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 Post subject: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:37 am 
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This is the first of the Novelettes. I still like no. 3 better, but this one is okay. And it's by a French composer! :)

Poulenc - Novelette no. 1 "Modéré sans lenteur"


In addition, I just got a new video camera and needed to try it out so I made a quick video this afternoon of an Alkan (another French composer!) Esquisses. It's the no. 43 "Notturnino-Innamorato", a pretty short piece, which is why I video-recorded it. The video itself is nothing fancy; I didn't have time to make any neat effects and also I forgot how to do them anyway and I have no time to figure things out again.
Here is the mp3, which is the same as the video:

Alkan - Esquisses Op.63, no. 43 "Notturnino-Innamorato"

And here is the link to the video: It's kinda boring...I know it could be better - I didn't have time to memorize the music and I don't remember all the bazillion different settings on my program and the new camera too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eIFfim_WUQ

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:15 am 
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Hi Monica,

I had a listen to your Poulenc and Alkan, nice playing as usual :) . The Poulenc piece takes me off guard. It sounds very classical compared to other lushly romantic piano pieces I have heard composed by him (and have come to expect in all of his other works :lol: ! The Alkan sounds like there are large leaps in the left hand, interesting harmonies. I tried your video but it wouldn't load for some reason :?:

It's nice to be back on the forum here! I have officially moved ship to China! I really like it, though it is rather different than the US :D

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:59 pm 
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Thank you, Riley. I have a feeling I did something wrong with uploading my video onto Youtube. Since I don't make many videos, I can never remember which setting to use and all that. I was getting so frustrated last night. It does play on my computer though, so maybe because it's a high-def video then it doesn't load on smart phones....? Maybe I should change it into a smaller file or something....

But Wow! You made it to China!! I'm very impressed you have actually gone forward with your plan!!! I hope you can take some photos or just let us know how things are. What is the time difference between where you are now and Chicago? I just woke up not long ago....maybe you have just gone to bed.....? :lol:

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:35 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
It's a funny thing. When you hear a piece for the first time, it tends to condition you into thinking that's how it should go, and when you later hear someone else play it differently, then even though the other interpretation is just as valid as the first, it somehow tends to seem not as good as the first. This doesn't just happen when you hear a piano piece played by different pianists, or a chamber or orchestral piece played by different ensembles on the same combination of instruments, but it also applies when a piece is arranged for different instrumentations.

I know this particular Novelette quite well from having played it several times in its (Emerson) arrangement for woodwind quintet, not having been familiar with the original piano version. I'm glad to say that when I later sought out the piano version, I found it to be every bit as good as the arrangement. :)

Yours is an excellent rendition, bringing out all the little features which make the piece suitable for arranging. I didn't follow with score as I don't have one available, but I still spotted a wrong note in the melody line at 2:02, where you play a G instead of an Ab, but I don't suppose anyone else will notice.


The Alkan sketch is a lovely piece, thanks for introducing us to it. One of the great things about PS is that such little gems as this keep randomly popping up, acting as inspiration for others to try them. I'm adding this piece to my list of postludes suitable for playing at church.

Again, you play this very well, and I particularly like how you voice the hands properly so that where, part way through the second half, the melody moves to the left hand, it comes through effortlessly without being overpowered by the right hand accompaniment.

The only thing I would interpret differently is halfway through, at the change of key, which happens two half bars after a half bar rest. I would make less of a hesitation at the actual point where the key signature changes, for one thing because there has just been a big (and sudden) gap already, which is enough to make us prick up our ears, and for the other because I would rather not separate the chords of the cadence too much; what we have here is a C# major dominant 7th (with missing 5th) resolving to F# major. That E# and B are just dying to move to F# and A#, and making us wait too long for this is just over-egging the rubato a little.


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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:15 pm 
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rainer wrote:
I didn't follow with score as I don't have one available, but I still spotted a wrong note in the melody line at 2:02, where you play a G instead of an Ab, but I don't suppose anyone else will notice.

I'm so glad for you that you've found a wrong note in one of Monica's recordings. But I have to disappoint you, I spotted that one too.

rainer wrote:
The only thing I would interpret differently is halfway through, at the change of key, which happens two half bars after a half bar rest. I would make less of a hesitation at the actual point where the key signature changes, for one thing because there has just been a big (and sudden) gap already, which is enough to make us prick up our ears, and for the other because I would rather not separate the chords of the cadence too much

It is about time, I think, that you submit some recordings of your own... Then we can pick out the wrong notes and tell you what we'd do differently :P

@Monica: The Poulenc is a nice and clear recording. Just a little notey IMO, it could be a bit more fluent, the filler notes a bit less prominent. The closing chord sounds like the Yamaha is ever so slightly out of tune there. I was beginning to think that was not possible, which peeved me as I seem to have the tuner here every other day.

Da Alkan piece I don't know so well as the Poulenc, though I've played it several times. That seems like a good recording too.

