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 Post subject: Chamber music and you
PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:30 pm 
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I've been asked to perform in chamber music with friends of mine ; most are much more skilled musicians than I, so I am a little scared and not confident at all. I have no experience playing with others at all - maybe a bach flute sonata and some beethoven violin sonata when I was young, but that's it. I've tried playing jazz with friends, but I couldn't follow what was going and had no knowledge of that kind of music so it pretty much failed. The only non-solo piano classical music I listen to are piano concertos...

My question would be, since I won't have many choices regarding what I will play, how would you practice ? I'm afraid I won't be in sync with the others, and well, just won't be up to par. I've read something about "music minus one", but I'm highly sceptical and the prices are outrageous (for a student like me). Do I just need a hug, some courage and comprehensive friends, or is there anything besides practicing my part solo I should do ?

Since most of my friends are professional musicians and I am not, playing chamber music with them will mostly be because we like to enjoy and share music together - but still, I'd like to be satisfied with my performances.
Lastly, I've of course followed the "1 piece, 3 pianos, 3 countries" piano society experiment, so I wondered if it was anything faisible (and useful) to record myself playing say the violin part (on the piano) and accompany myself ?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 6:47 pm
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Location: New York City
Hi Teddy,

Quote:
Do I just need a hug, some courage and comprehensive friends, or is there anything besides practicing my part solo I should do ?


I'd say mostly the hug. Discover chamber music by doing it. You will soon learn what it is that makes playing it special, questions of balance, tempo, listening to others, collaborating on an interpretation, etc.

Don't bother with Music Minus One. They may take the wrong tempo, or do too much ritard, etc. etc. Plus... they are as good as dead. Just practice as you would anything else, and let 'er rip! You will add the special musical requirements as you go along, from what you learn at rehearsals. However, as you practice, be aware of the role you are playing in the ensemble. Melody? Accompaniment? A little of each? Beyond that, rehearsals will make everything clear.

What pieces will you be playing?

james


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:20 pm 
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I've only been working with a violinist this week, I've done minor bass pieces to get started, and we began to work on Prokofiev's first violin sonata (we both love the composer, and it felt more interesting than, say, Beethoven's fifth). The piano part is quite easy technically (especially the first movement ; haven't tried the allegrissimo together, looks quite harder though), but demand that you listen very carefully to the violin's mood, so I found it was a fitting way to start.

It seems I tend to rush a little too much, and play a little too loud sometimes... However I'm surprised to see it's not that hard to keep the rhythm. There's only two of us yet, so it's hardly a challenge I guess. A flutist should join us later, and I think there's something for piano / violin / flute by Debussy he wants to try, though I have yet to hear or read it.

It's fun, I definitly regret not trying playing with others sooner ; I also feel very lucky to work with a skilled violonist, as she hardly makes any mistake and can cope with most of mine (though she sighs *heavily* when I rush...). The Prokofiev piece is quite dark (and without the rhythmic ferocity his piano solo works have it seems), but I'm not depressed with it - yet :) It makes the violin nice to hear, I can't stand some of this instrument's high pitched sounds... We tried a few easy Mozart's sonata, and I'm sad to say I dislike the way it sounds on the violin. Is it something you get used to (and eventually like) with experience ?


I have a question that might, or might not, be related ; do some of you feel like they got stranded on a desert island when they don't have a piano ? I do (I mean, you get those moments when you want to play NOW, and not being able to is just terrible, so terrible you have to get home quick and get your fix). My electric piano, though easier to move than the real deal, is not something you can, say, bring with you in the park on a sunny day, or while on vacation in the Alps (or even take at work to chill during coffee break !). Like I said earlier, I dislike most other's instrument tones above C5, so I guess there's no point in learning, say, the flute... How do you manage this ? Is there some kind of inflatable piano ? A folding piano ? An easy-to-make-wood-carved piano ? A theremin-like piano (included in your mobile phone !)?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:47 pm 
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Thanks for the update, Teddy. Sounds like it is an interesting experience so far. I envy you. In my car yesterday I heard a piece on the radio for violin and piano by Debussy. It was so beautiful, one of the most beautiful and seductive things I have ever heard. The announcer said the name of the piece, but all I remember is that it starts with a B - something like 'Balsac', I dunno....Also I think it is actually a song, but the violin played the vocal part. Violinist was Anne-Sophie Mutter and she made her violin sing so prettily.

