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Elliott Carter - Piano Sonata

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by JohnAnderson, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Hello, I'm new here, but to start things off, I thought I'd link to a youtube video I uploaded recently of the Carter Sonata. It doesn't get performed much, but is in my opinion one of the most beuatiful sonatas of the last century. It was a live recording, so you'll have to excuse a few missed notes. It's the first time I've performed it, and I think it could benifit from a few more tries to get used to playing it under tension!

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p ... 581E4AF8EF

    You'll also have to excuse that I had to split it into parts to fit on youtube. They don't like clips over 10 mins. The sound quality isn't great, but in any case I hope you enjoy it!


    Carter- Piano Sonata, I: Maestoso- Legato scorrevole

    Carter - Piano Sonata, II: Andante - Allegro - Andante
     
  2. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi John,

    good to see you here. I took a break in my hard working on the second of the Moments musicaux from Schubert for listening to part 1 of your interpretation of Carter's sonata. I did not know this work and was a little anxious about this music which I thought reserved to educated people, there is a so long way from Schubert to Carter... I was wrong. You made it accessible. It's quite demanding for the listener (for the player too, I guess) but it is rewarding for the attention. Great performance anyway. I did not detect the slips. :p

    The large reverberation works good with this work. (Did you record that wih your mics ?)
     
  3. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Welcome to PS, John. I cannot comment on this video because I never heard this before. I am sure there will be a handful of pianists with useful commentary. Yet, I know that linking YouTube videos does not really qualify as a submission. I hope you have the mp3s to this recording?

    Anyways, thanks for sharing and I hope you become a regular contributor / critiquer on this website.

    -JG
     
  4. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Thank you JG, I didn't realize that. I'll upload the mp3s now. Meanwhile, thanks Didier, I'm happy you found it listenable. I do realize that it can take some time to digest. I knew the piece for a year before I decided that I might want to learn it. But it is very logical and rewarding I feel. And I'm happy if it's true I have contibuted to its appreciation at all.

    A friend of mine has an Edirol 4 channel, and we used just the in-built mics to record it, way back in the hall, which accounts for the large reverb. Considering that, I thought it didn't turn out so bad. I had hoped to use mine, but one of the capsules actually broke, due to a short screw having mistakenly been used to hold it. But the manufacturer was extremely helpful and had them picked up and repaired within a couple weeks and back to me at no cost, so it worked out very well. I'm happy it didn't happen before a more important project, so it all worked out for the best. Actually, my friend has some old Neumann mics, and we were planning on trying to do some 4 channel experiments, but one of his preamps blew too, so after all that effort, all we had was built-in mics. Delicate things! Anyway, I'll let you get back to Schubert. You know, for what it's worth, Carter likes to compare his music to Mozart...
     
  5. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    One of my theory professors just finished writing an article on this sonata that he'll be submitting to some or another journal (can't remember which). He did a seminar on Carter this past spring, and he recommended to me a recording by Ann Schein (who performed the sonata at my school - I hope I am remembering this correctly)) that I haven't yet had a chance to listen to. But I'm told that it's the kind of recording that makes you delete all other recordings of the piece. :lol:

    I will have a listen at yours later - I'm internet-deprived so I have to download here in the cafeteria and then listen in my room where there is no internet. :cry:
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi John,

    To be honest, I'm not much of a Carter fan. That notwithstanding, your performance of the sonata is a tour de force. If anything were to persuade me to be more receptive to this music, it would be this rendition. Bravo!

    David
     
  7. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Hello, and thanks for the comments/big compliments! I didn't know about Ann Schein before - it's good to know because there aren't very many recordings of Carter that I know about. I found an excerpt of it at www.msrcd.com/1321/1321.html and it seems very well controlled, but perhaps to my taste too staccato. Personally it bothers me when long legato lines are broken this way, I suppose with the intention of added clarity, but some of the sense of phrasing is lost. Oppens and Aimard tend both to do this with all their Carter performances, and for me it is a great shame, since first of all it seems technically more difficult to play everything so staccato and to my ears at least nothing is gained by doing so, and the music becomes more and more homogenious and less personal. Of course it is another thing where there are staccatos! But in the Carter score, the lines are almost always marked with legato phrases, usually dividing an otherwise avalanche of little fast notes into groups of 3 and 5, giving them more rhytmic organization and sense. There is a great DVD about Carter in which he is coaching Oppens before she peforms his piano concerto, and and what he says there gives me more confidence in my choice of touch. Anyway, that is all I could tell from the 15 seconds provided on that site! Perhaps I'll buy the CD to add to my collection. So far, I particularly enjoy Lawson's recording if you have a chance to listen to that, even if, as is always the case, there is more that can be done with the piece.

