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 Post subject: MacDowell: Woodland Sketches 1,4,6,8
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:11 am 
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Location: Arizona
Edward MacDowell's To a Wild Rose, In Autumn, To a Water-lily and A Deserted Farm, from his Woodland Sketches Op.51. I was inspired to play these by a vacation in rural Oklahoma last summer. I will probably post the whole suite evantually. Enjoy! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:15 pm 
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Most beautifully done Chase ! I admire your dedication and concentration in these 'American Lyric Pieces' which frankly speaking are not all equally interesting (and not as good as Grieg's), but you make a good case for them. The somewhat homely sound of your instrument and recording, and your selfless playing, suit this music very well. Great touch and dynamics, and very faithful to the score. I can't find anything to niggle about !

Except ! Why is the wild rose played at almost half speed ? It's already a bit sirupy at the prescribed speed of 88 to a beat, and I think you are doing it no favours by taking it sooo slow. Bit of a dead rose rather than a wild one...

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:56 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Most beautifully done Chase ! I admire your dedication and concentration in these 'American Lyric Pieces' which frankly speaking are not all equally interesting (and not as good as Grieg's), but you make a good case for them. The somewhat homely sound of your instrument and recording, and your selfless playing, suit this music very well. Great touch and dynamics, and very faithful to the score. I can't find anything to niggle about !

Except ! Why is the wild rose played at almost half speed ? It's already a bit sirupy at the prescribed speed of 88 to a beat, and I think you are doing it no favours by taking it sooo slow. Bit of a dead rose rather than a wild one...


Yes some of them aren't that interesting ("Trysting Place", "Told at Sunset") but the good ones are top notch miniatures. The quicker ones can sound trite if not played with real charm and conviction and they have some nasty little passages in them too, nothing Lisztian or Alkanian but MacDowell's writing is very exposed and transparent in technical passages, leaving no room for evasion. You will hear some of those in the future, "Uncle Remus" is probably next.

About tempi, I guess they're all a bit slow but I feel them that way. Heh I checked the MM markings on all of them and listend to some recordings on the internet and John Kirkpatrick's recording and was most concerned that "In Autumn" was too slow, but only Kirkpatrick took it at 132, which I felt robbed it of it's rustic dance character. I have never listened to recordings of these pieces and was happy to find myself honestly enjoying my own interpretation more than others; usually I am comparing myself to commercial recordings and getting frustrated, etc. Not this time... 8)

I have always played "Wild Rose" like that, the prescribed speed seems rushed to me. But it's not dead, just bathing luxuriantly in the sun....

Glad you liked these Chris! BTW I have to get my scanner working, I have the original title page for this suite and it will look nice on the site; also have an original Scriabin Op.11 cover that's very striking, I'll have these too you soon.

And about my piano sounding homely, do elaborate. Is it sounding "comfortable" or like an old upright in bad repair? I'm concerned about it, it's not holding tune very well above D-6, the pins are solid, not sure what it could be except age; it was made in America four years after the "Woodland Sketches" were composed so it's an authentic instrument for these pieces for sure, but in other genres I'm worried about it's effectiveness. Anyone else, please comment on this too...


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:03 pm 
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Yah, could be mm=88 is too fast. Somewhere half way between that and your speed would do it for me.

Sure if you have a nice cover, or any others, scan and mail it to me ! I only have a MacDowell album wit these, and the cover is horrid. This goes for anybody who has a nice cover than one depicted on the site (most are from my collection an tend to be a bit boring).

I'll put these up the site soon, if my Internet will cooperate a bit.

Your instrument sounds comfortably homely, I think. Slightly off tune which jars a little at first hearing but on egets quickly used to it. I think it sounds more like an upright (a good one though) than a grand. But very appropriate for this music. In more 'modern' repertoire it could be less suited, but then I do not think there is one instrument that is optimal for all music.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:11 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
I enjoyed your playing. It is good every once and a while to hear someone's own unique interpretation of a seldom played piece(s). Afterall, someone had to start intrepreting the piece sometime over the course of history. Why not make it you? :wink:

4 sketches down and 6 more to go. Pretty soon Piano Society will have the largest database of MacDowell on the internet! :shock: :!:


Congrats.


-JG


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:35 am 
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Beautifully played and I enjoyed listening. At first, I felt a bit unused listening to your more slow version of the wild rose but it works. The word "wild" does not mean that it has to be played wild. The rose grows in the wild with the rest and piece from the surrounding nature. That is at least how I look upon it ;).

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:08 pm 
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I have put these up the site. Now roll on the next ones !

Chase, if you could cobble up some text for this page, and scan me that cover, I'd be forever grateful as I have a bit of a writer's block recently :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:19 pm 
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techneut wrote:

Chase, if you could cobble up some text for this page, and scan me that cover, I'd be forever grateful as I have a bit of a writer's block recently :wink:


ASAP, probably in two or three days.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:48 pm 
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You Da Man 8)

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Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:58 am 
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Beautiful! I haven't heard these before. great playing, much feeling invested.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:44 am 
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Chase, you play with great feeling and have a beautiful sound. You are able to play really soft, and more and more I realize that this is one of the preconditions, if not the main precondition at all, to play with a singing tone and nice dynamics like you do.

Although the pieces are all slow it is audible that you like the speed yourself, and that is what counts, nothing else. They sound that way just right to me.

Yes, the piano does sound a bit detuned, but not much, I would describe it as "charmingly colored sound". Is it really an upright? Does not sound so to me, but if it's an upright, I admire your keytouch even more than I already do because I find it much more difficult to get really soft tones out of an upright than from a grand.

Thanks for sharing, and please record the rest of the cycle too!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:04 am 
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Thanks everyone for the compliments and pointers! Glad these are a hit; "Uncle Remus" will be along soon, with another slow one. Gradually the whole set will be up here, and more too. Seems that MacDowell and I get along rather well... :D 8)

Olaf I meant that it sounds like an old upright to me lately; it's an old grand, a New York Steinway "A" from 1900, rebuilt (new soundboard, strings, action and externals) 25 years ago.


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