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Debussy - l'Isle Joyeuse

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Composed in 1904 (almost at the same period as the previously posted Scriabin prelude), l'Isle Joyeuse (the Joyfull Island) is Debussy's longest piano piece. It contains a number of sequences with changing atmospheres, evoking the natural elements (the sun, the sea, the wind...), in a typically impressionistic approach. The joyfull atmosphere comes from a happiness period of Debussy's life, when he had just met the one who became later his second wife.
    The piano writing is somptuous, quite tricky to play, but not as much as it looks, the main difficulty I think being rythmic (with for instance a section of 3 beats on RH and 5 on LH...). I have recorded the piece on my Yamaha S 400 B 1.90 m grand, as usual. In spite of some missing or superabundant notes, I hope you'll enjoy it !

    Debussy - L'Isle Joyeuse
     
  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,

    Bravo! I believe your rendition of "L'Isle Joyeuse" is artistic and convincing. Wonderful playing. And it's a difficult piece at that--it takes an accomplished pianist. You must have put considerable work into this one. It was well worth the effort.

    This piece was a transitional piece for of Debussy situated as it is between his late romantic piano literature and later his impressionistic works. It has moments of both styles. I've always loved that amazing coda--exceptionally beautiful with the unexpected harmonic changes! Decades ago, I can recall a musicology class where the professor mentioned that this piece was inspired by Watteau's famous painting, "Embarkation for the Isle of Cythere".

    Thanks for sharing your recording here.

    David
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I love those last couple bars near the end. The chord changes just kill me! :)

    Anyway, Francois, I think you play piano very well, but you are not so great at editing. Sorry to be frank, but it's for your own good. I hear four very obvious cuts. I admit that I am not a 'casual' listener and maybe the 'casual' listener does not detect these cuts. But I do and it would bother me greatly if this were my recording. I will not point out the exact spots right here so people won't go hunting for the cuts themselves, but I can tell you in private if you wish.

    Whatever you decide, just let me know if you'd still like this do go up onto the site.
     
  4. pianoman342

    pianoman342 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,

    I had a listen to your recording. Nice playing here. It is the first time I have heard this piece, so I don't think I can give you good feedback on it (not having played it). I like the flowing expressivo rubato playing at 2:40. There are parts around 5 minutes that remind me a lot of Albeniz's Iberia suite.
    And I imagine the difficulty of a piece like this is on a similar par. I wish I had a score to follow along on this recording.

    Riley
     
  5. cmudave1125

    cmudave1125 New Member

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    Hi Francois:

    This was an enjoyable listen. I did not have my score to follow along as I am listening during work hours and am also busy doing meeting preparation, but at the first listen I found your rendition (to parrot previous comments) both musical and convincing. I have never played this piece myself, but had several classmates play it when I was still in school so I have heard the piece in various stages of preparation. Great work!

    Dave
     
  6. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    @ David (Rachfan)
    Dear David, thank you four your kind compliment, and for the complementary historical data. For sure, I have worked hard on this piece, especially the first time I practiced it (some 25 years ago I think !).

    @ Monica
    I agree I am not a certified recording editor ! But I have not the same focus on cuts as you seem to share with others (including Chris; but during his vacation, maybe he asked you to play the role of the critical guy :)). OK, I promiss to look at the original unedited recording and to try to improve these ugly sewings...

    @ Riley
    I'm pleased I helped you discovering l'Isle Joyeuse. Yes, you're right, this music is a northern cousin of Albeniz' one. By the way, Albeniz lived in Paris when he published Iberia, very much at the same period (in the first decade of '1900). A few years after, Debussy wrote "La soirée dans Grenade" (the evening in Granada), so he had a real attraction for Spain, even if I think he never went to this country.

    @ Dave (cmudave)
    Thank you for your kind comment! Your classmate story makes me think to my wife: when she was a student, her room was just above the piano room of the students residential building of her university, so that she could hear all other students practicing during evening. Not easy to concentrate on her work, but she became familiar with a number of great pieces of the repertoire... 30 years after, she still surprises me saying that she knows well such a piece because of this location of her past room...
     
  7. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,
    With my limited editor skills, I've tried some surgery on my recording. Hope the result is a little better...
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi again, Francois,

    Well......I'm sorry to say, but you're not a great surgeon, either. There really is no difference in this second version and if anything it is a little worse.

