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Isaac Albeniz - Iberia, book #1

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello folks,

    Dedicated to our Piano lady, who is, apparently, a fan of Spanish music, please find a recording of Isaac Albeniz' Iberia first book, that I made ten days ago. The first piece, "Evocation", is an introduction to the whole Iberia suite, and, as such, a nostalgic dream of the Spanish land. "El Puerto" (The Port) describes the joyfull agitation that you may find in a andalucian harbour on a sunny morning. The final piece, "Fête-Dieu à Séville" (Corpus Christi in Sevilla), is really a mountain within the piano literature. It is a series of eight sections, some very rythmic, and other totally misty and almost vanished, with dynamics indications from ppppp to ffff. I imagine a procession in the city streets, with a succession of crowdy places and desert ones.

    Please forgive the numerous slips I could not avoid, inspite of numerous takes. Rather, I hope you will smell some traces of Spanish spirit, with this unique mixture of feast, tragedy, and nostalgy !

    Albeniz - Iberia, book 1 "Evocacion"

    Albeniz - Iberia, book 1 "El Puerto"

    Albeniz - Iberia, book 1 "Fête-dieu à Seville"
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Wow! Thank you so much, Francois!! Fantastic - I loved all three, but especially "El Puerto" - I think this is some of the best playing I've heard from you so far!!! Really!!!! And I just don't know how anyone can get through Fête-dieu à Seville. Outstanding - I'm very impressed!!!!

    Also, you changed your piano - this is an acoustic, right? I'm glad you did!

    These are up on the site.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Whoa, that is so brave ! Evocacion and El Puerto are not overly difficult (just difficult), but the middle section of Fete-Dieu is positively grueling. Even Hamelin is in awe of it. I've had vague plans to record more Iberia for a long time but never got around it, and I would not dare record this one, or Lavapies. I'll have to listen to these later on, and will certainly forgive a couple of wrong notes.

    Any further plans with Iberia ?
     
  4. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Many thanks Monica for your kind congratulations ! I am especially flattered since they come from a specialist of this music.

    It is still my Yamaha S 400 B (1.90 m long, handmade and ivory keyboard) which is a very good piano, even if the loud part lacks depth, to my taste. Also it was not perfectly tuned when I made these recordings, but you know the problem with pianos during spring time: they move with the weather, and you're better waiting for the end of the heating period if you don't want to call the tuner again... I use the digital one only for the harpsichord music.

    Yes, it is not a completely reasonnable project to try to play Fête-Dieu, as you will listen... However, what a beautiful music !
    More of Iberia ? Hopefully in the future... Some years ago I tried to play the book #3. It seems to me even more difficult than the first one, and the last piece Lavapiès, as you said, is just impossible to catch for me.
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh, Francois - I am not a specialist in anything. But I know what I like, and I do like Spanish music. Who doesn't?!

    I play on a Yamaha grand also. Yours converts to a little over 6 feet in my kind of measuring, so that's a good size piano. I do not know the S400B pianos though. And yes, I did notice the tuning is slightly off, but not terribly so. Summertime is when my piano's tuning goes a little nuts because it's very hot and humid outside, but inside is cool and dry from the air conditioning. Except, people come and go out the front door and sometimes leave it open for too long and then my piano complains. :wink:
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,

    Bravo! I just listened to your Iberia pieces and cannot tell you how much I enjoyed them. You play this music with a wonderful artistry, bringing out its changing scenes, moods and colors. Albeniz writes with underlying Classical and Romantic styles in Spanish idiom, but also manages to create incredible atmospherics at times using an Impressionistic brush. This is one of the things that captivates me about the Late Romanticists. They are able to eclectically intertwine styles to produce startling, refreshing, and lushly opulent music such as that which you present here. Marvelous!

    David
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    An amazing achievement Francois ! This makes you definitely one of he best non-professional pianists on the site.

    I won't bitch you about some spots of trouble in the Fete-Dieu - we only need to remember that Albeniz himself was in despair about playing Iberia. And in souch religious fervour and mayhem some blood may be shed, it almost goes with the territory.
    I did however spot some read errors that I need to check out (they could be my errors that is why I bother about them).

    Evocacion and El Puerto are splendid, although I would like them just a bit more sultry. Not that you lack anything in rubato and expression, but it is all rather bright and brisk (not necessarily a bad thing, and a matter of taste of course). The closing notes of the Evocacion should be short and dry, like guitar plucks, IIRC. But this sounds good too.

    I find your instrument a bit metallic in the upper register, sometimes creating an unpleasant ring. Not sure if that is to do with pedal usage or not.

    Anyway, great and idiomatic playing ! I'll want to put Iberia on the music stand again now. Maybe Rondena and El Albaicin which always seem to come a bit more natural to me than the other pieces. And redo the Evocacion with its irritating slip in the climax.
     
