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G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 2, "Meditation"

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Rachfan, Feb 22, 2010.

  1. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    The Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12 of the Russian late romanticist Georgy Catoire was published in 1901. Here I’ve posted No. 2, “Meditation”. Usually when I think of contemplative music, Massenet’s “Meditation on Thais” or perhaps Liszt’s “Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude” come to mind. This piece is quite different, and certainly very original. At times the figuration reminds me of Brahms, although Brahms is never cited as an influence on Catoire’s composing idiom. There is a plethora of intricacies involved in the execution of this piece. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

    Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid raised on the singer prop.
    Recorder: Korg MR-1000
    Mics: Matched pair of Earthworks TC20 small diaphragm, omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

    Comments welcome!


    Catoire - Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 2, "Meditation"
     
  2. Horowitzian

    Horowitzian New Member

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    I just listened to the recording twice; once on my computer speakers and once on my iPod through my high-end earbuds. Sounded fantastic! You piano seems to just get better sounding. The upper octaves were in good tune. I'd like to listen with the score before saying any more, but in the mean time, fantastic job as usual!

    Your playlist in my iTunes library continues to grow! :D
     
  3. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi horowitzian,

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this "Meditation". But it's Catoire who should get most of the credit. I thought this piece was going to drive me crazy while I was learning it. :lol: But today I was finally able to record it. So this week I'll start another piece in the set.

    The piano was tuned at the beginning of January and still sounds fairly good. It was tuned slightly sharp to counteract the winter's low humidity, and that seems to have worked well. Lately I've been recording with piano lid on the short singer stick rather than the full prop. My Baldwin is a large parlor grand, so is quite powerful in my not-so-large living room. Keeping the lid open just somewhat seems to keep the sound in better proportion in certain pieces, although my Earthworks mics can take any sound blast with "headroom" to spare during the peaks.

    I just looked at your iPod index of my recordings on your post. I feel very honored! :)

    Thanks for listening, commenting, and adding this piece to your iPod as well.

    David
     
  4. pianolady

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

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    Hi David,

    This sounded very nice. I agree with Horowitzian that your piano sounds better on this recording.

    As you can see, I have processed and uploaded your file onto the site but there is a problem over on the main site. My links do not work. Seems things have not yet been set right since the hacker got us. I'm sure Robert and Chris will get things back in working order soon though.
     
  5. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    Thanks for your nice comments on this recording. I appreciate your efforts too in getting it into the archive.

    I'm not sure why the piano sounded so good today. It was forecast to be a "sunny day" but we had snow all day, but with the temp near 34 at least it didn't stick to the ground. Maybe that moisture in the air boosted the humidity a little, which the piano always welcomes.

    David :)
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Actually, there were no links.... just text. I've added the links. Not sure what the problem can have been. Maybe you did not click 'Save' or something like that. Nothing to do with the hacker.
     
  7. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for helping out, Chris.

    David
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    No problem. Nice recording, btw.
    But why did you cut off the closing chord so abruptly ?
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your kind words about this recording.

    The issue with the final rolled chord is this: The piece is written in 6/8 time, and the final rolled chord is written as a single beat (the downbeat) followed by rests to fill out the measure. And there's that "rule" too that it's generally not proper to hold the pedal through rests, although there are certainly exceptions. At first it seemed a bit abrupt to me too, as my own inclination is usually toward longer fade-outs in lyrical music. So I listened to a CD to see what Marc Hamelin did with it. Sure enough, he plays the rolled chord as an 8th value, maybe even a bit faster than I do. So that's the way he interpreted it too. As I thought about it, here you have this meditative piece with its invocations, revelations and inspirations. I think at the very end the contemplative and ethereal mood is meant to vanish in a single instant of sparkle. It went against my grain, but that's the way I finally performed it--to respect the score rather than take a liberty there.
     
  10. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi David,

    I am not very well acquainted with Catoire, but I really liked your recording. You're right, I thought I was hearing the Brahms intermezzo Op. 117, No.2, for a moment there... Very nice choice of recording equipment too. It's difficult to use omnis in the house, unless you have room treatment. It's great to hear someone acknowledge the unsung heroes in music!

    Your New England neighbor and fellow sailor, :)
    George
     
  11. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    David,

    Thank you for introducing the composer Catoire. Your well thought out performance was reflective and sad, as though one must persevere no matter what the recurring tide of life brings. While the ending was somber as directed by the music it none the less has a "go on and get over it" broken chord at the end that is played with great sweetness and acceptance.

    The resolution that keeps occuring in the main motif was extremely well emphasized with a pulse that felt like a conflict or a ongoing situation that one must live with.

    The performance was wonderful and communicated a sense of analytical. philosophical,
    recognition of some abstract phenomena that one must dwell on . In my imagination I saw an image of a man thinking alone in solitude about something that he just has to accept. Your playing was evocative. I loved it. Thank you so much. After listening to it five times the form was very clear. The melody was brought out so beautifully. Your tone is gorgeous.

