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Mendelssohn: 2 Songs Without Words, op. 53,6 & op. 62,6

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by musicusblau, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    These two Songs Without Words I have played on New Years Eve for some friends and relatives in Switzerland, but the two recordings below I have recorded at home this evening. It´s only audio, that means, that I haven´t made a video this time. It´s recorded with my Neumann KM 184 mics on Zoom H4n, originally as wave-files of 96 Khz/24 bit.

    I have choosen these two Songs Without Words, because they have some things in common, but on the other side they are also different, of course. Both are in a-major, both are each the last piece of their set and both are full of joy and energy. The famous "Frühlingslied" (Song of Spring) gives us the imagination f. ex. of a bubbling streamlet in spring or rising florals or flowers. It´s a sounding allegory of awaking nature respective life in spring.
    In contrast to that dulcet op. 62, 6 the Song Without Words op. 53, 6 seems may be to be a bit "brutal" at first view. I would say it expresses Storm and Stress (Sturm und Drang), highest energy of life and nature in youth. What seems to be a bit strange at first view are the dissonances of seconds, which are built in all over the place. This gives the piece a quite modern, may be a bit "jazzy" character. I really love that and it´s a lot of fun to play!

    Comments are very appreciated!


    Mendelssohn - Songs Without Words, Op. 53, No. 6 in A Major

    Mendelssohn - Songs Without Words, Op. 62, No. 6 "Frühlingslied"
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I like the Fruhlingslied a lot better than the other one, and it seems more convincingly performed to me. It's a lovely piece of course.

    The Op.53.6 sounds a bit choppy and dry, it could perhaps benefit from a tighter rhythm and better articulation of the alternating 16ths.
    Seems like the bars with only 8ths are considerably faster than the rest. But this may be perception, as I don't know this piece (and I admit to not liking it very much :oops: ).
     
  3. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas, happy new year to you!!! :D I just listened to the both. The Frühlingslied is played a bit slower than I'm used to, but also at this tempo very enjoyable. You express at that tempo very well how the things are changing in the beginning spring, I think. I was just a bit disturbed with the way you play the sforzando on RH. You could make a rounder and deeper emphasizing on those spots.
    I completely agree with Chris on these points, and I'm sure you play the 8ths-bars much faster. Was it your intention? Even if it is the case, I got an slight impression that you are hurrying. But I think I could like this song :wink:
    BTW did you read my post on the Liadov thread? I am just curious about how you teach your little son the piano playing :)
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    I just listened to your two Mendelssohn pieces here and enjoyed them both. I've played pieces from Opp. 53 and 62, but not these particular ones.

    The "Spring Song" sounded lovely. It's a bit of a salon piece, but has an irrepressible character that always pleases. Very nicely played! The Op. 53 piece, "The Flight" is quite intriguing. (We need to wink about these titles. In the entire Songs without Words, Mendelssohn himself titled only three of them. His publisher conjured all the other titles as part of the sheet music marketing effort.) Anyway, I looked quickly at the score for "The Flight" dating from 1841. It appears to be a difficult piece to play up to tempo! There are intricacies throughout. The piece has an interesting sound to it--perhaps a bird flying in a capricious wind while trying to maintain its flight path; or, maybe the somewhat erratic flight of a tiny humming bird with its fluttering wings appearing as a constant blur as it flits from flower to flower in search of nectar. It takes a couple of hearings to really absorb this music. Given its speed, I imagine that pedaling calls for many decisions. Overall, I think you made a fully creditable rendition. This has to be one of the more unusual of the Songs, so I it's great that you learned it and could share it with us here.

    David
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    These are up, Andreas. And Happy New Year to you too!

    I know the op. 62-6 but not the op. 53-6, which is a little strange-sounding to me though I'm sure you played it fine. I think there is an editing cut at 0:52 that is pretty obvious and hopefully you can correct. The 62-6 sounded just the way I expected -very nicely played! Maybe there's another cut at 2:08? I don't mean to be the 'editing police' but I think friends should be able to tell friends when they hear this sort of thing so that the friend in question can fix the recording before it goes out into the world forever, right? I'd hope someone would tell me if they hear a bad editing cut in one of my recordings.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I did not hear any cuts. Which does not have to mean that there are none, some ears are sharper than mine. But it does mean that if they are there, they are not obtrusive and do not require action.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, I must be hearing things. I'm sorry. Please forget I said anything, Andreas.
     