    I'd be very interested to read that paper on the sonata. I try occasionally to do analyses myself, and one of my projects is to write one on this sonata.

    Thanks again David, I'm extremely pleased if I can do a fellow American composer the service! Have you ever watched a video of him? He's a really sweet old man - turned 100 this last year, and wrote a new piano concerto to celebrate! I only know an excerpt, but sounds like a new clarity in his style. I'd love to see a new sonata from him now...
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello John and welcome to Piano Society.

    We usually request that prospective members submit at least three recordings for evaluation when seeking to become a PS member. However, since these two files (two sonata parts) are very long, this meets the requirement.

    Please submit your bio and photo, and we will add you as a member. You can stick it right here in this thread or email it to one of us administrators.

    Couple more things: We also require that files be under 200 kpbs. Your pieces here are 320 kpbs, which makes the files huge and takes us more time to process.

    And here is just a little tip about your playing of this music: I am like David in that this in not my favorite kind of music. But you obviously play it well, and I always think that one should not mention that there may be a few slips here and there because people like me would not notice them anyway! :wink:
     
  9. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Thank you for the invitation pianolady, I promise to add more recordings soon to make up for the missing 2. Would you like me to delete those files I posted and reupload them at under 200kbps? I'm sorry, I uploaded in a hurry without reading your guidelines.

    As for the slip-ups, they are there, and they sound plenty apparent to me. I'm going to work on a studio version of the recording in a couple months, so maybe we can fix them, for my own sake at least :wink:

    As for my bio, here goes:

    JOHN ANDERSON studies with Bruno Mezzena at the Accademia Musicale Pescarese. He began his musical education with Phyllis Olsen at the age of four in his hometown, Lawrence, Kansas, (USA), and continued to study privately with her until university. He graduated from Hertford College, Oxford, in 2004 with a First in music, and in 2005 served as artistic director to the first Oxford International Music Festival. He recieved a diploma with perfect marks from the Academy of Pescara, and is finishing his final year specializing in 20th Century music there.

    He has performed in the USA, Italy, Switzerland, UK, and in Russia. Concerti include Saint-Saens’ Rhapsodie d'Auvergne, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (with the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra and Juan Francisco LaManna conducting), and the Schumann Concerto in A minor with Hertford College Orchestra. His interests also include composition, analysis, and conducting. He was a jury member of the 2009 international singing competition "Putevka k zvezdam" in Moscow.
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    No, that's okay - I already have them on my computer so I'll go with these.

    I will have your page and recordings up sometime today or tomorrow. In the meantime, please feel free to listen to some of our other members and offer up a few critiques or comments. That is the best way of getting comfortable around here.
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi John,

    First, welcome to Piano Society! You'll find this to be a wonderful, useful, informative and friendly website.

    I'll be sure to check out the Carter video. Thanks for mentioning that.

    David
     
  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, John - Your page and the two recordings are up. Please check if everything is alright. And remember, we like active participation on our forum! :)
     
  13. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Hi, thanks a lot, that looks great! Happy to be a member. I'll try to offer some advice every now and then, although I feel a bit uncomfortable offering my views to people gratuitously without being personally asked first... But I suppose that is one of the expectations of posting here.
    I'm going to make a studio recording of the Carter when I have time in the next couple months. Will it be then possible to replace the current recordings? I also wondered if it was possible to get Carter his own page on the site - how is that done, is it copied from wikipedia or does a member have to write it himself? I could try to help put one together eventually when I have more time if it would be a help.
    Thanks again for the inclusion!
    John
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Exactly! :)

    About the Carter page - we typically put newer or less-known composers into the 'various composers' category. If more than a few pieces by that composer actually get submitted onto the site, then we make a separate page for the composer. If you plan on recording more pieces by Carter, I will gladly make a page for him - but you will be asked to provide the information. :wink:

    Ah, heck - I guess I could make a page for him now, but I still need you to supply the bio.
     
