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My senior recital

Discussion in 'General' started by Terez, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    It was really, really awful but I thought maybe some of you might be curious, so if you like you can listen to it here. I am sick of Beethoven but I am going to attempt to polish up the Chopin etudes and maybe the Bach too so I can make decent recordings, which I hope to be able to do in a month or so, as it is still my dream to be a real member of Piano Society. :lol: Ugggh, these recordings are awful. I screwed up even more on this recital than I did for my junior recital, which some of you might remember. Anyway, this was my program this time:

    Bach C minor partita
    Beethoven Op. 13
    Chopin Op. 25 Nos. 1, 11, 12

    I only picked up 25/12 again about two months ago, though I was picking around at it before then. I think 2 months ago is when I convinced myself I could do it. But it still needs more work. :cry: Also, as you can see (hear) by Beethoven 13/2, I can't even play something easy without screwing it up. Hell, I can't even make a recording of Chopin 28/4 without screwing it up - ask Monica. I really envy you guys who can burn through repertoire like it's nothing and make recordings with no major mistakes. One day...
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This must be the first time I hear you play, after all those years on PS. You should be a little more proud of what you achieve Terez, instead of moaning it's all so awful. Think of all us poor sods who can't even begin to think about playing Chopin 25.11. And you're playing it live in a recital !
    This is the one I listened to so far and I did not think it was awful. If you had not lost your nerve in the middle, and have an annoying habit of restarting for no good reason, it would be quite a convincing performance, even of much of the RH can't really be heard. I wonder if that is due to the acoustics/recording or your LH being too forceful ? Or maybe you are semi-consciously masking the slips in the RH ? Not that there are so many as to be worrying.
    Anyway kudos for mastering such an awful hard piece. Especially the downward LH run makes me green with envy :x
    I'll listen to the rest later.
     
  3. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    No, you listened to my recordings of the E minor partita and Chopin 25/7! You just forgot. :lol: I could go dig up the threads where I posted them, but I'm lazy. You complimented my Bach-playing then, and did not have any major complaints aside from the general 'it's a little too romantic' if I recall. (They were also live recordings, and I didn't feel they were good enough for the site.)

    Haha, I just got the same reaction from some other folks. You could play 25/11 if you liked it enough to work on it half as much as I did. Hell, you probably wouldn't need even half as much practice as I did! But you always like to move on to new stuff! Really, it's not quite as hard as it seems - though I do like to use the analogy that it's like pole-dancing with a greasy pole - and more importantly, working on it has made everything else easier.

    It's funny - seems like everyone listens to this one first. I don't guess that's surprising, but it still makes me laugh.

    It's a combination of a few things:

    1. I didn't put any effort into sound quality because I knew the recital would suck. I can make better recordings later in more relaxed circumstances - I just wanted to document the recital. A friend of mine was holding the recorder in the audience. When the mic is closer to the piano, the notes are more distinct, but since I use so much pedal (I hate this piece when it's dry), they're never incredibly distinct. I don't like them to be too distinct; I think it makes the piece sound stiff.

    2. My RH is weak, but I don't think I'm unconsciously masking errors - most of the time I actually play the right notes! However, I might be unconsciously masking unevenness - you can hear some of that unevenness come out in this recording.

    3. Our piano technician for some reason thought it was a brilliant idea to um...what's the word? He made the entire treble register softer. I HATE it. Like, really really hate it. I have to play 25/1 with the soft pedal or no amount of skill will keep the bass - a proper Steinway bass - from drowning out the melody. At those two-hand thingies in the middle of 25/11 (the 16ths going toward the middle of the keyboard before the retransition), I like to accent the treble notes, especially at the beginning of the run, and I can't do it on that piano (or any Steinway on campus) without injuring my hand. HATE, HATE, HATE. But of course, there's still nothing better around than the Steinways.

    Thank you so much for listening, Chris. Now we can be envious of each other. :mrgreen: But seriously, since I still have access to the Steinway(s), I think I can make some good recordings in a month or so - can't wait to be a real member! I hope you know that's a large reason why I don't comment on others' recordings - I feel I have done too much of that already, for someone with no recordings of her own.

    Oh! And the key to that downward LH thing is pretty easy:

    1. First, practice it with 1-2 only. In other words, use 1-2 to play the scalar melody on top while ignoring the filler notes played with other fingers (though you have to keep the hand in the right position to be able to play them - stretching out the other fingers above the keys, curved, is a good way to do that).

