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Bach - Italian Concerto

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by alf, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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  2. Casper89

    Casper89 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    As usually, I'm deeply impressed by the incredible amount of precision you put in your recordings. Did you use some computer software to create this sound? It fits very well on baroque music!
     
  3. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    :shock:

    Quit your day job.
     
  4. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Juufa, I cannot afford to get poorer than I currently am! :twisted:


    Not to sure to understand what you mean by "precision". If you intend "details", yes I work a lot on details, but in the end there are always shortcomings (at least, to my ears). I hope I succeed in conveying some strong ideas I have about the works I play, though.

    Concerning the sound, the pipeline is the same as usual: me playing on the Kawai MP8 - Adobe Audition to record and cut/splice - SIR plugin for the reverb. But this time, I converted the recording to dual-channel mono. This should prevent one conspicous defect of stereo recordings of digital pianos, i.e. the lows standing out at the left and the highs at the right, which is fine while you are playing, but ridiculously bogus when you listen to it as a recording.
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    These are up, Alfonso. I think you played very nicely and I'll trust that you got all correct notes and rhythm in the 1st and 3rd movements; I have never played these so I don't know the details. I liked your tempo in the 2nd movement but there is something that bothered me a little, which is that you often delay your RH in coming down - almost like you were trying to make it rubato except to me it only sounded like something was off. I won't be surprised if you tell me that that is how it is supposed to go - that the way I play it is wrong. I'm used that happening - we all know that I know beans about playing Bach. Oh well, this is up on the site.

    one more thing - I also noticed that you play some of the ornaments different than I do and also our last member who submitted this piece. At least we can say that visitors to Piano Society get to hear a wide variety of ornaments played by members!
     
  6. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Alf,

    Your performance and interpretation of these movements are well done. I particularly enjoy your 2nd movement. The balance among the bass, the accompaniment duet and the melody is superb. Your rubato is well played and fits the movement well. I also like the joy and vitality that you give the final movement although at 1:04 (the ritornello in C) it seems a little strange. For me, though, I would like a little more crispness in the first movement rhythm.

    As far as the sound, I believe that you are getting some phase cancellation by mixing the stereo image into mono. The fast movements have the feel of some phase shifting. If you want to do just a mono recording, you might just try recording from the one mono jack as opposed to connecting the two jacks for stereo and then mixing down.

    Scott
     
  7. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy New Member

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    I really enjoyed your playing of the Italian Concerto, Alf. Second movement is impressive. Very well done.
    I also liked your phrasing in the last movement which can be quite tricky at some places. This is a fine Bach performance.
     
  8. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    I enjoyed listening to all three movements. It is beautifully played throughout. Indeed, they are very spirited and musical performances.
     
  9. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Monica, I do hope I got all correct in the outer movements!

    Well, actually RH should come down also before the LH, sort of hurrying and delaying against the supposed steady beat of the LH. This kind of rubato, that Sandra Rosenblum in her Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music (recommended!) calls "contrametric rubato" (from Emanuel Bach's definition wider den Tact, ie "against the meter") is the typical 18th-century rubato, as opposed to the usual agogic rubato in fashion since the 19th century. Of course, what is right in principle may well be sh***ly implemented, as in my case. In fact I like experimenting but I'm not sure I'm always successful in what I do - very glad that others like the Andante, though. Harpsichordists are usually more into developing a taste for that practice (here's a remarkable example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSFTsxpBqrQ). Andreas Staier plays it even more rubato, but unfortunately there's not on YT. And by the way, did you notice how this contrametric rubato is deeply embedded in the writing itself of the Andante?

    Thank you Scott. Concerning the far-out moment at 1:04, you know, I've been emphasizing that passage since the very first approach to the score but couldn't really understand why. Later, looking better, I realized that Bach, by means of a simple change of register, creates the aural illusion of augmenting the "g-g-f-e-d" main motif you hear two bars later. Quite a trompe l'oreille, and absolutely unexpected here.

    I am aware of that problem but the stereo-to-mono mixdown is the lesser of two evils. In fact, I can't properly do what you suggest because my piano doesn't have its own amp/speaker system but relies on the PC soundboard/speakers. If I record from the one mono jack (that is the left channel) it ends up that I play while listening from the left channel alone, not a viable solution for me.

