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Chopin Nocturne, No. 20

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by 88man, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Having just joined the Piano Society Forum, I submitted my first thread on "Making 'Professional' Home Recordings" [Useful Resources]. In the good spirit of music, I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas with people wanting to record with studio gear on their own. I usually don't tout my horn, but some members indicated that I should post an unedited sample on this page - so here it is...

    Setup: (2) AKG C414B-XLS mics. Placed 3ft from the curve, 5ft high, spaced 10in.
    Avalon Design AD2022 Preamp
    Yamaha CDR1000 (built in 20bit A/D with Apogee UV-22 dithering)

    Music Room: 35x14x8.5ft in an open floor plan with connecting dining room and foyer.
    Ambient Volume = 6,000 cu.ft.

    Piano: Steinway B

    The piano was tuned 4 months ago. Sorry, the soft pedal "clunk" will be fixed soon.
     
  2. pianolady

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

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    Ok - why is everybody recording this particular piece, lately? Wait - I know...it's because today is Chopin's death anniversary, right? I just remembered that (again) and now I want to go to my piano and play Chopin, but some family members have already gone to bed, so I can't. Good thing I played a lot of Chopin earlier today.

    88man - your recording here sounds very nice. I like your tempo and style. Only a couple little things were off that I noticed. 1. Bar 18 - the second LH eighth note should be a d-sharp. 2. Bar 15 and 49 - the RH triplets didn't quite work out correctly. I think you started your triplets on the E-sharp, when they should start on the C-sharp. But that's about it, everything else was good.

    If you are interested in becoming an official member, please submit two more recordings.
     
  3. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    ... Ever since the movie "Pianist" this piece has been experiencing a resurgence. Who knows, at this rate, it may exceed Fur Elise in popularity?...

    Thank you, Monica, for the comments. I really should get into the habit of playing and recording with the music to avoid mistakes and forgo page noise. I recorded it spur of the moment mostly to illustrate my recording setup. I regret that I no longer have time to practice more often - 1hr a week is not enough and it shows... Reminds me of the Paderewski adage about skipping practice.

    Now that the summer distractions on Cape Cod are over, I'd like to make a surge this winter to complete pieces that I never finished, like the Brahms Rhapsody in Bm, and Chopin Prelude No. 16, etc...

    BTW - do you play professionally? Teach?...

    George
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    A very nice performance indeed, with good dynamics, tempo, and rubato. Hardly anything to pick on, but you need to get the score and scrutinize what your LH plays in bars 52-56, I counted 5 wrong notes here (unless my score is wong, which is not impossible) :

    Bar 52 Last two LH notes are B# and G#, you play C# and F#
    Bar 53 Fifth LH note is D#, you play E
    Bar 54 Fourth LH note is F# you play G#
    Bar 56 Last LH Notes is G# you play F#

    The piano sounds very nice, as a Steinway B should. Yet for all the talk about ultra-expensive recording gear, I found the recorded sound not so much better than some of the Edirol recordings around here. I really don't know if it's worth the efort and money.
     
  5. pianolady

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

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    Hi George,

    What is the Paderewski adage?

    Last night I was reading an e-book about master pianists and teachers in around the year 1915, and it is mentioned that Paderewski sat low at the piano. I wonder if he sat as low as Gould. Does anyone here know? I think I'd like to research Paderewski. I know he was a friend of Granados, and he's pretty cute too! :lol:

    As far as your practicing goes - I think if you keep hanging around here, you will find yourself practicing more. That's what happened to me. And good luck with Chopin prelude #16. Yikes - that's a hard one!

    Just a regular mom living in a Chicago suburb. But I do like to play piano :!: :lol:
     
  6. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you lady and gentlemen! I just examined my two scores of this piece, and your corrections differ from what I have. This means that there are at least 3 published versions of this piece - "Medic!" I have noted your corrections in parentheses on my working copy.

    I haven't enjoyed this much criticism since my piano teacher passed away 10 years ago. It's just the motivation I need to get into shape with my technique, repertoire building, and practicing.

    Techneut, for this Nocturne I chose to capture more air and 3D space, so I miked with large condensers and placed them farther from the piano. The trade off is a slight loss of focus, directness, and transient response as you may have noticed.

    Monica, the adage is "If I don't practice for one day, I know it; if I don't practice for two days, the critics know it; if I don't practice for three days, the audience knows it." (Ignace Paderewski)
    Believe me, just like an overdue library book, it's been well over 3 days for me...

    Yes, Prelude No. 16 is dangerous, but don't worry, I have 911 on speed dial. :) I am curious, which book were you reading? Have you read The Great Pianists, by Harold Schonberg? BTW - I hope the kids are taking to music like you?!

    Good Luck to all!
     