    2. Relax. Tension will throw a wrench in your spokes, but if you are accustomed to the scalar prominence (see 1) and you relax, it's really not that hard, despite being in the LH. (My LH sucks too, I promise.)

    3. Don't move the wrist back and forth. That's good for some types of technique in this piece, but not this bit, and I bet this hangs a lot of people up. My teacher advised me (based on the advice of another past teacher of mine) on that point, and that was the point at which it became easy for me. The same advice applies to scales.

    I used to think those measures were the hardest in the piece when I first started working on it, but within a month or two I knew better. The hardest bits are the second phrase of the theme, each time it occurs, and the third time is the worst (the climax). The next hardest bit is in the middle section after the second iteration of the theme, but it gets easier as it goes on through that section (the hardest bit being with the bass octaves beginning in E major going to A-flat major or G-sharp major or whatever it was - I don't remember the last time I looked at the score - and the circle of fifths afterward. After the circle of fifths, the RH is surprisingly difficult - this might be the most difficult RH bit in the piece, after maybe the RH over the LH octaves part just before the circle of fifths. Valentina Lisitsa slows down the RH there (after the circle of fifths), and it probably seems to the casual observer that it's an interpretation thing because that part doesn't sound very difficult compared to the rest of the piece, but it really is one of the most difficult passages in the piece. It's very awkward because you have to aim your fingers between black keys in strange ways. So I think she slowed it down there because it was difficult, and she did the same with the endings of the first phrase of each theme, where the RH has to jump a few octaves (I honestly don't know how far - I tried thinking of it and I realized I don't know - isn't that sad?) and the LH is going in the other direction so you can't look at both (and the LH is honestly more difficult, but I can't help looking at the RH and I noticed most people do too).

    I think the hardest LH bit is the ascending one at the climax of the piece, and the bit after where both hands are descending in octaves w/each other. But those LH octaves in the middle section are hard too - harder than the descending line you mentioned - because you can't look at both hands, and the RH is much more pressing there. I can just see Chopin rolling his eyes because we have to look at our hands at all...but then, you don't hear many stories of him playing this piece. I wonder if he could really play it without looking at his hands at all.

    (I added a lot to that last bit on edit - was lazy earlier.)
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can imagine that. Graphically :D Better leave this piece to the females then, hehe :p

    Thanks for all that advice on 25.11... I have no plans to take that up though - nor any other Chopin etude. I'll stick to the easy stuff, thank you.

    I listened to the Beethoven 1st mvt too now. To be honest it's a pretty uninspired job... it's ok to be sick of a piece but at least do pretend to the audience that you love it.... Or maybe you were just nervous, making the kind of silly slips you don't expect from someone who can play Chopin Etudes.
     
  5. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Yeah, I couldn't make myself practice it nearly enough, and got no satisfaction out of it whatsoever, which is typical for me and Beethoven. The hand-crossing is sooo awkward, etc. The music is good, but not good enough IMO to overcome the awkward pianism. I don't really blame Beethoven for that; I wonder how different his piano music would have been if he'd been raised on Chopin like the rest of us. And I really, really tried to make it come off okay, but obviously I failed at it. Even my mom commented on how I didn't seem to get into it, and it really surprised me because I thought I was faking it pretty well. I think it was mostly the frustration of the technique that affected my playing of it. The only reason I could play it at all was because of...not 25/11, but 25/12, actually. 25/12 got my LH in shape to play the tremolos - I realize I didn't play them that fast or impressively, but before I picked up 25/12 again I couldn't play them in time to save my life.

    I enjoyed the 3rd movement much more, and I screwed it up more than usual at the recital. I even screwed up the 2nd movement, at least three times that I recall. Which is sad. Also, if you ever change your mind about 25/11 you can always come back here. :mrgreen:
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes the flubs in the Beethoven 2nd mvt are quite embarrassing. A shame because otherwise it sounded nice and convincing (a few spots of hurry notwithstanding). What was the problem - memory lapses ?
    The Chopin 25.12 - why so fast ? Huge ocean waves ought to roll slowly but inexorably.....
    I also sampled the Bach Capriccio. Could have been good if not for these unexplainable hesitations. The closing bars were a bit of a shamble though.
     
  7. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    This along with other lapses, like in the capriccio, are just deer-in-the-headlights moments. I get really nervous, and everything goes out of my head. My memory is generally very solid on all these pieces. That's one of the things I envy about you is that you don't seem to have this problem. This is why I have such a hard time recording anything - those brain farts are just too common when I'm nervous, and while the recorder in the empty hall doesn't make me as nervous as actual people, it still makes me nervous.

