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for the curious again (some Bach)

Discussion in 'General' started by Terez, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I played for the general recital class thingy again today, which is, alas, the only way I seem to be able to get a recording, and it's always horrible sound with loud audience cause every music major in the school is required to be there (which makes me even more nervous and I'm simply amazed that it didn't end up in a trainwreck because, even after 2 years of working on this partita, the toccata is still barely under my fingers). I might be embarrassed tomorrow about having posted this recording, and I've been awake for like 3 days now so I'm too tired to be OCD and over-analyze my performance to make sure that everybody knows that I know exactly what sucked about it. :lol: At the moment, I can count the things that really bothered me (missing notes, wrong notes, brief derails, things coming out totally not like I wanted at all) on my fingers so I'm hoping that's good. Was in general too heavy-handed because that's what it required to keep myself from falling asleep at the piano....

    I miss you guys. I have been going crazy with school :cry:
     
  2. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    LOL

    I forgot the attachment. Oh, and this is from partita 6 in e minor. Playing the whole thing at my recital Sunday, with some other things.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    A performance with lots of style and character. I would not worry so much about the few little things that were not perfect, but concentrate on the good things.
    I liked the ornamentation in the last part. In the first part, the trills seem a bit too obtrusive. You could take a little bit more breathing space sometimes between phrases. In some streches in the middle section it feels a bit like two-in-the-bar (not sure if that makes any sense).
    Why do you agonize over this Toccata so much ? It's certainly not trivial, but it's not especially hard either.
     
  4. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    LOL are you making fun of me Chris? It was agonizingly difficult for me. :cry:
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Far from it. I was just wondering ! On the purely technical side, this one does IMO not make huge demands. To tell a convincing story is another matter though. Maybe that is where the difficulty lies.
     
  6. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    It is. And it's not so much figuring out the story to tell (which I think comes relatively easy to me) as figuring out how to make my fingers tell it, if that makes any sense. There's a certain amount of piano-playing that is pure athleticism, and I don't have a natural talent for that at all. But the musician side of me is extremely particular about how the music should sound, so practicing has always been a pretty depressing thing for me. :lol: It still is in a way, but I think I have seen more improvements in my 'athleticism' in the last two years than I have ever seen before, so that encourages me to practice more than I ever have. And this goes a lot further than just being able to make your fingers play the notes (I could do that, with a few bumps, when I picked it up 2 years ago, and I played it for a semester final jury then, and got an A).

    But anyway, working on this partita for two years has helped me to understand the logic of Bach's keyboard technique, and that has been especially helpful. I don't think I really understood it until I started working on the gavotte (finally!) this past summer, and then I took a few lessons on baroque dance this semester and I was able to make the connection between the baroque dance steps and Bach's keyboard writing. I think I understand a lot better why younger pianists and a lot of today's amateurs (and even some who are pianists by vocation) have such a hard time with Bach in comparison to the late 18th and 19th century stuff, and it's more than just the fact that Bach didn't write his keyboard music for piano. His keyboard writing demands a specific sort of approach that would have been used on the harpsichord, but also happens to play well into the percussive nature of the piano. I'm going to write a pedagogical article on it (I actually owe a pedagogical article to my piano teacher for a class I took last year, so I might as well make it on this), so I would be interested in hearing what any of you Bach fiends think about that.
     
  7. alf

    alf New Member Piano Society Artist

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    You keep on hiding on the General Forum! This recording would totally deserve to be in AR for a larger Internet audience.

    I'm really impressed, even more than by your Chopin Etude (which is by far more difficult, to be honest). Your Bach has drive and a lot of temperament. The occasional clunkers you tossed in don't disturb at all the flow of the music. :wink:

    I like most of your musical choices and in particular very much the ending. In general I find more successful the toccata parts than the fugue, which IMO would benefit from a lighter treatment, but after all it works even that way and perhaps has more unity. Hope to hear the rest of the Partita soon.
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    haha, I would be embarrassed to have the clunkers so public. :cry: Also, the audience noises are annoying, and the sound quality is sub-par.

    You make my heart sing Alfie! I think that this is much more difficult than the Chopin 25/7, but maybe that's because I only recently figured out how to play Bach. I still have so much more refinement to do on this partita, and I hate that I have to perform it now and move on to other things, when I'm getting so close to playing it exactly how I want to.