    George and Pantelis, I want to thank you too for your appreciation.
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    No - actually I do not see how that kind of rubato is embedded. Looks to me like everything is lined up all prim and proper. But to embarrassingly show how ignorant I am regarding Bach - I did not know that rubato was even allowed! Perhaps you all have discussed this before - I rarely read the Bach posts so I don't know. Still, I love this second movement and think that it sounds best without rubato. To each his/her own, right? Btw - next time you want to play this, turn off all lights and use only candlelight. Magical!
     
  11. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Alfonso,
    I think, you have done an excellent recording here of a high artistic range! I will burn them on a CD and listen more than one times to it.
    To the 1st movement: Bravo, I´m enthused! You have built in so much delightful and enjoyable artistic moments here (and also in the other movements). First, I like your creative arpeggios, that´s how I imagine artistic playing of baroque music (I think, the musicians of that time have played like that). I love, how the forte comes in in bar 52 with a strong and healthy staccato! That´s temperament and it reminds me a bit of Andras Schiffs manner to play Bach (he is Hungarian and has a lot of temperament and musicality like the Italians are said to have, too, for what you are one of the best proofs!). Very nice is the voicing in the measures 65-68, where you underline one times the right hand and one time the left in change.
    To the 2nd movement: I think, you have choosen exactly the right tempo and you have catched the atmosphere of a balance between silence (calmness of tempo) and chopiness in a splendid measure! Bravo! Very creative (and unusual) is the trill in bar 17. I like how you handle the ornamentations, it´s great.
    To the 3rd movement: that´also a very good rendition. I think, you have choosen a good tempo, in which one can really make music, not too fast, not too slow. When I practised on this movement for to record it for PS I very often listened to Glenn Goulds version and somehow I wanted it to play also very fast, which isn´t the best for this movement (I think, I also made a compromise then), because there are so nice musical moments in it. You have done a convincing and artistic interpretation with much nice details, so much, that it would take too long to list them up all here. So, I would like to mention some of the beautifullest from my view: there is entirely a very interesting and lively articulation, in the bars 38 to 43 there is a very subtil and interesting voicing, in the bars 104-108 there is a special nice agogic (these bars are much easilier to play, when they are played musically and not like metronom IMO), when the subject starts on the dominant in bar 65 it´s marked with a good and temperamentfull forte and a little ritenuto at the beginning (so also in the reprise in bar 153).

    Your recording of the Italian Concerto shows entirely your subtle and thoughtful agogic, which I like so much!
     
  12. rsmullyan

    rsmullyan New Member Piano Society Artist

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    This was really excellent! It is the best interpretation of the Italian Concerto I have ever heard
     
  13. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I've never studied this work, so I cannot comment on details. However, I'm very impressed by all the things there I can notice on your recording!
    The first mov.: Sometimes I hear harp, sometimes harpsichord. This illusion was created, I guess, by your original arpeggios and well-thought articulations together with the unique sound. (Did you use the "Concert Grand" sound as usual?) The "Italian" flair throughout your rendition is very enjoyable. Beside these your rendition has so many nice things which I cannot name on detail. You know, your playing of this opening mov. is (at least to me) so original that it catchs the listener's ears and never lets them go until the ending of the last movement.
    The second one: Incredibly beautiful. I'm very often got bored from listening to Bach's slow mov. (Sorry Chris :wink: ), but no single moment on this recording is boring. I think one needs "a strong idea" as you mentioned to achieve such a performance, indeed. Could you reveal your ideas about this movement?
    The third one: Fast movements of Bach hide a danger that they easily make their performer rushing without thinking, I think. But your rendition is very well structured. I could find even a drama there.
    Bravo, Alfonso!
     
  14. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Monica, I light the candles only when there's a power shortage. But my piano doesn't work then! :p
     
  15. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you all, Andreas, Raymond and Hye-Jin.

    Andreas, did you know that Schiff lives in Italy now (near Florence, I think)? Some years ago he founded a small ensemble, called "Cappella Andrea Barca, after the Italian translation of his name.

