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Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 in Dm

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Rachfan, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi David, congrats on this new and very successful try. I would know how much you have to work to arrive at this level of accuracy in a such complex piece. Actually I liked your last version very much, though. I could feel a vast amount of energy and passion there. In this version you seem to speak your musical language more fluently and more convinced. This improved facility took me of that impression a bit??? Well, I listend to your old one a while ago and the impression may be involved not only with your interpretation but also with this great work itself, cause it was my first exposure to this piece. Anyway, I owe this great experience to you! :D
     
  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Hye-Jin,

    Thanks so much for listening to the newer recording. You're one of a very few who have commented on it. This is my first experience here re-posting the same piece, so what I learned from the experience is that most people listen to the original and let it go at that. So I'm grateful you made the effort to listen to the new one. I'm delighted that you found this rendition more fluent and were more convinced by it. I tried to carry that same passion from the original over into this performance, and believe I succeeded in that aspect. I did attend also to Chris' errata list, and believe I corrected or improved most of them, although I never heard back from him. So at least it's more accurate than before. (Not that I'm planning a third recording! :lol:) Anyway when I finished up with this recording, Medtner and I were still on speaking terms... sort of. So maybe someday I'll attempt another work of his.

    Thanks again for listening and you nice comments.

    David
     
  3. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Though I know Medtner and have heard some of his music, I must confesss this piece was to me unknown, so perhaps I am not the right one to comment on the musical side. I can, however, say I noticed a marked improvement between versions 1 and 2.

    I agree with Rachfan about recordings and editing. Having listened mostly to recordings and less to the real thing. Why this? Where I grew up concerts were not all that common or at least concerts limited themselves to the same Chopin preludes and Liszt etudes, so only though recordings could one become acquained with a wide array of composers. The downside is that I always heard what seemed noteperfect performances, leading me to believe concert pianist simply did not make mistakes. Mistakes I made aplenty, but then, what could I expect, being an rank amateur! Only now do I realise this actually undermined any hopes I had of making it good as a pianist. Even though I know this to be false and that perfect recordings are down to perfect engineering, I struggle to make any recordings. I play somethimg, realise I can play it quite well, sometimes even note perfect. Then I Say, "Record!" And there it goes all wrong: I grow so anxious not to make a single error that I find myself anticipating the mistakes I make a moment later.

    I have something to learn from Rachfan.
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks so much for taking time to listen to the re-recording of this sonata. I'm glad that you could discern the progress made since the original effort. My problem has always been that if I fix one error, another crops up elsewhere that previously had never been a problem! :lol: Given its difficulty, I believe this is one of those pieces that could be studied for a very long time if not a lifetime.

    I'm glad too you agree on doing authentic rather than edited recordings. Editing has always existed beginning with piano rolls, of course, but seems to have intensified with the dawn of hi-fidelity, stereo sound and on up through the present day. It seemed that to match the wonderful realistic sound quality that became available (a mere technical achievement), then performing too had to become "perfect", even though there is no perfection in life and art. So once again technical wizardry became elevated to an art form of recording engineers. Most consumers of records and CDs actually believed what they were hearing in these commercially edited recordings. So to competitively sell product, all of it had to be made perfect. Worse yet the wizardry began to make all pianists sound alike too. I guess it has been in some ways a benefit, but in other ways a curse. For awhile one could escape this artificiality by purchasing "live performance" CDs instead of studio recordings. But alas, by the 1980s the recording engineers boldly decided to alter live recital recordings too as if revising history. Thus, what we hear on Horowitz's Moscow Recital, for example, is not what the audience heard in the moment. :( Then came the affordable or free edit-it-yourself-at-home type software like Audacity which brought the amateurs into the editing world as well.

