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Couperin - Barricades mistérieuses

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Biggemski, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    Hi! I made a very amateur recording. I do not know how to play this music. All comments appreciated. What do you think about performing old French harpsichord pieces on piano? I was kind of inspired by Gilels playing Rameau ( http://youtu.be/3ZX_rkCJb2U )
    Martin
     
  2. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    I think playing "old French harpsichord music on piano" is wonderful, assuming it is played well. :D
    As for your performance, I think you did a fine job maintaining a coherent tempo and the trills were contextual, but my Couperin is packed away for my move. I would also recommend playing this without pedal for better keeping of the spirit of the conceived work and for discipline's sake.
     
  3. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    thanks!
    I actually played it without pedal, but the score is written like this, overlapping legato ( or legatissimo? ) everywhere, very unusual to play for me, but funny.
    I attached the score below.
     
  4. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    You are making a great job of this, especially given that you say you "don't know how to play this".

    Eddy's comment about pedal is interesting. I too thought you were using a bit too much, although I would not have gone as far as Eddy and recommended none, I would simply have recommended less, on the grounds that piano and harpsichord are sufficiently different that you can't completely mimic one with the other, and the use of some pedal seems justified on the basis that if Couperin had had the technology available, he would probably have approved of its use.

    You have surprised us both by saying you didn't use any pedal, it is almost incredible. So you are exercising the "discipline" Eddy wants, in holding the overlaps as marked, which gives the impression that you were using pedal.

    The score you have provided does not have the slow-down and decorated fermata in the 5th bar of the 3rd couplet (bar 35), just before the right hand moves to the group of sustained Gs, but the way you play it is very effective.

    Is there a reason you are disregarding the curious-looking decorations which are marked in bars 9, 11, 24, 31, and 53 (that's the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th time bars, and the bar before the dal segno at the end)? They look like a stylised pair of bird wings (as a child might draw a bird), with a vertical line through the middle, where the bird's body would be. Another edition I've seen has these decorations printed as an ordinary inverted mordent (a zigzag with a line trough it).
     
  5. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    Hi Rainer, thanks for comment! I just played the overlaps as they are written, I used much silent changes of fingers as it is common amongst organists. I also think the sound is little too thick, I took the score very literally.
    Btw, is it not that this overlapping is a kind of manner they played, especially in France? I have read something about it in one book concerning baroque articulation, that they did it even it was not every time written in the score...it is interesting these improvisational aspects of baroque music..
    About the bird-like ornamentation...I just did not know what it is so I ignored it:) Also the ornament in bar 23 is unknown to me.
     
  6. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Yes, changing the finger on a key while it is pressed is necessary here in all those places where you would otherwise tie your hand into a knot, unless you cheat and use the pedal so you can lift the hand to cope with an awkward fingering change.
    Well, I don't know about the overlapping as a general style, but one of the improvisational aspects is that ornamentation is very much left up to the performer, and anything written in is just a hint. Typically you would do different ornamentations in repeated sections. Here, with the 8 Rondeau bars returning several times, you might be expected to play them a little differently each time.
    Sometimes you see the bird's wings flattened out, so the whole symbol looks like a plus sign. I guess this represents an instruction to play just about any ornament you like. But it's better to play something than nothing.
    Perhaps it means you should play an improvised cadenza. :) But seriously, I suspect it isn't "an ornament" but two, and you can choose to play one or the other. What you did sounds fine.

    I think this comes back to what you said at the beginning: "I don't know how to play this", and I guess the answer is that there is no single correct way, and that you should not take the score too literally. You can do as much or as little by way of improvisation and ornamentation as you like, while remaining in character.
     
