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Field Nocturnes (take 2)

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by mnodine, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    Sorry to be absent so long from the site, both as a contributor and a
    listener, but it has taken me a lot longer than I expected to get all
    the Field nocturnes to a point that I am reasonably happy with them.
    Having said that, I'm happy to respond to criticism and re-record
    any (but probably not all...) of them that are felt insufficiently
    polished. I really appreciated the feedback I got before and tried to
    accommodate all the advice I heard.

    It is worth noting that there are two separate versions of the
    nocturnes, with notable differences between them. I have been
    performing from the Peters edition. If you really want to follow
    along at home, you can get the exact version I used at this link:
    http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/09790. This is the same
    version that John O'Conor used in his recordings (available on Amazon).

    Below is an approximate correspondence between the versions, but I'm
    not sure that any two of them match exactly.

    Peters Liszt/Kalmus
    1-6 1-6
    7 13
    8 7
    9 8
    10 9
    11 11
    12 14
    13 15
    14 16
    15 17
    16 18
    19 10, similar, but Liszt is missing 1st page and has other differences
    18 12

    If these versions are pushed out to the web site, it should be made
    clear that they are the numberings from the Peters edition, as all the
    ones currently there use the Liszt/Kalmus numberings and editions.

    Perhaps some day I'll do a complete set of the Liszt/Kalmus just for
    completeness' sake.

    H/T to Monica Hart for her advice not to allow music to be
    publicly posted before its time since you can never call back an older
    inferior version once it gets into the wild.

    Below is my biographical information.

    Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the recordings!

    --Mark


    Field - Nocturne No. 1 (4:14)
    Field - Nocturne No. 2 (4:35)
    Field - Nocturne No. 3 (3:06)
    Field - Nocturne No. 4 (5:00)
    Field - Nocturne No. 5 (3:03)
    Field - Nocturne No. 6 (4:48)
    Field - Nocturne No. 7 (5:51)
    Field - Nocturne No. 8 (4:04)
    Field - Nocturne No. 9 (3:04)
    Field - Nocturne No.10 (3:24)
    Field - Nocturne No.11 (3:55)
    Field - Nocturne No.11 (3:07)
    Field - Nocturne No.13 (3:22)
    Field - Nocturne No.14 (7:18)
    Field - Nocturne No.15 (3:10)
    Field - Nocturne No.16 (4:26)
    Field - Nocturne No.17 (8:54)
    Field - Nocturne No.18 (4:48)


    ------------ cut here ----------
    Mark Nodine

    Mark was born in 1956 and started piano lessons at age six at the Bryn
    Mawr Conservatory of Music in Pennsylvania, where he continued until
    age 18, first under the tutelage of Mme. Baroni, and later under
    Taylor Redden. He applied to, but was not accepted to Oberlin
    Conservatory and Northwestern University, and went to college at
    Tulane University. It was his intention his freshman year to get a
    Bachelor of Fine Arts in piano performance and a Bachelor of Science
    in mathematics. However, in talking with some of the upperclassman
    music majors, he discovered two alarming facts: (1) the music majors
    had come to be so critical about performances that they could only
    hear the mistakes after a while, and no longer could enjoy music, and
    (2) there is an inherent trade-off between being a musician and
    earning enough to be able to eat. Accordingly, Mark dropped the piano
    major and instead did a triple major in mathematics, physics, and
    chemistry. He eventually went on to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science
    from Brown University, and has worked in the semiconductor industry
    since 1995. He has been living in Austin with his wife and children
    since 1996.

    It is actually a good thing that Mark decided not to pursue music as a
    career, because, frankly, he was not very good at it when he was in
    college. Although he had been practicing 6 to 8 hours per day in high
    school, nevertheless he had poor technique that led to his having a
    very heavy, wooden touch.

    When Mark was in his 30s, his grandfather passed away, and left him
    enough inheritance money to buy a new Baldwin baby grand piano. At
    that point, he decided to take some lessons, and engaged the services
    of Robbert de Vries in the Boston area. During his first 90-minute
    lesson, his teacher talked about Mark's posture, his shoulders, his
    elbows, his wrists, and his thumbs. Fingers were not even mentioned
    during that first lesson. Essentially, Robbert took a bulldozer to
    Mark's technique and started from the ground up, teaching him how to
    keep the tension out of his hands and to play with minimal effort. As
    a result, Mark was able to develop the light touch that had eluded him
    up until then.