    Yeah, as I said, I was in general too heavy-handed because I was going on no sleep and felt I had to be to keep the fugue alive (it's so difficult for me). I have been getting lighter and lighter on it, and I definitely prefer it light. I really hope I can get my whole recital recorded! Also, please do tell me which musical choices you didn't like, and why; I can benefit from these opinions even if I eventually might disregard them (that goes for you too Chris - I am interested in your opinions on the minutiae).
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Shucks... I'm no Bach expert ! If you've studied this piece for years it's not for me to tell you to do things otherwise.
     
  10. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Okay, so...my recital was really awful and I don't expect anyone to listen to it. I was for some reason more nervous playing in front of a few friends and family than I was in front of the entire school of music for general recital class. I screwed up every single piece on the program. :lol: But I have posted YouTube links anyway, both to the playlist of the whole recital and to each individual piece. Generally, nothing turned out quite like I wanted it to, even the parts that I didn't really screw up. Just little musical details....I was so nervous I felt like the musician had been completely sucked out of me, and I had to fake it.

    A friend of mine recorded it with her camcorder, and it actually turned out really good, with her focusing on my hands (because I was curious about that, and she got a really good angle, especially in the Bach when she zoomed in more). But she gave it to me in DVD form. I had to convert it to mp4 with HandBrake, and then edit it in iMovie, and then convert it to either .mov or .m4v to save from iMovie to upload to YouTube. The sound is not nearly as good as in the original, and the video does some horrible lag-catching. But it's still interesting to watch I think.

    Playlist

    Shostakovich preludes—Out of these three, #24 turned out the best I think.

    No. 6 in b minor—this one was a bit under tempo. The one part that really scared me, that I worked soooooo hard on (mms. 22-28 ), I messed up even at the safe tempo. I should have just taken it faster. Other than that, just a few minor flubs, and I had trouble making the triplets clear in the left hand in mms. 50-54.

    No. 10 in c-sharp minor—the first note I missed in m. 20 sort of started a chain reaction, all the way through my accompaniment being too loud in 22, and the left hand triplet in m. 26. Also, mms. 37-42 could have been a lot smoother. My trills were really nervous throughout.

    No. 24 in d minor—This one was also a little under tempo. I messed up my left hand upbeat chords in 17, which sucks cause I know those chords, lol. Was just a nervous thing. Messed up the left hand in m. 35 and also the transition in m. 37. The rest was not bad.

    Chopin etudes—out of these two, the f minor was the best.

    Trois Nouvelles Etudes No. 1 in f minor—a few things on this one: first, I could stand to clean up the pedal a good bit probably. Then there was the obvious stop and restart in 33 cause I missed a note, and that sort of caused my left hand to derail a bit in the following measures. The climax went mostly as I wanted it but I could have come off of it smoother (particularly I could have paid more attention to the resolution of the 4-3 in 55), and also m. 62 was awkward (this is something I never really worked out in my practice, though it improved a lot).

    Op. 25 No. 7 in c-sharp minor—I have posted a different recording of this before that was better (it was almost note-perfect despite a couple of nervous pauses and being under tempo). I think you can tell in this that I was neglecting it this past semester (for the Bach toccata mostly). Screwed up my run in 24, had a pause in the middle of my m. 27 run, had another deer-in-headlights moment in 60. In general confused dotted vs. not dotted rhythms, I think partly because I have seen different editions with dots or no dots and therefore developed a sort of lax attitude about dots in this etude. Also, my accompaniment chords are still TOO LOUD. I never did fix that problem, sadly. If this etude has a purpose, it's the balance of those two voices against each other, and overtop the accompaniment, and I think I pretty much failed at that. :cry:

    Bach e minor partita—Best of these is probably the courante, besides the ending. The gigue was the worst, but the allemande runs a close second for being worst I think. Everything else was just sort of 'meh' in the middle. The video is the most fun to watch for me, though, because Bach is a finger-choreographer. Well, Chopin is too but it's different, especially considering the two Chopin pieces I played.

