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Chopin Ballade No. 1 in g minor

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by anlieder, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. anlieder

    anlieder New Member

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    Hey, I've been coming to this site for a while, but I've never uploaded anything. I recently recorded myself and I thought of posting some of my pieces for any comments. So here's Chopin's Ballade. I'll be uploading more pieces too.
     
  2. pianolady

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

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    Hello and welcome.

    Please tell us a little bit about yourself. At the minimum, I'd like to know if I'm talking to an adult or a young person. Then tell us what kind of piano you play. Also, how long have you been working on this particular piece? Thanks.
     
  3. anlieder

    anlieder New Member

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    Sorry about that, I should have said a little bit about myself. Anyway, I'm 19 years old, I've been studying classical piano for about 10 years now. I was studying music at college, but now I'm not anymore.

    Anyway, I recently just had a CD recorded of myself so I'd have material to submit if I decide to do any summer music programs or master class auditions. I'll be uploading more pieces shortly as soon as I get back the final copy of the CD I recorded.

    In the meantime, you can check out my YouTube page which has several other recordings of me playing. You can find me here: http://www.youtube.com/user/liedersa

    I think that's about it.
     
  4. pianolady

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

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    Ok, first of all, you play very nice for someone so young. I know I could not play the Ballade when I was 19. But I will tell you that this piece is one of my favorite Chopin pieces and I have probably listened to it a thousand times. I’ve also worked on it seriously, but never to point of being good enough to record. Not sure I ever will, either.

    So…since you say you have been visiting Piano Society for a little while, then you know that our standards are quite high when it comes to accepting recordings. A couple slips in a big piece is usually acceptable as long as the overall sound is good. I do think that your sound is good here and your style of playing this piece is fine too. However, there are more than just a couple slips in this recording. There are a few other things as well, in which I will try to be more specific: For one thing – in many of the harder parts, you have no problems and sail through with ease. But on some of the easier parts, you have trouble with inaudible notes. I noticed many of these in bars 14-20. Bar 35 – I really missed the LH C-natural on the last quarter note. Bar 67 – rhythm is off a bit – the first LH note is a half note. Quite a few more inaudible notes in the beginning of the meno messo section. Bar 93 – didn't hear the grace note G-natural. Some of your runs are fantastic, but quite a few slips at bar 206. Things got kind of messy in the first part of the presto con fuoco but got better as you went along. The run at bar 246 was messy also, but the remaining two were fine.

    Like I said before, you play much of this piece very well, but I think that since this is one of those pieces that Chopin buffs know and love, then we have to have very good recordings on our site so as not to spoil it for anyone. I did listen briefly to a couple of your recordings on youtube and you certainly play well, so maybe you can one day re-record the Ballade.
     
  5. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Anyone who is better than me, as is the case here, receives my applause. Sure there are a few spots of hesitantcy or slips or reading errors, but in the larger aspect they are only minor. There are recordings of this ballade on the site which are done by semi-professionals, so of course they will be better or near flawless. Why do some "minor works" with errors receive the approval, when a large piece like this does not? 10 wrong notes in short or small pieces have a greater percentage of error than do 10 slips in a much longer or larger piece.

    No attack or rant implied, just curiosity.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you will become a regular.

    -Julius
     
  6. pianolady

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

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    That last sentence doesn't make sense, but no matter - we do not accept smaller-scale pieces with errors. And a couple of the other recordings of this piece on the site are done by purely amateur players.
     
  7. anlieder

    anlieder New Member

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    Thank you very much for all your comments. I know the recording isn't perfect. I know I slip up on a few parts and I think that is mostly due to nerves from recording. This was only the second time I had myself recorded semi-professionally. I only got two takes of the ballade and that was the better one. I wish I did have more time to go and perfect the recording. But I think there's something to be said for natural recordings without any editing. Also, I really should have spent more time with this piece. I've only been playing it for a few months.

    I was studying piano at school but I found the teaching to be very limiting. I love music and will always love music, but I have a broad passion. I wanted to learn about other things in addition to music. So I've just been taking music lessons on the side, but I'm still very serious about my music studies.

    Anyway, thanks for listening to me. I'll be uploading a Beethoven sonata soon hopefully. Is there anyway I could be considered for acceptance based on my other pieces?
     
  8. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi Anlieder,
    I have recorded this piece for this site, too. I second, what Pianolady (Monica) found out about your recording. I have heard much versions of this piece during my life and there were also some with more mistakes among them, but I share Monicas opinion, because it´s one of the most important and well-known pieces of Chopin.
     
  9. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    *cough* mine *cough*

    :lol:
     
  10. pianolady

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

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    How would you know? You haven't submitted anything in a long time.

