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Chopin Prelude and Nocturne + Beethoven Sonata Movement

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by mwyman1, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. mwyman1

    mwyman1 New Member

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    Hello all. My name is Matthew Wyman, and I am a new member to this website. I am a father and most certainly an amateur player, but have a passion for classical music and have been carving out time whenever possible to continue to improve my skills.

    While I've been playing piano a long time, I've only over the last week begun to record myself using my computer. Until this past year I've always played on acoustic pianos, but now (for various reasons) I am playing on a Kawai CN23 digital piano. It sounds pretty good live, but I haven't perfected (to say the least) capturing the exact sound through my computer's USB port.

    Please find attached my samples for your consideration. I have a handful of others, and am working on expanding my collection as well as improving on the current ones. I look forward to your constructive feedback.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew Wyman
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Matthew and welcome to Piano Society! :)

    I listened to some of your Chopin Prelude and about the first page or so of your Beethoven. First of all, the sound of your piano is okay, but it's a bit on the tinny-side. Maybe you can improve it with some kind of techno-tweaking or something like that...? Especially the sound just does not work with the Beethoven, I'm sorry to say. There needs more meat and potatoes for this piece, more depth, fullness, etc. Also, I don't have time to thoroughly go over everything, but your rhythm on the first few bars sound a little iffy to me. It starts out fine, but then around the third bar it sounds uneven. But then it gets better after that. Except I think your rhythm is off on bars 43 thru 49, the RH eighth note trills don't fit with the LH 16th notes. Sorry, but I don't have time to listen beyond that.

    Anyway, it sounds like you definitely know your way around the piano. Hopefully, more members will listen and offer some comments and critiques/suggestions. We need some time to evaluate your recordings. I'll try to do more of it in the next day or so too.
     
  3. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Hi Matthew, welcome to PS. Be warned: the better known a work submitted, the greater the criticism that usually follows. I listened only to all of the Beethoven. This is definitely music that you feel and participate with! I like the tempo overall. However, I'm afraid that your technique isn't quite up to the work, in that pretty much through out, you have subtle blemishes like missed/weak notes or slight disruption of the rhythm (mostly in the LH) or faults in synchronization between the hands. This movement is a moto perpetuo and should not really have any fluctuation of tempo to speak of. Though the music has composed pauses, the tempo underlying it all doesn't stop. Sometimes you struggled to keep the tempo, for example during bars 24, 28 and the hemiola sections (the first of which is at bar 43-47). This is quintissential middle-period Beethoven and it needs to growl, and yell and whisper and everything inbetween. IMO you should do alot of very careful work with metronome beginning with a very moderated speed. Good luck and keep at it!

    Best wishes,
    Eddy

    Edit: I just had a listen to your Chopin Nocturne and I quite enjoyed it. It was very musical and you provided proper imbalance of the hands (melody louder, etc.). Though it doesn't soar and is a bit careful, I think that this is still a very credible performance and would vote for it to go up (but it's up to the Admins). Further, given that you're playing a digital piano, I think the sound is sufficiently good too.

    Edit: Clarified Chopin [Nocturne]
     
  4. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    These are very nice performances, especially the Chopin pieces, and the digital piano sound is not bad at all. Since you say your piano sounds "pretty good live", might it be worth trying to record it live, instead of plugging the piano directly into the computer? It might improve the sound quality of the recording, if perhaps at the expense of introducing a bit more hiss and background noise. But it's quite adequate as it is.

    I will comment only on the Beethoven, which is quite creditable on the whole.

    The problem with bars 43 to 46 seems to stem from the fact that your right hand is accenting the Es too much, this is the wrong note of each pair to emphasize, given where the left hand's printed accents are (at least in my edition - Schirmer: Bülow/Lebert). These bars should flow in exactly the same way as 8 bars later, which you handle well.

    What you are doing in bars 23/24/27/28 does not seem to me to be the result of "struggllng", as Eddy says, but of deliberate rubato, which is nonetheless out of place in the moto perpetuo context.

    Same applies near the end, not only when the identical pair of descending chromatic scales come again, but also the following extended chromatic scale. No dramatic pauses wanted here. Also, you play the bar after this chromatic scale (the one with the octave As in it) as a 4/8 bar by inserting an extra rest.

    I have poco stringendo sin al fine printed in the next bar, but contradicting this you seem to be winding down the tempo in the last 8 bars or so.

    On the technical side, the file name for this piece should have a "2" where you have "17".
     
  5. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Welcome!

    Am I alone in noticing that the Raindrop Prelude is actually a Nocturne?

    The playing to me seems good enough and I am not bothered by the things Eddy mentions. What bothers me most is the instrument, which is quite definitively a digital piano: I can hear some unnatural noises (such as the volume increases after the note is struck and so on) and reverbation is non-existent.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Rainer's idea of recording without hooking into a computer and just recording 'live' is a good idea. :idea: Maybe you'll get a truer sound. :?:
     
  7. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Since it isn't, you probably are.
    Or am I missing something obvious here?
     
  8. mwyman1

    mwyman1 New Member

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    Wow - I can't believe I've only just now discovered this site! It's truly a treasure trove, and I am very appreciative of substantive and helpful responses. I look forward to returning the favor (so to speak) with my own contributions in the future.

