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 Post subject: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:46 pm 
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The Scriabin “Etude” Op. 42, No. 4 in F# is drawn from his Eight Studies published in 1903 during his middle period. Another pianist recently asked me why Scriabin wrote this piece as an etude at all. My thought is that in its own way, the etude is not unlike Chopin’s “Etude” Op. 10, No. 6 in E flat or Liszt’s “Paysage” in his Etudes d'execution Transcendante. That is, these composers believed that learning to play lyrical music was a necessary part of the pianist’s training along with fast and brilliant bravura playing. Scriabin’s Etude 42/4 focuses mainly on playing a cantilena line, including the voicing of chords that might occur within the line. However, unlike Chopin who took a more narrow view of imparting technique through a study of thirds, or arpeggios, etc., Scriabin took a broader view of an etude in my opinion. Thus, in this piece he inserts other challenges too such as playing portato touch quietly and managing a contrapuntal bass line written in triplets. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing it.

Comments welcome.

Scriabin - Etude in F# major, Op. 42, No. 4(2:12)


Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid fully open
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Microphones: Earthworks TC-20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:38 pm 
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I don't know this etude well enough to comment with any level of authority on interpretative issues, though first instincts are that I would prefer a more languid approach (cf Sofronitsky). I guess such things come down to how a person conceives the music. Your performance seems more restless in nature; of course there is no reason to not have variety in interpretation!

You do well in preserving a sense of melodic line and forward progression; without a score to hand I can't be sure but some of the writing sounds like it contains deceptive difficulties. As always, well worth listening to!


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:57 pm 
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Very expressive rendition of this Etude. I agree with you that just because it is not a bravura piece it should not be an Etiude. As you say, one of Chopin's was written exactly for that: for work on lyrical aspects.

There is no way of not recognising your piano's unique sound, is there? A good thing!

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:42 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

Sofronitsky is always the best choice for Scriabin recordings. I seldom listen to Scriabin's own recordings--too idiosyncratic in my opinion. Sofronitsky is far more objective in observing the scores. As it turns out, I didn't listen to any recordings at all, as I knew how the piece goes. It's true that my interpretation is more driven. Scriabin's metronome marking was 60. Given that the left hand is all triplets, I at first thought it might sound rushed. But as I eased off the tempo down to 56 or so, it seemed that the cantilena was not quite as cohesive, so I boosted the speed up to 60 again. What I aimed for there was a more Wagnerian vocal line. My rendition is perhaps more extroverted, but it shows another possibility for interpreting this wonderful music. I agree with you on the variety of interpretations in general. Sometimes I think that playing a piece slightly different from performance practices can be refreshing. Yes, there are some deceptive difficulties! Scriabin has more than just one test in store.

Thanks for listening!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:53 pm 
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Hi Richard,

I believe that the concept of lyrical etude hit me back in the 80s when I was playing many of the Rachmaninoff Preludes, Op. 23 and 32. In the process it dawned on me that his preludes were actually smaller etudes. Since then, I've greatly broadened my concept of etude to this: Whenever we play difficult music, it stretches our abilities and adds to our techniques. Thus, any time that I find myself isolating a passage for intensive practice, I know that I'm playing an etude. And to expand on that thought, nearly every piece we undertake has some challenge to it, so the reality is that every piece we encounter can be thought of as an etude.

Here in the U.S. for decades when it came to grands, most performances and recordings were given with Steinway or Baldwin pianos. So here. at least, most musicians can differentiate the two distinctive timbres fairly easily.

Thanks for listening.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:27 am 
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Beautiful performance. I particularly liked the subtle feeling of disquiet at 1:05, crescendoing into the luscious hush at 1:26, thereby illuminating that section. All I had heard up till now in this set was the fifth etude with all its infamous difficulties, so this was a real treat!


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:00 am 
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David,

A wonderful etude that I've not yet heard. (Like the previous poster, I'm only really acquainted with the fifth one from this opus.) IMHO you play it very well -- good crisp polyrhythms. In my personal estimation, Scriabin even in many of his slow pieces can be a bit agitated and in a bit faster of a tempo compared with other composers such as Chopin or Rachmaninoff, so your general approach seems fine to me. My only suggestion is that it could have a bit more freedom and rubato in places -- more personal expressive touches; it sometimes seems just a bit straight-laced to me. Certainly no easy task though, as from looking at the score with those left hand stretches matched against some quirky righthand rhythms, this piece definitely seems much harder than it looks.