  15. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    ...considering there are lots of "one hit wonders" with their separate pages :roll:
     
  16. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Hi again, I tried finding a bio in a press release or something, since I don't want to give you anything that might be subject to copyright issues, but couldn't. If necessary I could try to rewrite something in my own words. But if it works for you, I found one that I particularly liked on the Naxos site. I suppose you should credit them if you think you can use it. The URL is http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/Ellio ... /25710.htm

    Here it is:

    Of course it is a year out of date, because he has now reached his centenary! I'm adding a photo as well, which is available for press, so I imagine also for purposes like this, but you should include the copyright

    Or you can choose another from this site:
    http://www.carter100.com/press.html

    There are some great photos there, one with Stravinsky, Bernstein, and Cage. If I remember right his piano concerto was a birthday present for Stravinsky, who really liked it. Now that's a difficult piece!

    Let me know if this doesn't work and I'll see what else I can do!
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to the first Carter Sonata movement some days ago but forgot to comment. Whether this is one of the most beautiful Sonataos of the past century is open for discussion... there are a great many that would qualify for that title. But I have no doubt that, once you get into the idiom, there is much to enjoy here.

    I can't honestly say that I understand or even like this music, but I must admit it sounds much more coherent and pleasing than many other contemporary pieces. I'd rather hear Carter than Boulez or Stockhausen. And I think I can recognize that your playing is of great finesse and you are in total sympathy with this music. I admire anyone who can play modern music like this - even if I don't like the music itself.

    So, welcome to PS, and great that you bring in some new and unusual repertoire. We need that.
    What else are you planning to record for us ?
     
  18. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Hello and thank you for the warm welcome! I can sypathize with what you say. The Carter gradually grew on me until I decided I wanted to actually make the effort of learning it, but yes, it takes time to learn to appreciate it, like all things. There are several moments of absolutely beautiful lyricism that I think most captured me at first. And then it really makes sense as a piece. I would expect Beethoven to write something similar if he had been born in 1908.

    I'm doing a diploma in modern music, and so have been recently concentrating on a lot of "new and unusual" repertoire, even if by now it's not so new after all. I'm hoping to make studio recordings of a lot of it in the coming months, but what order I tackle things I haven't decided yet. At some point I want to do the Carter properly, then I've been working on the Ives 1st sonata (1909), which is not very well known but a lot of fun and extremely advanced for it's time. And at some point the Debussy Images, Prokofiev 8th, Schoenberg Op. 11 (also 1909, which makes for an interesting comparison!), Berg sonata, Webern Op. 27, Dallapiccola Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera, and maybe the Barber sonata to round out the Americans. Plus maybe some Ligeti... Then I might start taking back some Beethoven and Schubert...

    You know, I don't really understand the Boulez very well either, but I'm starting to feel an attraction towards it. But that's a seriously big project!

    In any case, even if you didn't like it so much after all, I'm happy to have sympathetic ears willing to give it a try, thanks again.
     
  19. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh, please - not Boulez again! (I don't care for him, either)

    About the Carter bio - unfortunately, we need one written in your own words.
     
  20. JohnAnderson

    JohnAnderson New Member

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    Ah, ok. That's too bad because it won't be as good as that other one..! I still don't really understand internet copyright problems! I'll see if I can find time in the next days. I'm going to Moscow soon, and so it's a bit busy getting ready, but at I'll be able to do it when I get back in mid-September if not before. I need to reread some of my Carter books first!

    Regarding Boulez, I think the man was a genius, and so there must be something to his music. It occured to me that that must be what they listen to on Mars... And surely it would open a new world of musical possibilities to me, which can only be a good thing. But I think you're right, it's not very personal music. Still, it's interesting, and probably worth learning (at least to me). Have you read his articles and analyses? They are often hard to beat.
     

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