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 Post subject: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:33 am 
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“Widmung”, the opening composition of Ernst von Dohnanyi’s Winterreigen, was published in 1905. The composer himself premiered Winterreigen in 1906. In the opening measures there is a motif similar to Schumann’s “Papillons”. The term Winterreignen was taken from a poem of Viktor Heindl wherein the poet rues the wintery and sad memories of nostalgic times. As for “Widmung” (usually thought of as “A Dedication”), Dohnanyi created a lyrical cantilena with a flowing, arpeggiated accompaniment which I found quite challenging—probably the next closest thing to a left-hand etude. Dohnanyi, a piano student of Istvan Thoman and Eugen D’Albert, was a powerful force in both the music world and the Hungarian school of piano which originated with Liszt. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing this piece.

Comments welcome.

David

Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid fully open.
Recorder: Roland R-44-E
Mics: Matched pair of Earthworks TC-20 small diaphragm, omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

Dohnanyi - Widmung from Winterreigen, Op.13, No. 1

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Last edited by Rachfan on Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:14 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:55 pm 
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A nice little piece David, and well played so far as I can hear. To my ears, the new recorder sounds at least as good as the old Korg. So what sample rate etc. dit you end up using for this ?

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:52 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks! I'm glad you liked this music. I tell you, it has a tough left hand passage work part! Not my forte, but once in awhile I undertake such a challenge to try to better my playing in the LH, although I don't know if I make any progress or not :lol:. It is hard for an old dog to learn new tricks.

I agree that the sound of the Roland is about the same as the old Korg. Like you, I attribute that to using the same Earthworks TC-20 mics. I gave up on their 85 page owner's manual and figured things out intuitively for myself. I tried their Auto Sens automatic gauging of the input sound level. That almost blasted me off the bench! My effort at a manual setting resulted in the level being too soft, so I had to increase the to increase amplitude using the editor. In the coming days I'm going to use some more reliable trial and error to do a manual setting to optimize it. I try to set the level so that it falls pretty much at the 12:00 noon position on the listener's dial. That way I don't blast the headphones off their heads! I imagine they appreciate it.

On your question, I went with 16 bit sampling (because the converter didn't offer 24 bit which I would have preferred), sample bit of 44.1kHz as we had discussed, and a bitrate of 192Kbps. I'm happy with the results of those choices.

By the way, I can totally ignore the low cut switch and the limiter switch on the Roland. The TC-20 mics have great headroom which automatically solves the problem.

I noticed that the Dohnanyi "Postludium" which is in the archive has the paperclip symbol on it. Just an error. I wrote a pm to Monica asking for her help with that one.

Guess that's it for now.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:38 am 
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Hi David,

Nice job with the arpeggios. I thought it was a very successful accompaniment part this time. This movement I haven't played but it looks like hard work! The rhythm is accurate and it moves along flowingly. Just curious, was it an intentional choice to make the octave melody in the middle section softer and the single-note melody in the outer sections louder? At least in the score I'm looking at (from imslp) it is marked p to pp in single notes but mp in octaves.

Disclaimer: I listened on bad speakers. Really bad speakers.

Heather


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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:15 am 
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Hi again, David.
That is a pretty piece! I think you played it well, too!!

Regarding the sound: with my headphones on I hear a lot of background hiss. Not when I listen without the headphones, though. It might not matter to you that much--I just always eliminate the hiss as far as I can since I often listen to music while wearing headphones. I've put this recording on the site. Also, I have replied to your other message. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:25 am 
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Hi Heather,

Thanks! I can't tell you how devilish some of those arpeggio figures are! I did the best I could with them. Unfortunately, I don't have a big technique for the left hand. Sometimes I pick a piece that will provide challenge for the left hand. I spent more time preparing this piece than I expected. Finally, I decided that I needed to record it--that despite that I was making my first recording on the new Roland R-44 with its different switches and procedures etc. With much effort, I finally arrived at this recording which I felt met standards.

Yes, I did in fact see the mp at the start of middle episode. There is a change of mode and mood there. I decided to make it even quieter there at first, as I felt I could do more with the upcoming crescendo starting from a lower dynamic, which worked out well I think. I don't do emmendations as such; however, if I think something will make a positive and aesthetic difference in the interpretation, I'm not adverse to taking a reasoned liberty. Any liberty has to be justifiable relative to the score or piano theory. It cannot be a whim. I realize that the conservatories today place a high premium on note accuracy first, and attention to the urtext secondly. But being Old School, I believe it's a good thing while co-creating the work with the composer, that the pianist should allow just a tinge of one's own individuality to become part of the rendition. Today there is way too much plain vanilla piano playing out there, such that while listening, one can't tell one pianist from another. Most listeners don't want plain vanilla. They want risk taking right at the edge of the razor and a convincing execution that will truly put the piece across to them. That's always my aim.

Thanks for listening, and I'm happy that you enjoyed the sweep of the music.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:35 am 
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Hi Monica,

I marvel at your sense of hearing, as I can't hear any hiss in the silence before the music enters. But I have tinitus too, so that's not surprising. What I could do next time would be to put the recording into the editor, select the quiet zone, sample it, and then remove it from the recording. I don't know if the new Roland R-44 has anything to do with it or not. I do know that the Earthworks microphones have a very slightly higher noise ratio than some other mics. But they have their advantages too.

