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Oscar Espla - "Berceuse"

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by pianolady, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    A big Thank You to Rainer who found the Espla score I've been searching for! :D I heard it on the radio one day and just had to get it because it's a variation on another Espla piece I've played and recorded from his Levante set. This Espla piece is just a two-pager, but I really love it. It's the harmonies. He uses some of the most original and beautiful harmonies I've ever heard. I wish I could lie down in them and surround myself with their sound. No wonder he and Mompou were friends... :)

    Espla - Chants d'Antan, no. 2 "Berceuse"
     
  2. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is one of the strangest pieces I've heard lately, but very beautiful also. Like many a Berceuse, it wakes the baby up half through. I hear a little sinister undertone in places, but then I'm listening through speakers.

    The piano resonates just fine - you laid off the una corda pedal for this one, no?

    BTW: In the list of composers, Espla's name links to his bio page. But the picture on the site's front page (the "recent composers" one) links to the Piano Society's front page - some sort of broken link, perhaps?
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    That be my mistake. I fixed it.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm confused....I did use the una corda pedal on this.
     
  5. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    (in re: resonance)
    I was just comparing the resonance on this recording (which is good) with the resonance on the recording of the f-sharp minor mazurka from last week. In that one, the recording itself sounded a little "dry" (although the playing was very good), and I thought perhaps it was from the use of una corda.
    Perhaps it's just a difference in the use of the sustain pedal.

    BTW: I certainly have nothing against the use of una corda. I use it all the time, for a wide variety of reasons. (For one thing, I paid a lot of money for that pedal, and I'm going to get my money's worth. :lol: )
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I think it's just the differences in the pieces in general. Also, like you said, how much sustain pedal is used.

    I hear you when it comes to getting your money's worth. Don't forget your middle pedal too! I'm currently working on a piece where I have to use it for a short time, but pieces that require the middle pedal are far and few between. Or we could just start using it all the time and see what happens.... :lol:
     
  7. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    There's an old joke:
    "What is the middle pedal for?"
    "To separate the other two."
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Cute! :)
     
  9. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Interesting little piece. It did have a couple of somewhat incongruous moments where I thought it was about to burst into flamenco or something similar! I think your usage of the pedal was very good and produced a nice rounded tone throughout. Enjoyable playing.
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Andrew! I know, it’s a quirky little piece. But those harmonies!!

    I’m glad you mentioned pedaling— I find it is not easy in pieces like this. I learned here on PS that Poulenc likes a lot of pedaling in his pieces, but I don’t know if others always do as well. In this piece, I aimed to make the harmonies transition to one another seamlessly and cleanly, but I wanted a little blending here and there too. Like slight blurring without getting too smooshy.

    An observation: My piano was tuned recently and I find that it seems like a different piano now. I can feel that the strings are tighter and the tone sounds less bright; I really like it! But also, I asked my piano technician to fix this little clicky noise coming out of the piano when I depressed the soft pedal, which he did. I don’t know if it was what he did to fix the click, or if it’s because of the newly-tuned piano, but my soft pedal acts much differently now. You know how you get used to pressing down on it in a certain way? Well, I now get a different tone when I press down, and to me it drastically changes when I press down harder/lighter. I noticed these changes in tone before, but for some reason they seem more pronounced to me. Even though I don't think these tone changes will even be picked up on my recorder, I'm still experimenting with the 'new' sounds.
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yeah, I think that in a piece like this, you won't be able to pedal strictly "by the harmony" as is the case in much 19th century music as there is too much harmonic ambiguity. Thus a certain blurring will likely be necessary.

    Perhaps the mechanism has been adjusted marginally? Depends where your recorder is placed, of course - but what you hear sitting at the piano is not the same as what traditionally-placed mics will hear.
     
  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    It must have been, because when I press the soft pedal down halfway, the tone is mellow. Whereas when I press it down all the way, I hear a slight metallic sound. It used to be the other way around. That's why I'm having a little trouble. My foot no longer knows how far down to press automatically - I'm constantly making adjustments. It's getting annoying! But like you said, I'm probably hearing things that possibly my recorder mics do not. And at least my technician got rid of the clicky sound my pedal was making before. Now if only he could do something about my bench making creaky noises.... :wink:
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    I really enjoyed listening to your playing of this Espla piece. There are indeed some very lush and sometimes daring harmonies there. The Yamaha sounded good too.

    While there was definitely a touch of Debussy influence there, my sense was that mostly I was hearing a Spanish Late Romantic piece. Yet... there was another influence present of which I was aware, but it was evading me. Maybe a tie as well to Classicism? So I opened Hinson's repertoire guide and there it was--German scholasticism. And that's what I believe I was hearing at times in this berceuse. Espla seems to immerse himself in those lush harmonies, yet there is a darker strain of objectivity and discipline tucked into in this music too. I think it's likely traces of German scholasticism. What an interesting composition! I found in playing Catoire that when a composer mixes two or three styles, the results can be amazing. I believe that's the dynamic here--Impressionism, Late Romantic, and German scholasticism all revealing themselves.

    Very well performed, Monica.

    David
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi David, and thank you!

    I forgot that I have that Hinson book, but didn’t think of looking in it. Thank you for the information about classifying Espla’s music. Although, I admit that I’ve never heard of German scholasticism before. And even after researching it a little, I still don’t understand what it has to do with music. I’m probably just not smart enough to get it.

    I also hear touches of Debussy in Espla’s music, but I often hear some of what I think sounds like middle-eastern harmonies. However, when I recorded his Levante suite, I did some research. He was from the Alicante and Levante regions and like many other composers was inspired by native folksongs, which caused him to invent his own scale: C-Dflat-Eflat-Fflat-Gflat-Gsharp-Aflat-Bflat. You can hear it clearly in this little Berceuse and also in many of the Levante pieces. For some reason, this harmony really appeals to me (although I still think it sounds middle-eastern...:) )
     

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