Excellent work anyway to make the technique so smooth and legato, and a pleasure to hear this piece.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:25 am 
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Hi Affinity,

Thank you for the compliment on my playing! Yes, observing dynamic changes is important in this etude. The main theme reprises a few times, so the dynamics can help provide some variation. In that vein I treated one of the changes to p as subito, even though Scriabin didn't write the direction into the score. There again, my purpose was differentiation. I'm happy that you enjoyed this rendition so much. Thanks!

I hear you on the Etude 42/5, as it's one of my favorites too, a ferocious piece! And it's hyper-romantic too. I love Horowitz's rendition. But I believe that the most difficult Scriabin etude--and the truly ultra-romantic one--is No. 6 in D flat. Very few pianists dare to ever venture forward to play this piece. I made an attempt on it about 5 years ago and was soundly defeated. It was very frustrating. Someday I plan to revisit it and see if I can at least fight Scriabin to a draw. It's incredibly hard to play! When you listen to the piece, it sounds like the right hand is dawdling with the melody--it's not! The right hand has not only the melodic line, but is handling a thicket of arpeggios accompaniment too. Here is a link to Richter playing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaQyJFCOX-o

You have to turn the volume up, as the poster did not check it carefully.

A more modern, clearer digital recording by Alexander Paley is worth hearing, as the detail in all its glory is easier to discern. Link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hhuo1BYkwU

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:43 am 
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Very good again David. This is very much your music. I did not know the piece and have not listened with score, but I have nothing to nitpick on it,
except that maybe your pedaling is a bit over-generous in places (I could be wrong but this is what it sounds like to me).
The ID3 tags are fine now. If only you had named the file properly too (scriabin-42-4-april.mp3) this would be the perfect submission :D

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:43 pm 
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Hi Chris,

I'm glad you enjoyed this etude. At times I did use a bit more pedal to keep the cantilena cohesive throughout. Gives that line a Wagnerian touch too.

You know, I entered the file name as you have it, except I omitted the .mp3 because the software always adds that suffix automatically. So I don't know what happened there, as it looked fine including the exact spacing. I triple checked it! Oh well.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:50 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
You know, I entered the file name as you have it, except I omitted the .mp3 because the software always adds that automatically.

Must be that your software does something else, too... because when you download the attachment, the name is

Scriabin%2C Etude 42%2C 4.mp3

where %2C is the web encoding for a comma sign. Ah well, don't worry about it. Renaming is easier than tagging.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:07 pm 
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This one is on the site too.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:16 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for putting this etude in the archive.

I believe this very same file name oddity happened in the last Scriabin piece I posted as well. The Korg recorder assigns a WAV file number, but I've always erased that and then used the Rename feature to write in what I wanted--no problem. Next, I visit AVS Audio Editor to add the slight reverb effect. The last step is AVS Audio Converter to change the file to mp3. But as I say, what I visually see is what is supposed to be there. One of the AVS programs seems to be the culprit putting in those symbols. When I have time, I'll have to do some experimenting.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:04 pm 
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Hi, David!

One more ultra romantic piece of music to your repertoire! \o/
=D

Nice playing.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:24 pm 
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Hi David, Sorry I'm late here; I was on vacation and now I'm trying to catch up.
This sounded very nice. Beautiful ending! Thank you. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:19 am 
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Hi Luis and Monica,

Thanks for listening to my Scriabin etude. Glad you enjoyed it!

I just returned today from some vacation too! It's nice to get away once in awhile.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:32 am 
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Hi David,
that´s a wonderful rendition of that well-known piece. (I have played this myself a longer time ago.) I think, you have fine affinity to the russian romantic. Dymnamical very subtle playing, with a plain agogic, that bring out the calm and contemplative spirit of that piece. Bravo!

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:21 am 
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Hi Andreas,

I'm so glad to see you posting here at PS! I know during the school year how very busy you are.

Thank you for listening to this etude of Scriabin, and for your kind comments too. I very much appreciate it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:44 am 
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Hi David,

Sorry to come late to the party here. Thanks for posting this interesting piece. I love these Scriabin etudes, and wish I had more time to grapple with them myself. I like the general sense of forward motion in your recording--I think Scriabin even at his most lyrical always has a turbulent undercurrent--and the overall shape of your interpretation is good.

One thing that didn't convince me is the polyrhythms. In most cases the second quaver of the RH sounds together with the second triplet in the LH, so that the quavers sound uneven. Was this deliberate? You played even quavers in bar 35 (although it's hard to tell because of the syncopation; I had to listen a couple of times to be sure).

