the default audio settings. I'd love to get this recorded on one of the beefy Steinways on campus but they're usually hard to get to. (Just in case, I'll start carrying the Edirol around with me at all times. ;-)

I see what you mean about the tempo. I've listened to 10 (really) different recordings and tried it a few different ways myself, and IMO there's one very large trade-off: the way Madge plays it (clocking in at 12 minutes), the "stormy middle section" sounds terrific but the rest of the piece comes across almost as a trifle; the way Demidenko plays it (18:30+), the whole thing is magically remote and ethereal, at the expense of the middle section sounding a bit deliberate. I guess it's clear where my bias lies! If you're willing, I'd love to hear how you play it.

I'd be happy to have this recording published on the site if it can be replaced later when I've got a better one (e.g., full grand, better acoustics, no background noise or distractions). Is that OK? If so, I'll gladly write a Medtner blurb. I've written a couple bits about him before:

http://www.schmonz.com/2005/06/25/a-musical-pilgrimage
http://www.schmonz.com/2006/04/18/unive ... arch-paper


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 6:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
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schmonz wrote:
It amuses me that you heard pages turning; I can't remember the last time I looked at the score!

Huh ! It was only once actually, and I could have sworn it was a page turn (know that sound well from my early recordings...). Probably not then ! I did honestly not hear any other funny sounds - seems like the Edirol is not so sensitive to pick up every little noise.

schmonz wrote:
I see what you mean about the tempo. I've listened to 10 (really) different recordings and tried it a few different ways myself, and IMO there's one very large trade-off: the way Madge plays it (clocking in at 12 minutes), the "stormy middle section" sounds terrific but the rest of the piece comes across almost as a trifle; the way Demidenko plays it (18:30+), the whole thing is magically remote and ethereal, at the expense of the middle section sounding a bit deliberate. I guess it's clear where my bias lies! If you're willing, I'd love to hear how you play it.

Sheesh, didn't know there even are 10 recordings of this piece ! Well if you've listened to the likes of Madge and Demidenko, little point in hearing me as well... But yeah I may still record it one day. I love this piece as it was one of the first Medtner things I ever did (I think it heard it first from Gilels). Will need to work on it though.

schmonz wrote:
I'd be happy to have this recording published on the site if it can be replaced later when I've got a better one (e.g., full grand, better acoustics, no background noise or distractions). Is that OK?

Definitely. I will be much obliged if you can provide that. Please try to adhere to the size and style of existing recent bios (e.g. Sibelius, Turina). Thanks in advance !

BTW - Checked the score, middle section is marked Svegliando and streptitoso, and indeed it gets tenebroso in the middle - though not minaccioso, which is probably just what I like to make of it :wink:

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Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:58 am 
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Posts: 191
Location: Bloomington, IN
I've got the following recordings: Demidenko, Fellegi, Gilels, Hamelin, Kissin, Madge, Ossipova, Paperno, Tozer. Hm, that's only 9. Oops!

Bios and photo have been sent via private message... let me know if that somehow didn't work.


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 Post subject: Re: Medtner: Sonata-Reminiscenza, Op. 38 No. 1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:03 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:26 am
Posts: 252
Location: Arizona
schmonz wrote:
This is the first vaguely worthwhile recording with my shiny new Edirol. I'm mostly happy with my playing, but this take is probably not publication-worthy due to the various human and elevator noises in the background. (Grrr!) Campus pianos better situated for recording are on lockdown during the semester break, so this is probably the best I can do until at least late January.



I agree, the piano is mediocre and the background noises are annoying. But your performance is excellent.

I read your "musical pilgrimage" article from your blog. It's funny how Medtner attracts certain people in a quiet yet powerful way. I first heard him in college (Concerto #3) and was instantly fascinated, although I didn't understand him right away. Back then I was the only person I knew who was into him, now he's almost mainstream. 8) I think in a century he will be ranked with the greatest piano composers, as he should be.


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 Post subject: Re: Medtner: Sonata-Reminiscenza, Op. 38 No. 1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:29 am
Posts: 191
Location: Bloomington, IN
Quote:
I think in a century he will be ranked with the greatest piano composers, as he should be.


I hope so, and am looking forward to hearing your Medtner recordings!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
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Location: Netherlands
Ok, this one is up the site ! I cobbled up some text for the page, but without much inspiration.
Amitai, if you have other/additional ideas let me know. An cover image would also be nice (I have only photocopies, no original score, and can't find anything on the web).

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