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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:17 pm 
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Great playing in a sonata that is horribly difficult to bring out well. Written to astound the audience with (for the time) amazing fireworks, a main point is to project superiority and shaking a fist at the world, though in more subtle ways than in Beethoven's more dramatic works. In the first movement I was particularly impressed with the second soft part of the development where the melody is in the bass, a great sense of unease despite the fine piano and pianissimo. And the recap is flamboyant as it should be. For some reason you seem to struggle more in the first part of the movement and this takes the edge off it a bit, and the first part of the development is a tad mechanical and some expressiveness is lost. That part is a bit like the development of the Waldstein - series of runs and chords where the melody just dissolves, and requires great care to think what you want to project. You need to feel in your bones that this music is extremely important or it can become kind of pointless. Incidentally, I was at first surprised by the rhythm in the opening, as other have remarked, but in the end I think it is fine to do it this way if you want. If no one else plays it like that it shouldn't bother you! (That kind of thing never bothered B, so he deserves it!)

The second movement I for some reason liked the least. I guess I'm used to hear it a bit slower and with more dynamics. The third movement I liked best, crisp and playful and with great contrasts. The finale is a strange movement, like Mozart on steroids. The dramatic inner part is very well done and expressive. The main theme could perhaps be a little more relaxed and with more attention to the long melody lines, and possibly a softer LH.

In all a valuable contribution, thanks for bringing up this underplayed sonata!

Joachim


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:33 pm 
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Thanks for your attentive comments Joachim. I'm still contemplating redoing the first movement once more, there sure is room for improvement. Then again, there always will be... and where to stop !? This decision is getting ever more difficult when recording the classics. Satisfied I'll never be.

You may have a point about asking for a softer LH in the Rondo. Though I am not sure how to make more of the long melody lines. The phrases are not particularly long, and I follow the phrasing (the indicated slurring, I should say). Probably there is more to shaping a melody line than just following the phrasing. A masterclass could come in handy here ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:17 pm 
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I checked the rondo again to listen for the melody line, and think it is a matter of extremely subtle details and in always keeping concentration. For example, in m3 the final RH C is just a bit too loud and breaks the line Bb - C - C# - D. My edition (Schnabel) has a diminuendo beginning at the Bb. The same observation holds for A - Bb -B - C in m1-2, though there it is less noticeable. And in m16 you do a slight tenuto at the first beat (RH C#) - understandably to control the LH jumps, but it does disrupt the line a bit. Your overall conception is perfectly fine but the music is so fragile that anything like this stands out. It should sound relaxed but that does not mean you can relax!

Joachim


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:00 pm 
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I have no dynamics in these bars you mentioned but I agree a diminuendo would be in order there, although I'd prefer to do that only on the last two notes (B-C resp. C#-D) to resolve the dissonance. Maybe Schnabel has a point, I am not sure. He was a composer as well as a pianist, so maybe he's added a lot of details to suit his own taste. My lowly Peters Edition does not have such level of detail.

On the subject of dynamics in Beethoven, I was just today wondering what to make of the following:
Attachment:
File comment: Funny Beethoven dynamics
dynamics.jpg
dynamics.jpg [ 82.92 KiB | Viewed 632 times ]
This is from his last Bagatelle in my Henle Urtext. The critical notes don't mention it. I'm unable to create both a cresc. and a dim. in two notes. I guess he may gave wanted just a diminuendo, as customary on such a two-note figure. Or maybe the idea is to do this in the LH - though that would amount to an accent on the Eb resp. Ab, which seems pretty far out. Any ideas out there ?

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:19 pm 
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I'm guessing, but would assume it means the first note at the level of what preceded it, the second note louder, then returning to the previous level, and so on. More indicative of shaping than just clonking an accent on the second note (plus sometimes I find the simple act of placing an accent can result in a change of touch that wouldn't arise if it was merely a cresc).


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:37 pm 
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My guess: Play the final 16th in the RH at least as loud as the preceding, ie do not round off the phrase. Take care not to do a cresc in LH, ie the final Ab should still be the weakest of the triplet.

Another way to look at it is to compare with the following measure where the dynamics makes sense (the last 16th in RH is louder than the preceding and following, despite the fact that it is on a weaker beat). Practice that first. Then phrase the first two 16ths in exactly the same way even though there is no continuation, in anticipation of the next.


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:42 pm 
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Thanks for the ideas guys. I'm not sure I can agree to playing the second 16th louder than the first. It seems to go against the grain of anything I've learnt and heard. I think I'll stick to the good old cliche of playing the 2nd softer than the first. Though it might be an idea to listen to some recordings and find out how great pianists deal with this.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:41 pm 
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Looks like an accent on the second note from the score. It reminds of me Haydn's piano sonatas - he sometimes does this, either an accent or sforzando on the second note of a slurred pair. It can sound very effective and elegant if you get it right (i.e. not banged, but more of an emphasis).


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:20 am 
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It's an accent. Normally a two-note group that starts on the beat and finishes off the beat would receive an accent on the first note. He wants it on the second note so he has to tell you specifically.


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:42 am 
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It's interesting that everybody seems sure the 2nd note should be stronger. None of the half dozen performances I sampled on YT actually does that !
Everybody plays them either the same or else the second very slightly softer. which is what I am inclined to do also. I wonder if this piece (except in the outer sections) maybe originally was for piano and violin. I guess the dynamics as written would make sense for a string player, and maybe Beethoven wanted to keep the idea even though it can't really be realized on piano. Just another of my wild ideas :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:24 am 
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techneut wrote:
It's interesting that everybody seems sure the 2nd note should be stronger. None of the half dozen performances I sampled on YT actually does that !


That doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It's been my ecperience that if you look at such interpretative issues in microscopic detail, often even very famous pianists do things that clearly run counter to the marked intentions or which are interpretatively peculiar. It's remarkable how often dynamics aren't properly observed (and I know I've been guilty of this also). The question also has to be asked as to how authentic (and widespread) this dynamic marking is. My hunch would be that people have gone through the score and opted for what's "natural", irrespective of the contentious aspect as to what the composer's intent was.


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:55 am 
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I checked the autograph and these markings are indeed authentic. But I guess we can forever guess what exactly Beethoven may have wanted here, and why it would be important here of all places to defy convention and have the second note louder. I can't remember having seen
a similar situation anywhere else. With all respect to the composer, it's not really worth agonizing over.

On a related note, one of the Tajcevic Balkan dances I recently recorded has glissandi marked crescendo. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to do that either, maybe by gradually depressing the sustain pedal ? Or by gradually increasing finger position and/or pressure ?

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:17 pm 
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techneut wrote:
On a related note, one of the Tajcevic Balkan dances I recently recorded has glissandi marked crescendo. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to do that either, maybe by gradually depressing the sustain pedal ? Or by gradually increasing finger position and/or pressure ?


My experience would be that (upwards) glissandi tend to have an innate cresc anyway, if you are doing them with the sustain pedal depressed. However I would be inclined to exaggerate that/create an illusion of increase by starting more slowly and applying an accel through it.


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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:36 pm 
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Yeah makes sense. Glissando would be an interesting discussion topic in itself. I can't remember if we ever had one.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven - Sonata Op.22
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:50 pm 
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Copying and engraving mistakes aside, I think Beethoven is the one composer whose dynamic markings should always be followed, as he never wrote anything he didn't mean to be realised in the music. These second note accents remind me of the empfindsam style of the mid-18th century, where notes are often accentuated in unusual places.


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