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"Die Moldau" four hands arranged by Smetana himself!

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by musicusblau, May 2, 2011.

  1. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Chris has visited me from 27.4.-28.4.11 here in Germany and we have recorded the four hands version oft „Die Moldau (Vltava)“, arranged by the composer, Bedrich Smetana, himself.
    We only had one day for practicing together and recording the piece, because the other day we wanted to make a nice trip together, on which I could show Chris something of Germany.
    Unfortunately the treble of my grand has got a bit out of tune during the recording-session (which took a whole day), though it was tuned well before.

    Though the sound-quality is not as good as you are used of my videos because of the lightly distuned treble, we think, the quality of our recording still is enjoyable.

    Chris has played Primo, me Secondo. Recorded with my usual equipment: Neumann KM 184 etc.

    Here is the link to the video (it contains pictures to the music!):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laOeg7T5 ... ideo_title

    The mp3-file contains exact the sound-track of the video above:

    Smetana - Ma Vlast - 2: Vltava (The Moldau) (12:21)
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Great job, guys! Sounded very good - thanks for showing it.
     
  3. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Another duet! I watched the video of Die Moldau. I remember Chris saying in an earlier post that this was a difficult piece. And I can tell both you practiced a lot, as the music really held its shape. For criticism, the runs could possibly be more connected, in legato style, but I suspect the written tempo cannot afford it. Difference between loud and soft articulations were well crafted.

    And the video editing was well done, the pictures were well lit and most were taken outdoors so it was nice to get the contrast of the indoor performance. the dissolves between the pictures to the performance subtle and complimentary to the music.

    About the piano being detuned in the treble register, I thought I heard a note (one of the top 80) that sounded a little honky-tonky at the end of the piece, but it was barely noticeable and honestly, if you hadn't mentioned it I wouldn't have been able to discern it.

    ~Riley
     
  4. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Chris and Andreas,
    This was a real pleasure to watch and listen to. Such beautiful music. You both did a very creadible job for such a short preparation. It looked like great fun too!
     
  5. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris and Andreas,

    Bravo! I thought this was a splendid performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Any slips in the tuning did not detract at all. The pictures along the course of the Moldau were beautiful too. This was a wonderful collaboration. Thanks for posting it.

    David
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks all for the feedback !

    I don't know about Andreas's part, but Smetana sure makes life difficult for the Primo player here. A lot of awkwardly laid out LH work and some Lisztian jumps in the finale. Practising this part is a bitch because the constant high notes do grate on the ear. Then there is the added difficulty of 4-hand playing where most of the time you are in each others' way, so that no matter how hard you practiced on your own, you have to practice again with the partner, and decide how to put the arms and hands and which notes to leave out (because sometimes you are required to play the same note at the same time).
    Anyway the result was worth the effort. And my wife and me had a great time in beautiful Germany. It must be the best time of the year to do it, shame we had to sit inside for a whole day. I already miss my Bier und Bratwurst (see photo) ....
     
  7. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Pianolady wrote:
    .

    Thank you for your encouraging words, Monica!

    @Pianoman342:
    Thank you for your detailed comment. :D

    Pianoman342 wrote:
    I´m absolutely glad you say that :D , because I also think, that Chris exagerates a bit concerning the discant being too harsh and distuned!
    It´s a nice Steinway-like sound with a brilliant character, which can be intonated a bit softer next time, but that´s a pure matter of taste, of course. There still were 2 distuned tones I retuned during our recording-session. I think, after having done that, the tuning was absolutely bearable. So, not a big deal concerning the tuning at all in summary.

    musical_md wrote:
    Yes, in summary it was a great fun (at least for me)! Just when we had finished there was the message to read on my computer screen "not enough memory for the file" or similar and so we had to redo all parts from the "Nymphenreigen" on again. In that way our recording-session took onto nearly 9 hours or so and at the end we both were quite tired. Chris even was really "fed up" with the piece.

    Rachfan wrote:
    Thank you, dear friend, for your encouraging words! :D I´m also glad you didn´t find the tuning detracting. I have enjoyed to play this piece very much and I have to admit, that Chris´ part at some places was a bit more tricky than my one, though also in my part are some virtouso passages.

    Techneut wrote:
    I´m glad and I also think, we had a great time together. Have many thanks for the great collaboration! Yes, slurping Bier and eating Bratwurst in the Biergarten at the Neckar was one of the nicest moment on that day, but also having had a good meal in the evening in the restaurant! :)
     
  8. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It looks to me like the "bier" was the biggest part of the meal! :shock: :lol:

    David
     
  9. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Really enjoyed this - actually I've always wanted to find an arrangement of the original, any chance of uploading a pdf, telling me where you found it or the publisher?
     
  10. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    My sincere congrats to both of the fine pianists! This is a really nice rendition which gives the listeners the chance of experiencing this special version and at the same time the collaboration out of the friendship!
    BTW I visited your city (Köln) about a month ago, Andreas. I was agreeably surprised at the beauty and the vividness of that city. But why was the Biergarten named as "Neckar"? Not "Rhein"? The Neckar is the name of the river which is flowing across my city (Tübingen) :D
    I could hear that, poor Chris :?
    You decribed the difficulty of four-hands-playing very well! But you guys seem to have prevailed over that difficulty :D
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    If everybody else thinks these high note are ok, then it must be me. I do have an ear problem in the sense that loud sounds in the middle and high registers make my ears do strange things inside (hard to describe, the ear specialist could not find anything wrong) so maybe I perceive them different from others. OTOH, I had to play all these frigging high notes, so I should well know how they sound...