    Toccata—the recording I posted before of this was better than this one. I messed up different things, and some of the same things (more subtle) were not worked out. For instance, in the opening arpeggiated chords of the toccata, and in the following groups of 2+5 16ths, and every time the motives recur thereafter, I have trouble sometimes making each note distinct and rhythmically precise while at the same time rolling the chord lightly. Also, steady dynamics would help. I have a general idea of what it should sound like, and that's not what's coming out. I can see in the video that I have more tension in my hands for these motives than usual, because I'm holding onto notes with my fingers rather than letting the pedal do the work for me. This is something that my teacher pointed out to me when I asked her how she managed to make the top notes sing so well. I was holding onto EVERY note, and I'm still holding onto all but my middle fingers here. So that could use more work, and also I could stand to clean up the pedal while retaining some degree of shading.

    Top technical difficulties after that: all of the subject entries. I screwed up the entry of mms. 46-47 but usually I don't have as much trouble with that one as m. 58 (ornaments in the fingers that I noticeably avoid using altogether whenever I can get away with it). Next in difficulty is the entry of 65, but in this case the conclusion of the subject is the hardest part to pull off smoothly in terms of voicing, which is quite different from the other complex entries, where the main challenge is in the ornamented beginning of the subject (though I will admit that this is the only subject entry where I broke down and dropped an ornament, because on the downbeat of m. 65, the middle voice just has to be played with the left hand, which is reaching a 9th (it would also be a 9th if played with the RH, but it's obviously intended to be played with the LH). Maybe Bach could do it, but I can't.

    M. 24 - oops. The trill in m. 25....that's an E-D# trill, and on this piano, the action suffers right there. It's inconvenient for this partita. My thumb got heavy in mm. 37-38. :( In the return at 89....in the first recording, I was too heavy on the resolution (finally!) of the 6-5-4-3 that finally goes -2-1 there (that B in the middle or the first arpeggio of 89), and I overcompensated this time and lost the line completely. All three Bs in that arpeggio are strong resolutions of the three voices of the fugue: the 5-1 downbeat resolution in the bass, the 6-5-4-3-2-1 resolution in the alto (delayed, but on a strong beat), the leading tone resolution in the soprano (most delayed, and on a weak beat). And then soprano of the toccata motive (3) takes over all of them. There is so much awesomeness in that return that I cry myself to sleep at night cause I can't do it justice (not really but I want to sometimes). It really begins with the 'return' of the toccata B in 72 (in a major key, the only time), then the return of the fugue subject in the wrong key (the minor 'dominant') in 82, then the invertible counterpoint craziness of toccata B in 85-88...then the return of the toccata A (also in the 'wrong' key) in 89. Enough about that. I also generally like to relax more on the ornament in the last cadence, but le sigh.

    Allemande—there are some bits of this one that came off okay, but all of the various blips in the recital were starting to add up at this point, and it's evident. I threw in two ugly mordents on the A repeat for some reason (seemingly to vent some frustration). I never play them. I screwed up the trill that I was bragging to Chris about (m. 19), which I'm sure he would find funny (especially since I was thinking about him as it approached). Stopped and restarted, and didn't even get it right the second time. I made the mistake of neglecting this one toward the recital because I had it down (essentially) and I was really struggling with the toccata, so that didn't help either. The coordination between hands was not quite right in a few places. Other than that, the flubs were minor and my bad attitude was mostly undetectable. I was laughing to myself at the end of this one (thanks Chris), but you can't see that. There wasn't much mirth in it. Just irony.

    Courante—I told Chris I wanted to take this at 160 and he advised me to throw all caution to the wind. I wavered in and out of 160, but in my defense, the hardest places are where I tipped faster than 160, and I dragged slightly in the easy bits. In the opening of this one, and in a few other places, I have trouble making every note distinct in some places where it's not really that difficult, because I play the runs too fast. I had to use entirely too much 5-4 in this one for my liking. Could count the flubs on my fingers, which is a yay, and I ended with a beautiful deer-in-headlights moment.

    Air—I got the deer-in-headlights out of the way in the beginning of this one. I screwed up the 2nd ending of B in the LH, but I do that probably 8 times out of 10 at that speed. Could have been a bit better on contrast between repeats at a slightly slower tempo, but it was nerve-wracking by this time.