  7. pianolady

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

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    The book I read last night is titled, Piano Mastery by Harriette Brower. It’s on the Gutenberg e-book site. But I didn’t really get all that much out of it, and actually fell asleep at my computer. Is The Great Pianists a good book? I looked it up at Amazon and noticed that it was last published in 1987, so that would mean it is not up to present time, exactly. But if it’s a fascinating read, then I’d be interested. I’m always open to suggestions for books to read.

    Well, they used to, but they’re older teenagers, now (one is almost done being a teen! I was 12 when I had them :wink: :lol: ). All they do currently is blast their stereos. I did teach them both piano, my youngest took drum and trumpet lessons, my oldest took trombone lessons, but all that has stopped. They've informed me that "they have retired". Oh well, what can you do? They hear me practicing all the time and maybe since they've got my genes, they’ll come back to playing music one day.

    Funny!
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I do not know the provenance of my score except that it says (Stefan Askenase) on the cover. He was a renowned Chopin specialist some decades ago. I find 'his' version of bars 52-56 sound better than the version you play but maybe this is just a matter of what one is used to.

    Yes, transient response, exactly. Whataver that is...
    I just thought it sounded a bit woolly, distant, and swimmy (the latter is a favourite term of mine, it seems :wink: )
     
  9. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    A very nice performance of the transcription-version (if you like you may compare it with Didiers or mine performance of the manuscript-version).
    Besides of the wrong notes, which still were pointed out by the others, it´s really a good and expressive recording. I appreciate the wonderful sound-quality (BTW, I do my recordings with Neumann KM 184 mics, audiohpile 192 of m-audio soundcard and a phonic AM 220 mixing console with phantom power, but without pre-amplifier, I mostly take the "normalization"-function, sound-editing I do with Wavelab 6).
    I like especially your interpretation of the bars 31 - 41.
     
  10. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Monica, The Great Pianists, by Harold Schonberg is a music critic's account of all the major pianists and describes the various "schools" of playing in the past 250 years. The pictures alone are worth the purchase... Life is like Homer's Odyssey, a long journey towards home. You've already planted the seed. In some form or another, the kids will come back from "retirement" and rediscover their intentions through music once the realities of life weigh in...

    Techneut, I hear many home recordings that sound too boxy and hammerlike because the mics are placed too close and tends to spotlight the sound rather than capture an even natural sound field. Neither extreme (either too close or too far) is good, but after listening to my recording carefully, I am realizing that 4 mics may be better for this piece in my home - (2) X-Y close, and (2) spaced pair at a distance. That way I could capture the directness of the timbral attack and still have a sense of air, lushness, and wide sound stage without sacrificing the focus too much.

    Musicusblau, the Neumann KM184 mics are studio standard. They are very accurate in capturing the timbre of any acoustic instrument. If you have a warmer sounding piano, then it's a perfect combination, especially in a home environment. I have a friend who uses them on his Bluthner and he's very happy.
     
  11. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    88man wrote:
    I agree, I have a Grotrian- Steinweg grand-piano and I´m totally happy with these microphones.
     
  12. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Musicusblau, I always remember the first time I played a Grotrian 225 after just having graduated from dental school. At that time, I couldn't afford to buy ANY piano with school debt, but never forgot the beautiful tone, bass, and bell-like treble. However, when I could afford to buy one and had the house to put it in 10 years later, they were no longer selling Grotrian in New England area. So instead, I bought a New York Steinway B... But, I'll never forget playing the Liszt "La Campanella" on that beautiful Grotrian in the showroom 10 years ago...

    About 3 years ago, German piano prices skyrocketed and have since become prohibitive for many, mostly because of the weak dollar. the 225 went from $45000 to $61000 in one year at the Los Angeles Piano Show that same year.

    By the way, are they still making Feurich pianos in Germany?... Sadly, we don't get them here anymore either.

    Thanks, and keep up with the great music!

    George
     
  13. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi George,

    I remember now that you asked me also about Feurich and I forgot to answer. They seem still alive:
    http://www.feurich.com/english-site/englische-index.htm
    I much liked their longer grand that I tested 15 years ago at a large retailer in Paris. According to the information on their site, they are still distributed in Germany, in USA, in UK and in France. I do not know the French retailer and I guess that their distribution in France is now very limited, still more than Steingraeber, much more notorious in France today but the sells of which is only a few tens per year.
     
  14. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    88man wrote:
    Thanks, yes I think Feurich is still made in Germany. My Grotrian is exact this 2,26m. I love it and I think one can modulate the tone very well on it. Yes, the piano-prices are incredible in this time (like other prices, too). I think, the B-Steinway is a bit better than my Grotrian. The tone of Steinway is more "noble" than of Grotrian-Steinweg.
     
  15. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you gentlemen for the information on the Feurich. It's great to hear that family owned piano builders are still in business, at least in Europe. Let's treasure these fine instruments before the oriental markets makes them extinct!
     

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