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Chopin

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by richard66, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    That it is better than the previous one I have no doubt, but still I am not so sure of this one, but I cannot make my mind up.
     
  2. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    Main problem is that your left hand rushes twice when you go into the turns as 1:10 and 1:12, which affects the pulse and makes it a bit too jarring, since the ear has to readjust itself to that changed meter. Other than that this is a musical interpretation which is surely worth hearing.
     
  3. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    I think on the whole this is quite respectable, but (predictably) I do have some niggles.

    There is a small obvious, but easily fixable, mistake in bar 7 (at about 0:33). This is where the RH has the dotted figure on the last beat. Here you play 3 chords in the LH instead of two.

    While Chopin generally admits, or even requires, a certain amount of flexibility of tempo, I think the liberty you take at the very beginning is just too much. You are playing bar 0 (the upbeat dotted figure) at almost half the speed of bar 1, at least the semiquaver appears to last almost exactly as long as the following quavers. I suppose a slight lingering on the first note may be allowed, but the second note really ought to last much closer to half a quaver than to a full one. What you probably need to do is think ahead to how you are going to play bar 1 before you start, and then imagine the throbbing quaver pulse already present while you are playing bar 0.

    Another small thing easily fixable is the ending. There is a rest before the final three chords, and it has a fermata on it which usually implies that it should be made to last longer than without, longer than in strict time. But you are instead shortening it considerably - by almost half. Given that you are playing the following chords slower than main tempo, I think the rest needs to be slower too, and should be almost as long as the chord which follows it, or at least about halfway between the durations of the two chords which flank it. Again, it would help to imagine the throbbing quaver pulse continuing, albeit gently slowing down in keeping with the smorzando instruction, and using this imagined pulse to time the remaining chords and rest.

    I do not get the same impression as Affinity of a jarring in the bar with the turn, I find any slight pressing here quite in keeping with the stretto marking.

    What worries me more is two bars later, where we have the RH triplet against the LH quavers, and I think the triplets could do with slowing down a bit less, so that the quavers don't need to slow down as much to accommodate them.

    However, the other place in the piece where there is a triplet in the RH, in bar 12 (at about 0:55) where the LH accompaniment stops, this triplet is deliciously out of strict time, which here is just the right thing to do. Very nice.
     
  4. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you both for your comments.

    I agree about bar 0.

    This is what I thought had happened, but was unable to make sure of it. I felt it, but was unable to count it, if you get what I mean.

    The fermata is easy to explain. The last chord of the piece was sounding when... the clock on the wall started: cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo! So I had to record the chords again after and I suppose I cut too much of the silence when editing.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I noticed at 0:33 you insert an extra beat. But this was already mentioned.
    What I did not see mentioned is the pedal usage which is too much here IMO. The sighing motif is very nicely done, with the diminuendo on the second note. Again, the LH is much too insistent (and don't blame than on the piano please :)
    A bit more subtle rubato and dynamic contrast would be nice (the climax could be more desperate) but otherwise this is good.
     
  6. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I am recording again in any case. I only posted because I wanted to check to see if I was adding notes or not.
     
  7. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Here is a new version (I placed it in the fist post). Very desperate (or at least I hope so: I almost broke my finger playing that forte!) I hope there are no extra notes (and no missing ones either).
     
  8. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    OK, bar 0 is fixed, though it it is still a little slower than bar 1. You're lingering on the very first note of the piece. That's OK, but only if it was intentional. :wink:

    The ending is timed better, but is now perhaps over-corrected. I said the rest should be longer and you obligingly made it longer, but it almost seems too long now and has me waiting for a cuckoo to jump out. What's worse, though, is that the rest is also too quiet, it sounds like edited-in artificial silence because I can hear the background hiss disappear, and then reappear just before the chords. If I'm right, this is not good, you should be able to "play" this rest unaided.

    Bar 7 isn't fixed, alas. Your LH is still playing three chords on the 4th beat where the RH has the dotted pattern. Something in your subconscious seems to have picked up the wrong idea that this is one of those "difficult" rhythms in which the RH plays a dotted quaver plus semiquaver against a triplet in the LH, but in fact it's an easy rhythm, the LH should just play 2 quavers against the RH dotted pattern. You have no trouble playing the exact same pattern in bar 16, twice (on beats 1 and 4), so I can't understand why it should be a problem in bar 7.

    As you know, in general it is usual to emphasize the first beat of every bar relative to the other beats. But in this piece, in bars 1 to 6 and similar bars, where the RH only plays on beats 1 and 4, there is a sighing figure needing to be brought out by adjusting the balance of emphasis between the two beats, by weakening the 1st and strengthening the 4th. And indeed you are doing so, but I feel you are overdoing it, and making the upbeats somewhat too strong now in relation to the downbeats to which they lead.
     
