Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by John Robson, May 18, 2007.
Brahms: Intermezzo, Op. 118, No.2
Boy, do I know this piece! I played it in a recital a month ago and playing it again this Sunday in another recital. I can practically do it with my eyes closed. I have also recorded it twice, now, but You-Know-Who will probably kill me because I want to record it a third time - my playing of it has changed over the many months (hopefully for the better).
My teacher has helped me with this one, so maybe I can pass along some tips. But first, something weird is happening to your recording. It sounds like little aliens are swimming around there. So strange, first corks popping out of bottles, and now this. Did you change your recording setup? It was better before.
Now to the music - and keep in mind that most of this is subjective.
1. Not sure if it is the poor quality, but in the beginning I thought you could bring out the high A a bit more. Then you can use the soft pedal at the end of the second line where it's marked pp
2. The poco animato sections need to be a little more poco animato. And then slow down on the rit - piu lento. This is also the case on the last two lines.
3. Good job bringing out the melody notes in the LH.
4. In my opinion, your over all tempo was too slow. But most especially on the piu lento section at measure 57. When I first learned this piece, I also played this line too slow. But it really drags too much at a slow tempo. Use the soft pedal, play very legato and keep the top note singing.
Thanks, Monica, for your advice. I agree with most of what you said. Unfortunately, I have not had the good fortune to study this piece with a teacher, though I wish I could. But your advice will have to suffice for now. Upon listening to this playback, I too felt the soft, slow section was probably too slow. I tried recording it several times, and this recording was the slowest. I'm going to record it over, not so slow, for myself. I restrained myself a bit on the animato sections because I felt the piece was beginning to sound to fragmented with all the unusual phrases. I'm still not convinced one way or another on that.
Now the recording sound...I moved the microphone about eight feet from the back of the piano with the lid all the way up. I tested very carefully to be sure there was no clipping. At least I don't think there was. I'm disappointed to hear the sound is worse. I thought it was probably better. With microphone further away I definitely don't need reverb which is one thing I feel has been accomplished. As for the rest, I give up. I try everything people tell me to do, but you see the results.
John, I was just watching TV and out of the blue, I got to thinking that maybe it was my computer that was distorting the sound on your recording. My computer is left on all day so just now I rebooted it and listened to you again. I also plugged in the headphones. The good news is that it sounds better now, but unfortunately, I still hear a little outside noise. I don't know what it is. Listening beyond that, I think your reverb and location of equipment may be good, but somehow the way this file is playing there is that whistling, jittering noise high up. Maybe it's just me. I have very sensitive ears and even the sound of electricity frequencies buzzing through light switches bugs me, so maybe you can just forget all this. Wait to see if anybody else hears anything.
I do not hear any popping or jittering noises here even with headphones. Only a very soft and high whining sound when I turn the volume right up. It sounds very recessed, seems like the input volume was much lower than the first version you mailed me. Actually the first version was much better IMO, it sounds more flowing and confident (a full 21 seconds faster but still rather slow).
I agree with Monica that in this version you rather drag in places. It's just too slow and protracted. You lose a couple of soft notes and in a couple of places the RH voice does not sound out like it should. Apart from that it's not bad at all but I vastly prefer your previous version, and we could put that up the site if you want.
You have a point there :twisted:
I don't fancy everybody continuously re-recording their repertoire just because they feel slightly different about it after a while. Unless there are major flaws in a recording, but that is not so here.
I guess every artist feels the need to continously evolve and improve their interpretation, and a good thing it is. But as recordings go, you could just leave well enough alone for a while - at least for, say, a year.
I can't let a whole year go by knowing that people I don't know (even worse, people I do know) listen to a recording of mine that I know isn't great. Granted, it's only been a few months but believe it or not, it has improved considerably in my opinion. I'm re-doing it next week (maybe even today).
John, sorry for the interruption.
Thanks for listening, Chris. I sort of agree that the other version is better. That one bass note that did not sound toward the end really bothers me, but I'll get over it. I trust your judgment, Chris. So post the version you think is better.
Just another point: The overall tempo marking is "Andante teneramente" which I consider to be a metronome time of about 60. Is that correct? The slow chordal section which I agree sounds too slow is marked "piu lento." I made several recordings before I submitted this one, and I wanted to be certain that I took that section more slowly than the rest of the piece. I must have overdone it. But just how slow is "piu lento"?
Ok then. I have put the first one on the site.
Your tempo feels right to me. Don't be too obsessed with metronome marks - Brahms did not give them so I guess he was not, either. Piu lento simply means "slower" so you cannot ask "how slow is that". As Brahms has the habit of writing out a new 'absolute' tempo designation when the tempo is radically different, I guess the piu lento just means to take the current tempo back a little bit, but not so drastically as you do. All of this is pure speculation of course.
Thanks, guys, for your suggestions. I have re-recorded both this and the La plus que lente following most of your suggestions. I decreased the input volume on them to prevent the harsh sound of this recording. I also re-recorded several other selections for myself with your comments in mind. They are improved. You are like teachers to me.
I don't know much Brahms piano music, but I have listened to his choral works and his quartets (I absolutely adore his Clarinet Quintet), so I have kind of an understanding off Brahms' harmonic language. You bring out the things that definately need to be brought out in his music. Your interpretation is lovely. Keep up the good work.
Very good work, John. Also the technical quality of recording is (IMHO) better.
Dramatic and "living" sound, as in your Beethoven.
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