  8. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear friends,
    I am finding your kind messages back from some days in the country, so please excuse the delay.

    Thank you David ! Well, I've matured this music for decades. Actually, in France we pass an examination for the end of the highschool studies (before to go to the university), called 'baccalaureat'. So, for this exam I took music as an option, and, besides the performance of one or two pieces on an instrument we had to listen and to answer questions on certain great pieces of the repertoire. This year (it was... in 1975), there were, among others Ravel's concerto in G, and the first book of Iberia. The latter was a discovery for me and since that time I kept this music into my heart... Yes, it is total piano, but, more important, total music, with a supreme mastery of melody, harmony and rythm, both very specific of a part of the world (Spain, mainly Andalucia) and universal. The only defect is the technical difficulty, which prevent many pianists to dare to play it !

    Thank you Chris, you're too kind !

    There may be some read errors (I played the pieces by heart), in addition to slips and missing notes...

    It's what I tried to do at the end of El Puerto, because there is an indication as 'tempo primo' or so, showing that in Albeniz' intention, these last notes had to be a reminiscence of the left-hand introduction. For Evocacion, I thought it was more a kind of vanishing echo...

    Well, it's a Yamaha: nice medium, but nasal loud notes lacking depth and too bright upper register, especially when not perfectly tuned. But I was supposed to have the tuner two months after for a home concert, and I did not want to wait for such a long time to record the pieces...

    Very good, I am looking forward to listening these next recordings !
     
  9. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    François, I have very little to add to the previous comments. I generally don't like Spanish music, but Iberia (especially the first book) is a BIG exception. I totally agree with you about the way you assess these pieces, they're a miracle in many different ways. Also, I greatly enjoyed your playing, and particularly El Puerto. That fearsome El Corpus Christi is one of my long-long term project, I'd die happy if I could adequately play it!
     
  10. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear Alfonso,
    Thank you for your congratulations ! I'm sure you'll also do a great job in these pieces, as in all what I've heard from you. In 'Corpus Christi', there is a certain page (especially two or three lines) that I absolutely could not manage to play because of intrication of the two hands. I ended up rewriting these lines by distributing the notes with a more natural manner (loud notes on left hand, treble at the right one). Of course this arrangement is musically questionable, but this section becomes reasonnably playable (even if I'm not satisfied with the version I've posted in this respect). If you are interested, I can send to you the arrangement.
    Good luck !
     
  11. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    François, Fête-Dieu à Séville is a tremendous achievement both musically and technically! El Puerto and Evocacion are also played with almost equal artistry. Your abilities as a composer allows you to give true color and texture these pieces. Very well done!
     
  12. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Many thanks, 88man. Fête-Dieu is not as clean as I would like, but it is so difficult to keep in the tracks when you are always flying... I mean that displacements with only stacatto are very difficult to control. This problem is even harder for me in Prokofiev; this is why I almost gave up in playing sonatas, although I love the music.
     
  13. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Please do! I'd be delighted to look at it. No shame in rewriting a passage, several great pianists of the past did that all the time.
     
  14. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's it, Alfonso. Hope it can help...
    Good luck !
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Interesting ! I have struggled with that bit mightily too.
    I thought you'd have done that entire section, up until the triple forte. This rearrangement probably makes it easier to play, but it would seem more difficult to make the melody stand out as required. It's hard to see where it is in this notation. Anyway, the main objective of this section is to get out alive :lol:
     
  16. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Correct ! Long time ago I had a piano teacher who claimed that arrangements were always less good than original... But when you simply cannot play the music, either you use this kind of strategy, or you give up playing a beautiful 8' piece just because 10 seconds of hell.
    Anyway, there may be other ways of re-writing, which keep the melody more apparent. Looking forward to seeing your version, Chris ! :lol:
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Haha, I am too lazy for that. I'd just BS my way through it best as possible.
     
  18. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    BS = ????
     
  19. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Everybody's hand is different, so if hand or finger substitution works to give the desired outcome, then by all means do it! I've done this too. Composers are not editors; and editors are not composers. Although many editors have committed hubris in this regard where they have seen fit to do so. However, pianists are just as qualified as editors in assigning the hands and fingers to simplify a passage that's playable. After all, it's your own hand.

    By the way, BS is a colloquial English abbreviation... Here:
    Il ya des passages où tout ce qu'on peut faire, c'est des conneries son chemin à travers elle la meilleure façon possible. In other words, there are passages where all one can do is to BS one's way through it as best as possible. Or at least until you sort it all out. Wow! I have to admit, that's one tough passage!
     
  20. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    BS = bullshit. Like many nouns, it's evolved into a verb.
     

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