  9. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    I had a listen to your performance of this famous piece by Chopin, I think it is a big improvement on the first version. Affinity I think points out something important about this piece- the tempo. To me this piece is not something you can play metronomically, but also not something to play in tempo of rubato-heavy jazz, so I think finding the right balance between the two is the challenge, emphasizing the ends and starts of phrases with more change-ups in dynamics.

    Enjoyed your recording,

    Riley
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    It's getting better, but the main reason why we cannot accept the recording is because your rhythm is off on bar 7.
    Overall, I think your left hand needs to soften up a bit and bring your right hand out more. And I think you held that pause at the end a little too long. Regarding sound quality - the sound peaks on the loud bars near the end - you may want to lower your input volume a little on your recorder.
     
  11. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you three for the comments. Funny how that extra note keeps creeping in; I was sure it was no longer there. Oh well...

    The recording level can go no lower; It was I who played that passage with too loud (I tell you I hurt my finger doing it!). Doing the left hand softer is a challenge, because I rsk leaving some notes out of the chords, and I am not sure that will do.

    As for the pause... This is not, as Rainer seems to think, edited in. If anything I edited out some noise (the pedal being relased, I believe, or was it the horse snorting?)
     
  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    You have a horse in your living room? :shock: Wow, that's different..... :lol:

    I've have had a similar rhythmic glitch in a Chopin mazurka. For some reason, my brain just spazzed out on this one measure and my left hand did a weird thing.

    About playing too loudly - remember, Chopin was not one for extremes. You can play loud on that spot, but it shouldn't be crashing-down-loud (or finger-breaking-loud either....).
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    l hear much improvement here as compared to your earlier rendition of this prelude. Things that I like in particular include:

    Your playing of the sigh motifs.

    Balancing of the hands such that the LH is subordinated to the RH.

    Your bringing out the harmonic changes (i.e, variable voicing) within the LH chords. Similarly bringing out the low A# harmony at the bottom of the LH chord in measure 23.

    Maintaining clarity of the passing/neighboring tones in measures 17 and 18, especially taking separate pedals for each chord as needed.

    If you'll permit me, I'd like to share a few other thoughts:

    To me the piece is just a bit rushed, where it's a lament. If you were to slow it down just slightly, you'd be amazed at how much more largo it would be--that is, that slow, solemn sound.

    It's best to play measure 12 with no pedal at all--using finger legato only.

    Finally, I would suggest starting the smorzando, a quick fading away, toward the end of measure 21 where indicated. Right now it seems more morendo, a more gradual dying away.

    That's it. Again, very good work in bringing this piece to a higher level of performance.

    David
     
  14. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Let me try again... There it is in the first post, new and shining.

    Thsnk you for your suggestions, David, though it seems I did not manage to cut down on the speed. Otherwise I hope all is correct.

    Do you, Rainer, still hear an extra note? This time I caught it and knew just what to do!
     
  15. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    I think this latest iteration is very much improved. Great!

    David
     
  16. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    No I don't. Bar 7 is fine now. Well done!

    A few other points though.

    I still think the ending slows down a little bit too much, i.e. the minim rest and the minim chords could do with being a bit shorter. Not enough to bother re-recording were it not for the following:

    There is an unfortunate creaking noise just after the final chord has started. Must be the horse successfully keeping the cuckoo quiet.

    There is something not quite right about the rhythm in bar 18 (at about 1:10, where the RH has the triplet). I've not commented on this before because I couldn't quite work out what it was exactly, but I think I've now figured out what it is. While with Chopin one can and should be quite flexible when the two hands have different rhythms, I think there is a limit to how flexible you can be in a simple 3 against 2 situation, especially when you are keeping the rest of the piece by and large fairly metronomic for now, and therefore I think it is worth putting a little effort into getting this bar's rhythm correct too. You want to avoid disrupting the LH quaver pulse here while the RH plays the triplet.

    During the second beat of the bar, we should get four sounds, in the following sequence:
    1) The RH high E together with the LH low A.
    2) The RH low E.
    3) The LH chord E=F#-C.
    4) The RH A.

    And indeed all the above do happen, and in the right sequence, but not quite at the right times. (1) and (2) are OK, and it is apparent that you have speeded up so that (2) happens one third of a beat after (1), which is good.

    But the problem is that (3) should happen half a beat after (1), and (4) should happen 1/3 of a beat after (2) [or 2/3 of a beat after (1)], whereas it sounds to me as if (3) and (4) are both late, and that you are playing (3) 1/3 of a beat after (2), and (4) 1/3 of a beat after (3). In other words, the four events (1) to (4) are occurring at roughly equal time intervals of about a triplet each. The result is that beat 3 of the bar (where RH plays F#) is a triplet late.

