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 Post subject: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:55 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Brandon, MA, Canada
Just noticed the 'New Message' thing at the top; I'm thinking that directly applies to me! Sorry for my absence..

There is currently a much better recording of the Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableaux Op.39 No.6 in Am already on this site; you can ignore mine if you like :)
However, I did notice that you have no recordings of the Muczynski or the Bortkiewicz, so I thought I might post these up as a temporary addition (if they pass your critiques) until more accomplished pianists can replace them :)
The Muczynski was a pleasure to put together, and an honor to place on my senior recital as a tribute in light of his passing this past year. My rendition is terribly sloppy, and I apologize for that. I've always found Bortkiewicz to be sadly underplayed, and while he's not entirely 'original,' his music is so 'pleasing' that it's hard to resist :) Again my rhythmic control here leaves a lot to be desired, but I hope it will do for the time being.
The Muczynski and Rachmaninoff were recorded the same day in February, and Bortkiewicz with a slightly different set-up and using the school's new(er) pianos in May. So they are both a little behind. I had numerous other recordings, but I don't like the sound of them much at all, and there are already so many superior ones of those on the site that I thought it would be silly to further bog you down. I hope you will find some enjoyment in at least these two new additions :)

Rachmaninov - Etude-Tableau Op.39 No.6 (2:50)
Muczynski - Toccata Op.15 (3:05)
Bortkiewicz - Ballade Op.42 (6:09)

PS. Haha, apparently Itunes found a random football team from Florida to add as 'artwork' to the Muczynski and Rachmaninoff... Sorry if that shows up!

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Brett Goetz
"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it."
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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
Posts: 1250
Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
Brett,
I just had a listen to all of your submissions and I'm happy that you've come back (though I think I came onboard during your hiatus). I too think Bortkiewicz is under-rated. I have not heard his Ballade before and like it now. Yes, though there are some matters of finesse from time to time, I really enjoyed hearing all these works and hope they make it on as samples for others to enjoy! I think I most enjoyed the Muczynski, strictly for its language. Thank you again; it was a pleasure to listen to you bring these to reality.

Best,
Eddy

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:39 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9479
Location: Netherlands
Hi Brett,

Good to see you back with some more very competent recordings.

A worthy and committed performance of the Bortkiewicz Ballade, displaying some impressive double-note and octave technique.
I find it a bit blustery but that is not only your fault, the work as a whole does not convince me and seems mostly
a sequence of grand gestures. It could be my problem, I don't warm to most of Bortkiewicz's music, however skilful and
pianistic it may be. Your LH seems a bit too loud in places, or maybe the recording is bass-heavy. The digital sound is a bit
unpleasant in places especially in treble staccatos which sound decidedly synthetic.

The Muczynski Toccata is a very good piece, infinitely more interesting than the Bortkiewicz piece. If your rendition is sloppy,
I did not hear it. A bit more clarity and digital precision here and there would be nice but you have the measure of the piece.
The ferocious jumps and clusters towards the end sound spot-on. Great job !

The Rach ET is not bad at all. Yes we probably have better versions but this is a good effort. I know from experience how devilish
this one is, so a couple of slips don't bother too much.

All said, an impressive batch or recordings that should certainly go up on the site.

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Chris Breemer


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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:00 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:55 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Brandon, MA, Canada
Thanks for the comments, to both of you!

While I loved playing the Bortkiewicz, I would agree that this piece certainly lacks some depth. At the same time, audiences sure love it! And it feels great to play; good pianistic writing. To me, much of his music is so instantly touching that regardless of its shortcomings I have a great admiration for it.
I'm glad the Muczynski is well received! I was really surprised by this piece, and disappointed that I hadn't known more about the composer beforehand.
Also, the Bortkiewicz was played on an acoustic piano (though I think your comment was pointed more at the processing and general sound). I spent a lot of time with an audio cleaning software and a nice convolution reverb; I was pretty happy with the sound considering the original, but I agree, it's a bit plastic at times :) Eventually I'll get the sound I'm after! Then to try and make it consistent...