    And btw, J - I should get extra points for not blasting you earlier. I saw what you said about this piece on a different thread. :wink: Took great restraint on my part! :)
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Here are my thoughts on the issue at hand, which, I'm sure, most here will consider to be an uncommon point of view, or perhaps heresy. Certainly I'm mindful of the purposeful and lofty objective of Piano Society to collect for its archives only those recordings that meet the standards of accuracy, artistry, quality of recorded sound, etc. And as a member I generally support those standards and respect them. However, if I must choose between listening to a cautious, careful, note-perfect--and possibly quite boring--rendition of a work, versus one where the artist is spontaneous, not averse to taking risks--but incurs a few slips in the playing--I'll inevitably pick the latter rendition for my own listening enjoyment. If one were to assert that the opposite choice is the desirable one, then I would ask why so many of us listen to Richter's recordings? Now, if someone submits a recording to PS that is obviously sloppy, or clearly not up to the pianist's known abilities, of course that's a wholly different matter.

    When I record myself, I usually produce a number of takes, listen to them repeatedly using a slow and deliberate process of elimination, and choose the best of the lot for posting, and that will serve the composer well. And indeed there might be a slip or two in that particular recording, especially in a longer piece. In an amateur's recording like my own, this allows the listener to sometimes sense the edge of the inner struggle in executing the piece which adds to the excitement of the performance.

    My sense is that a "perfect recording" is truly an oxymoron, as we pianists, including the late, legendary Michelangeli, strive for perfection, rarely approach it, and never actually attain it in our lifetimes, despite our mighty and unflagging efforts to do so. Practicing is like the paradox of cutting a measured distance in half, then in half again, then in half again... etc. In so doing, one never reaches the destination. The quest for perfection is no different. Because perfection is beyond human capability, the attainment of perfection would thus be imperfect in and of itself.

    One illusion of perfection is that of the well-prepared pianist who closely approaches it in recital. The other illusion of perfection is to be found in the professional recording studio, resulting from the electronic wizardry of the recording engineer readjusting dynamics, enhancing inner lines, using sampling to replace wrong notes, etc. The only problem is that the performance is no longer authentic. Yet the irony is that this is what unknowing concert goers often use as their criterion for judging a live performance! Thus, I for one never edit my own recordings. I'd prefer to hear the real thing and wish the very same for my listeners.

    Sometimes making a judgment call on what is acceptable and what is not can be difficult and not without controversy.
     
  12. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi David,
    generally I agree to all what you wrote above, though I´m a fan of certain editings (only reverb, equalizer, to cut in better passages, not changing dynamics or tempo or tones artificially).
    Of course, it´s a greater pleasure to listen to a human, musical and expressive recording with a slip here and there than to a perfect recording, which is unexpressive.
    But there is also a limit of these slips and/or mistakes. Of course, to set this limit is a certain matter of taste and of the personal opinion. I think, in the case of this recording, may be one could ignore all the mistakes respective slips, if the interpretation would be more risky, more individual, more unusual. So, that we would say: wow, what an exciting and great interpretation, the mistakes are not important. So do I f.ex. with many recordings of Cortot, Edwin Fischer, Horowitz etc.
    I´m not sure, if I could say this in this case, if I´m honest. Sorry, that´s very personal, of course, and I´m far from the intention to insult or to blame Anlieder. As I said above, for me there are also nice moments in his interpretation. Yet I personally agree to Monicas opinion, always in the consciousness, that judgements about music are very subjective and that my personal opinion doesn´t mean "the truth".
     
  13. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Truly a pleasure to read your almost philosophical comments from time to time, David. Always spot-on but without getting argumentative. Apart from being a pianist, I'm sure you would be equally successful as a writer.
     
  14. pianolady

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

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    Andreas is right. It’s hard to draw the line as to how many slips are acceptable. But in the case here, there are just too many. Also, Anlieder admits to not spending much time on the piece, so it’s no surprise that it came out the way it did.

    But there is another perspective to this issue. What if a first-time visitor to the site went to a particular page of listings and clicked on my recording of the piece but it happens to be one with a lot of slips? He or she may also listen to the other recordings done by some other members that don’t have slips. The visitor may think that I play too inaccurately, and will therefore not ever listen to another one of my recordings.

    As far as listening to a certain piece purely to hear how it is interpreted – we all do that all the time. But for me, if I’m listening to a piece and hear slips or inaudible notes all over the place, then the experience is ruined. Doesn’t really matter how well the player interpreted the piece, because all I know is that he/she can’t play it very well.

    And this may be a controversial statement or ‘heresy’ too, but some pieces, like this Ballade, the interpretation is practically built in. Each page is so full of musical emotions with all the sweeping dynamics, sweeping everything really, that even the most boring player can make it sound good – as long as there are not many errors. I hope that came off all right. I’m not saying that anyone can play Chopin, and yes – there is plenty of room in his music for personal interpretation. But because Chopin’s music is so great, one doesn’t always have to feel it necessary to interpret anything. Just play the beautiful music while paying attention to all the markings is all that’s necessary.

    Hope some of that makes sense - I may have gone off track a bit.