    You know, I clocked the recording at about 72 to the half, and it's marked at 80 by Chopin himself. I like it at that tempo, even though I can't really handle it yet.

    Yeah, the closing bars never troubled me until my warm-up just before the recital, when they started to fall apart. So of course it scared me when I got to that point in the recital, and I screwed it up again. :cry: I was probably most proud of the Courante even though I had a huge screw-up in the B section (aside from a few small screw-ups)...just because those LH ornaments are such a pain in the ass, and I finally got the hang of them, lol. There was a lot of room for improvement in the Bach in general, especially stylistic considerations, expression, etc. I was just barely on top of the technique problems (with some notable exceptions). I also had fun playing with voice-expansion in the Allemande and the Sarabande (especially the Allemande), but that didn't come of quite as well as it could have (mostly due to stupid screw-ups, but also due to nerves killing my musical sensitivity in general). Perhaps I will manage a good recording of the Partita later, too. I hope so.

    Thanks again for listening, Chris. It really means a lot to me.
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Okay, Chris...if you could (pretty please) do me one more favor...could you comment on the recording sound of this recording of 25/11? It's the best I've managed so far (not live), and it's not quite good enough, but it's better than the recital recording, and I haven't done anything with effects or anything because I don't know how (I just figured out how to cut the ends off in Audacity, lol). But the RH should be clearer, along with the unevenness in parts of the RH. I'd just like to know what you think of the sound, so I can make changes if necessary to my microphone placement, etc. I'd like to get it right the first time when submitting my audition. I might need to up the recording levels just a tad because my 16th notes in the intro sound indistinct in the mp3 (they sounded okay in the wav file).
     
  9. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Terez,
    I just listened to your Chopin 25/11 re-record and there is no questin that you can certainly play! This is a difficult work. I think that all that stands between you and where you want to be is a matter of time and effort. How you practice is very important. I wonder if I might ask, how do you approach training through a difficult passage? Are there some principles or ideas you can share with us? Also, regarding your right hand "weakness," do you mean always or just in this piece? Either way, my follow-up question is the same: why so? This is not the work for anyone proclaiming that their RH is weak (generally or specifically). Much success in performing is knowing your capabilities and weaknesses and programing in a manner that doesn't magnify your weakness. Is this the same Steinway you mentioned above? The treble is not prominent enough. I think you should continue pursuing this work until you can rip the piano with it!

    Regards,
    Eddy
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Haha no indeed. Because I always play from score :!: I could not even begin to memorize a piece although if I work on one intensively and prolongedly it seems to mostly seep in without any conscious effort.

    That is ridiculously fast. One should not trust composers on their metrome marks :lol:

    That sounds pretty acceptable to me. Still a bit bass heavy but at least you can now hear more of the RH. I'd try to give the treble a bit more presence though.
    Incidentally, I think this is a better performance too. One that you should not be ashamed of having on the site.
     
  11. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I don't know if I'm the best person to ask about this. There are some things I could say to someone who is working on this piece specifically, or similar passages, like what I shared above, but the only reason I can play it is because I worked on it for over a year, and for nine months, I worked on almost nothing else. I don't know how to practice properly.

    However, the one piece of advice I can give is pretty much common knowledge - practice with no pedal. It always helps quite a bit, and I plan on doing a lot of no-pedal practicing to clean up the remaining weaknesses in the piece (and the other Chopin etudes). In this particular piece, knowing how to hold your hand for each individual technical problem is very important. The unevenness that remains in my RH is because I haven't quite gotten those hand positions nailed yet, despite having worked on the piece so long.

    Mostly just in this piece, and what I mean is that it needs more practice for steadiness and confidence, and partly for accuracy (though most of my accuracy problems are in the LH).

    Yeah, it's the same Steinway. The treble bothers me for being weak, but I don't think it worth the sacrifice of sound quality to try it on an inferior piano, not to mention the action, which is much nicer on a Steinway than any other piano.

    I agree, and I hope I get the opportunity to do so. There is a lot of stress in my life right now - I'm not even sure I'll have a place to live when I get back to MS (in SC with a friend now), much less a piano to practice on. But I hope it all works out.

    Thanks so much for listening!

    Well, I think 69 to the half on 25/11 is just ridiculous, so maybe we agree. Though I would love to be able to play it that fast - no one else does! Even Richter and Lisitsa (the fastest) only play it at about 60, maybe a little more, and that's only in the beginning - most pianists slow down some in the middle. But I like 25/12 fast!