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Brett Goetz
"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it."
- Mark Twain


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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 1956
Location: U.S.A.
Hi Brett,

I really enjoyed listening to your program here. Just a few comments. I've been a tireless exponent of Bortkiewicz (and Chris will testify to that :lol:) , and for this Ballade I believe you "pulled out all the stops" to serve the composer well. And the music does have its moments. But although I've played many of his pieces, I haven't been able to warm up to this Ballade. I attribute that to the composition itself, as your playing is marvelous. I loved the Muczynski Toccata! First time I had ever heard it, which made it all the better. You display an admirable technique in coping with all the demands there. The coda is quite a climax too. Also I very much liked your Rachmaninoff. We always think of him as a chromatic composer, but in this etude he takes it to new heights. It's a beautiful piece though. Very fine playing! Thanks for posting.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
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Location: Netherlands
Escort wrote:
Also, the Bortkiewicz was played on an acoustic piano (though I think your comment was pointed more at the processing and general sound). I spent a lot of time with an audio cleaning software and a nice convolution reverb; I was pretty happy with the sound considering the original, but I agree, it's a bit plastic at times :) Eventually I'll get the sound I'm after! Then to try and make it consistent...

I could have sworn it was digital, especially when hearing these staccato notes. Ah well.

These are up on the site, please check if all is ok.
The Muczynski bio is rather on the short side, if you'd care to elaborate/rewrite ?
If you have some blurb on the Toccata that would be nice too.

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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:53 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:55 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Brandon, MA, Canada
I remember searching through Brandon University's library on Muczynski and had troubles finding anything about the Toccata. It perhaps wasn't as prominent among his piano output that not much has been documented. I at one point had considered contacting the University of Arizona to try and find some information on it, but haven't seemed to find the time. As for my own analysis, the work features a great deal of tritone/diminished sonorities and specially patterned repetition among the motives. The piece is sectionalized clearly; contrast and 'lyricism' displayed among middle segments might be viewed as an influence from his Russian born teacher, Alexandre Tcherepnin. As well, a prominent feature of this and many of Muczynski's other writings involve jazz influenced rhythms, from syncopation to placed 'shots.' <- I'm not so sure this is what you are looking for in terms of a blurb about the Toccata, however, as for a write-up on the composer himself, I have the following (I think it sounds a bit biased at times, but I'm bad at judging my own writing; let me know what you feel about this):

Rober Muczynski (1929-2010)
American composer, pianist, and educator Robert Muczynski was born March 19, 1929 to a Polish immigrant family in Chicago, Illinois. Muczynski received his music education at DePaul University, where he studied composition under Alexander Tcherepnin and piano with Walter Knupfer. He graduated in 1952 with a BMUS and MMUS in Piano Performance.

In 1954, Muczynski obtained a commission from the Louisville Orchestra for which he composed his Concerto No.1 for Piano and Orchestra, which was premiered under the baton of Robert Whitney with Muczynski at the piano. Four years later he would perform the Chicago premier of this work with the esteemed Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In that same year, Muczynski would make his Carnegie Hall debut, performing a selection of his own pieces.

Muczynski’s compositions aim to embrace musical experimentation and intellectualism without losing sight of the audience and without abandoning traditional and accessible styles and conventions, in a bid to provide audiences with an “emotional-intellectual uplift.” As a pianist, his output includes many piano solos, as well as a significant volume of chamber music. Muczynski’s piano writings display influences from Tcherepnin’s Russian heritage while exploring contemporary techniques and American styles, particularly in jazz idioms. The added success of his orchestral works among critics and audiences has aided in heightening his reputation as a versatile and endearing composer, and has provided us with an original and fulfilling output.

As an educator, Muczynski would return to DePaul University as a composition instructor, and later held positions at Roosevelt University, Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and finally at the University of Arizona, where he also served as composer-in-residence until 1988. His teachings paralleled his ideals in composition: “While music cannot continue to exist in a vacuum of sameness and predictability, it is also true that music cannot yield to anarchy.” He insisted that he students remember that “it is not a weakness to respond to beautiful sounds, words, and images.”

Robert Muczynski died on May 25, 2010 in Tuscon, Arizona.

_________________
Brett Goetz
"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it."
- Mark Twain


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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:48 am 
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Thanks Brett, very useful. I'll change a word here and there and put it up on the site.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Bortkiewicz Ballade, Muczynski Toccata, Rachmaninoff 39-6
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:07 pm
Posts: 649
Location: Carbondale, IL
Hi Brett,

I had a listen to your recordings,

About the Bortkiewicz, nice work, it sounds nice to my ears. The runs sound clean, the crescendo at about 1:25 was convincing. though the audio quality does seem a little lacking in bass, it sounded nice.

About the Toccata, excellent playing. I have never heard of Muczynski before, so this makes a good impression, thanks! It reminds me a bit of Francois De Larrard's Risoluto and Ligeti's Devil's Staircase from his etudes for piano. I am surprised you can play this type of writing at the speed you did, it is too your credit!

About the Rachmaninov Etude, crisp playing, the contrast in dynamics was agood and the passagework was bright and balanced.

Enjoyed listening,

~Riley

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