And you have the piano bug real bad! Actually, real good!! There are probably a few of us around here who feel the same way about leaving our pianos. I dread leaving my piano when my family and I go on long vacations. Too bad there is not such a thing as an inflatable piano. There are floor pianos, though. Those keyboards that you dance around on. I know, not the same thing...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:56 am 
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I have a soprano friend that just loves singing Debussy, she keeps nagging me to play some of his pieces on the piano :P I'm not much into impressionism though... :( But I'll go as far as to admit that some of his work as beautiful.

Regarding playing with others, I thought everybody always memorized the music, but it seems to be only true for the piano... Plus those violin / flute sheets are really packed, so they don't have to turn them has much as we do ! I've learnt quite a long on those two instruments two, especially regarding intonations and phrasing, something which differs considerably with the way I do it on the piano.


Since I'm in the repertoire part of the forum, I figured I'd mentionned something else ; because I was playing with others so much this past week, I've started learning Rach2 for fun (just the two piano arrangement, it's really painful reading through the real concert sheets), and it's really a beautiful piece. I wondered if anybody knew a solo piece that had the same epic yet romantic and melodic tone to it ? Preferably by Rachmaninov, but not necessarily :) I don't really have any piece in my repertoire that gives the same "vibe" as the second concerto ; I play many Tableaux-Etudes and his Moments musicaux Op.16, but they are all quite different. I'm looking for something truly gripping, a moving piece of Lisztian bravura and Chopinesque emotion, with Russian strenght (I love Russian)! I've mentionned I liked Glazunov first sonata if I remember, and many parts of it would fit that description ; I just want something shorter and more intense, more compact. I really shine when playing huge contrasting piece, alternating fast stormy runs (think Chopin 10 4), and lyrical, cantabile octave melodies along with sweeping arpeggios (think Liszt). I'm really bad with precise and melodic careful playing though (my Mozart is horrible, and my Beethoven is hardly any better) ; I tend to overdo it...
Anyways - I'm looking for something along those lines. Scriabin's would do fine but like I said in another post I don't understand it yet. I took the second sonata earlier, and though I've got it memorized, I don't understand it. At first the harmonies seem ok, but then I keep wondering "what the hell is that note doing here ?". And "what is that chord ?". Also "why does he do that ?". If any scriabinist reads this, I'd gladly read something on how to do proper harmonic analysis of his works, because I really want to play some of his longer works (there is actually a short biography on his bio page here, so I'll check it out).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:28 am 
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Teddy wrote:
Since I'm in the repertoire part of the forum, I figured I'd mentionned something else ; because I was playing with others so much this past week, I've started learning Rach2 for fun (just the two piano arrangement, it's really painful reading through the real concert sheets), and it's really a beautiful piece.

What coincidence. I am playing Rach 2 on two pianos too - if only the 'orchestra' part (which is quite easy throughout, but with a couple of fiercely hard spots). It's an enlightening experience, as educating as playing with a string player. With 2 pianos you have to attack exactly together or else an annoying stuttering effect will result. This is surprisingly difficult.

Anyway playing with someone else, whether a singer, string or piano player is an absolute must. I've only once or twice played with 2 or 3 people and that was nice too.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:31 pm 
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Exactly Techneut, playing with others is kind of an enlightenment ! Somewhat... a little !

On Rach2, it's as you say ; I tried it real quick with a friend, and it sounded horribly messy. Plus two pianos sound really confusing, especially when they are close ; all the harmonies flood you... And the slightest mistake in tempo sounds atrocious. Definitly harder than playing with another instrument I'd say...
This concerto is definitly one of my favorite piece ; sometimes I wish it hadn't been a concerto... Apart from the ""timpani"" part in the second half of the first movement (I just love that part, glorious !), it's mostly all piano, with other instruments introducing themes or accompanying. I haven't warmed up to his sonata yet... It feels so frustrating playing that concerto knowing you're missing the orchestra. I play parts if the Scriabin concerto too (excerps from the third movement mostly), and it's equally frustrating...


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