    Kaila Rochelle
     
  12. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi George,

    Thanks so much for listening! Yes, I believe than in jumping from analog to digital recording, I gained a lot. And more recently selecting the better mics for my needs was a plus. My Baldwin is a large and powerful parlor grand. The living room does have wall-to-wall carpeting and stuffed furniture which helps. Even at that, I do have to place the mics a good eight feet in front of the piano. The ceiling is a standard 8 feet in height (in Maine that helps to conserve heating oil during winter), but there's not much I can do about that. A cathedral ceiling would sure be a plus! At this point I think the sound is about as good as it can get, given the room's constraints. I think that almost everyone struggles with room recordings. Everytime I have to sit in front of those microphones, I cringe. :lol: An audience of 1,000 people wouldn't bother me nearly as much.

    I feel a close affinity to Catoire, and I love playing his music. I find it's beauty absolutely extraordinary.

    David
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Kaila,

    Thank you so much for your compliments. I very much admire your playing, so your comments mean a great deal to me!

    I found this "Meditation" to be the most difficult piece of Catoire I've yet undertaken. Technically there are some treacherous places in the score given his idiom, but that's not what I'm referring to. Rather, it's the overall tone of the work. The "Meditation" is very contemplative, however I'm not used to that in Catoire's composing. All of the other works of Catoire I've played to date have been ultra-romantic in character. Catoire combines impressionism, expressionism, and late romanticism, and sometimes uses those styles simultaneously to absolutely stunning effect. And there is also a pervasive undercurrent of melancholy running through his pieces. I've thought about that often, and although we know very little about his life and times, I've come to believe that it's perhaps about a lost love during his youth ("the phenomena that one dwells on" and "something that he must just accept" as you say). Somehow when I interpret his scores conjuring that intense nostalgia, the recordings always seem to work well.

    To be honest, so far I'm not quite as high on this Op. 12 as compared to recording Op. 17, Four Preludes (complete set) and Op. 24, the Chants du crepuscule (complete set). In the Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, I also recorded No. 1, "Chant du soir". If sometime you have a free moment, you can find all of these in the Composer destination of the main navigation bar of the main page and can hear them here if you wish. Be careful though, as this music is highly addictive!

    Catoire's music is, for several reasons, neglected and obscure. Marc Hamelin released a CD a few years ago, but now I've picked up the challenge of raising awareness of Catoire's wonderful legacy in the piano solo literature. It brings me much pleasure.

    Again, thanks so much for listening and commenting!

    David
     
  14. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Hey David,

    That was truly enjoyable and beautifully played. I had never heard Catoire until I joined this site. I thank you for bringing his music to my attention.

    Just one thought on that final chord. It could be that it sounds as if it is abruptly cut off because it actually lasts too long.

    Thanks again for this beautiful music.

    Scott
     
  15. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Scott,

    You know, you could be quite right about that last broken chord--not brief enough! I can tell you that Hamelin plays it even more quickly and ends it more abruptly than I. Taking it as the breaking of the spell, it sounds more natural to me now than it did at first. So when others ask me about it, and it has been a bit controversial, I try to explain the wisdom of doing it that way. Nobody enjoys a lingering ending more than I, but it's just not called for here.

    Thanks for listening, and I'm glad that you so enjoyed this piece, especially where it's so different from the others I've played to date. I appreciate it.

    David
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Actually, I was not disputing that chord, but the fact that the recording ends so abruptly after that. It sounds as if the sound hasn't even died away before it just clicks off.
     
  17. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    To be honest, I hadn't noticed the title until after listening to this piece. While listening, the only adjective I could use to describe your playing was "meditative". I was quite surprised to find out that the title was in accord with my thoughts. If you tried to line up with the implied spirit of the piece, you have successfully done so, David.

    Oh, and... pardon me for adding my voice to the others about the closing chord. It sounded kind of weird to me also.
     
  18. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis,

    Thanks for your compliment on my getting into the spirit of the piece. I found that achieving a "meditative" mood was much harder for me actually than projecting the more romantic moods of his other pieces I've played to date. I'm terrific at zoning out, but not so good at meditating. :lol: I do think I finally captured the mood while I was doing the recording takes.

    On the final rolled chord, had there been a fermata over the eighth note broken chord, it would have invited me to prolong the sound by pedaling through the rests, or likewise for a pedal indication (but not likely for most composers!) Pedaling through rests can often be questionable. I believe that Catoire's intention there was to break the spell. I think Scott had the right idea above--I actually held the broken chord until it had all sounded for an instant, then released the damper pedal quickly. It was quick but not quick enough. In hindsight I probably should have executed the notes leggiero with a flick of the fingers and with soft pedal only for a better ppp dynamic. That probably would have made the "poof" effect more convincing. Live and learn! This is the great thing about pianism. No matter how long you've played the piano or your level of artistry, a good composer can always teach you something new.

    Thanks for listening, and I'm glad you enjoyed this music.

    David
     
  19. Horowitzian

    Horowitzian New Member

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    Let me listen to it one more time with the score, and I'll post more detailed comments this weekend. :)
     
  20. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I'm partial to this, neither knwing the pice or Catoire's intentions. But whatever you do, do not cut off the recording so abruptly. Always leave at least a second after all sound has died away.
     

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