Also, I think you can allow a little more flexibility in the tempo at some points. Especially where the composer writes "rubato" in the score--I think he intended this phrase to be a lot broader, then pick up the tempo again afterwards.

Rachfan wrote:
However, unlike Chopin who took a more narrow view of imparting technique through a study of thirds, or arpeggios, etc., Scriabin took a broader view of an etude in my opinion.

I strongly disagree with this. That is, I agree with your good opinion of Scriabin, but you're selling Chopin short by a long way (opus 10 number 3, opus 25 number 7, middle sections of other etudes from opus 25).

Another lyrical Scriabin study that I like is opus 8 number 4, hint hint ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:22 am 
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Hi Alexander,

The way I play a two-against-three polyrhythm is to play the first 8th notes of both hands precisely together on the beat. Next comes the middle 8th note alone of the triplet in the bass. Then sounds the second 8th note alone of the duplet in the treble. Finally, the last 8th note of the triplet in the base sounds alone taking up the rear. Thus aside from the unison of sound on the the first beat, the other notes are interspersed between notes, i.e., it's a staggering of the notes following the first beat. So the sound is "MY cup of tea".

In my experience (I could be wrong), it's more common to find the triplets in the right hand and the duplets in the left hand. Scriabin has reversed this here. Maybe that's part of why this piece is an etude. For me it took some getting used to it at first. I also played it up to tempo. Not everyone does, choosing adagio rather than andante as indicated. For that reason alone--playing more slowly--they have a far better chance of bringing out the polyrhythms than I gave myself. Still, to my ear they sound satisfactory.

In my score (Dover) there is only one rubato marking at measure 21. I just now listened to Sofronitsky and Horowitz play the piece. Both seemed to make very little of that rubato, especially where it's only a single measure. Of course, Horowitz played the whole piece rubato, so it would have mattered even less. That aside, what I focused on there was that this measure is the only one in the entire piece marked forte--the climax. So I decided to emphasize that aspect.

Yes, I too like the Etude, Op. 8, No. 4 (placevole). The best one Scriabin ever wrote, in my opinion is Op. 42, No. 6 in D flat. A few years ago I attempted it, but had to abandon it. It's a killer! I might go back and try it again sometime.

Thanks for listening and your comments.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:57 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
The way I play a two-against-three polyrhythm is to play the first 8th notes of both hands precisely together on the beat. Next comes the middle 8th note alone of the triplet in the bass. Then sounds the second 8th note alone of the duplet in the treble. Finally, the last 8th note of the triplet in the base sounds alone taking up the rear. Thus aside from the unison of sound on the the first beat, the other notes are interspersed between notes, i.e., it's a staggering of the notes following the first beat.

Listening again carefully, I think the second quaver (8th note) doesn't always line up with a triplet, but it certainly isn't exactly half way in between the second and third triplets as it should be. To my ear it sounds as though the first of each pair of duplet quavers is shorter than the second; the rhythm is a little lopsided. (I know I'm being very fussy here, and it's something a lot of listeners might not notice.)

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:32 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
The way I play a two-against-three polyrhythm is ... So the sound is "MY cup of tea".
That's indeed what you should do, David, but Alexander's point is that what's coming out here does not quite match your stated intent, hence his question whether this was deliberate rubato.

Your "of" is coming too soon after your "cup". This asymmetry between the RH 8th notes is most apparent when there is a run of them, such as in bar 8.

Instances where "of" almost completely coincides with "cup" include bar 1, where the RH pair of F#s does seem to be pretty well together with the LH A#.


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:55 am 
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Hi rainer,

My musical intent was not to create rubato in the polyrhythmic accompaniment. There is only one measure marked rubato in the piece, thus doing so would not be justified by the score. Of course, when playing cantabile, there can be some romantic surges that are spontaneous. Any singer would do likewise. The challenge in playing the piano, a percussive instrument, in solo lyrical music is always to emulate the human voice. I do believe that I played the cantilena line very well, which to me is paramount in this music, withstanding a slight misalignment within some polyrhythms at proper tempo. To me the left hand sounds quite even. Frankly, I'm not inclined to go back to the piece, as I've moved on to other literature. Overall, I believe it's a satisfying rendition.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:00 pm 
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Hi David,
Enjoyed this one too.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:10 am 
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Hi Eddy,

Thanks for listening, and I'm glad you found this rendition to your liking. You probably know from personal experience how difficult these Scriabin etudes are. A lot of work!

David

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