    As an amateur, if in doing a good recording take there are a few slips or a homey page turn that contradicts the illusion of perfection, well, then I accept that as a badge of courage for undertaking a larger, difficult work and sharing it as a real single-take performance. My sense is that if someone wants the note-perfect and "musically enhanced" version, then they can turn to the professional CDs of Lortie, Katsaris, Volodos, Hamelin, Lugansky and the other virtuosi who not only play with big techniques, but have highly talented recording engineers as well to clean up any issues. I make no pretense of being able to play as well as they can or to even come close. There are many other amateur pianists here at PS whom I greatly respect and who choose to edit their recordings. I have no dispute with that at all. It's just that I prefer not to edit my own recordings. I just want them to be what they are--my best efforts to interpret, perform and record great music.

    Again, thanks for listening, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on recording.

    David
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    As always, David heads the no-edit lobby with great flair :wink: .

    There seems to be one flaw in the logic though. I see the point of not wanting to correct any minor slips, but why on earth would cutting out a page turn in any way compromise the spontaneity and artistic quality of a recording ? A noisy and rhythm-disrupting page turn is about as homey as a boil on the tip of one's nose, and equally nasty to behold. I would personally take that little effort to remove it, and spare the listener this irritating moment that spoils the musicality of the performance more than a shower of slips will do, and will grate on repeated listening.

    An alternative to a difficult page turn could be to plan it better, by memorizing a couple of bars before or after it. Often there is a suitable place nearby where the page turn can be done discreetly, maybe facilitated by letting one hand help another for a moment. With some careful consideration, many page turns are manageable. But under no circumstances they should be heard to disrupt the flow.

    Just my opinionated two cents of course.
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Chris,

    Although I don't memorize well now, I made that effort on the very first page turn of this sonata. I memorized the measure, was anticipatory, freed one hand in time, missed not a note in the measure, altered the rhythm not at all, turned the page quietly... and still got complaints. Possibly my microphones are more sensitive than others. It proves that you cannot please all of them all of the time. So I give up on that approach!

    I do, though, stand by my principles regarding editing. I've given this more thought and have decided on a different strategy. That is, I'll record trifles and short pieces that do not exceed four pages which I can spread out on the music desk, and let it go at that. Longer works I can post elsewhere. I'm hoping this will work for everyone here.

    David
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    I do believe the 'complaints' pertain to the really obtrusive page turns, of which I remember a few in some of your recordings. We don't complain about the ones that are discreetly done, even if you can hear them. It's not as if we are listening out for them, just that some rather poke you in the eye, er, ear. I do believe that such a moment can spoil the listening pleasure.

    Those principles are fine, I respect them and have no trouble with a couple of slips. But consider this analogy. You probably would not have your face botox'ed and your brows lifted any more than I would. We just accept that it may not be as perfect as we'd like. But suppose you developed a dirty great big wart on the tip of your nose, one that caught people's eyes and make them wince, would you not have it removed ? I can't put my case any clearer than that, your honor.

    I would not want you to stop posting longer works here just because of this, that would be a loss.
    Note that you can be creative with photocopies. With longer works I print them a bit smaller, cut the white margins off the pages, sellotape them together, and fold them harmonica-wise. If your music stand allows for 4 pages, you can then have a six-page piece with only one page turn - and you have a choice of where to make it. This idea has worked well for me on occasion.
     
  8. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    A vivid and apt analogy...let's hope it doesn't gross Monica out if she reads it :lol:

    Anyway, from my limited perspective, I wouldn't worry a bloody crap about slips (thought I'd use my own ribald expression :lol: ) if the playing is generally good. Cortot and Sofronitsky, heck, even Rachmaninoff if you listen carefully, made their share of mistakes, but the playing is so free, orchestral, controlled, etc., that it doesn't detract in the least from the performance. On the other hand, IMHO any time there is such a taint as a wrong note on playing such as Kissin's or Argerich's, it tends to be eminently noticeable since their sound is generally so notey, crude, and ugly.

    As I had remarked earlier, I rather enjoyed this performance and any slips were hardly noticeable to me. Regarding the page turns thing, I do believe people should have their music memorized to solve all these problems, especially in romantic music, but I understand and respect David's age-related argument and know that this late Russian stuff can be a bitch in this regard.