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:39 pm 
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Hi Monica,

I enjoyed both your recordings here. The Poulenc novelette seems rooted in classicism with its ornamentation, yet Poulenc's late romantic idiom is present too. It's not my favorite Poulenc piece, but I believe you played it very well. Ravel was also a master at combining classicism with his own idiom. And probably I should mention Prokofiev in that same regard.

Alkan, the Nordic Chopin, has yet to win me over, although I often make it a point to hear his works. I have to say though that this sketch is a very pleasant and appealing piece, and you put it across very well. In Op. 63 it looks like there is a lot to pick from there!

Thanks for posting these recordings.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:40 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Alkan, the Nordic Chopin, has yet to win me over,

Nothing Nordic about Alkan ;-) He lived in Paris and knew Chopin, even took a number of Chopin's pupils after his death. It was Grieg (and also Selim Palmgren) who was dubbed the Nordic Chopin.

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:40 pm 
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Thank you for listening, Rainer, Chris, and David.

Thanks for spotting that wrong note - I can't believe I didn't see it! I hate to admit this, but I wasn't quite ready to record the Poulenc. Probably needs another week of practicing, but I don't have the time anymore and thought I could maybe squeeze this one out. I will keep it on my piano and make another recording sometime and try to get it smoother and less notey.

It has been awhile since I've had my piano tuned. Probably longer than I usually go. I thought that maybe it was just me that thought the piano sounded off because I thought it sounded off the minute the tuner left my house last time. The way he tuned it was different than my last tuner and my piano sounded different. I wasn't sure anymore if my piano was actually slipping or if it was the way it's supposed to sound and I should just get used to it. I don't like it though.. I'll call the tuner before I make anymore recordings.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:19 pm 
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I followed the Alkan with a score and still don't have anything intelligent to say, except 'thank you' etc. for another intriguing introduction to a composer.
I assume by the high opus number (63) that this is a mature work? I'm at a loss for another composer to compare this to. Does anyone 'pigeonhole' his work? When I have time, I'll listen to the other pieces that are up on the site. Even though I downloaded the entire opus 63, Alkan's reputation for being very difficult will probably scare me away for a while.

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:07 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Sorry about my misinformation about Alkan. Quite awhile back I had read somewhere that Alkan was Swedish (interestingly alkan is a Swedish word, but Alkan's surname in light of that is clearly just coincidental). Thanks for setting the record straight.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:12 pm 
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I have listened to both submissions (this is the first Alkan I have listened to, I believe). All I can say is that both are very well played and are pleasant pieces into the bargain.

The Alkan does not sound as "brainy" as I expected. Is it a more accessible piece (Whuch, for his standards, means "difficult" and not "fiendlishly difficult")?

Have you tried Poulenc's Mouvements Perpetuels?

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:08 am 
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Thank you for listening, Stu and Richard. This is the second Alkan piece I have played. They are both from the same set of Equisses. Yes, there are a lot of pieces in this set, so maybe there are more that are relatively easy to play compared to what we usually think about Alkan's music, which is that it is too devilishly hard.

And yes, I know Poulenc's Mouvements Perpetuels well. I was playing through it about a couple weeks ago. I can't help thinking of when I was little and my sister was practicing that music for her own piano lessons. Maybe someday I'll get serious with it.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:52 pm 
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I've played some of the Esquisses, but not this particular one. My initial feeling is that it's very nicely played. The only slight quibble I have is that I get the impression you're slightly groping for some of the left hand notes in the first half minute or so; I definitely prefer later on.


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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:16 am 
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Hmmm.....not sure what you mean, Andrew. I know the piece well, but there are some very large LH stretches, so maybe that's what you are referring to? I thought I was comfortable enough with them, though. I don't really get this...
Oh well, that's interesting - thank you for listening. :)

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:43 am 
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My choice of words probably wasn't the best. I just had the impression that you were taking a little bit of extra time getting to the note: it happens on some of the bigger stretches earlier on (like at 0.10).


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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:25 am 
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Although Andrew is right, Monica, that there is a certain unevenness to the triplets near the beginning, I don't think this has anything to do with hand stretch and jumping.

Your video shows that you generally play the first two notes of each triplet "in position", and then jump down to the third, and back up to position for the next triplet. If you were "groping", one would expect the larger gap to be before and/or after the third note, but in fact it is usually between the first and second!

My impression therefore is that you are simply intentionally (though perhaps subconsciously) putting in a modicum of rubato, well within the boundaries of good taste and consistent with the word "innamorato". I rather like it that way, and am almost sorry that when it changes from minor to major, the pace becomes a bit more purposeful and strident.


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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Alkan
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:05 pm 
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That's okay, I still don't get what you guys are talking about. I'll just say like what you suggested....(said with my nose in the air, and in a low and snobby-sounding artist voice) I play it that way intentionally; it's my art..... :lol:

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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