    I did a little editing on it myself to demonstrate what it is I want you to listen for. The attached file is your recording, but I edited two spots: at 0:28 and also 4:00. You should be able to hear that it is absolutely clean and a smooth transition into the next section. If you compare those exact spots with your original, you can hear cuts - like a popping noise.

    I'm just trying to teach you something about editing and maybe you might not be interested in all this and that's okay too. I'm only trying to help people to put forth their best efforts - something I wish people would have done for me in the past. I've found some of my earlier recordings to be very embarrassing and if someone had pointed out my messy editing job, I could have worked to improve it and not had the particular recording up for the whole world to hear. So whatever you want to do is fine. Just tell me if you want your newly-edited file to go up, or if you want to tinker around with it a little more.
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Monica, I have no doubt about your itention. The only thing is that I hear no cuts in my recording (same for my wife). This may be our presbycusis... I'm not kidding, by the way: when you get older, you loose sensitiveness in the treble range. For instance, I remember my son complaining about a recording I'd done where he could ear a kind of whistle (I heard noting !). Finally, if your corrected file sounds better to your ears, please keep it. Apparently, I have to hire a young sound engineer :) ...
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I already put up your first version the other day and will just stick with that. Bye for now, Francois.
     
  11. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well, actually in the second one I have suppressed two small hesitations (including one at the very end of the piece), making new cuts, but if you fixed them, therefore your version is definitely the best !
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    One of my favorite Debussy pieces, which I've so far resisted recording, though I know it very well. Your recording is convincing and personal, with may nice things as well as some less nice things. I did not hear any obvious edits, but I do feel you rather conveniently take your time in places. This takes something away from this piece's dare-devil qualities, and gives the impression of playing on safe. Overall, accuracy could be better, especially during the final pages (Un peu cede and onwards), thes blazing chords are rather smudged, and I do object to your half-arpeggio here (though this is probably a matter of taste). There were rather a number of missing notes here and there, and the odd fumble.

    In bar 3 I was perked by your C# in the LH - my edition has a B natural. Can you check your score ? Sounds very idiomatic though. In bar 17 from the end, in the RH, you play A instead of B (I used to do that too but have seen the light). Can you check that ?

    But these are small niggles, it's a good performance. When I eventually get back to playing and recording again this will be my first Debussy to submit (after I've redone Children's Corner which was not good enough).
     
  13. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Francois,

    Perhaps you could use a bit more dynamic shading in the opening. Your interpretation is frolicky, sensuous  and sophisticated.
    Everything is crystal clear (except for a bare minimum of missed notes that is hardly noticable.) I think with time there will be more fluidity in the playing.
    The tempos are generally beautiful.

    - Kaila
     
  14. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Chris,
    Sorry for my late answer. I have been busy with my work, then far from any computer during vacations...
    Yes I may take my time in this piece. I've checked the duration of various versions displayed on Deezer, and it is true that I am a little above the general range of duration, but only slightly. As you point out, the technique is not perfect, so imagine what it would have been with a quicker tempo...
    Regarding the bar 3, I don't see (and don't play) any C. Is it the good number for the bar you meant ? But your last point is correct: there are two similar measures (13 and 17) with one different chord at the RH, and I play twice the same one. Shame on me :oops:

    Thanks Kaila for your encouraging post ! I agree I miss some dynamic in this piece (and more generally in many others). This is partially the fault of my piano, which as a quite hard touch, making the pp very difficult to control. When I'm rich I'll buy a Steinway :) , or even a Yamaha with a new mechanism (for mine, I changed the hammers some years ago, which cost me an arm and a leg, but the mechanism is still the original one...).
     
  15. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    hi, François!

    this is good.
    You can think for your Debussys maybe... I think the beginning could benefic from a little more fluent performance, which is very difficult due to the arpeggios and jumps (though I don't know the score of this piece, but I remember trying to play it someday... I quit after the first page. =D).
    or maybe this is just due to your technique. are from the school which recommends lifting the fingers?
     
  16. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Luis,
    Thank you for your listening. I don't know from what school I am, having had about 5 different teachers, but my pianistic ideal is closer to Benedetti Michelangeli's'pianism: minimum motion, maximal efficiency. Well, in my dream at least!
     
  17. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    that's good: lifting the fingers is a kind of waste of energy, I think. but the best technique is that way you feel good.


    now I see that I wrote too many mistakes!

    CORRECTIONS:
    * You can think for your FUTURE Debussys maybe
    * are YOU from the school which recommends lifting the fingers?
     

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