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Balakirev - Mazurka no.4 in G-flat major

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Chaotica, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Chaotica

    Chaotica New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sorry, this may sound lofty, but I think this is my first submission that makes a difference. But recording a piece by Balakirev is something that fills me with joy (big sorry, again :lol: ). Until now, I haven't met a neglected composer whose works please me so much like his. Okay, I'm still young, though.

    Now I've recorded his Mazurka no.4 in G-flat major. (Though Balakirev is obviously influenced by Chopin, don't think of Chopin's mazurkas. Regarding their scale, Balakirev's mazurkas could be better with Chopin' polonaises.) The emphasis of this piece is on the middle part in D major, which begins with a nice melody, marked "quasi Violoncello". I think so because at the ending, the piece comes back to this cello subject. First, it returns to the key, but in the form of E-double-flat major (!). And second, the melody is restated in the homekey, leading to the very ending.

    Some comments would be nice, though I fear Chris is the only person here who can give me a critique on my playing. But don't feel obliged to like this piece as much as I do!

    Balakirev - Mazurka no.4 in G-flat major
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    The only Balakirev which I head were his Islamey and "The Lark". But this is just as nice. You are right, it does not match with Chopin's Mazurkas. To me it was more like a quasi-waltz. we will have to wait for a better critique from Mr. Techneut.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    This is one of the Mazurkas I have never played or heard. It is not as good and as ambitious as some of the others but still a pleasant piece. At his best, Balakirev was a great piano composer,
    highly respected, if not frequently played, by Russian pianists. But his large oeuvre is uneven. There are works that are absolutely great and there are those that are mediocre. This Mazurka IMO holds a middle ground.

    You play it well if a bit lightweigth and cautious. There could be more sonority - but I think Russian romantic music is not ideally suited to digital pianos. What bothered me a bit is your rhythmic instability. The dotted rhythm is unclear in places. Especially when the RH has triplets, which is tricky of course, but also in other places. Some 2-against-3 passages sound rather fumbled, as is the RH flourish near the end of the repeated middle section. Generally it seems on the slow side and a bit lacking in drive and excitement.

    But all this is mostly sour grapes of course, just because I wanted to to B. mazurkas too and you beat me to it. It's a good job done. Any others planned ?
     
  4. Chaotica

    Chaotica New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you as always!

    Give this piece a chance. From my experience, most of Balakirev's works take time to get used to.

    What has changed your opinion? Two months ago, you posted this:
    I you ask me, I think out of the 7 mazurkas, only the first two are less original, and the other five are more or less on one level. I haven't listened much to the other pieces yet, except the nocturnes, the sonata, the sonatina (very funny piece, I have to learn it! :D ) and Islamey, of course.

    The first theme should not be cautious, of course, but actually, it's lightweight. And more difficult than it sounds. I don't know for sure, but I guess you're right with your observations. The only things I know are that there are slips and that it's indeed relatively slow (the recording I have is 5:47, mine is 6:18 ). And I must admit there is a bit luck in this take. :oops: Therefore I think I can't do better, at the moment.

    I will now begin with no. 3 (that means in a few minutes :wink: ). It would be great if I was able to do all of them, but that would be a huge task for me and very time-consuming. But if I'm fast, I'm finished within a decade or two... :lol: No garantuees, you can record one of the mazurkas if you want.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Well I made a sweeping statement there. Should have said 'much' instead of 'all', given that I do
    not nearly know all of his works. It is always expertly pianistic though, and more difficult than it seems (Russian composers of the time always seem to have that knack).
    The ones I know and love equally are 1, 2, 6, and 7. I do not think 1 and 2 are 'less original' and so far I think higher of them than no. 4 but as you say one should not form an opinion on first hearing. Especially no. 6 is a true masterpiece, but a real bastard to play.

    I am surprised there exists a recording of this. Who is the pianist ?

    As for your performance, the sometimes sloppy rhythm disturbed me more than the couple of slips.
    Also you could use more pedal to create a deeper sonority. See if you can use any of my hints with the no.3 - that one looks quite a handful too.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I know nothing about Balakirev, and have never heard this before, but I really, really liked it. The beginning did sound a little jerky to me - I guess it could use some pedal to make it less dry too. But that middle section! I love it. Starting around 1:30, it has a great sound. One can really let loose with the passion here. And you do a good job with that. More would be great. I know, easier said than done. Maybe you already have a girlfriend, a woman you love (even better - lust after) then imagine that feeling as you are playing. Makes practicing much more fun. And you would be surprised at what can come out of your playing. I know I do this all the time, although sometimes I get carried away, and I could never post such a recording. Anyway, I think I will put Balakirev on my (long) list of music to play, someday.
     
  7. robert

    robert Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I think too that you do a really good job and your playing sounds to me consistent and in a good mood. I have never heard it before and but for the famous Islamey, I know very little about Balakirev's works.

    I will put this up of course but wonder if there is an opus numbering or similar to his mazurkas? Could not find any information about it.

    Monica, we would for sure want to listen to a "carried-away-recording" and a video would be even more interesting! :eek:
     
  8. Chaotica

    Chaotica New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I've got this set from amazon.de and it was very, very cheap, only 24 €. It's by Moldavian pianist Alexander Paley, about whom I knew nothing until the Google search I did a few minutes ago.

    I will pay more attention to the pedal in the future (I often hesitate using it). As for the rhythm, you have to explain this a bit: I know the dotted rhythm in the accompaniment of the first theme isn't very accurate. If there are other inaccurate places, please give me some hints where they are.

    @ Monica and Robert

    Glad you like it and thank you! Of course, I know what you are talking about and I feel the same about that passionate middle section (it's what caught my attention on the first listen, too). I'll think about your observations, Monica, though when playing, I usually only think about how to handle all those notes... - you're mentioning it already.


    Btw, why does it have to be a woman? :lol:

    (I'll regret having said that!)

    Edit: Similar to Liszt, there is no numbering with Balakirev or at least, it isn't used nowadays. It's simply Mazurka no.5, composed in 1884/5.
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I'm sitting here paying bills and listened again to this. Still love it! I bet Liberace liked this one too. I could see him adding about a hundred more arpeggios.

    Whatever floats your boat. :wink:
    Oh, too bad - I don't have a good video camera. (thank God)

    Me too. :oops:

    Nice job, Jan. I forgot to say that, before.
     
  10. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Mazurkas

    This is my third time listening to this. It is really very nice, although most of it is not very "mazurka-ish." I echo Chris' remarks in that the first and last sections sound a little weak rhythmically.
    However, the beautiful, romantic middle section makes up for it. Kudos to you for a very good performance. Balakirev is new to me. I'm going to look for more of his works. Does anyone recommend any particular works of his?
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    It is mainly the dotted figure which comes out a bit random. Sometimes ok, sometimes as two eights, sometimes somewhere in between.
    Also you need to give attentio to your 2-against-3. You make a right jumble of bars 15-16 for example, and similar bars later. Surprisingly, you do quite well in the more difficult last 2 pages.
    Very good are the more 'rustic' forte sections, which you stamp out nice and assertive.
    Indeed this Mazurka gets better on repeated hearing, though I find the outer sectoins not up to his usual standard.

    @ John : Scherzo 2, Mazurkas 6 and 7, and the Sonata are highlights of B's work (and the ubiquitous Islamey if you can handle it :wink: )
     
  12. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Islamey

    You must be kidding? Islamey? Me? LOL
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Re: Islamey

    No harm in trying :p
     
  14. robert

    robert Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    It is up on the site!
     

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