    Sarabande—I think the Sarabande helped somewhat to soothe my nerves just by its nature. My main complaint in this one is that my ornaments were lazy, mostly because I was scared I would play them too loud (easy to do on that piano). But my heart was really not in it by that point at all. :( The slides were added in at the behest of my performance practice instructor, and I screwed one of them up, which made me sad. I had some ideas for ornamenting a repeat of A on this, but ended up not trying to do it on stage, so I didn't repeat at all in this one.

    Gavotte—Not terrible. Two stop-restart moments, both in B (mms. 22 and 29). Ending could have been smoother. A few coordination problems (not surprising as this was the last movement I learned).

    Gigue—This one was pretty bad, lol. Totally nerve-wracked by then because I was hoping that one piece on the program would come out okay, and none of them did, and I knew the gigue wouldn't be it. You can see some hints in it of what I was trying to do with it, and what I used to be able to do with it when I first worked it up, but only hints. The ending is usually a lot more fun for me to play, but again, my heart wasn't in it.
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well, nothing much left for us to analyze, you did all that already :D

    I can't understand why you are so self-deprecating. It's quite a feat to perform such a large and demanding program from memory. Little accidents will happen... but nothing here was horrible and much was good. You should not confuse a mistake with screwing up.

    I would make one recommendation : if you play a wrong note, don't correct it. Play straight through it, stay in the groove and pretend it was meant like that. A wrong note is not half as bad as a stumble.

    Yes that Courante is rather fast :shock: Did I tell you to go hell for leather here ? Can't remember... and since when do you listen to me anyway :wink:

    The Shostakovich preludes 6 and 24 could have been a bit more witty and deadpan.
     
  12. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Horrible of me eh? :lol:

    Yeah, I know. I managed to keep plowing through on a few of them, but I guess I don't have enough experience playing live.

    lol....yes you did. I don't remember where, though. This thread? (edit: I remember now; it was on your c minor WTC thread.) Anyway, I wanted to play it fast. I was just scared to...

    I think tempo was the biggest problem, especially on #6, but there was also that 'live performance sucks the musician out of me' thing.

    Thanks for listening, Chris.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I was wondering about your recital - actually wondering why you didn't tell us anything about it. Now I see that you did. I bet you are glad it is over, but you must be proud that you played all that music! Predictably, I watched your two Chopin videos. Yes, the F-minor etude was best, but the C-sharp minor was pretty darn good too. Those runs - well - who cares - probably not everybody even heard those little mishaps, anyway. And not sure if it's the angle of the camera or what, but it looks like you sit very high. Is that true?
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It looked to me like you were using quite some pedal - unless there's another reason for your right knee bobbing up and down :wink:

    Also curious to watch is your RH pinky - it curls inward whenever not required to play, but lashes out vigorously when required. A special technique, or does it just happen that way ?
     
  15. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Actually, I have gotten accustomed to sitting low lately. But the stage is much higher than the audience, and my friend was sitting below recording, so I guess that's why the angle is strange. Also, even though I sit fairly low, my torso is tall (thanks to the padding on my bottom I think) and my arms are short, so they're still not even with the keyboard. I have to sit GG-low for that.

    Thanks for listening Monica!

    haha, yeah I noticed that I can also spy my pedal technique from my leg. :lol: But yes, as I mentioned in my humongous long post, I do need to clean up the pedal in a lot of places. On some of the Bach movements, though, I barely use it at all. I don't use any pedal at all on the gavotte, but I think that's the only movement where I never even touch it. On the courante, I only use it at the cadences.

    hahahaha, special technique. No, it just does that. I noticed it for the first time when watching the video as well, so I'm not sure why I do that. I have a guess, though - my joints on that finger have a bad habit of locking (the joint nearest the fingertip), so it might be an unconscious avoidance of that. Also, sometimes my pinky is extended straight out while I'm not using it, like a lady's little finger on the hand that holds her teacup. :lol:

    Also, I know I said the gigue was horrible so you probably didn't watch it. But the B section is not as bad as the A, and for humor, you should really check out the ending. Can you tell how much I loved that last note? It was the last note of the recital, and MY HEART WAS IN IT. :lol:
     

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