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Brahms - Ballade Op. 10 no. 1

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by felipesarro, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    this was my first PS submition, almost 3 years ago!!

    I decided to re-record it because my new recording setting is much better!
    I also hope to be able to deliver a slightly better interpretation. Though this piece is REALLY DIFFICULT to play well. In my opinion, of course.


    Brahms - Ballade Op. 10, No. 1
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, Felipe, this is replaced. I don't know the piece that well so I can't say much. Really this is probably the second time I have ever listened to it all the way through; the first time being your original recording. :)

    I do hear something a little odd in the background, though. Almost sounds like your washing machine or dryer is on somewhere in your home? Or maybe your puppy is nearby and breathing hard....?
     
  3. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    hm...

    I can't listen to these odd sounds, but in fact my grandpa wasn't too silent when I was recording. I remember I was a little upset. Since I can't hear these sounds in the recording, I forgot them. But they remain. :?
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Nothing Brahms wrote is ever easy to play well. This is an adequate performance with all the notes in their proper place. Though I do have some minor niggles, some of which may be personal:

    - It's rather bass heavy. Maybe your recording setup ?
    - It's a bit slow and ponderous.
    - It's a bit rhythmically flabby in places. Too much rubato IMO doesn't work in this fiery piece.
    - I may be getting deaf, but I don't hear some of the top notes (this already in the second chord). Time for pinky excercises ?
    - You could be a bit more careful with the pedal. I heard at least one ugly blur.
     
  5. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    hi, Chris!

    I don't like 99% of the recordings of this piece, which I find too fast and breathless, with little drama. Even so, when I heard my recording, I found out that I should've speeded up in the middle of the middle section. but I don't think there is much rubato here.

    yes, there is one or two bars where I don't lift the pedal. I may have done it in the wrong way (so it blurred), but the intention was to add sound in a special passage: the climax of the piece.

    thanks for listening!
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Wha, 99%. You must have listened to at least 100 recordings then :D
    So I'd expect you to know exactly what you want and what you don't. These Ballades sure are hard pieces to bring off convincingly.
     
  7. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    and my recording is inside this 99%. hehe

    yeah, they are super hard.

    in fact, I find the first and the forth super hard to play convincingly. numbers 2 and 3 are a bit easier, I think (though far more difficult technically).
     
  8. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Felipe, I remember that you submitted this piece on AR :D
    I agree with Chris on many points, but I cannot hear only one or two weak notes for which the right pinky is responsible and think this is tolerable. You said you don't like too fast tempo for this piece, but also at a slower tempo you shoud keep the whole piece exciting. When I listened to this recording, I was sometimes a bit distracted when you play(?) the breaks. But this is certainly a hard piece and I cannot dare to play something like this, since I have stuffed-chords-fright :?
    BTW is there anybody who can explain me how I can train pinkies?
    And I don't hear any strange sound, even though I used a very good headphone for listening :roll:

    Edit: Have you listened to the Gould's rendition, Felipe? If I remember correctly, he doesn't play this not too fast, but very convincingly.
     
  9. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    hi, Hye Jin!

    no, I haven't listened to Gould! I didn't know Gould recorded this piece!

    you said you get distracted during the breaks. probably you mean the first 1'50 minute.
    well... I like that! hehe
    there is contrasting between those sections, as if they were describing different (parallel) scenes.

    I didn't sing those top notes, but I can hear them. If I'd sing those notes, I miss the choral effect of the first section.

    I think we have too different views of this piece, or maybe mine is too idiosyncratic.
    what I think is really missing in my recording is that the passage between 2'05 and 2'38 should be faster.

    I'll take a look at Gould. thanks!

    PS: I'm leaving PS for a while. I'll be on the beach for the rest of the month! :D
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    *Green with envy*
     
  11. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    well... I train pinkies the same way I train other muscles. is the "grabbing" thing again.
    the first thing my actual teacher made me do was to play a Czerny exercise (with lots of chords) in a "grabbing" way. this is for finger strength. (I remember my hands would heat while playing it. It was a kind of "weight lifting" for piano). there was also that thing about playing more than one chord with only one arm movement. if I find this Czerny, I can send it to you by e-mail.

    and then, after practicing it for one month, he wanted me to play Brahms Ballade Op. 118 no. 3, which is all about grabbing. hehe
     
  12. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    First make sure you are pronating your forearm correctly. When pianists get worried about their fifth finger they tend to lean the hand towards that side to "help out" the weak finger. It's exactly the wrong thing to do. By rotating your arm in the opposite direction, you allow space for the little finger muscles to come into play. (Many people don't realise that the pinky has its own dedicated muscles!)

    For a quick anatomy lesson see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronation and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothenar

    I've found some of the Brahms exercises useful for practising this sort of thing. (Also the Dohnanyi exercises if you can bear them!) And Chopin's opus 10 number 2 played very slowly (much less than half speed).
     
