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Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Rachfan, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Recently I had posted four Liadoff preludes which many listeners enjoyed, so I decided to present more of these pieces. Anatol Liadoff (1855-1914) was a Russian late romantic composer who had studied piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, and in 1887 joined the faculty teaching mostly composition. The principal influence in his music was Chopin.

    Here are the next pieces I have submitted in this posting:

    Prelude, Op. 11, No. 1 in B minor (1886) marked moderato;
    Prelude, Op. 24, No. 1 in E (1890) marked lento and dedicated to A. Sergeeva;
    Prelude, Op. 31, No. 2 in B flat minor (1893) marked largo and dedicated to Porfini Trifonov; and
    Prelude, Op. 40, No. 3 in D minor (1897) marked lento.

    These miniatures are very short, altogether approximately 8 minutes total listening time, so I hope you’ll want to hear and enjoy the entire group.

    Comments welcome.

    Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid opened on the singer stick.
    Recorder: Korg MR-1000
    Microphones: Earthworks TC-20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in
    A-B configuration



    Liadov - Prelude in B minor, Op. 11 No. 1
    Liadov - Prelude in E major, Op. 24 No. 1
    Liadov - Prelude in B-flat minor, Op. 31 No. 2
    Liadov - Prelude in D minor, Op. 40 No. 3
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi David, these are up. Sounded very nice and played well.
    I have a little favor to ask you: If you submit more Liadov, please use the spelling standard on the site = Liadov. It saves me some time from having to change everything in your file names.
    Thank you! :)
     
  3. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    Thanks for putting those pieces up for me. Sorry about the nomenclature thing. :oops: Although "never say never", I probably will be moving on to a different composer for my next effort. I was glad to do eight of these Liadov preludes though, which will help a little to fill out his page in the archive.

    ***As one final detail on these, could you please add A. Sergeeva as dedicatee for Prelude Op. 24 and Porfini Trifonov as dedicatee for Op. 31? Thanks again.

    David
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Good work David. I especially like your rendition of Op.31 No.2.
    Op.11 no.1 I find a bit impatient, and the LH rather too dominant. This needs more repose. more ebb and flow, the LH seemingly coming out of nowhere at the beginning. I find it helps in some places to let the RH take the top notes of the LH chords.
    Op.24 no.1 seems rather too fast and literal to me, your tempo being way above the metronome mark. Op.40 no.3 is nicely done but it seems a rather uninspired piece. Nice to have more Liadov on the site. I am currently preparing re-recordings of the Op.10 and op.11 sets.
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, David, I will add those names when I get to work. (on the train now ) you might have to remind me, or maybe Chris can do it.
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for listening and your feedback. Yes, I think I most enjoyed playing Op. 31, No. 2 and it probably shows.

    The Op. 11, No. 1 is marked moderato which I usually interpret as a quarter = 66+ (even passing 100 in some instances). I did notice a very nice rendition with many leisurely nuances, however it was being played largo where a quarter = 44 and considering that it's in 2/4 with the LH chords being two beats of triplets. I was astounded! As tempting as that was, I decided not to do it as it could lead to criticism on the tempo. I'm not sure why in this haunting, lyrical piece Liadoff wanted moderato. It made little sense to me, so I played it approaching 60, definitely the slowest moderato possible. So the brisker tempo I used probably made it sound more "impatient". The piece would have been more effective marked adagio in my opinion. Yes, I was careful to make the opening appear out of nowhere to achieve a dolce effect there. It's not an easy effect to create and takes several efforts. Your comment on the LH sometimes being dominant is interesting. When I was first working on the piece, it became apparent to me that it was essential for the LH to participate in the crescendos and diminuendos, even though given the figuration, the RH could have handled that chore nicely by itself against a quiet and subdued accompaniment. But by allowing the LH a greater role in those dynamics added much drama to the piece, so I went with it. By in large, I think it was successful, although there is one brief spot in particular where the RH melody did struggled to stay on top.

    Op. 24, No. 1. This piece is marked lento with a quarter = 50. I just listened, then turned on the metronome. My playing is just a hair faster, but very, very close to the marking. I think that what Liadoff was aiming for here was to create a sense of occasion in the way that Schumann or Grieg could. The opening almost suggests Russian bells to me, and there is a certain hustle and bustle and sense of great expectation in the air there. I do believe this is really the way it should be played.

    Op. 40, No. 3. Believe it or not, I found this little piece the most difficult to play of the lot! It's marked lento, a quarter = 42. It's immediately obvious that the character of the piece is a lament. But 42??? At a higher marking, this piece could be so much more expressive in my opinion. I was tempted to just disregard the marking entirely. But then I came to this conclusion: The piece has a thin texture and is very transparent indeed. The music is also very childlike. Perhaps the child lost a household pet, or something similar. That lead me to believe that simplicity needed to rank very high in the interpretation. Bringing in too many expressive effects in this little piece would have likely created excesses. So I left well enough alone and honored Liadoff's tempo. Perhaps I could have employed more pedal, although the figuration is all passing and neighboring tones, so it would be pedaling every eighth note. So I relied more on "finger pedaling" and other judicious uses of pedal as opportunities allowed. Overall, I don't think this composition is one of the best in the volumes, but I was glad to play it nonetheless.