    I guess I can't do any better without external mics...which reminds me. Where has George been lately? And Alfie? Did they quit PS?
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Da Speed Demon Rulez 8) If only Pete was still with us we could have some nice heated discussions.

    George has been here now and then. More than you, actually :wink:
    Alfonso, yes I think he's quit. Hasn't been here since october 2010.
     
  13. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Ha, yes well...I seem to remember Pete's 25/12 being all speed and nothing else! I much prefer sensitivity to speed, and it's not that Pete didn't have any sensitivity at all, but rather that he sacrificed it for speed in that case.

    lol, I check in fairly often, but rarely post (for the aforementioned reasons). I am very grateful to George for lending me his recorder; I might never have bought my own if not for that. I just hate that I've been so slow about recording anything; I set myself lofty goals, didn't I?

    That's a shame about Alfie. I knew he hadn't responded to my last email, but I wasn't sure if it was personal or a more general thing (though of course it might have been both).
     
  14. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    When I have a passage that is difficult for my hand, here are some of the strategies and principles that I use to master it:
    1. Make it more difficult than written
    2. See No.1
    How may this be done:
    A. First one must understand where the mistake/difficulty lies. A "wrong" note is ALWAYS (except for "accidents") about the approach to the note, i.e. it is about everything BEFORE you play it. Therefore, always practice to stop on the given problem. NEVER begin practice on a "corrected" wrong note.
    B. Change rhythms so as to explore and work against new increased difficulty
    C. Practice passage-work in double-notes (25/11 is quite suitable for this) and chords if possible (BTW chords and octaves should never be practiced with "false-attacks," i.e., if the hand approaches it must play: no stopping to pre-position! If you practice this way -- practicing the approach through the air -- after time you will gain an entirely new level of mastery.)
    D. Practice faster and WITH metronome
    E. Expand leaps by additional octave
    F. Practice with eyes closed
    G. Practice ppp and fff
    H. Practice it backwards (not the whole piece, just the problem areas).
    (I. I once knew a woman who could play some Czerny etude in any key you asked her! Crazy!)

    These are some of my approaches. Of course, one should always use the easiest fingering and hand assignments (when appropriate) possible, despite what a score may indicate.

    Your work will gain just by spending time simmering a while too. When you pick it up again in the future -- and you will -- you might try some of these techniques out.

    Regards,
    Eddy
     
  15. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Have you listened to Josef Lhevinne? Warning: this may make you cry!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiMhKqGgess&playnext=1&list=PLA000709562FB0319




    Edit: correct link added
     
  16. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Yeah, that one was recommended to me by a friend (the best pianist I know), though I don't recall it being any faster than the other two I mentioned. It was more sensitively performed, though, if I remember correctly (I can't listen to it again right now).
     
  17. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Sorry I haven't managed to comment on this before - I've been on the road for a couple of days.

    Yeah, I understand this much, which is what I was getting at with the hand position thing. There are various 'approach' methods that have to be used in 25/11, and some of them I haven't quite worked out yet. I only restart on the 'corrected' note in performance. :p

    I tried this, and it was fun. Specifically, I did dotted rhythms in the RH, which helped a bit with the prominence of the melody. But I wonder if that's when my problems with unevenness in the RH began; I didn't have that problem before. But it might have just been the increased speed. The dotted rhythms helped at first, but not very much. It was very jazzy, though; I tried playing it like that, usually without pedal, and I would end on a blues scale instead of the melodic minor. :lol:

    I absolutely HATE practicing like this. I tried it with 25/11 but I didn't find it to be helpful at all.

    Check! I do both slow practice and too-fast practice with the metronome, but sometimes it just becomes impossible for me to keep up with the metronome.

    Sometimes there is not enough room!

    I do this all the time, and often perform with eyes closed, and my teacher gets on to me for looking out into the audience (usually when someone, like my dad, is making too much noise). Chopin was actually disparaging of people who had to look at their hands when playing, but this is one of those pieces where it's damn near impossible to avoid looking at your hands, especially with the huge leaps.

    I have done this too, but right now I'm more worried that the dynamics aren't coming off like I want them to at all. At first my LH was way too loud, especially the V-I octaves in the bass (!), and it was just horrible, but now I've overcompensated I think.

    I practice problem areas pretty randomly. Quite often I start out with the two measures of doom, or the bit leading into them.