    Just more of my two cents...I can never resist an interesting discussion :p

    Joe
     
  9. pianolady

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

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    It did. [​IMG]
     
  10. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Chris,

    Sometimes removing a page turn on Audacity is difficult to impossible. The tolerance of the cutting function is not fine enough, and it sometimes takes a fringe of the music with it creating a nasty "cut". Frankly, I don't know which is worse. :(

    I can probably try half of your suggestion on getting more pages on the music desk. Most of the forgotten music I play comes from the IMSLP. The PDFs, which are already reduced to 8 1/2 X 11 inch format which is already hard to read, not to mention that some were not in pristine shape to start with. Normal focal length of reading glasses is 16". When you sit at the piano, the focal length is more like 25 or 26" even with the music desk pulled forward, quite similar to sitting at a PC. So I actually use my PC glasses instead. Sometimes on those printouts, the ledger lines are so compressed (including the downloaded original, not just the printout), that I've had to get a magnifying glass to decipher it, as I dread misreads of notes. So for me that would rule out reducing the size of the printouts even more. What I can try though is your trick of cutting off the margins of the sheets. With that I might be able to jam five pages on the desk or six with a page turn. Thanks for that.

    Yes, I'd hate not to be able to post longer pieces here. I'll see what I can do.

    David
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your understanding.

    Ah, Cortot, Sofronitsky and Rachmaninoff and others too.... The reason that their slips don't matter is because they knew how to play in the grand manner of the Golden Era of the piano. That style of playing is what I've always aspired to, even if only to get a tiny bit closer to it.

    David
     
  12. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Monica,

    That was graphic indeed! :lol:

    David
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Sure, a cut can't always be done without a scar. I'd rather have the scar than the bleeding gash, though :D
    I don't quite get your point about the tolerance of the cutting function. If you stretch the waveform horizintally (I assume Audacity can do that, I think all editors can), cutting can be done extremely precisely.

    Indeed reducing the size if not ideal, especially with a complicated score. But even 90% will help a bit. Especially if you (get someone to) make a music stand like I did, see
    http://pianosociety.com/new/phpBB2/...0&sid=800cc0ed0b26543af94d86a9b31c08fd#p31330
     
  14. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Chris,

    I'll check Audacity to see about expanding the wave form. Yes, I've seen before that extra long music desk you have there. My problem with that (I notice it with even just four pages displayed), there's a limit to how far I can see well over to the far right. I there we six pages on the desk extended out even farther, I doubt I could see pages 5 and 6 well enough for them to be of much use. Aging is a terrible thing... but it sure beats the alternative. :lol:

    David
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    I must admit the outermost pages don't read all that comfortably. I tend to shift the whole wad around a little bit, which I can do with my long straight music desk.

    Maybe us sight readers should invest in a MusicPad Pro. They're still quite expensive though.
     
  16. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    I also think the new recording is an improvement. I can hear a few infelicities but I don't find them important as they are more than compensated for by the overall feel and sweep of the interpretation. There are some moments of genuine beauty, in particular the lyrical section and subsequent build-up from approximately 60% of the way through. There is definitely more than a hint of old-school pianism about the recording; I think the full piano sound and the use of left-before-right both contribute. I'm a little bothered about the timbre of the very upper treble; it doesn't sound right and that would be my only real quibble.

    You can expand it for ease of editing: both horizontally (i.e. time-wise) and vertically. In the version I have: for horizontal expansion there is a +magnifying glass icon (as well as a -magnifying glass icon for contracting) at the top of the screen. Also there is a magnifying glass icon which when activated gives you the option of left mouse click to expand horizontally or right mouse click to contract. Hovering the cursor over the y-axis display gives you the same mouse click options for vertical expansion or contraction (though it's likely to be best to do the clicking with the mouse at the 0.00 y-axis position, or you will probably expand the wrong part).
     