    EDITING what I wrote above: I guess following all the markings in the music, the tempo marks, dynamics, phrasing, etc... is of course applying personal interpretation since everyone is unique. Does that make sense? I may have just contradicted myself.
     
  15. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis,

    Thanks so much for your nice comment on my writing. I very much appreciate it!


    Hi Monica,

    You make many valid and sensible points in your reply. That is why treading that thin gray line in decision making is so difficult at times, although not in this particular case. I fully agree that anlieder fully knows that he can do more to improve his recording. So even he, I'm sure, would not argue the point.


    Hi Andreas,

    You do very fine edits, in my opinion, simply because you take a very conservative approach in limiting the editing to a few practical necessities. Thus, in no way does it ever lessen or infringe upon the real essence of a performance.
     
  16. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    yeah

    Hi, my brother!

    Beautiful performance, thanks a lot! By the way, I found much more amazing places here than slips ( which are overall acceptable and insignificant concerning your version ). Just curious, have you studied it with someone?

    With regards,

    Martin
     
  17. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Pianolady wrote:
    I like this attitude, Monica. The main thing is to stay natural and let the music flow through oneself (while regarding all markings etc.), I think.

    I second your statement, that an improvement of this piece for Anlieder would be possible. (For every good pianist it would be possible). So, why not accept him as a member with his Prokofiev (Suggestions diabolique), Chopins Etüde op. 10, 4 and a better re-recording of this ballade? This would be an option/suggestion IMO.
     
  18. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Rachfan wrote:
    Thank you David. :D I have to say, that your recordings are always very convincing for me, even if there are some little slips here and there. In your case for me it´s like with Fischers or Cortots recordings: they are so musical, expressive and authentic, that a few minor flaws have no importance for me.
    But I agree to Monica. Somewhere there is a limit of mistakes, this limit is subjective, of course. I personally wouldn´t publish anymore recording, which has more than one or two slips. If I have more slips, I decide to re-record or to re-record the passages, in which are the slips. Then I cut in the corrected passages. We don´t live anymore in 19th century and we can use the modern possibilities without a bad consciousness as far as they don´t adulterate our authentic playing (like tempo-changes do f.ex.).
     
  19. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Thanks so much for your kind words on my playing. Alfred Cortot appears in my piano teaching heritage, so you're citing him as an example meant a great deal to me! Some of his beautiful nuances, especially in Chopin, have never been replicated by other artists. He was one of a kind. His aesthetic ideal was the loftiest and most noble. It was as if to perform, he would enter an ancient Greek temple to play, while all the time seeking perfection in order to pay homage to the composer.

    I agree with you, and also do my best to minimize the number of slips in a recording, even if it means putting aside a recording session's disappointing results, doing additional practicing, and waiting for another day to record full takes--even if it involves a number of them of them to get one that pleases. Few people realize it, but when we pianists record, we're truly toiling in the fields.
     
  20. anlieder

    anlieder New Member

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    Let me first just say that I never imagined that my recording would arouse such a heated discussion. Whether or not you like the recording, I think this recording has at least been successful in getting people to question the aesthetics of art and what we strive for when we make music. I think recently I've become of the opinion that maybe the classical world could use a little shaking and accept a few slips now and again. I think music should be alive and not flat. Still, that being said, I think I could have achieved a better version of this recording that still possessed a certain vitality.

    Secondly, I don't know if it was clear or not but I didn't mean to say I haven't been working on this piece for that long. I studied it for a few months last year, then put it to rest for the summer and I just picked it up again in January. So overall I've probably put 6 months of work into this piece. I have been studying this piece with my piano teacher here at my college.

    Pianolady, I agree with a lot of what you said about Chopin and how effectively he writes emotion into his compositions. That being said, I do have to disagree with what you said about how the interpretation is built in. For one, I think all composers write their interpretation in their music. They must have some idea what the overall feel of the piece will be like and what will happen within the piece. I think it's our job as musicians who admire these great composers to make our own interpretations from what the composer has given us. That's not to say we can just ignore what the composer wrote. Instead, I simply think it means that there is no "perfect" sound that one can attain or even strive for. I think ultimately the goal of the artist is to strive to reproduce in the physical world what they feel on the inside.

    Maybe I'm just rambling, but I think what I'm trying to say is that if we're really going to analyze a recording measure by measure to find each tied note that wasn't held for the right value, we're undermining the process of art. The site might be better called the Technical Society. We're musicians, we're human, we make mistakes too. Let's stop hiding that fact and embrace it. Dare to miss a few notes once in a while, or will that be too revolutionary for some? If there's emotion and truth behind the sound, I think that will come across regardless of missed notes. I think the best criticism any musician can receive is advice on how to pull out more emotions from themselves. No one is going to play "better" if they're told what notes at which measure they missed. I think anyone that knows how to read music could tell you that. It takes an artist though to show you how to put your guts into the music. I don't think I've gotten to that point with this recording or with my overall playing level yet, where I feel that all of my guts are out there. I just don't think that being told where I missed notes is going to help me show you what I feel.
     

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