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 Post subject: Esplá Levante
PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:27 pm 
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Inspired by PS recordings of Esplá, I ordered a copy of his Levante suite which arrived a couple of days ago (I've also just discovered that Levante is, among other things, a historic name for the East coast of Spain and is particularly associated with what is now the province of Valencia, where he came from).

My favourites for the moment are numbers 2 and 5, not only because they're the easiest to play, but also because the opening tune of no 2 reminds me of the refrain from the old German children's song Ein Männlein steht im Walde which can be heard in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, except that the rhythm in the song is 4/4, or possibly 2/4, whereas Levante no 2 begins in 3/4. The fragment in question comprises the first four quarter notes of the piece, and the similarity to the song is enhanced when one refrains from giving too much weight to the first beat of the second measure, and too little to the third beat of the first measure. The way you play it, Monica, is just lovely, deliciously ambiguous enough that to me the first two measures of 3/4 sound as though I could aurally parse them as three measures of 2/4 before the figure is played a second time.

What I particularly like in no 5 is the way it brightens up, not only from the initial F# minor to the F# major for the 2nd section, but also how, near the end, there is a sudden welling-up of excitement where he modulates up twice, by a major third each time, before dropping back again. It feels as though each modulation wants to add 4 sharps to the key signature, so that the Bb major to which he rises from F# major is really intended to be A# major, and the following D major is really C double-sharp major. Another feature which appeals to me is that typically Spanish sound of the parallel fifths and sixths which lead into the second last measure of the first section. It's a bit like playing consecutive chords on a guitar where the finger of the left hand move up the neck of the fingerboard but without the grip changing shape, E major to D major to C# major.

Do you find that Spanish editions are often pretty bad for misprints? I wonder, Monica, whether you are playing from the same edition as the one I have, which is UMP18802 which seems to be a facsimile of the original Spanish UME, marked copyright 1953.

Taking no 2 as an example, there are what clearly seem to be misprints on the last line of the middle Moderato section in 2/4, four and five measures before the Lento 3/4. Apart from the fact that the key signature is missing at the beginning of the line, in the left hand only, which isn't too bad, there are accidentals missing which you have corrected in your recording (unless your edition already has these corrected), namely the last 16th note of the 5th last measure of the section, a C, should be a Cb, as it is four measures earlier. The G in the left hand of the same measure should presumably similarly be a Gb, making the entire measure identical to that in the line immediately above. The last 16th note of the following measure, an F, is missing a natural sign to cancel an earlier Fb. Such misprints can be really annoying, especially with composers who use "interesting" harmonies, where you sometimes can't tell whether it's a mistake or deliberate.

One other thing in the same piece. In the 4th measure of the middle 2/4 section, the upper voice has an 8th tied to a dotted 4th, both Bb. This is technically equivalent to a half note, and that is indeed exactly how you play it, but I suspect the tie is a misprint, and that if he wanted it to sound like a half note, he would have written one. Compare with 2, 4, and 6 measures later, where there are also 8ths followed by dotted 4ths, but those times not repeating the same note, and I suggest he wanted the 2nd Bb to be re-articulated.

Turning to no 5, which you also play very nicely, are you correcting what you presume to be a misprint in the 3rd last measure of the piece? My edition shows the top voice as having a dotted 8th followed by two 32nds, but you play it as an undotted 8th followed by two 16ths, to match similar occurrences elsewhere in the section.

There are some big stretches for the left hand in the last two measures and also 5, 6, and 7 measures before the end. They must be too wide for your hands to handle comfortably (mine too) and you get around this problem, as anyone would, by arpeggiating (is that a word?) the left hand chords. But you do this in an interesting way by using a very slow arpeggio, the first note of which you place on the beat, to coincide with the unbroken chord in the right hand. The arpeggio comes out almost as measured 16ths. It works well, though I think I would apply this only to the first chord of each measure, and not also to the third beat chord in the 7th last measure, where the G in the left hand can be played by the right hand instead; similarly in the 2nd last bar, the left hand D# in the 3rd beat chord can also be given to the right hand, if it is played with the tip of your right thumb while the nearby F# is covered by a different part of the thumb, or is that fingering too wacky? I was wondering what thinking went into your decision to use a slow arpeggio, as my inclination would be to use a faster arpeggio before the beat, either just for the left hand, or possibly even taking in all six notes of both hands. Did you think it might sound too brash in the ppp ending, but OK earlier on, but you didn't want to do it two different ways?

By the way, on a different matter altogether, but also Esplá related, I see that the PS recordings site shows his biography as "pending". Without in any way wishing to tread on the toes of whomever has this on their to-do list, I could offer one, even if it's just an interim one. Nothing fancy, basically just a loose translation of what's on Spanish wikipedia. If you're interested, where should I send the text?


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 Post subject: Re: Esplá Levante
PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 8:29 pm 
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Wow, rainer, where were you a year and a half ago when I was recording these! We could have had a nice conversation about the Levante set. :) Currently, I'm pretty busy working on other pieces and so I don't have time to get into this music again right now. From what you say here:
rainer wrote:
Turning to no 5, which you also play very nicely, are you correcting what you presume to be a misprint in the 3rd last measure of the piece? My edition shows the top voice as having a dotted 8th followed by two 32nds, but you play it as an undotted 8th followed by two 16ths, to match similar occurrences elsewhere in the section.
you are right - my rhythm was incorrect. Thank you pointing it out, I've circled it in my score. Also, I think I have the same book as you: Union Musical 18802. There is the roman numeral IV in a little square underneath the 18802 - maybe that means 4th edition? I'm not sure...

Regarding the Espla biography - I committed to writing it myself, but that was a while ago and now I can't seem to find the time. I still may do it - I sometimes have slow days at work and could possibly do it then. In the meantime, I would accept your 'temporary' Espla bio (and may even just keep it, who knows....). You may submit it here and I'll copy/paste it, or you may email it to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Esplá Levante
PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:25 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Posts: 302
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
pianolady wrote:
Wow, rainer, where were you a year and a half ago when I was recording these! We could have had a nice conversation about the Levante set. :)
This is a chicken and egg thing. It was only as a result of your recording that I became aware of him.
Quote:
From what you say here:
rainer wrote:
Turning to no 5, which you also play very nicely, are you correcting what you presume to be a misprint in the 3rd last measure of the piece? My edition shows the top voice as having a dotted 8th followed by two 32nds, but you play it as an undotted 8th followed by two 16ths, to match similar occurrences elsewhere in the section.
you are right - my rhythm was incorrect. Thank you pointing it out, I've circled it in my score.
I didn't say your rhythm was incorrect, I said there might have been a misprint which you wisely over-rode. But I can't fool you, you knew I was just being diplomatic.
Quote:
Also, I think I have the same book as you: Union Musical 18802. There is the roman numeral IV in a little square underneath the 18802 - maybe that means 4th edition?
Yes, mine has that too, on the inner title page, on which the title appears in some kind of arty typeface which gives the 'V' of "LEVANTE" such a rounded tip, that it could almost be a 'U', and in fact it says "Leuante" on the outer cover.

I'll get back to you about the bio.


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