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Brahms - 4 Ballads op. 10

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear All,
    Please find attached the four Brahms' ballads op. 10, that I recorded last June/July. I always loved these pieces, and thought I had to play them some day. It was a very nice experience to practice them during some months, and I am not too disappointed with the result (which is not common when I record classical music). The third one appeared to be the most difficult technically (and you will hear that the descending broken arpeggios are not perfectly rendered, but I did really my best), and the fourth the deepest in terms of emotional load. Of course, when I re-listened my reference version (by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli), this drove me back into the humility we should never quit, us poor amateurs ! Thank you for listening and commenting,
     

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  2. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Despite a few rough moments in the third, these are very effectively played. The opening minute and a half of the second one (before Brahms starts quite obviously being Brahms!) reminds me very much of the Rachmaninov op.23/4 prelude, to the extent that I do wonder about subconscious influences. The fourth one worked really well, I thought!
     
  3. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks, Andrew. Probably Rachmaninov played a lot of Brahms, and had some reminiscence when he was composing his preludes...
     
  4. Vladimir Oppenheim

    Vladimir Oppenheim Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,
    My impression was that overall essence of Brahms' music, its epic posture is captured very well.
    In Ballade No 1 the contrasts & the way dynamis was used were contributed significantly to building the piece. Sometime, chords, when played crescendo were sounding a bit "attacking and sharp" , but on another side, pedal and sound were clear.
    In Ballade No 2, and perhaps in many other pieces by Brahms, the difficulty is to make pauses alive. A silence in music should obvioulsy be part of it. Question, how to do it? :)
    Again, fast chords, for example at 1:25 are difficult to play an keep music connected and flowing. At times I felt that breaking the succession of chords just before the end and emphasizing the last chord interrupted the overall line, sounded a little artificial & made it overly fragmented and disconnected maybe. But, I am not sure, it might have been your intention .
    In Ballade No 4, particularly the beginning I would suggest playing left hand more as a second voice. I agree, it's a very important and interesting part of music, but if played in an more subtle way, both the right and left hands' matrial will sound more distinct, more individual, so to speak.
    Thanks! I like your performance!
    Best,
    Vladimir
     
  5. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear Vladimir,
    Many thanks for your very deep and analytical listening !
    - for the No. 1, yes I agree that some of my chords sound a little "hard" and aggressive. This could be my jazz style, but it deals also with my piano (I should probably change the hammers one of these days, but it's a more than 5,000 € operation, so I think I will wait again...);
    - as for the pauses in No. 2, I don't feel as if they would interrupt the story (as you say they are part of it). Also in No. 3, there are sudden changes in the mood with fp, but I think it was the intention of the composer to have these contrasts, and it is in fact one of the characters of these ballads;
    - finally in No.4 (first section), the second voice is shared by the two hands. Technically it is very difficult to have the top voice much louder than the intermediate one, and to avoid any discontinuity within this voice when the RH stops and the LH continues the melody. I think my rendition was not too bad in this aspect, but I agree that the dynamics difference between the two voices could be even higher. This is one of the things Michelangeli does incredibly well. Of course I'm far to have his technique - BTW few pianists have, if any !
    Thanks again for your comments,

    François
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