    Although Mark only took lessons from Robbert for a couple of years, he
    has continued playing the piano for fun. Over the last decade or so,
    Mark has learned all the Mozart sonatas, most of the Beethoven
    sonatas, most of the Chopin repertoire, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Glinka,
    Franck, Fauré, and most recently Field. He also has season tickets to
    the Austin Symphony, and has a hobby that whenever the orchestra plays
    a piano concerto, he learns the piano part prior to the concert. The
    concertos so far are the Grieg, Liszt #2, Beethoven #2, Rachmaninoff
    #2, Tchaikovsky #1, Brahms #1, Prokofiev #4, Schumann, and now Mozart
    #25.
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Welcome back.
    I listened to no.18 but it did nothing to diminish my pronounced dislike for Field's music. So I hope some others here will sample more of these.
    It is being played to sufficient standards I think, some minor slips and erratic moments but nothing serious enough to deny it access to the site.
    I do not feel qualified to judge this on the artistic level.
    Can't say I particularly like the piano sound, but one gets used to it and maybe it kind of suits the pianoforte-like qualities of the music. I would not
    like to hear this timbre in Rachmaninov though.
     
  3. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    Hi, Chris.

    Thanks for your observations, especially about the timbre of my piano recordings.
    My piano technician has told me that my restrung piano has the tone of a
    Steinway concert grand. Therefore, if the recordings have a bad timbre
    to them, I conclude one (or more, I suppose) of the following is true:

    1. You don't like the sound of Steinway concert grands :) .
    2. There was a problem with my recording setup.
    3. There was a problem with my recording equipment.

    At this point, I think the prime suspect is the microphone. When I get back
    from my business trip, I think I'll invest in a much better grade microphone
    and rerecord one of the pieces for comparison. It probably will be one of
    the easier ones, though, not #18. If you find the sound to be better with
    the new microphone, only then will I spend the time to redo the complete set.

    I appreciate your honesty!

    Regards,
    --Mark
     
  4. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Mark, I've listened to the first three (without score). I can't fault the playing in terms of apparent accuracy, and must commend you for having made the effort to return to the full set.

    Like Chris, I have concerns with the piano sound - not big concerns, but it is a touch strident in the treble, particularly higher up. I feel the attack is a little sharp and metallic, and there's not enough of the caressing approach and warmth which I believe would benefit the pieces artistically. There's also not that great a dynamic range: there's a genuine pp towards the end of no.2 but a lot of it is all very mf and mp. This could be a facet of microphone placement, and to be fair, a lot of recordings suffer to some extent from this problem. I'd also consider the possibility that the accompanimental figures could do with being a little more in the background.

    From what I've heard so far, they sound well-prepared and secure, my concern purely lies with the artistic and sonic side of things - I'm sure they could go on the site but I also think they could be more persuasively communicated. Congratulations on the ongoing project though; it's no mean feat to prepare this volume of material.
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi Mark,
    I've only had time to listen to the first nocturne. It sounded okay to me, although I wasn't using my good earphones at the time.

    Processing all these files will be very time consuming!! I'll have to do it over the course of several days. But I want to ask you to help me out by re-submitting everything using different titles.

    Instead of: Field: Nocturne #5

    I'd like you to title it this way:

    Field - Nocturne No.5 in B flat major

    Also, we need a photo of you, preferably a head shot.

    I'll try to listen to a couple more of these as I process them, but please remember to listen to other members' recordings too.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I will do that this time. I need to download them anyway to create the HTML table.
    Next time, the tags need to be conforming to the rules.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Mark, don't forget to attach your photo, or you can email it to me if you'd prefer.
     
  8. MarkieUK

    MarkieUK Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to number 2 and number 9, which is one of my favourites of the Field nocturnes. I think you did a good job of portraying the restless nature of the piece, although there was a little too much rubato for me. It flowed quite nicely.

    I think simplicity is one of the most important things to convey with Field's nocturnes, although this is much far harder to achieve than it seems. They also should have a dreamy quality to them.
     
  9. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    Thanks to all who have commented.