    Not as much with the piece - who could get fed up with the Moldau - but with playing it. I was real glad to get out of that room.
     
  12. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Rachfan wrote:
    Yes, that was a "Weizenbier", which is usually served in 1/2 litre glasses. :D :wink:

    andrew wrote:
    I think, we had found it on imslp.org.

    hyenal wrote:
    Thanks for the praise, Hye-Jin. I´m glad you enjoyed it! :D

    hyenal wrote:
    We visited a nice village with four old castles nearby Heidelberg and we were sitting at the Neckar, not at the Rhine. I have studied in Cologne, but I don´t live there since a long time.

    techneut wrote:
    Oh, yes, I have forgotten your ear-problem, sorry. May be having practised the treble-parts all the time before already has made your ears quite sensitive. I can imagine that quite well. So, I think, I have to intonate my trebles a bit softer for the next time...
     
  13. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    I enjoyed the music and the video a lot! (I'm curious about the plate on the floor under the piano... :?: :wink: )
     
  14. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    :oops: I always thought you still live in Cologne... :? Where do you live exactly, Andreas? And what is the name of that place where the four castles can be seen? I think I could know the cities near to Heidelberg.
     
  15. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hyenal wrote:
    I live in a village in the Odenwald in Hessen and the place where are the four castles is Neckarsteinach. Heidelberg also is a nice city, isn´t it? (Nothing compared with Cologne, though! :wink: Cologne is really a good city of music, there is the WDR, the Kölner Philharmonie and the Musikhochschule Rheinland, where I have studied, and especially it is a centre of modern contemporary music!)

    Didier wrote:
    Thank you for your kind comment, Didier. I´m glad you like it. :D
    The plates under my piano are for isolation. I have a floor heater and my tuner highly recommended to me to put these plates under the piano, otherwise it would get distuned very quickly.
     
  16. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I do not wish to comment on the performance, which has already been done here and which seems unanimously positive. To my mind the coordination here is wonderful: that you both can practise in your own countries, then come together and even change fingerings on the very day you record! (I refer to deciding which one of you plays which note).

    For me, however, this is and will forever remain a piece for orchestra and the piano will never be able to recreate the effects that an orchestra can achieve. Imagine a Chopin piano piece transcribed for orchestra and you will see what I mean. It is like seeing a Turner in black and white or watching Casablanca in colour.

    Liszt transcribed some of Beethoven's symphonies for the piano and these I understand were done for study. What better way was there to learn the works of the great masters than by studying them in piano reductions before recordings became widely available? Was this Smetana's idea too? Or was it to make a popular piece of his available to a large public before the age of vinyl and CD? Was it a way to earn an honest penny?
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I agree with that. Few transcriptions/reductions, if any, are as good as the original. The piano, whether with 2 or 6 hands, can try to imitate the orchestra, but an imitation it will remain. I guess this is why so many great pianist take up the baton.

    However I don't think that every piano piece is automatically better when scored for the orchestra. Few things irritate me more than the endlessly played orchestral versions of piano pieces (Ravel, Debussy, Grieg, etc). Having said that, Dvorak's orchestrations of the Slavonic Dances to pip the 4-hand originals to the post, however much I love them (which won't stop Andreas and me from completing the set however :D ).
     
  18. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, Heidelberg cannot be compared to Cologne concerning the music, never!!! I was burned with envy of inhabitants of Cologne, as I saw the placards of the entire Beethoven symphonies cycle played by Rattle/Berliner Philharmoniker and of a duo recital of Piotr Anderszewski and Frank Peter Zimmermann...! Where else in Germany can you experience such concerts except in Berlin?!
    And thank you for the information about the Neckarsteinach. I have been already several times in Heidelberg and its surroundings, but never heard of that place. If I had a chance, I will go there :)
     
  19. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I think we are saying the same thing. I was saying with the example that Chopin orchestrated is not a good thing. I suppose most composers realise this and keep the piano for the piano and the orchestra for the orchestra.
     
  20. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    @richard66:
    Of course, the Moldau for orchestra has other "colours" of sound than the piano-version. (I have performed Die Moldau in Dezember 2010 with my school-orchestra.)
    But the piano-version for me is not minor. Of course, such four hands versions have their sense in studying the great orchestral works, but they also are piano pieces of full worth, with their own artistic and sound-colour refered quality. If a four hands arrangement of a famous orchestral work is "only" used for studies it very often isn´t played too well, mostly played just by site with many mistakes and slips. For me the arrangement of Smetana is worth to be played decently and with the full respect like for a normal piano original work. Further it´s a possibility to experience that great orchestral work alive and may be in a more direct way than as a conductor.
    And what does it mind, if Smetana perhaps has tried to earn a small honest penny with it, at least he had to live from something like we all have, isn´t it?!

    @hyenal:
    Yes, you should have a trip to Neckarsteinach, if you can, it´s really very beautiful there.
     

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