    Finally, on the point Monica raised about input volume, I wonder, are you doing any post-processing? If so, does it involve equalization? Perhaps that is what is beefing up the volume too much. Remember that even at the climax the dynamic does not rise above single forte.
     
  17. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    The creaking noise is cause by the action of the pedal. I tried to cut it out, but the result was worse. If I had noticed it before I had turned the recorder off, I would have redone the coda. As it is, I only noticed while editing.

    The reason only now you can pinpoint it is because this time i spaced the triplet more than in other recordings. I am afraid that if we are aiming at perfection, we are not going to have it. While this might not be the best recording of the prelude on the site, I find it far better than some of those which have made the grade. One of them I had to switch off after a few seconds, because the pianist (no names, please) seemed incapable of keeping a steady pulse (RUBATO, of course) nad not two quavers was the same length. One of them is quite good, in my opinion, and I have it saved on my computer.

    The piano is not in the middle of the room, but closer to the left wall than to the right (in the midlle it would block the window). Where I place the recorder is a little more to the centre of the room (and therefore in a straight line with the lower range strings of the piano), but still slightly to the left, the result being that almost always the left hand volume is louder in the recordings and that I have to de-amplify or whatever the word is (there is one) the left chanel, so that both are roughly equal.
     
  18. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Bad luck! If the creaking pedal was a one-off occurrence, please disregard the rest of this paragraph. Otherwise, if the creaking is a regular problem, I presume you have developed a technique for minimising it, which involves concentrating on precisely how you move your foot. Just as with other aspects of playing, slight lapses in concentration are to be expected and this is one instance where the creaking may have been due to such a lapse. There are limits to our power of concentration, and without meaning this to sound nasty, the concentration you expend on anti-creak foot control could more usefully be expended on other aspects of your playing. Would it not be worth simply repairing the mechanical problem which causes the creaking, so that you could free up spare concentrative capacity? A repair need not necessarily involve paying a piano technician a fortune, and may be something you can tackle yourself. I had a similar problem on my piano: Wear on the pedal's pivot caused it to become quite floppy and prone to sideways movement and a bit of creaking too. The fix (temporary at least) was to restrict the sideways movement by lining the channel through which the pedal enters the piano casing (I'm talking about an upright here) with folded cardboard, cut out of a cornflakes packet. :idea:
    No, I noticed it in the two previous versions too, but only this time did I resolve to get to the bottom of what was going on.
    What a defeatist attitude, even though there is a lot of truth in it (for everyone). Perfection is something most of us will never achieve, largely because it's a moving target. The closer we get to what we once thought was perfection, the more we become aware that there is more to it than we had imagined, and we then set ourselves ever higher standards. In the final analysis, the constant striving towards perfection is more important than actually achieving it (Wer immer strebend sich bemüht, den können wir erlösen (Goethe, Faust)). The journey itself is more important than its destination. Sorry for waxing philosophical. The point is, don't give up too easily. This 2 against 3 thing is a very useful problem to solve because you will come across it fairly often.

    Do you have the Mozart sonatas? Look at the F major KV332, 1st movement, bars 49-50 (and later again 185-186). I remember working on this while still at school, and I was struggling with getting the rhythm right. My teacher told me (nice man though he was, he really did put it almost as bluntly as this) that if I couldn't get those two (or four) bars right, there wasn't really much point in trying to play the rest of the movement. The remark helped. I persevered, and eventually conquered it. Please don't give up, you owe it to yourself to persevere.
    attenuate?
    I see. Would another possibility be to interpose an item of furniture (maybe a chair, perhaps with a coat draped over its back) between the microphone and the piano in such a way that its direct "view" of the lower range strings is equally as obscured as its view of the higher range strings, so that it picks up more of the reflected sound than direct?
     
  19. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Another go...
     
  20. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    It's sounding more and more confident. The triplet in bar 18 is still not quite right, but let's not worry about that until you play the Mozart. :shock:

    Were these creaks always there or am I just noticing them more? There are several, including one which would have been easy to edit out because it comes far enough after the last chord has subsided.

    You're very patient with me concerning this minim rest at the end. I tell you to make it longer, and you do, then I tell you it's too long, and you make it shorter. Now it's too short again. :( Try to feel the quaver pulse of the previous bar continuing. You are duly holding the minim chord in the 3rd last bar for pretty well exactly 4 quavers, as printed, which is good, but then you are holding the rest for only 3 quavers worth of time. I reckon it should last a full 4 quavers, plus a little bit extra to pay lip service to the fermata. I don't think you should count to more than 4 during the rest, but just count the 4 quavers a little more slowly, not too much. Then play the following minim chords at the same speed as the rest, or a little slower still. At the moment you are playing them at about half the normal tempo, which I think is just too indulgent.
     

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