  13. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    Re: Brahms - Ballade Op. 10 no. 1 (now 5th finger stuff)

    The 5th finger was one of the very first things I had to learn to train when I began lessons with my first pianist-teacher (A. Schutte, a pupil of J. Lhevinne). I was required to learn to relax the hand so that the 5th finger's metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint [the knucle that is prominent when you make a fist to punch somebody located between the hand and the fingers] did not sink downward when playing the 5th finger. Then I had to learn to swing the 5th finger from that MCP joint without sinking the MCP joint. The early efforts of this are most tenuous in the untrained hand; you will feel that you have all the strength of a little song bird. SLOWLY, after repeated small incremental steps, you begin to move it AND maintain the proper shape. Try just holding your hand in a 5-finger position on C major, and just play the 5th finger with a dedicated simple swing stroke, maintaining shape of the hand AND the finger (don't let any finger knuckles buckle backwards). Then you just need A LOT of practice! The exercises by A. Schmitt and then I. Philipp (Exercises for the Independence of the Fingers) are the best for this purpose. Regarding the Schmitt, use a modulating scheme for each exercise, e.g.: C major [1234543213531], C minor [same fingering], A-Flat 7 in first inversion (C, Db, Eb, F, Gb, F, Eb, Db, C, Eb, Gb, Eb, C), up a half-step to Db major, ..., etc. (Practice hands seperate with the one hand doing the finger exercises while the other accompanies with simple triad harmony; then switch.) Do the first part (without the held notes/fingers) before trying the second part with held single notes, held double notes, etc. If you do this with patience and great attention, you will develop tremendously (at least it happens when we are young).
    <I'm going to paste this as a new post under technique.>
     
  14. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Somehow I missed the new posts on this thread.... :oops: Sorry and thank you very much, guys! I'm really lucky to have you here. But I need some time to understand these complicated english anatomic terms. However surely I'll take time to comprehend the exercises you described and to try them on the piano. Eddy, it's a very good idea to create a new thread on another forum.
     
  15. lisztzsil

    lisztzsil New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Felipe,

    Nice job on this Ballade! I like your sfz in the second part. One should take conscious liberties, as often as necessary. I also think the tempo is correct. I just regret your piano is a little out of tune.

    Best,
    Alexandre
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Felipe,

    I enjoyed hearing your rendition of this ballade. In my opinion it's a fully creditable performance. My favorite in the set is No. 4. Do you think you might play that one at some point?

    In reflecting on Brahms, I think he was quite different from Chopin, Liszt and Schumann. While the latter three often brought fervent ardor to their music, Brahms seldom wore his heart on his sleeve. His was a cooler brand of romanticism I think--more objective, more mature, perhaps even including a tinge of classicism too. And yes, none of his music is easy to play. I've only played less than a dozen or so of Brahms' pieces. Somehow he and I were never able to come to terms. Maybe it's because he thought orchestrally in writing for the piano, and so often he wrote figuration going outside of the octave which is more awkward and challenging for the pianist.

    Congratulations, Felipe, on playing this ballade. Opus 10 is an early one, but contains some of Brahms' finest music in my opinion.

    David
     
  17. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Phillipe,

    The pacing of your interpretation held my interest. The tempo was thoughtful.
    As far as training your pinky, if you keep your wrist flexible and rotate it so that the arm weight is distributed
    while keeping your thumbs extremely relaxed and your elbows unlocked, you should have no problems.

    My suggestion is to place your hand on a table and lean the weight a bit into the pinky to get the idea, in a totally relaxed manner.
    Keep the wrist very flexible and let it rotate a bit.

    Your performance had a deep emotional component that I feel shows maturity.

    Kaila Rochelle
     
  18. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    thanks a lot, Kaila!

    I remember I did this in the past!
    some years ago I was totally crazy about piano technique. I'd read a lot of things and test them. I tried this one on a table!

    My favorite one is No. 2. and the No. 1 was one of the first Brahms pieces I listened to, so it's somewhat magical to me too.
    Sometimes I think of studying the other three ballades and recording them, but sometimes I think I should focus on pieces I already play! I don't have much time, and I have lots of things I'd like to record! hehe

    sure! that's why the rubato in Brahms is much more restricted, almost like that one in Beethoven. the exception is the Opus 76, with some pieces which seem very romantic.

    but I read in a recent study that Brahms loved the playing of the violinist Joachim, who would abuse on rubato. it's also true that Brahms had a very free way of playing (lots of liberties regarding tempo fluctuations) and Clara Schumann edited his manuscripts and removed lots of the tempo changings, because she liked to play his music in a more strict way.
    so maybe there are some reasons for playing Brahms sentimentally, though I really don't like it this way.

    I think Brahms writes more orchestrally in the beginning, in the sonatas and the ballades. it's not that evident in his variations, and his late pieces are much more pianistically written (Op 76 for instance). the exception, of course, is the final Rhapsody Op. 119.

    thanks, Alexandre!
     

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