    Thank you for the advice about recording techniques... this is something I've been struggling with and I am eager to try some of the suggested tips. I use Nero Wave Editor to try to "normalize" the volume and remove static, but sometimes I think I'm using the wrong settings because the more I mess with it the more artificial it sounds to me. I'm already [personally] disappointed not to be playing on a nice acoustic, so I badly would like to achieve as passable a piano sound as possible.

    Rainer, I will give that a try - recording with a microphone instead of using the "Headphones Out" jack. I'll start shopping around for one, and as long as I can do it with my 8 and 10 year old boys out of the house (!!) I do wonder if it wouldn't have a better result.

    Richard, I actually posted one Nocturne and one Prelude. I wonder if the file you downloaded got crossed?

    Regarding the Beethoven Sonata movement, I actually do still have this on my "Work In Progress" list. I wanted to provide something very different from the Chopin for review. I hope this does not breach any etiquette - the feedback is very valuable to me!

    After reading the feedback so far on the Beethoven, I'm encouraged to continue to clean up my fingerwork with a bit more deliberate practice. And after reviewing the score a bit closer, I will be making adjustments to 43-46 accents and timing. I especially enjoyed the comments by several of you concerning the "feel" and drive/precision required for Beethoven. For me it's important to have the proper mood in the back of my mind as I'm playing.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew Wyman
     
  9. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    My complete lack of knowledge of the fancy names conjured by others than the composers, combined with my indifference to nearly all of Chopin's work, means that for all my life I had been under the impression the so-called "Raindrop" was Prelude No. 6 in b. Why, then, you may ask, did I listen? The answer is simple enough: I play but two of the preludes and one of them is the one in b, which I enjoy thoroughly, and I thought I might review it.

    By the way, my edition of the Preludes (Joseffy - Schirmer's, 1943) has no names anywhere on the score.

    My apologies, then!

    As for recording... I have found out the same as you: the more one messes with the recording the more artificial it becomes. One removes hiss and one finds oneself with fluttering notes, one removes a clock ticking and one finds a note vanishing! In the end I limit myself to remove noise with the scissors where possible and little else.

    I have a daughter and I record with her in the room. Most of the time she sits quietly listening. Admittedly she is apt to cry, "Banana!" before the last note fades away, but then... It is better not to have bananas lying around when recording!
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Have her watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IS-Syh5viA

    As for the recordings, I've only heard part of the Chopin Nocturne as yet. Sounded promising and musical, but not without its problems. I'll comment in more detail later.
     
  11. mwyman1

    mwyman1 New Member

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    So maybe my wife was onto something when she said "don't quit your day job"?! :wink:

    I do look forward to reading your feedback.
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Some feedback on the Chopin nocturne. I can hear that you love the music and are earnestly trying to do the right thing. There are nice dynamics and rubati throughout, and artistically it's a valid performance. But there's too many technical issues for it to go onto the site as yet. Such an extremely well-known, much-recorded, and relatively easy piece should at least be note perfect. There are a number of misreadings in the LH chords for example. A persistent error is not remembering that accidentals remain valid for the duration of the bar. So in bar 2, in the 3rd triplet in the LH, you should still play E natural, not E flat (it sounds real strange). This same mistake and similar ones happen on other occasions. In bar 8, you seem to omit the last two chords in the LH (this could be editorial though, I refer to the Paderewski edition). A good deal of your LH chords are quite uneven, you need to work on that. Lastly,
    in some of the fiorituri, your RH does not quite play as written, either with the notes or the rhythm. I would recommend listening back, as well as listen to a professional recording, with score in hand and ask yourself if you have the notes right (which would be more useful than someone spelling everything out).

    HTH. It's not at all a bad performance, and the digital sound is passable (though I can't honestly say I like it). You
    just need to work on it a bit more. Don't quit your day job just yet ;-) And last not least, welcome to PS.
     
  13. mwyman1

    mwyman1 New Member

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    Thanks for the notes - gives me some tangible things to correct. If you have time, I'd be interested to hear your take on the Chopin Prelude I submitted as well. I'm on a bit of a Prelude kick lately, and am recording a good number of them now. Will post a few others soon...
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm not sure Matthew. Having wallowed a bit too much in the Raindrop as a youth, pounding out these chords in the middle as if there were no tomorrow, I'm now kinda allergic to it. IMO there isn't so much that can go wrong there technically if you read properly. To make a convincing story of this overplayed prelude is a different can of beer of course.
     
  15. mwyman1

    mwyman1 New Member

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    Hmm, I appreciate your sentiment. :|

    I certainly respect that you do not wish to review. Incidentally, I think the middle cords are the least interesting aspect of this prelude. To me the musical - and IMO technical - challenges here are finding the correct LH/RH balance, making the repeating notes throughout interesting and not monotonous, and of course phrasing and control.