  8. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi friends,
    thank you all so much for the numerous and thoughtful comments. It´s really good to have some fellows here, who are really anxious to improve recordings. :D That´s why I consider this forum much valuabler than YouTube f.ex.
    I´m sorry for my one day delayed answer, but yesterday I wasn´t at home.

    In the following I would like to give some direct replies to single comments:

    Techneut wrote:
    May be there is some truth in that, but it has to do with my interpretation. I don´t want to be the seconds always "mathematically clear", I consider them more as a little dissonant background, more a plain of sound, which is "bantering" us all the time during the piece. That´s why I take some pedal here and there during the dissonances of seconds. The eigth-chord-repetitions I play a bit faster, indeed, that´s my way to express the stormy character of that piece. But right, may be I should play it more well-behaved. :oops: :lol:

    Hyenal wrote:
    That´s my way to play expressively, but sure I´m a babarian. :lol: No seriously, probably you are right and I should play also here more well-behaved.

    I have explained that above, I want to express that "Storm and Stress"-character (Sturm-und-Drang-Charakter).

    Yes, I have read this during my holdidays in Switzerland on my cell-phone, which has internet access (but it´s quite expensive from foreign countries), but I don´t use my cell-phone to answer, because it´s too complicated, later, when I was at home in Germany again, I forgot it, I´m sorry about that. Thank you for your nice reply there. I teach my son little children-songs like "Alle meine Entchen" (it´s similar to the Moldau-theme,btw :wink: ) or "Fuchs, du hast die Gans gestohlen" to play just with one finger at this moment (he is four years old).
    Btw, the theme of your dissertation sounds very interesting, though I´m not a specialist concerning Kant. (I only teach the common things like "Was ist Aufklärung?", "Kritik der reinen Vernunft" etc.

    @ David:
    First, I want to thank you for your appreciation of my interpretations and your numerous thoughts, which mean a personal gain for me. :D
    Rachfan wrote:
    I knew that about the titles, but I didn´t know the title "The flight", so thank you very much for that information. It´s very interesting and fitting also from my view. I have read many literature and a dissertation about the "Songs Without Words", but that title wasn´t anymore in my consciousness and it is not in my Henle-Urtext-edition. Where did you find it?

    Pianolady wrote:
    No, no, you are pretty right with your hearing of cuts. They are exactly at the places you mentioned and now I know, that they can be also audible for others. Of course, you are right, friends should tell each other such things. :D Sometimes I don´t know, what is more difficult, to play piano or to do cuts. :wink: I always do it manually and not by the automatic function of Wave Lab, because if I use the automatic function, they always are audible. To do it manually very often seems to be a pure matter of good luck, because you always have to find a fitting "connecting point", which is not always optimally possible. I thought, that these two cuts aren´t any more audible for people, who don´t know, that there is a cut, but as we see now, I was in an error about that. The waves are fitting on each side quite well in the cuts, that means there is no "break" in the waves, but I fear, the difference of dynamic and pedalization could make the cuts audible for fine ears. For me the transition seemed so soft, that I thought, they aren´t any more audible for people, who don´t know about the place of the cut, so I can understand also Chris, when he says, that he can´t hear them.
    I will try to correct these two editings as soon as I will find time, but I will have to see, if it still is possible (I worked nearly an hour only on these two cuts you have discovered) (Congratulations to your excellent ears, btw! :D ). And I have to admit, I prefer to spend my time more with playing piano than always with doing editings, if I´m honest. But may be, I will also re-record op. 53, 6 one nice day, because I think, I still could improve my interpretation. But first I would like to go to my next Bach-piece.

