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 Post subject: 1st of 4 postings tonight: Bach WTC bk 1: no 8
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 10:53 pm 
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For your consideration...

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 9:22 am 
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It would have been better to attach the Bachs to one message, as is customary here, so that they can be commented on in one go. I'll put my comments about all three right here.

I'm going to have to be a bit critical of these David, I hope you will take that in a constructive way.

First, the piano is not very well in tune - not to such an extent that it's really intrusive but that it makes one long for a better tuned instrument. This is important in Bach, more than in any other kind of music.

Second, your touch is too soft and timid. This results in for inaudible notes and uneven chords (e.g. a triad where only two notes are actually heard even if I'm sure you play all three). You really need to develop a more assertive touch here - 'louder' if you wish. It will also make it cound more confident and commanding, if nothing else.

Third, it seems like preparation has not been sufficient here. You clearly have affinity with, and love for, Bach and a talent for polyphonic playing but personally I would put more work into these before wanting to see them up the site. It is not so that they are of insufficient quality, but I am sure you can do much better with a bit more work.

Now for individual remarks (which by and large come down to the above).

BWV 853 - The prelude is very slow indeed... but well done even though I still
have my questions about these long trills. The fugue is the right tempo, and is
good of concept. The voices generally come out pretty well. But it's is very insecure.
A couple of reading mistakes are not too bad but there far are too many slips and
hesitations. This really needs more work I'm afraid.

BWV 854 - Not bad but way too slow, and too many slips and hesitations, especially in
that difficult fugue, to give the impression that you are really in command of it.
You take almost twice the time I do in my recent recording of this pair (where I make
some slips too by the way...)

BWV 855 - A very difficult prelude to bring off. You do well, until the Presto which
sounds rather like a panicky rush. As a whole it's a bit inconvincing. This fugue is
a severe test of hand synchronization. Again your conception and tempo are ok but
there are too many fumbles and places where the hands are out of sync.

For some more positive feedback, see my comments on the Hindemith.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:08 pm 
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techneut wrote:
It would have been better to attach the Bachs to one message, as is customary here, so that they can be commented on in one go. I'll put my comments about all three right here.


To get the teckie stuff out of the way first, wasn't clear how I did this... do I keep clicking the "add attachment" button?

techneut wrote:
I'm going to have to be a bit critical of these David, I hope you will take that in a constructive way.


Well, I must admit at first I was a bit crest fallen, but think back to other days when I've picked myself up and gone on to greater heights. It's important to maintain a standard. You are right basically.

Though I'm not sure where it leaves me. I know I can do better, but I might do well to leave these for a while and re-visit. See what tomorrow brings.

I prefer contemplative to assertive and I will stick to my guns over certain issues of tone (though, right, every note must sound) and tempo, however I am particularly annoyed at my faltering, rather than it being airy and moving forward. I found it easy enough to speed these fugues up, but then felt it lost something. Just need to find a way to make it convincing.

As for the Hindemith. Give me a day or two to reflect. I'd say these are subject to just as many slips, just the tonalities are less familiar, and there are greater gradations of dynamics. I'm glad you found them instructive, there is a wealth to delve into there.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:30 pm 
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DavidBryce wrote:
To get the teckie stuff out of the way first, wasn't clear how I did this... do I keep clicking the "add attachment" button?

Yep. You can add as many attachments as you like.

DavidBryce wrote:
Though I'm not sure where it leaves me. I know I can do better, but I might do well to leave these for a while and re-visit. See what tomorrow brings.

Yes you can do better, and you wil. Just need to take some more time over then and it will be a real difference.

DavidBryce wrote:
I prefer contemplative to assertive and I will stick to my guns over certain issues of tone (though, right, every note must sound) and tempo, however I am particularly annoyed at my faltering, rather than it being airy and moving forward. I found it easy enough to speed these fugues up, but then felt it lost something. Just need to find a way to make it convincing.

Well Bach didn't leave any tempo clues, so there's nothing wrong with a daringly slow fugue, as long as it is smooth and flowing. In that respect playing slower is more difficult.... I know the problem of faltering, for no good reason, while recording pieces you can play perfectly well. It takes dogged determination to get out of that phase. It will get better as you record (and practice) more.

DavidBryce wrote:
As for the Hindemith. Give me a day or two to reflect. I'd say these are subject to just as many slips, just the tonalities are less familiar, and there are greater gradations of dynamics. I'm glad you found them instructive, there is a wealth to delve into there.

I though there might have been slips here too, just could not locate them as I am not familiar with the pieces. In any case they were not intrusive, while they were in the Bach. Thanks for submitting this, and I hope you'll give us more. These can still go up the site if ypu want, as hardly anybody will notice that there was anything wrong at all.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:00 pm 
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Two things in your posting that kept coming back to me and I felt I needed to say more about.

DavidBryce wrote:
I prefer contemplative to assertive and I will stick to my guns over certain issues of tone (though, right, every note must sound) and tempo

An interesting and respectable point of view. But are not contemplative and assertive two of the many sides of Bach ? Like you, I don't like Bach played with aggressive brilliance, but neither does it do to downplay the jollity and exuberance in much of his music. As I see it Bach can be unsurpassedly profound and unsurpassedly exuberant - sometimes simultaneously. A man who, while deeply devout and spritual, as well as fiercely intelligent, also loved his wine, tobacco, and (I guess) his marital duties. I bet he could revel in his own virtuosity at times. It makes the man and his music all the more interesting and lovable, I think.

DavidBryce wrote:
however I am particularly annoyed at my faltering, rather than it being airy and moving forward.

I read a book about piano playing once, where one of the author's mantras was "Hesitate, rather than err". While I see the good point of it, I doubt whether it is always a good advice. In such rhythmical music as Bach's, it just may be better to play a wrong note than to falter trying to find the right one, and break the rhythm. Ideally, neither of course... but hey, we are amateurs after all.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 4:30 pm 
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BWV 853 - Slow playing but I think it works. Gives a feeling of thoughtfulness. Several mistakes and a hesitation that did not come out well. But the musical idea is good.

BWV 854 - Again pretty slow but I think you make a nice soft sound. I guess this is part of your concept? While the prelude was rather nice played, the fugue needs more practise.

BWV 855 - Starting the prelude off well to build up the tension before the presto. A little strange interpretation of the presto and perhaps this is your idea of it but it feels like you are having problem with it. The difficult hand sync of the fugue has moments of problems and I think slow playing while learning is the key here.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 3:39 am 
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Techneut, Robert

I haven't given up on the Bach, and tonight's practice was encouraging. Combination of slow practice and playing around with faster tempos in the fugues (at least to free them up a bit before determining where I really want to set it).

Indeed my concept is for a soft lucid tone. Ever a struggle to try and be faithful to some preconception (who's ever fully to know?) of what Bach might have had in his mind in terms of tone and articulation, bearing in mind the instruments of the time, without being straightjacketed by that.

I think I'd like to have the contrast of moods in this case to come mostly at the boundaries of the pieces. Originally ordered the pieces programatically as no. 9, then 8 then 10. Ideally I'd want the first to be airy, but personally it also feels occasionally tinged to me (e.g. plaintive tied notes over the bar in the lh, bb13-16 and rh 22-25). The 2nd then to plumb the depths, and end with some of that exhuberance and quirky humour that we all crave!

Keep the comments flying. It's all helping.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 5:51 am 
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That is good ! Never give up on Bach :D
I am sure your next versions will see a huge improvement.

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