    As a side note, and sorry in advance for my soapbox here, I've always been a bit annoyed with the characterization of "overplayed". Perhaps well-intended, to me it communicates a bit of narcissism and essentially nothing else. And talk about an overused expression (irony intended)!! I can't help but roll my eyes every time I read a review or hear a commentator address something as "overplayed". This is stating the obvious, IMHO. Just a pet peeve of mine. :twisted:

    I too admit to being annoyed that so many new learners play the same old things, and at the general overconfidence expressed by the younger ones especially. And I also shy away from many pieces for this very reason, however I would never imply that it is beneath me.

    In my opinion, the "Raindrop" prelude is rarely played well. In this musical sense, I'd say it's greatly underplayed in the world of amateurs. For me, it's one of the many pieces that may not be technically advanced but is musically under-appreciated. Not that my rendition fits the bill - trust me, I'm hard on myself and rarely satisfied with my "living room" performances. But I do strive to incrementally improve all of my repertoire to a credible level, mostly out of love for the music.

    All that said, I'll record some of the lesser-played pieces I have that may be more palatable for you. I've been working hard on Chopin's Prelude 12 "presto" lately (hopefully you didn't play that one as a child also!), as well as 10, 13, 17, 18, and 21 (my favorite). I won't even bother posting Nos 4 or 20, which is a bit of a shame because I feel these are also rarely played musically by amateurs.

    Regards.
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I see. Everybody has their pet peeve... mine is being called narcissistic. But not to worry, I've heard worse.

    The numbers then. We have currently ten recordings of this piece on the site. All are good, I believe, and a couple may be very good. So much for this piece seldom being played well by amateurs. We must have heard, and declined, at least a dozen more over the years. It' just one of these pieces, along with preludes 4, 6, 20, the first part of the Mondschein, and Bach 's first prelude, that everybody seems to submit for their first audition. Hence my perception
    of overplayed, for what it's worth.
     
  17. mwyman1

    mwyman1 New Member

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    I was just being honest about how I felt about your post. No big deal my friend. But I did feel it was narcissistic. That doesn't mean I think you're a narcicist, just a comment about how I perceived your comments as dismissive and presumptive (concluding my version is so unlikely to be worthy that it's not even worth listening to). As an Admin of this site, you saying something is "overplayed" as a reason not to even give it a listen is a bit offensive. I didn't see that criteria in the instructions. I apologize if I misunderstood.

    Listening to music is time consuming, and you certainly don't have to waste your time on my submission. You've got too many recordings of 'Raindrop' - got it. The value of this site to me, which I feel is considerable, is the feedback - NOT the posting. I'm not trying to demean any of the wonderful recordings posted here, which is a great incentive for members to keep working at their pieces. I get it and it's cool.

    So now I've made an enemy out of 1/3 of the admins of this site - great, I'm going to be ripped to shreds now!! :lol:
     
  18. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi,

    Although Richard had mistaken the "Raindrop" Prelude for a nocturne, it gave me pause for a thought. The Prelude No. 15 is the longest of the preludes. It's in A-B-A form, and A and A1 are very lyrical and tranquil. And although Part B has some bombast (the thunderstorm), there are some nocturnes that likewise have a dramatic change in the middle part. I have always thought of it as a depiction of a rainy day, but it could as easily be a rainy night. So... had Chopin slapped a nocturne title on this piece, he would have easily gotten away with it! :lol:

    David
     
  19. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Well, the story goes (can't remember where I read it) that it was a rainy winter night, when Chopin was staying in Mallorca at the house of a friend (George Sand), and stayed behind when his host and other guests went out to paint the (somewhat distant) town red, and a veritable deluge interrupted their return. They did eventually make it home, soaked to their skins, their taxi having broken down, to find Chopin at the piano, playing (this piece, composed that evening) as if in a trance, convinced his friends had been killed by this freak natural disaster. But it's probably just hype; apparently most of the piece had already been composed before he even arrived in Mallorca,
    Except for the small matter that it doesn't have the usual distinguishing features of a nocturne. The dreamy tune is there, right enough, but one generally expects a barcarolle-like accompaniment in 6/8 or some other triplety rhythm.
     
  20. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Welcome to PS! I agree with all that has been said about the music, so I won't repeat it here. Don't sweat not having an acoustic piano. Long before I had an acoustic piano of my own, I made many recordings using a Roland A-90EX keyboard when I was in school. I plugged the analog output jacks into a tape deck, then later a CD recorder. It gives very good results. You should get a better sound than what you're getting now. A couple of hints:

    1. DON'T plug the recorder in the "headphone jack." The output/input impedences are different - like on the order of 32 ohms vs 50,000 ohms. It's a mismatch. The voltage levels are different too. That's why your sound is boomy, noisy, etc. You're also getting noise and interference from the headphone amp. Use the TRS (balanced) 1/4" analog output jacks and plug that into the analog inputs on your recorder.

    2. DON'T record the keyboard with mics unless you have excellent reproduction speakers. Most of us don't. You'll pick up noise from room, longer audio chain, poorer living room acoustics, more expensive, limited frequency response, etc.

    3. Certain Romantic music, like Chopin Nocturnes, Tempest Sonata are not keyboard friendly. The action is not conducive for it. Once you invest in an acoustic piano, you'll never go back. There are many piano deals out there.

    Good Luck!
     

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