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Another Grieg recording

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by richard66, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I have decided to throw myself to the lions, that is, submit a recording. I do have some misgivings on the technical side - indeed, I decided not to submit another one, as it sounded as if it were being played on a cheap electronic keyboard.

    The piece is Grieg's Arietta op 12/1:



    and it was recorded directly on the computer using Audacity. The microphone is a simple one which I normally use to speak. It was placed maybe 5m away from the instrument. The piano is a Geyer upright. While it is no great shakes it has been tuned recently. The only editing I did was to amplify the sound and to remove tape hiss. There seems to be a bit of a wavering sound which I cannot identify if it is from the piano itself or from my recording and editing.

    I would at first welcome your opinion, asking you kindly to be sparing with the overripe tomatoes! :D In any case, over the next days I shall continue working on other recordings, hoping to inprove them.

    Alea jacta est.
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Not bad playing Richard. But hard to judge properly due to the execrable sound quality. Rule one - don't try using a PC microphone. Get a good portable mp3 recorder (at a minimum !) if you are serious about recording.
    There's an unfortunate slip/edit at 0:54, and the ending is too abrupt (don't hear the ritardando and the fermatas). Overall there could be less (or more carefully considered) pedal and more freedom and dynamics. But apart from all that, it's a decent start.
    Yes, alea jacta est indeed. No turning back now :lol:
     
  3. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for listening, Techneut, and thank you for not ripping me apart or, if you did so, for doing it gently. :D I agree entirely that the sound is something terrible, though it does give me an opportunity to listen to what I play, which is the second best to having a teacher. I can tell you, however, that the sound in the Bach invention was far far worse, so there is no hope you will be listening to it! 8)

    My big mistake was to amplify the sound: this is what caused the wavering chord at .54.

    In fact, I had made an earlier attempt, only to hear notes which I was adding to Grieg as well as some minims turning into semiquavers. I shall look into the (pianist) technical side and see what can improve. In any case I will not submit other recordings for the nonce, as I am not able at the moment to purchase decent recording equipment and it seems pointless to take your time if nothing is to come from it. I shall, however, use this opportunity to listen to myself and correct technical shortcomings (and they are many!) and try to improve, or at least to return to the level I was 16 years ago.
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh dear, what a shame :lol:

    yes, critically listening to yourself is the best thing to improve (I wish I'd done that from the start).
    This technically trivial piece is not one to reveal technical shortcomings. But it's a great exercise for honing your touch, dynamics, rubato, and pedal skill. It is worth the effort to try and make a convincing case for a simple little song like this, and bring out the music behind the seemingly simple notes. I can recommend Bartok's For Children for the exact same reason.
     
  5. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Well, if you really wish to suffer, I could send it in a PM, just for you. :D

    No! I will spear you this time! :twisted:
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for posting a piece here! You seem to have this piece well articulated to the point where you can play it with confidence now. That opens doors for some refinements. So I would just offer a few suggestions regarding performance and musicality.

    I don't have the score in front of me, but the "Arietta", of course, is a short air. So in your mind as you play it, you need to hear the lyrical line actually being sung by a soprano. (For romantic music, never think piano--always think singer.)

    Thus, to bring out the character of the piece, the playing must be cantabile--very melodious, gentle, graceful and expressive. This calls for a smooth, connected legato touch for the melody. The piece has a sensuous and sometimes pleading nature, so that needs to be brought out. Another suggestion that will help you attain the cantabile would be to "balance the hands" more. This means allowing the melody in the right hand to soar, while the left hand plays a subordinate and more subdued accompaniment. Think of the singer's voice in the treble as being in the foreground, while the accompaniment in the left hand is in the shadows of the background. Right now the accompaniment is as loud as the melody and right out on center state in the limelight. It needs to be considerably quieter.

    Because this Arietta is music of Romanticism, to enhance expressiveness some tasteful rubato is in order (at the moment the playing is somewhat metrically square, so needs a bit of rounding of the phrases and sound). This can be done by observing dynamics, adding the rubato just mentioned, and creating a beautiful nuance here or there. This is the "feelings" part of playing lyrical music, as you know, and also an opportunity to allow a little of your own personality to enter into the performance as long as it doesn't conflict with the composer's intentions as marked in the score. The pianist conjures a relevant mental imagery which in turn guides the interpretation and expression of the music.

    Finally, as Chris mentioned, be sure to listen carefully to pedaling, particularly regarding harmonic changes in the bass line as well as for series of neighboring notes in the treble, both of which can easily tend to cause a blurring effect. The goal is always to pedal for clarity.

    You've got this piece so far along now, that any refinements you decide to undertake will certainly be achievable. None of us is ever really "finished" with any piece. Each one is forever a work in progress. A piece always yields new insights.

    I hope this is helpful. I enjoyed listening.

    David
     
  7. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Dear listeners (David and Chris),

    In the end you both have made the same points and these have been digested, though still a little needs to be done.

    Before I stated recording this piece difinitevely was not ready: it was the microphone that got it right! You see, I really never learnt this one, but only played it like that. I have other Lyric Pieces the proper way, but these I have not recorded so far.

    I have noticed the pedal remains down a bit too much, principally during pauses. This I hope has been corrected. About the melody signing, I should have known better. Shame on me! I have added a touch of rubato here and there and have tried to add dinamics, though I find it hard to do on my upright, which tends only to go from pp to p.

    I have made several other recordings, but, seeing the poor quality of the recordings, I would rather not post them here.

    I have been looking into recorders: they seem to come in all prices, from 30 to 600. When I succeed in robbing the bank (hoping it is not the one where I have my account :D ) I'll investigate further.

    By the way, I did not mention that in the recording I posted my daughter was halfway between the piano and the microphone. Try as had as you will to hear her you will not: she was silent. :D
     
  8. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    If the "Arietta" wasn't completely up to your standard, that's understandable. Many members resubmit recordings based on feedback received here. We all welcome constructive comments and critiques, as they are helpful as we strive to improve our playing.

    I understand your point about your reluctance to share recordings of poor quality. I have a few like that too tucked away in my PC! :lol:

    Chris' suggestion for the future to consider portable recorders is a good one. Not only are some of very good quality, but also more reasonably priced than the larger tabletop recorders. A couple of the most popular ones for recording piano are the Zoom H2 and Zoom H4. In the meantime, the bank is already reinforcing its vault!

    Your daughter is so cute and obviously loves it when you play for her. And it's wonderful to be a doting father, yes? :)

    David
     

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