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Debussy - Ballade

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by techneut, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    First I want to commend you for playing this "Ballade", as it's seldom heard. It's a lush piece and you play it exceedingly well in my opinion. Really a fine recording! The only nit I would offer is that you might have allowed the ending to trail off a bit longer. The cutoff seemed a bit abrupt to me. Rather than counting the arpeggiated whole notes from the LH lowest bass note, I would probably have counted it from the RH last-heard top C, as that's the note that the ear wants use as a reference. Plus the ritenuto affords even more liberty there.

    This is an early work, so we have to remind ourselves that Debussy was first a Late Romantic before transitioning into Impressionism, although there are some hints in this ballade of things to come. I think of the suites Estampes and Images as being the unmistakable turning point in his composing style. But when I hear earlier period pieces such as the Arabesques, "Suite Bergamasque", "D'un cahier d'esquisses" and even the later "L'Isle joyeuse", it seems clear that had Debussy decided to continue in the realm of Late Romanticism, he probably could have been just as successful in that pursuit. It just goes to illustrate his great versatility. I guess it all worked out for the best, as Faure carried on the romantic tradition while Debussy explored the new path of Impressionism.

    David
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks David !
    Though I got all the notes right except for one or two I'm not sure if I am convinced of this one. It seems a bit heavy-handed and lacking in freedom, as if I've just learnt it (which is definitely not the case).
    Good point on the ending cut-off, I should have noticed that. I'll fix that tonight as it is a bit disturbing.
    One thing than bothers me is a certain shrillness when my tone gets above mf. I don't hear that while playing, and I wonder why it sounds like this in the recording. Maybe I should move the Tascam still farther away.
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    I also heard that shrillness, but didn't comment on it, as I assumed the Gaveau was having a "winter voice" day when the inside humidity is quite low. As I recall your new hammers are five or six years old now. If they sound very good at installation, many rebuilders will only do a few touch-ups on the hammers, as they often prefer to let them wear in first. My Ronsen Wurzens are nearly four years old now, and I'm sensing that some voicing to darken the tone just a bit might be helpful.

    Here is an easy ear test you can use. Next time your tech is there, at the conclusion of the tuning, ask that he use a small brass bristle brush to gently buff the metalic residue from the strings out of the hammer grooves. (It takes about three minutes, and it will probably be no charge or a very minor one.) With that done, listen to the piano. You'll likely find the tone slightly darker and more pleasant. But for people like us that give their pianos a workout, the brushed grooves effect will only last a few days at best. :lol: (Hey, I said it was only a test!) If the shrillness returns, and if it's clearly not a case of moving your recording equipment farther back from the piano, then it might be time for some hammer voicing.

    David
     
  5. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Lovely, Chris! I haven't heard anything outside of your Bach for a while, and I do believe this work brings out your poetical side. ;)

    And just for the record, I couldn't listen to the last minute or so of the recording. It's probably a glitch with my computer (which is older and abounds in incomprehensible mechanical quirks), but I'll mention it anyway in case someone else had the same problem.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I also enjoyed that - what a pretty piece; I've never heard it before. Neat, how Debussy quoted himself near the end with the little bit of "Reverie" in there. Sounded nicely-played too except maybe just a couple times I sensed some hesitation. The end cut out for me too. How is it that David heard the whole thing, I wonder...?
     
  7. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I dunno. Plus yesterday I had the score in front of me and critiqued the last measure in particular. Maybe I jinxed the recording?

    David

    P.S. I just listened now, and the whole ending is clipped off! I'm wondering if Chris went to replace the recording, as he didn't like the short duration of the last note either, but uploaded the wrong file that happened to be an incomplete take? Or maybe his edit didn't work? I guess he'll have to investigate.

    David
     
  8. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Funny, I heard the whole thing too.

    A new piece to me too, though I do know some early Debussy. It reminded me of his Fantasie for piano and orcherstra.
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks all for the feedback. I sure do have a poetic side, despite all the Bach 8)

    Indeed yesterday I fixed the last bar and re-uploaded, but the file was severely truncated. I guess I must have inadvertently aborted the upload. Done it again and it's ok now. You may need to empty your browser cache before you hear it (browsers like to keep copies of stuff locally so you don't always hear the latest version of things).

    That will teach me, once again, to listen back after every upload, and in particular verify that it plays to the end :!: It's not the first time this happens.
     
  10. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Will you be playing the Petite Suite next?
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    As soon as I grow 4 hands, sure :p
     
  12. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    There is a two hand version, though not originally transcribed by Debussy. I have both.
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi,

    Richard mentioned the "Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra". After Debussy transitioned into his impressionistic style, looking back he felt totally embarrassed by the fantasy, and wanted to take it out of circulation. Can you imagine?!?! That's one of the most beautiful creations ever! Fortunately cooler heads prevailed at the time, so the piece is still with us today.

    David
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ah right. My Debussy plans don't currently include learning any new stuff though. I'm planning on some more of the stand-alone pieces,
    Nocturne, Reverie, Mazurka, Berceuse Heroique, l'Ile joyeuse. Maybe also Children's Corner.
     
  15. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Quite right, David, together with "The Blessed Damozel". I must say My chronological liking for Debussy pretty well stops there! The Suite Bergamasque already sounds to me formless. The Petite Suite I began learning with my teacher, but we never got too far.

    This brings to mind that I became acquainted with the Fantasie through an LP in my father's collection. Later on I came across a CD of the same work and there it said "premiere recording".

    Or maybe it was another piece.

    Chris, you seem well-acquainted with early Debussy.
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    That I seem 8)
    And you're not a fan of it. Can happen, everybody's got their blind spot.
     
  17. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Like you and Bortkiewicz! 8)
     
  18. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hehe yes I'm known for that. I've tried hard, trundling repeatedly through a 3-CD survey, but failed to pick up more than a handful of memorable tunes. It's all very well done but just doesn't grip me in any way.
     
  19. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    I didn't know this piece at all. Fascinating to hear the hints of what is to come later as Debussy finds a distinctive voice.
     

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