Thanks for your kind words on my playing, and for archiving the recording.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:10 am 
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Hi Everyone,

I've added a new file for Monica to test to see if the hiss has been reduced. (My ears aren't good enough to hear it.) If so, we'll replace the original.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:33 am 
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Hi David,

The second file is not better than the first. This time I hear at the very beginning that the hiss completely goes away for about one second, and then I hear a blip...like a warped blippy sound from the noise reduction feature... like maybe you captured a bit of the beginning or end, but didn't run that capture throughout the entire file...and then suddenly the hiss is back just the same as in the first file and remains for the entire recording.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to aggravate you, but the reason that I am so sensitive to background hiss is because when I first started making recordings, I had a lot of hiss in my recordings, but I didn't know it until I burned some of my recordings onto a CD and listened to that CD in my car. The amount of hiss that I heard was astonishing! So then I checked the CD player in our stereo system in the house. Again, there was a lot of hiss. You don't hear any hiss at all when listening to commercial CD's. I know they use fancy mics and all that, but I felt I could improve my sound somewhat, so I played around with my editing program and now I don't hear any hiss on my recordings these days. As a test, I suggest that you try this too....burn your recording onto a CD and then play it in your CD player or in your car and see if you can hear any hiss. I'd be curious to know the outcome if you try this little test... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:09 am 
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Hi Monica,

Hmmm, that's discouraging. I went to the AVS editor, sampled the entire lead-in profile prior to the music starting, so with a very good sized sample including hiss if present, I pressed OK which supposedly erased anything found in that lead-in throughout the entire piece. I watched the bar moving through it all. I'm afraid that's the best I can do. It was my best shot. So far though nobody else has mentioned hiss. I think your ears are more sensitive to it than most.

Alas, making a CD and playing it it my car wouldn't reveal anything to me. With the tinitus in both ears, it's like having a constant 24/7 high frequency whining sound present. You know how those Cicada bugs make those siren noises up in the tree branches on hot summer days? That's exactly the sound I hear, but year round. (At least the tones are on the same pitch in both ears!) The tinitus would easily mask a very subtle hiss by far. This is part of aging (I'll hit 70 this year). Ear lavages are not a cure either. Probably I got tinitus from playing the piano from the time I was 8 years old. But it has been well worth it--a small price to pay really. I tried musician ear plugs, but they only made me play louder. :lol:

I've deleted the second music file. It was worth a try though.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:17 am 
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I've been playing since the age of 2. So far my hearing is fine. I must have my mother's ears....she can hear Everything! which was not always good when I was a teenager and trying to sneak into the house passed my curfew. :wink: My father, on the other hand, has some hearing damage. He taught private trumpet and trombone lessons for many years....
Rachfan wrote:
I tried musician ear plugs, but they only made me play louder. :lol:
That's funny! :)

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:02 pm 
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Before I comment on the playing, one thing. Monica, you say you hear hiss on some recordings while listening in the car. With the background road noise I would have thought that would be the very last place you would notice hiss! Re hiss in more general terms, the reason you don't hear it on commercial recordings, as I now know firsthand, is because studios have very comprehensive noise reduction tools not normally available to us mortals!

Anyway, to the music. Nice expressive melodic line and, despite the new equipment, it's still recognizably you and your piano. The sound is good. I'd only have little suggestions, namely that if possible the left hand should be a little more in the background and (without looking at the score I can't tell) there may be unexploited opportunities for little counter-melodic motifs and ebb and flow within the lh itself. As it's quite a meandering, wide-ranging accompaniment I imagine these may be quite difficult. The plus side is that you did maintain a recognizable background/foreground distinction, which is the main thing. Incidentally, the way you tapered off the introductory phrase was very nice, and also telling in terms of your pianistic DNA ;) Good playing as always, a pleasure to listen to.


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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:47 pm 
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andrew wrote:
Before I comment on the playing, one thing. Monica, you say you hear hiss on some recordings while listening in the car. With the background road noise I would have thought that would be the very last place you would notice hiss! Re hiss in more general terms, the reason you don't hear it on commercial recordings, as I now know firsthand, is because studios have very comprehensive noise reduction tools not normally available to us mortals!

Maybe if you're driving down the highway with the windows down then you wouldn't hear the hiss so much. But just regular driving with the window up--the hiss is easily heard. It can't be just me, either. I wish you guys could come over and jump in my car so I could show you.

But also, I think comprehensive noise reduction tools ARE available to us mortals. My editing program does it very well. There are so many settings on the noise-reducing feature and I don't understand most of them. It's been a lot of trial-and-error, but I can get it to work on my files now.

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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: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:47 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your compliments on my playing. This Dohnanyi piece and its companion here, in different ways, have challenging left hand parts. I have to admit that I don't have a big left hand technique. It could be that pianists are either born with it or not. I might be an "or not". So rather than evading the matter as usual, I've decided to try to improve it. That doesn't mean that I'll only play pieces that are challenges, but rather occasionally I won't shy away from such a piece if I'm really inspired to learn and play it. Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks.