    Thank you very much for putting up the pieces, Monica! :D
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    I have two editions here: The Ricordi gives no title for 53/6; however Schirmer shows it as "The Flight". (But where it's Schirmer, it's doubly suspicious ha-ha! :lol: )

    David
     
  10. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Rachfan wrote:
    Thank you very much, David. I think, the title "The Flight" must be a special invention by the Schirmer-edition. I think, there are numerous titles like this by different editions, which are not so well-known in general. But that doesn´t matter. At last, in the case of the Songs Without Words by Mendelssohn we have to take these titles just as inspirations for our fantasy and not to consider them as the absolute truth about the piece from my view. (A main argument for this is, that the most aren´t by Mendelssohn himself.)
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Yes, I completely agree with you on those fanciful titles that probably had little or no connection to what Mendelssohn actually had in mind.

    David
     
  12. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    Thanks for sharing these recordings. It's nice to rediscover the op. 53 no. 6--it's many years since I looked at these pieces.

    Regarding the choppiness, I think what is needed is for the 16ths to be much more in the background. It's technically challenging to do (and would have been much easier on the pianos of Mendelssohn's time!) But if you can get those notes quieter, then you can afford to pedal more, and I think this will help with the effect you're looking for. Also, I'd like to hear a lot more of the bass. For example, in bars 8-10 it would be nice to be more aware of the rising chromatic line.

    The problem with the faster 8th note bars is that there's a sudden change of speed. It's easy for listeners to get the impression "here is the easy part so let's go faster"--it sounds like an accident. Have you tried beginning those bars at the same tempo as the rest and then accelerating? i.e. change the tempo gradually rather than suddenly.

    Overall I like your interpretation, but I think this performance doesn't quite represent what you want.

    I wouldn't have noticed the editing cut if Monica hadn't pointed it out ;-) The join is certainly smooth, but I think there's a change of tone quality. Did you do both takes on the same day? Was the microphone placement the same? I don't yet have a lot of experience of recording and editing, so I'm curious as to how these things are done.

    For what it's worth, I have an Allans edition (Australian publisher) of these pieces and this one is titled "Whither away?"
     
  13. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy New Member

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    Excellent phrasing and touch, Andreas. I'm talking about the "Frühlingslied" which I enjoyed a lot. I loved it.
    I more or less agree with the others about Op. 53. Your sound in both is fleshy, fantastic.
     
  14. lisztzsil

    lisztzsil New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Andreas,

    I think you did a nice job in the Spring song!
    However I agree with Chris in that you would benefit in playing the rythm more precisely in the first one.

    Best,
    Alexandre
     
  15. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    First, sorry to all, who have commented here last week for my quite late answer. I was very busy last week. I also had some problems with the internet connection, because my ethernet card broke down!
    hanysz wrote:
    O.k., I think, these are quite good points and I could elaborate the sixteenth still more as "background-noises". I think, I will work on this. Concerning the bass, there very often are breaks in it, so I don´t dare to play the bass notes too long and fully, but I also will think about that point. One could take this as artistic liberty.

    It´s not meant as "here is the eay part so let´s go faster", of course, but I like the idea to gradually accelerate the tempo. I will try that out.

    Yes, both takes are made one after each other on the same day and the microphones were always on the same place. It´s just the difference of dynamic and pedal, because Monica could hear the cuts. (And it´s only, because she has very fine ears!)

    I have to admit, that this title I don´t find too fitting for that piece, "The Flight" is a lot better in my opinion.

    Thank you for your detailed comment and tips. Nice to meet you here.
     
  16. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    wiser_guy wrote:
    How nice to see you again here, Pantelis. :D I really have to admit I have missed you a bit. Thank you for your encouraging comment. Your opinion concerning the sound-quality always means much to me, because you also produce recordings of an excellent sound-quality. Do you still record? (I just ask, because I haven´t seen a recordings by you here since a longer time.)
     
  17. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    lisztzsil wrote:
    Thank you for the praise and the tip, Alexandre. I think, I will make a re-recording of op. 53 one nice day, also after having got the inspirations by hanysz.

    Kind regards
    Andreas
     

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