  17. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Andrew,

    I'm glad you found improvement in the re-recording. I agree with all your comments, which I appreciate. Probably the "full piano sound" resulted from the lid being fully open this time. Previously, I had been using only the singer prop to partially open the lid. I think on the "left before right", that I do it occasionally for effect, but not consistently throughout the piece.

    Your comment on the treble timbre is interesting. Actually I'm going a long with an experiment on the piano. The Ronsen Wursen hammers are about three years old now, and are grooved and somewhat bright. The tech has been brushing out the grooves after tunings to get rid of the metalic residue from the strings which helps, but he's very conservative and will voice hammers only when there is no other alternative. Voicing on this piano has been very slight. There is a new "method" that tuners are trying now. What he did was to insert three business cards over to the left side of the piano case where the soft pedal mechanism is at rest. The three cards force the soft pedal mechanism to the right about the width of a typical groove on an tenor hammer and hold it in place there. This brings the hammers into contact with ungrooved wurzen wool on the heads of the hammers. After time goes by and that portion eventually becomes grooved, then one or two cards are removed to reposition the hammers such that new felt is again available with which to strike the strings. So what is essentially happening in the long process is that the piano is almost voicing itself by allowing the hammers to progressively receive access to unused wool on the hammers. After the cycle is completed, the technician then files and shapes all of the hamnmers to restart the cycle.

    You're used to a more positive, but now brighter treble. I could remove the cards to reposition the original hammer grooves back to the "start" position to restore the previous sound. But where the new position grooving has not taken place yet, I think I should give them more time to groove, at which point the brightness will start to make itself apparent again over time.

    David
     
  18. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi David,

    I listened twice to your interpretation of the Medtner Sonata Elegia. I appreciate the "heads up" regarding the opening two measures.

    I hear snippets of Chopin like phrases, with short ideas winding their way throughout.
    The harmonies are interesting and the piece has many references to Russian romanticism in terms of style.

    You bring out so much in this piece. There is a great deal of sensitivity and beauty in the melodic lines and sequences.
    It seems as though you use your arm weight in such a way as to bring out the richness of the chords. The is dynamic shading subtle and beautiful.
    The piece sounds like it is always going somewhere. You give a rich and powerful performance.

    Thank you for introducing me to a piece I haven't heard.

    Kaila Rochelle
     
  19. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi Kaila,

    Thanks so much for listening to the sonata (twice!). I really appreciate it, especially your very kind observations on my playing. Although this unusual, one-movement sonata is still in sonata-allegro form, by its nature and intent, it's very episodic, almost segmented, as you noticed. The challenge, I think, is to tie it all together, meaning concentrating on the long lines, the musical intent and execution, and bringing a direction and sweep to the experience so as to put it across to the listener. And there's a lot to put across there!

    On the arm weight aspect, I must give all credit to Nancy Oliva, my first piano teacher of 10 years. One of her professors at the New England Conservatory of Music was Albion Metcalf, a student of Tobias Matthay (1858-1945), a guru of the principles of arm weight at the piano. From a young age I received training in that aspect of execution. And I've never forgotten it and always try to employ arm weight appropriately, as when expressing rich chords. In our day there have been assertions that the sole determinant of tone and volume is the acceleration of the hammer--period--and that the same result can be achieve playing a key with a pencil or the tip of an umbrella rather than arm weight. The scientists with their measuring devices have proven that point, but only when speaking of a single key and the sound produced by it. Despite the intrinsically percussive nature of the piano, the instrument's magic is hardly ever limited to a single note. Instead, musicality has everything to do with creating the illusion of legato phrasing by connecting sequential tones and shaping the richness of the overtones in the chords with arm weight and the pedal. That far exceeds poking a key with a pencil or umbrella. It's all about creating a sense of lyricism and nuance and, at times, power. So I brush those arguments aside and continue to believe in arm weight. :)

    Again, I'm so glad you enjoyed hearing this marvelous piece.

    David
     
  20. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)

    Hi David,

    Proper use of arm weight is essential to producing a beautiful tone. You were taught very well from the start!

    Kaila
     

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