    Based on the comments of Chris and Andrew, I'm concerned about the quality of the
    recordings in two areas:

    1. I think I need to use a better microphone, especially for picking up the treble notes.
    2. I suspect that Garageband compressed the dynamic range when it exported to mp3.
    I say this based on Andrew's comment about no pp sections and relative lack of
    dynamics. Looking at the original wave forms, I can easily see (as well as hear) the
    phrasing and that there are parts that are even ppp.

    Unfortunately, I have been out of town this week and haven't been able to check my
    hypotheses. At this point, I'd say to hold off on processing these files thoroughly
    until I've had a chance to do some more experimentation with the recording mechanics.

    As daunting as it may be to have to re-record everything, that still may be the best
    course of action.

    Thanks again for all your observations.

    --Mark
     
  10. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    Chris and Monica,

    I was using a script to set the mp3 tags for the title anyway, so it would be trivial for
    me to update them to the form you want.

    Chris, was there anything else about the tags that was not meeting standards?
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I've already corrected and uploaded them. Monica will create your page and links.

    A couple of things, I don't remember. Most important is the format of the 'Title' tag. Please refer to this topic

    viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5115

    and make sure you do it right next time.
     
  12. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Actually, I put the second nocturne into Audacity and looked at the waveform. It doesn't look that bad - actually based purely on that viewing, I would expect to hear more dynamic variation than I am hearing. My experience in editing recordings would be that the shape of a waveform can be a fairly superficial guide to overall volume. In truth, I think the timbre is probably more of a concern, but that's a personal opinion. Re this I've taken the liberty of doing a little experiment and it would be interesting if you could tell me which you think sounds better..
     
  13. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Mark,
    First of all, congratulations on taking on such a daunting task (RE-recording) and finishing it. I have, so far, been able to listen to the first nine. As usual, I listened through speakers.

    The two that I think are most improved are the two mentioned by MarkieUK, #2 and #9. In the latter, the obligato around 2/3 way through is very improved, and the steadiness in #2 deserves to be pointed out. (I still have the original set on my PC, and was able to check out a couple of the old ones to make a comparison.)

    #7 is a dreary piece. #4 had a couple of issues with the synchronization between hands. #6 is much improved in the accuracy and confidence in the fast RH passages - congratulations on that.

    As far as sonics are concerned, I thought the main problem was inconsistency. Some of them (like #9) are recorded very nicely, and a couple of others sound like the mic placement needed changing. I'm sorry that I did not write down which numbers I thought were of the latter persuasion. I was not put off by the lack of (or low-key) reverb at all.

    I'll try to get to the other half in the coming week. This is an important cycle for historical reasons, and you're to be thanked for adding this to the site. (And for striving for improvement.)
     
  14. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Continuing to listen to further ones, albeit without score..

    Yup, spotted that in the passagework section.

    5 is rather nice, I do have a similar feeling to the earlier ones in that the treble melodic notes sometimes sound forced rather than stroked. Very nice end though.

    There appear to be couple of small articulation problems in the RH passages in 6 but nothing drastic and the vast majority of the passagework is clean.

    I appreciate the effort made to bring out the tenor line in 7; I don't think it's an inspired composition at all, and goes on far longer than necessary imo.

    Looking at my comments on the first set, I see I drew attention to the improvisatory flourish in the middle of 8. I don't have access to the previous version, but it seems it's definitely improved - a hint of a problem right at the end, but it doesn't sound like you're pushing to get the notes this time. In an ideal world, more p perhaps?

    Good expressive playing in 9.
     
  15. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    I'm trying to attach my picture, but the site doesn't seem to want me to upload anything that's not .mp3.
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    The board allows image attachments with these extensions

    gif, jpeg, jpg, png, tga, tif

    and a maximum size of 250Mb.
     
  17. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Or you can email it to me.

    malianello@hotmail.com
     
  18. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    I have to agree that #7 is my least favorite. Whether it comes across as dreary
    because it's my least favorite or it's my least favorite because it's dreary, I
    can't rightly say. I did try to make it as musical as I could, though.

    It seems like #4 is a candidate for re-recording. Stu and Andrew, is there any
    chance you could be more specific about where you have concerns about the
    synchronicity between hands? I hear that my LH was noticeably late at about
    13s and slightly late at 3:13 (where it is devilishly hard to get the timing
    right!). Are there other places?

    Thanks to everyone for your congratulations and constructive comments.
     
  19. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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  20. mnodine

    mnodine New Member Trusted Member

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    Thank you, Monica. I plan to stay around.
     

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