Yes, I did try to feature the right hand in the foreground, while keeping some restraint at least on the LH as background. I appreciate that you notice it. As I was practicing "Widmung", I found that there was a similarity with Liadov's idiom in the LH. Like Liadov, Dohnanyi seems to have LH accompaniments that are a bit more robust and flowing, and that offer really beautiful polyphony in their own right. It was so beautiful, that I found it impossible to suppress it. So with Dohnanyi, I wanted to make sure it wasn't lost on the listener. The other thing is that Baldwin's have a firm action. Had I been too daring in suppressing the LH, I would have ended up with many ghost notes--which I wanted to avoid. As it was, I got a few ghost notes while just scrambling to play them.

On the tapering of the introductory phrase, that's something I learned back in my youth while accompanying a soprano who was studying with an opera singer. Also, even though not every singer needed it, I'd always find a subtle way to cue the pitch as well.

Thanks for listening and all your comments. They are always very constructive and helpful.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:44 pm 
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Here's a non-useful comment: It's a lovely piece and you play it well. I listened through speakers and I did not hear the hiss, but then my ears are ringing a little this morning.

Thanks for adding to the site's repertoire. Are you going to record more of this? I notice that it's in "Various"; if you sketch a modest bio of the composer, perhaps the administrators will move him to his own page.

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:17 pm 
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Hi Stu,

Thanks for listening. I could do a brief bio for Dohnanayi. I'm not too inclined to do more pieces from this set, although I hope other pianists might do so. I usually don't "invest" in a piece and record it unless it really inspires me. If the answer is "no", but then I proceed to prepare the piece, it feels more like a chore than a pleasure. I might look into some other of Dohnanyi's pieces though. My motivation here (other than really liking the two pieces I contributed) was this: My first teacher studied piano with Miklos Schwalb (as well as others). Schwalb, before becoming a touring artist, had been a piano student of Dohnanyi. So I thought it would be nice to play some Dohnanyi and post it. Back in the 1950s and 60s when I was studying piano, there was considerable interest in this composer, but it seems that over the decades he's become somewhat neglected. That was another reason that I wanted to play those two pieces--to do my part to give his music a bit more exposure.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:39 am 
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Hi David,

I had a listen to your recording, I like this piece by Dohnanyi rather much. The chromatic turns are dramatic and pleasing to the ear. I can tell it is a difficult piece but I can tell your hard work practicing has paid off!

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:20 am 
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Hi Riley,

There were times when I wondered if I loved this piece too much or not enough. I certainly spent more time on it than I had anticipated, especially owing to the difficulty of attaining accuracy in the left hand. I agree with you that those chromatic turns are very beautiful indeed. Same with the harmonies and modal change for Part B. I'm grateful that this recording turned out well despite my nervousness with the new Roland R-44 recorder. I think that at the next recording session I'll be more familiar with it.

Thanks for your compliment. I appreciate it!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:59 pm 
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Quote:
Hi Riley,

There were times when I wondered if I loved this piece too much or not enough. I certainly spent more time on it than I had anticipated, especially owing to the difficulty of attaining accuracy in the left hand. I agree with you that those chromatic turns are very beautiful indeed. Same with the harmonies and modal change for Part B. I'm grateful that this recording turned out well despite my nervousness with the new Roland R-44 recorder. I think that at the next recording session I'll be more familiar with it.

Thanks for your compliment. I appreciate it!

David


I'd like to try this piece out sometime, but I think it will be awhile before I will be as a good a pianist as who could handle a piece of this difficulty. It seems like a technical challenge, nevermind getting an angle with the aesthetics.

Your new recorder gives a little bit more detail to your recording, I think it's subtle but the definition is better.

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"I don't know what music is, but I know it when I hear it." - Alan Schuyler
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 Post subject: Re: Dohnanyi, "Widmung", Op. 13, No. 1 from Winterreigen
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:10 am 
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Hi Riley,

I must admit that the left hand accompaniment foiled me early on. I initially played the piece using slow practice. I did some hands alone practicing, but it was really necessary to engage the hands together as the better learning strategy. Then I very gradually moved the piece, notch by notch, up to tempo. And sometimes errors or omissions would creep in forcing me to retreat to a slower tempo again. Sometimes I'd play with the metronome in order to identify stumbles or hesitations. They would then be isolated and given intensive therapy. I discovered in later practicing that some of the fingerings I had worked out so carefully were abandoned by my hands. It reminded me that a fingering that works logically in slow practice might not work nearly as well--or at all--when up to tempo. Eventually I had reached a point where despite the time invested, I was tempted to drop the piece. So I did something that usually works for me in that moment of truth at the crossroads. I set up the recording equipment, had some false starts, but finally made a recording that was up to my standard. I've found though that Dohnany's scores look easy enough until you have to play them.

I agree with you that the Roland gives a a slightly higher definition, or as we used to say in the old days, high fidelity. I think that once I get a good handle on the input level, I should be in business again.

David

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