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Brahms, Ballads op. 10

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Daniel Hoehr, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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  2. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for these, Daniel.
    I suddenly realized while downloading these that my exposure to his early works has been very light; in fact, the earliest opus I remember playing when I was young was the opus 32 songs. (Never got into the sonatas.)
    Are these early works? Or just numbered funny? The fourth, especially, sounds like a "young" Brahms and foreshadows some of the work in the Opus100++ range. A little on the dark side.
    I enjoyed these and your playing. Since I'm unfamiliar with them I'll have to leave it at that.
    I assume you performed these. How did that go? How did the audience react to these?
     
  3. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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    Hi Stu, thank you for your comment. Glad you like the Ballads.

    The Ballads op 10 are indeed early works, written by a 21-year-old Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1854. After Robert Schumann was taken to an asylum for the insane near Bonn following an attempt to drown himself in the Rhine River in Düsseldorf, Brahms moved there to support Clara and the children and it was during that summer that he composed the Ballads. He also sent a copy to Robert Schumann, who seemed to like them very much. I think I read somewhere that Brahms said later on that the Ballades always reminded him of the summer spent with Clara and the children.

    I played them last year in some recitals, together with the late Intermezzi op. 117 in the first half. I liked the combination of the early and late works and it was generally well received but 35 - 40 minutes of Brahms might have been a bit of an overdose on one or two occasions. I remember one lady who came to me after a recital saying: "How can you play that stuff with som much passion?". Well, I guess, Brahms is a question of taste after all :)
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    These are very good Daniel. More than good enough for the site, and I will put them up tonight.
    If they're maybe not spotless, any flaws could only be noticed by a very trained ear of someone who's intimate with the pieces.
    I heard a couple of tiny issues and (maybe) misreadings in no.2. The fierce middle section could have been a little less heavy on its
    feet and a bit more incisive. Easier said than done of course. The other ones sound pretty perfect to me, especially no.4 which is
    much harder to bring off than it sounds, and you do a marvellous job here. In the 9th bar from the end of no.4, you play a couple of C#'s which should be C natural. This was actually the most disturbing thing I heard in all 4 of these :)
    Great work, and very accomplished Brahms playing.
     
  5. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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    Many thanks, Chris, particularly for spotting the c#'s that should indeed be C naturals. I wouldn't have noticed myself :)
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    That is what I am here for, to spot the wrong notes. It's a dirty job, and someone has to do it :D
     
  7. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Nice to hear these. These earlier ballades seem somewhat neglected in favor of the Op. 117-118 pieces, and I particularly like the first two from this set.

    The playing is generally solid (with the possible exception of a few minor muddled passages in number three). However, I would like to hear more differentiation of texture (no mean feat in Brahms's lush sonorities, of course). They seem a bit literal and clunky to my ears, with the bass rather prominent in places, and there could be more dynamic inflection. That said, I did very much like your crescendo in the middle section of the first one (but maybe more heroism could be in order, which could be achieved by crisper accents and some well-placed rubato in places). In the slower parts (like the intro of the fourth), you could be more attentive to pedal usage and listen more to the various voices in the texture.

    Joe
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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  9. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Daniel, thank you ! I love this music although I have not listened to it for many years. It was nice to hear it again.
     
  10. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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    Thanks, Chris, for putting the tracks on the site. My apologies for messing up the ID3 tags. I realise this caused extra work for you and I'll be more careful in the future.

    Thank you, Joe, for your helpful and constructive criticism. I'll be playing the Ballads in a private recital in a few weeks' time and I'll certainly bear all this in mind.

    Didier, thanks for your kind works. It is indeed wonderful music.
     
  11. troglodyte

    troglodyte Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very well played and a nice Brahmsian sound. I listened to the first two, which I played when I was young (quite a long time ago). I was particularly impressed with the steady build in the Allegro in no 1, it is so easy to do the crescendo too fast, and to increase tempo. I played this a lot wilder (but as I said, I was young...). In no 2 you make very good sense of the staccato and leggerio part, something I never managed to understand. Also the end of no 2 shows an amazing tonal control without slowing down, really excellent. Thanks for bringing these here.

    Some hopefully constructive details: in No 1 in the poco piu moto the melody is sometimes drowned by the other voices. This could be an issue with the recording or possibly a lapse of concentration (you play the melody very well most of the time). I would play the Andante a bit faster and with more rubato but this is of course a matter of taste. Your immaculate handling of the 2 vs 3 in the Allegro lapses around 2.30 where I think you let the LH follow the RH to produce a dotted rhythm. In no 2 I would definitely use more rubato in the andante - it says espressivo after all and though you make good use of dynamics there is a risk of sounding a bit boring. The large D major rolled chord towards the end of the Andante actually breaks the rhythm, either roll it quicker or begin it earlier, to keep the LH steady.

    But these are nitpicks, overall this is a good performance.

    Joachim

    Edit: I now also listened to no 3 and 4 and think they are really excellent. In particular no 4 seems to require extended concentration to achieve the meditative effect, that cannot be easy. It does indeed sound like a much later Brahms. I don't think I have heard it before, thanks again for this!
     
  12. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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    Your comments are certainly constructive, helpful and encouraging. Many thanks for listening and commenting. I'll be performing these Ballads in a private recital in about three weeks and it seems the list of things to bear in mind is growing :)

    However, one word in defence of my "Poco più moto" in No 1. I try to give the bass more weight in bars 8 - 13 because I think this is where the melody is. In bars 21 - 26, the soprano repeats this melody and that's what I tried to get across by highlighting the bass line in bars 8 - 13.

    Daniel
     
  13. troglodyte

    troglodyte Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to the poco piu moto again, and think you are right - the bass is important here, good point!
     
  14. groovinkeyz

    groovinkeyz New Member

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    That's very nice.
    Apart from op.117 and the 3rd Sonata, this is also a set of pieces I always wanted to learn :) Brahms is always my favorite composer...

    May I asked what is your recording equipment?...
     
  15. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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    Op. 117 is wonderful! Brahms is definitely one of my favourite composers as well. I listened to a marvellour recording of the German Requiem last night. I just love it.

    My recording equipment is very simple. I use a Zoom H2 and WavePad.
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Daniel,

    I've been pressed for time tonight, but went to my favorite, No. 4. This piece is truly a romance and you played it with artistry in my opinion. You made the cantabile line sing, you were especially expressive in the gentle flow of the music, and created much beauty with your nuances. Thanks for posting it!

    David
     
  17. Daniel Hoehr

    Daniel Hoehr New Member

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    Thanks, David. Number 4 is also my favourite. I have to say that it took a quite a while and some help from an excellent pianist and wonderful teacher, Gotthard Kladetzky in Cologne, Germany, to get it sort of right.

    Cheers

    Daniel
     
  18. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    My first teacher used to refer to Brahms as "this mature composer". But she wasn't referring to his age; rather, his insights, concepts of composing, and musical style. I especially like the burnished sound found in so many of his works.

    David
     
  19. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Daniel for this beautiful rendition. Since the time where I discovered Brahms' ballads by the great Michelangeli, I have wanted to learn them. Hearing your version gives me furthermore motivation. It is nice to have such a set of pieces on PS server, available for anyone ! Regards,
     

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