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Grainger - The Merry King

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by techneut, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm posting this here because I still have some technical issues with this lovely folk-song transcription by Percy Grainger. Despite its apparent simplicity and moderate tempo this is a fiercely difficult piece full of wide stretches, leaps and unusual chords. I can't ever hope to attain Hamelin's smoothness and expression, he makes it sound so easy.... Some feedback on the interpretation would be welcome.
     
  2. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Hi Chris,

    You play this beautifully. You've captured the Irish folk style nicely. The balance, sound and voicing are lovely in the technically simpler sections. As things get more difficult the melody occasionally gets lost and the other material esp. the large chords become a bit clanging. Either make the chords softer or give the melody some real oomph like a trumpet line along the top of a brass band sound. (Not that I blame you for having more trouble in the more difficult sections!!)

    Maybe it would help in the difficult parts to practice the melody alone -- even if it is not technically difficult at all -- to get the desired sound, pacing, and expression in your ear, and then also practice everything except the melody, and then put them together. If you aren't doing this already.

    Looking forward to the final result!
    Heather
     
  3. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'd seen clips of Grainger the pianist but had never really listened to one of his piano pieces. This one is certainly an idyllic and charming Old-World sort of tune, and I think you have a nice feel for its rhythmic ebbs and flows.

    My primary overall suggestion would be that you listen more clearly for the pedal changes, which are a bit muddy in places. No doubt that's difficult with the frequent harmonic modulations, but in some cases the foot has to keep pace with the fingers :p There also seemed like some hesitation and uncertainty at certain points (e.g., between 0:36 and 0:41) and a few other passages where the rhythm seemed ambiguous and I was having trouble following the general pulse (two overall passages I noted were between 2:00 and 2:30 and 3:25 and 3:55). Could just be that the second half needs to be a bit more confident in terms of the rolls and stretches.

    None of this is serious, though, just suggestions for polish. I enjoyed listening.

    Joe
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Heather and Joe. Good points from both of you. I have quite some work to do in terms of sustaining the melody and getting more comfortable with the hellish LH writing.

    BTW this is not an Irish tune, I think. Grainger penned it in Wimbledon (London) after the singing of one Alfred Hunt. He collected folk material in the same manner as Bartok and Kodaly.
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    It already sounds pretty good. Going purely by ear, there are a few parts where there might be some rhythmic instability: in addition to what Joe mentioned, the section from 1.19 sounds a bit awkward: I'm not sure whether the broken chords are taking too long or what. Unless it's precisely and specifically notated, with such things there's always the question of whether you start breaking the chord on the beat, or finish breaking it on the beat. Anyway it's a good start with a nice piano tone and character, full of promise!
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Andrew. Seems I may be on the right track here. As for the 'rhythmic instability' (a point also raised by Joe) it's worth nothing that this score is littered with Graingeresque tempo directives like ' linger slightly', 'very lingeringly', 'slow off lots', 'slow off hugely', 'slacken slightly', 'very wayward in time' etc. And yes, some spots still sound awkward, especially those with huge stretches. On page 2 it says N.B. Players with small hands may leave out the second verse. Alas, I have no small hands :(
     
  7. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Interesting piece, never heard it before. It has a nice main theme and I think you hand it well. It seems like one of those piece calling for grand flourishes. Maybe these type of pieces should be played over-the-top, but, at the same time my old music teacher told me about that--you shouldn't give away everything at the beginning of the piece, like any story there should be a climax somewhere after 1/2 way. Sounds like in this piece that's at 3:47! Nice to here some new music. Heard you are on vacation with Andreas, this isn't the first time though, nice that is becoming a regular thing! so I look forward to hearing some duet music from you two 8)
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Riley. Grainger was a larger-than life character and his music does often call for grand gestures. No so much here, although the climax could and should be played more assuredly and flamboyantly than here.

    Haha no, I am not on vacation with Andreas. But he'll visit me in two weeks for a day of 4-hand recording. And perhaps I'll join him for a day of surfing at
    their beach-side camping.
     

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