  7. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    Rainer, I have just read a book where these signs of ornamentation occurring in this Couperin score are explained. But I agree with your general attitude - to choose the ornamentation or expression which one feels best - thats what I like on baroque music, the fun of improvised ornamentation:)) . Also it is interesting to know all the variety of baroque ornamentation, because then one can choose freely what ornament one find suitable and be a little more creative...anyway:)
     
  8. cmudave1125

    cmudave1125 New Member

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    Thank you for sharing this recording and the score. I felt the music was very refreshing and enjoyable, with good pacing and touch. I might consider (optional) a bit more in the way of working on the ornamentation, but the way you played it worked well.
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Martin,
    Congratulations for your rendition of this beautiful piece, which is I think the most popular among Couperin' 250 (or so) harpsichord pieces. I have played it for years, and I know quite a number of famous harpsichordists versions. Your piano version is quite convincing, and your 'overlapping' legato just fine. I have no general criticism. As for ornaments, this piece doesn't require many of them, contrary to most Couperin's music. Regarding my taste, I like to play 'Les Barricades' a little more sostenuto, which means somewhat faster and with very few rubato, but this is just my taste. Also, taking advantage of the possibility to play piano or forte, I like, when a small cell is repeated in the score (as e.g. at 0'32" and 0'34"), to play mf the first time and p the second one (as an echo); of course, you can't do that on a harpsichord except if you change of keyboard.
    Finally I am very pleased to find other PS members playing French harpsichord music, which is nowadays a somewhat forsaken repertoire...
     
  10. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    :( What about me?
     
  11. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Eddy, I'm not forgetting you ! But the club is still small, isn't it ?
     
  12. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    Hello, dear Francois and musical-md!
    Thank You very much for Your supportive comments and interesting suggestions!
    I will be happy to join the French harpsichord music club:). I must definitely check Marcelle Meyer, I did not know her but now when I listen to her rendition of Rameau Suite in E, she just sounds ( and looks ) very beautiful. This is also great ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikY_4koQrKg ), hope to find sheets. Rameau seems to me almost like romantic. I am very happy to play old French music. As an organ student, I am much preoccupied with Bach now but as I like baroque music very much, I like to swim in similar waters and this repertoire means great refreshment, comparatively easier to play but not less esthetically appealing, I guess Bach would approve me to study various traditions like French, English Italian:).
     
  13. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sure he would ! As you probably know, Bach was open to all the music of this time, whatever the country. He was a kind of encyclopedia and summary of the best of XVIIIth century first half. But I agree it is good to leave him for other composers and then it is equally good to come back to him (Father Bach, as said my old piano teacher, who was also an excellent organist...).
     
  14. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Martin,

    I had a listen to your recording of this piece by Couperin, I think you have a good idea of how to phrase this type of piece, flowing, and not in strict time.

    It looks like Eddy, Rainer and Francois have given you some feedback. I now have to ask you, do you plan on having this piece go up on the main site? The quality is good, though you need at least one more recording, fix your tags and would need to participate regularly in the audition room. Whatever you decide, you probably won't find a better french harpsichord club world over than here on pianosociety :)

    Riley
     
  15. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    hi, Martin!

    great playing!

    this kind of discussion had already happened in other topic... in fact baroque music has plenty of rubato, much more than that of the romantism (though this rubato is different), but it's something that usually pianists are not accostumed to. I find this performance great, though I'd recommend you to study this kind of stuff, in case you didn't already. Couperin himself wrote a treatise "L'Art de toucher le clavecin". I myself am reading Robert Donington's book on performance style of baroque music, nowadays.
     
  16. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to this work constantly when I was a teenager (while playing chess!). The ornaments sound the way I remembered them, though the "bird" ornament just sounds better on a harpsichord.
    Very good job; the trill in measure 18 sounds a little uncertain (where does this thing end, exactly? - we all go through it!) but you must already know that.
    Thanks for the link to the score!! I had not thought of looking this up before.
    As far as playing this on the piano: Why not? Few of us are lucky enough to own a harpsichord.
     
  17. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Uh-oh - two comments in a row.
    Just tried to play this for the first time. This piece is about 3 times as difficult as it sounds - at least on the piano - because it's so hard to <i>read</i>. :shock:
    I now have even more respect for the Couperin crowd.
     
  18. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Would be easier to read on another instrument ? :p
     
  19. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Martin,

    Nice playing. I would suggest that you sing out the melody a bit more with a bit more defining emotional expression.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Kaila Rochelle
     
  20. Biggemski

    Biggemski New Member

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    Thank You, Kaila, that's a good point.
     

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