    Good luck on your Op. 10 and 11 sets.

    Oh, could you please glance at Monica's comment above on the dedicatees? I think it important that they be shown. Perhaps you two could flip a coin on it? :)

    David
     
  7. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    I think that is too slow David, for it leaves little room for tempos slower than lento: grave, larghissimo, lentissimo, gravissimo (a pulse next to death!). As I write this it is interesting to note the relationship to hear rate. A "normal" heart rate is 60-100 bpm. Faster is tachycardia (or worse flutter or fibrillation), and slower is bradycardia. But where a heart rate of mid-to-high 50's attracts my attention, anything in the 40's wins you 2-days with a Holter monitor. If symptomatic too, you get a nice new pacemaker implanted in your chest, or even without symptoms if you're in the 30's or flirting with the 20's. It would be a fascinating study (IMO) to study the tempos of music to see if there are some that are outside "physiologic." Can a pattern be too slow or too fast to fall within the scope of human appreciation? Certainly this is true with frequency of sound. Just because a metronome can go as slow as the 40s does that mean that music (a strictly human affair) does also?

    Curious,
    Eddy
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I just did it. But Chris - can you please take off the bold type? My computer at work won't let me do it.
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It actually turned out to be a team effort. I think Liadoff would be pleased having those names included. Thanks!

    David
     
  10. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Eddy,

    That's an interesting explanation of the human heartbeat. And yes, your thought of a study to correlated tempo with physiolgics would be fascinating. I'm trying to think of another piece that I've played at M a quarter = 42, and it eludes me. I can't tell you how I "itched" to just disregard it, as I was really straining to appreciate the music playing it so slowly while desperate to make it convincing too. Maybe this piece is actually meant as an etude, not a prelude. :lol: But as I described in my explanation, I felt that I had thought of a plausible supporting rationale that might explain Liadoff's intention, thus decided to play it as he wished. Whether it will be appreciated remains to be seen. I would bet that over the decades many have taken some significant liberties with that tempo. It is fact, of course, that many composers, like Brahms, were careful to include metronome markings and then when performing the pieces themselves totally disregarded their own markings, and when asked about it, just casually brushed it off. Could Liadoff be in that same boat? We might never know.

    David
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Tell your boss you need a new computer. Do it now. Never mind the spreadsheets and word documents, this is important.
    I also added the word Dedication: because just the names looks a bit funny to me.
     
  12. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Monica and Chris for adding those dedications. While we know who Markoff and Blumenfeld were, some of the other names on these scores might be more obscure to us today, but clearly they were very important to Liadoff. So it's fitting that we note them here. I appreciate it!

    David
     
  13. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I have a theory, David: Maybe the metronome marking is wrong. :roll:
     
  14. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    I thought of that possibility too. What drew me away from it though is that writing in metronome markings was not an occasional thing with Liadoff. He did it a lot, which lead me to believe that he gave tempos considerable thought and was more likely meticulous about his markings.

    David
     
  15. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    It wouldn't be the first time (or the last). Heck, sometimes they can't even get the notes right. And then there's the outlandish fingering suggestions and the very poor phrasing slurs as if they didn't even understand the language of music! What's a little numeric at the beginning going to matter? Thank God there are pianists to interpret composer scratch, otherwise we would all play everything the same (or strive to). :mrgreen:
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Eddy,

    Here are some thoughts:

    I agree with your points about the importance of the interpreter vis-a-vis the composer. A couple of things I've noticed: 1) Some composers, judging by their playing of their own music, do not fully realize the potential within their music; and 2) I believe that over time a pianist comes to understand and know a piece far better than the composer ever did. The reason is fairly obvious. The composer often works on a piece or several compositions simultaneously. (Prokofiev usually had up to a dozen manuscripts open on his work table at all times and would walk around the table making notations from one to the next.) Once the composer bundles the finished score off to the publisher, he starts a new project, or turns attention to others in progress. So relatively speaking, the composer's encounter with the music during its creation was limited and in many cases even brief. Of course there are major exceptions, such as Brahms and his First Symphony, but I'm referring more to the norm.