    [​IMG]

    I have practiced those two measures more than I've ever practiced anything in my entire life. This is the hardest of three such examples in the piece (it's in a different key each time, and the third is more different than the other two), and I often find it useful to practice them in succession since the technique is similar. But I don't always do that.

    Anyone who enjoys playing Czerny is crazy. I can play most things in whatever key you ask, but not all that well (I don't do it regularly in practice). Sometimes I transpose for fun; sometimes I switch things from major to minor, etc. I was talking to my teacher about transposing as I had just finished playing the Partita II Sarabande, and I told her to pick a key. She picked F# minor, so I played it in F# minor, and she was just amazed. I was amazed because it's not as if I played it anywhere near as well as I play it in C minor, and I was under the impression that most (music major) pianists could transpose with similar aptitude, but apparently I was wrong. Then I did the capriccio in F# minor, with a bit more difficulty, lol. I asked my teacher, 'Don't the non-pianists have to transpose for their piano competency exam?' and she says, 'Yeah, they have to do America the Beautiful, not Bach!' I guess I don't see much difference. I taught myself how to play piano, and knew all the keys from an early age. I wonder if it's because I didn't have any conception of certain keys being more difficult than others, because I couldn't read music.

    As for the breath of fresh air...I think that's now, for 25/11. I have been seriously neglecting it for the last few months to work on 25/12 and Beethoven (I wish I'd spent more time on Bach). I mostly worked on 25/12, really...I hate practicing Beethoven with an unholy passion. So now I'm ready to dig back into 25/11, especially now that I've posted recordings and I've seen how fascinated people are with the piece - it gives me extra encouragement to try to play it well. I also posted links to my recital recordings at Piano World (I have been hanging out in their Chopin thread lately, just because there aren't enough people here who like talking about Chopin; I much prefer the atmosphere here, but Kallberg hangs out over there, and I am digging his occasional comments). Anyway, 25/11 has been downloaded more than all the other pieces combined. And that's not counting the original links I posted at PW, which I made when I wasn't logged in to Mediafire. I have no idea how much they were downloaded, but the comments indicated that most people listened to 25/11.
     
  18. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    For some reason I don't see your score image (maybe will from home). Regarding Czerny, call me crazy! When you practice in dotted rhythm(s), you do change where the "dot" is right? Use all the combos you can make: iambic, trochaic, anapestic, dactylic, etc.
     
  19. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Yeah, it's a photobucket image so I wouldn't be surprised if your work has it blocked. It's mm. 81-82.

    I was advised to change the location of the dot, but I found it too cumbersome and not helpful enough. That's when I stopped using the dotted rhythms altogether. I've started slow-practicing again today, and I think for now I am going to concentrate on accenting each note of the melodic line equally (like I advised for the LH earlier - I haven't done enough of that with the RH). That is really difficult for me to do at a slow tempo, and it's obvious that this fact is the cause of my unevenness and the weakness of the RH. I'm practicing at 60 to the quarter with no pedal, and I think I'll probably do that for quite some time before I start notching it up. Already I made some improvement on evenness today with that approach. It's just going to take some discipline, and now that I don't have a recital to worry about, I can get back into the slow practice. Like I said, I've really been neglecting 25/11 recently. :(

    As for Czerny...I have adopted Chopin's prejudices on many things, weird Chopin-fetishist as I am. :lol: Not that I was ever fond of Czerny. Was quite pleased to learn that Chopin wasn't either (as a composer - he liked the person well enough). What's funny is that Chopin started writing his etudes just after he met Czerny for the first time in Vienna, and there are snippets from his letters home to family and friends that indicate he had a low opinion of Czerny's music before meeting him, and that he continued to be unimpressed after. It seems almost as if, once he met the legend himself, he was inspired to write etudes in his 'own way' - that is, more musical and less 'industrious' - as if his trip to Vienna finally convinced him that he had a place in the world of virtuosic writing. I wonder if he played the few he'd written for Czerny when he returned to Vienna - as far as I know there's nothing to indicate one way or another. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't, since he would have probably been uninterested in any criticism Czerny might offer.

    Hmm...I think it's time to change my sig. :mrgreen:
     
  20. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Terez, I did know (through Facebook) that you played a recital, and you posted this in the "General" again!
    I listened to the three Chopin etudes, and as Chris already wrote, they are not "awful" at all. I find the 25-12 even fine. The others have just some stopping and restarting, which habbit you should overcome some day. Don't be discouraged! And I'm looking forward to see a post started by you on AR :D
     

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