    HJ, I'm referring to musical ideas, so they're more easily shown at the piano than verbally explained. For me it's enough that you, Andreas and others notice them and enjoy. Music making should be just about that.
     
  16. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Alf wrote:
    No, I didn´t know that, but it´s very interesting. You know, I feel a little bit connected with him, because I have met him between 1985 and 1990 every year in Prussia Cove (Cornwall/England) during the "International Musicians Seminar" (directed by Sandor Vegh/Yehudy Menhuin). (I don´t know, if he would remember me, even I made him an own composition as gift then. There were so much students then and he seemed not to be too much interested in my composition.) There I have met also Ferenc Rados, Tamas Vasary and Giörgy Kurtag. So, I´m really influenced a bit by the Hungarian direction. :D It was really a great time then and I miss it somehow. Later I saw him again several times in Cologne (Köln, where he played in the Philharmonie) and one times in Neuss (my old home, where he played the whole WTC I in one evening by heart in a little barn on "Museumsinsel Hombroich").
    "Andrea Barca" is funny, because it´s the word-by-word translation of his name. He could have named it "Andreas Schiff" for a good german sound and to remember his namesake on PS. :lol: Btw, did you know, that "Andrea" is a female prename in german? I have met an Italian as a child, who was called "Andrea" and first I really thought, he was a girl (he also looked a bit like a girl).

    I second that and I enjoy your musical thoughts very much.
     
  17. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I admit my question could be regarded as foolish. But I'm very interested in the process or the genealogy of an artist who realizes her/his interpretational ideas on the own performance. And thought an artist could - if necessary - explain the ideas also in verbal form like the artist statements in the field of visual arts. Or like the conductors who must explain their musical ideas verbally to their orchestras. Recently I watched the film of Bruno Monsaingeon (who filmed many artists including GG) about the music making of the French pianist David Fray "Swing, Sing & Think". I found the verbal explanations of Fray about his interpretation very interesting and had such a thing on my mind as I raised that question.
    Anyway you presented a performance which made me curious about your music making itself, Alf. :wink:
     
  18. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    :lol: The name "Andrea" had been known to me as the first name of that blind singer (with a very poor voice) Bocelli. So I was very surprised at the many girls called Andrea in my first years in Germany.
     
  19. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    There was nothing foolish at all about your question, HJ.

    In Bach's music, much more than in other composers', my choices are usually made by intuition and by experimentation, so it's really difficult for me to explain why i do something in one particular way rather than another. Certainly what I see going on in the score stirs up some ideas and, at the same time, I don't feel like sticking to some abstract principles (eg no pedal, mostly legato, mostly staccato, strict tempo or rubato). It's important to gain knowledge about the way things should be done (performance practices, historical background, composer's aesthetics, and so on) but too often we forget that interpretation requires a personal relationship with the composition.
     
  20. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    A very engaging performance. I especially like your sharp rhythmic drive, generally consistent tempo, polyphonic and contrapuntal texturing, dynamic shadings, and subtle highlighting of certain melodic motifs. A few specifics I noted:

    Ist movt: Good rhythmic retention and drive in the opening salvo. Base is a bit heavy perhaps, but I know it's hard to get what one wants out of basses on a digital instrument. The theme with the thirty-seconds has a wonderful feathery lightness to it, though perhaps two or three of the figures are unclear. Overall, excellent polyphony. The bass in particular I thought had a wonderful dialogic quality about it. Absolutely excellent extended trills: light, yet pointed and clear. A couple of minor problems with sync between the hands here and there. Not quite so convinced about the ending perhaps. Seems like it should be more assertive and forceful, particularly given the tone you set in much of the rest of the movement.

    2nd mvt: Exquisite dynamic control and shading. Something to listen to in a darkened room, to borrow the old cliche. Very little, if anything, to criticize here IMHO. The only thing that bothered me a little is the hand breaking, though the rubato is wonderful.

    3rd mvt.: I find this movement perhaps the least convincing of the three. Tempo seems a bit on the slow side for a presto, and it seems somewhat heavier than the others. I do admire your relentless tempo though.

    Overall, an excellent performance in my opinion.
     

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