    In contrast the encounter(s) by the interpreter can be many as long as a lifetime. The pianist analyzes the piece for form, structure, style, composing idiom, characterization, figuration, melody and harmony, voice leading, best phrasing, voicing of chords, effective pedaling, dynamics, nuances, expression in all its guises, practical fingerings, and on and on. Moreover, in restudying a piece, a pianist often gains new insights into the composition and implications for its performance. Contrast that with this astonished (and astonishing) retort by Scriabin when a friend mentioned his virtuosic Fantasy, Op. 28 and Scriabin, looking totally surprised, exclaimed, "What?! I wrote a fantasy?" :lol:

    Any score is the paper map drawn by the composer, but it's the interpreter who depicts the actual territory for the listener. The artist must usually give the composer the benefit of the doubt while making decisions on interpretation; however, he or she must also reserve the right to question certain points as supported by general music theory, principles of pianism, musicological research, and, most importantly, specific evidence within the score itself in order to decide and justify certain matters of execution. In the standard repertoire, performances practices are helpful as guidelines, but not to the extent of smothering the inspiration of the pianist. Unless the pianist has a reasonable amount of latitude and autonomy, then any rendition will be commonplace, predictable, and perhaps boring too. Thus there must be some leeway for allowing some individuality to be manifested by the pianist, but only as long as it is always in good taste and respectful of musical style.

    David
     
  17. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    David, this kind of writing on your part will do nothing but prove that you are just a man and musician of tremendous insight and experience, one who understands the process of creation and re-creation within the domain of the most abstract of human arts.
    You had better be careful! :wink:
    Truely, I couldn't (and didn't) express it as well as you did.
    (So after all is said and done, 1/4-note=42 it is)
     
  18. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Eddy,

    You're too kind in your praise, and in a way I felt very wealthy reading it. Thanks so much!

    Ah yes, the 1/4 = 42. Today I was thinking maybe I should do another recording of that piece and play it as if Liadoff had never stated a tempo or MM marking. It would be quite different, I'm sure. What stops me is that element of simplicity I had mentioned previously. I fear that a different approach might rob the piece of that very simplicity, and in doing so, rob Liadoff of his genius. Best to leave it be as you suggest.

    Thanks again.

    David
     
  19. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    David, thank you for posting these. I've gained a new respect for a composer I've largely ignored in the past--this is a wonderful discovery.

    The interaction between composers and interpreters is endlessly fascinating. I think it's instructive to compare music with other art forms, especially theatre. How many productions of Shakespeare have you seen where people think nothing of the action being set in the wrong century? Yet we pianists sweat over a tiny little metronome mark.

    I'd like to make two specific comments about your performance of these pieces. Regarding op 24/1 my first thought on seeing the score (thanks to imslp.org) was that it should unfold slowly, like someone revealing a secret--it reminds me of the Hugo Wolf song Verborgenheit. So I don't mind the slow metronome mark in this case. But at a faster tempo it could take on a fresher air, almost like an opening scene of a Tchaikovsky ballet--as you say, a sense of expectation. However, to make this interpretation work, your rendition must be much less "vertical"--I feel that the chords get in the way a little--you need to focus on shaping the melody, and make the inner voices much quieter.

    Opus 40/3 is indeed a little cryptic. It makes more sense in the context of opus 40 as a whole: it's the moment of repose between two much livelier pieces. I'd like to draw your attention here to the phrase lengths. It starts with a four bar phrase, then six bars in one phrase; later it's broken up into shorter segments. You need just a little bit more rubato (without being tasteless) to bind the long phrases together. You do slow down a little at the end of a phrase and breathe very nicely, but what's missing is a slight forward movement in the middle of the phrase. Imagine someone singing this melody, what an effort it would be to do bars 5-10 in one breath at this slow tempo: surely they would naturally flow a little more, especially leading to the E flat in bar 8 (which is not the end of the phrase!) Then the changing phrase lengths later on help to give a sense of direction.

    Of course when you're playing at quarter=42, you have to ask whether the audience is really hearing it at 42, or whether they perceive a tempo of eighth=84. (Likewise, if you're playing quarter=176, are people actually hearing half note=88?)

    After much experimentation, my current opinion is that performers should be able to feel a beat as slow as 30, in order to sustain a sense of line in slow movements. I'm sometimes frustrated that standard metronomes don't go slower than 40, and occasionally turn my computer to make a click track at a slower tempo. But of course the audience isn't obliged to feel the music the same way I do.
     
  20. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi hanysz,

    Thank you for that very thoughtful critique!

    Regarding 24/1, I found it to be an unusual piece. In fact, at first I had some difficulty characterizing it. I believe that these preludes are seldom recorded, so this is one of those cases where I had to develop an original concept. On the tempo, I played it a bit faster than 1/4 =50, but I take it you would play it faster yet. At first I did, but became perhaps overly concerned with Liadoff's metronome marking, so pulled back a bit. But I think my instinct there was similar to yours, and perhaps should have gone with it. I was certainly mindful of the chords really being horizontal in nature with the melody in the top line, so voiced it accordingly. But perhaps I could have worked more on quieting the lower harmonic voices in those chords. I don't disagree there.

    Op. 43, I believe, is clearly a lament, so that's the way I tried to musically portray it. I was always very good at accompanying singers, and never missed a breath--ever. In this lament, however, I was feeling the tempo as very constraining. At M = 42 even the 8th notes melody seemed to be plodding along making it difficult to be as expressive as I would have liked to have been. I think if I were to quicken the tempo, the piece and rubatos would flow more naturally and convincingly. Maybe I should really submit a new recording. I've been going back and forth on that.

    David
     

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