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Peter and the Wolf - Reduction for piano and narrator

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by DLGoodman, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. DLGoodman

    DLGoodman New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Prokofiev attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1904 to 1914, winning the Anton Rubinstein prize for best student pianist when he graduated. He traveled widely, spending many years in London and Paris, and toured the United States five times.

    In 1936, Prokofiev returned to settle permanently in the Soviet Union. One of his first compositions after his return was Peter and the Wolf, written in just two weeks in April 1936 for a children's theater in Moscow. Prokofiev invented the story and wrote the narration himself, drawing on memories of his own childhood. He first wrote a version for piano and narrator and then orchestrated the well-known symphonic version.

    In the symphonic version, each character in the story is represented by a different instrument or group of instruments: Peter by the strings, the bird by the flute, the duck by the oboe, the cat by the clarinet, the wolf by the horn section, and so on.

    The version for piano and narrator is seldom performed, probably because the characters and themes are so closely connected with their orchestral instruments that audiences have a hard time imagining the piece without them.

    In honor of the 70th anniversary of its composition, Jack McCreless (narrator) and I performed the composer's orchestral reduction for elementary school students and also at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where I am a visiting scientist.) As far as I can tell, there exist no recordings of the piano version, so I am attaching it with the expectation that other pianists might want to perform it.

    I posted this first to your site as a topic under Prokofiev without realizing that it should go to the audition room. Please pardon the double posting.
     
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Peter and the Wolf

    Bravo to you, Dr. Goodman, for you willingness to undertake mastering this transcription. You played with a great deal of care and sensitivity throughout the piece.

    Joe <jcfeli>
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I really enjoyed this, and did not really miss the orchestra. Even though some
    specific instruments obviously can better imititate animal sounds than a piano,
    you do a marvellous job bringing out all the charm, humour, and lyricism, in the
    little details as well as by producing a true orchestral sound where needed.
    With piano "reductions" like these, who needs an orchestra !

    And let's not forget your narrator who is very skilled and sympathetic as well.
    Even though his voice could have a bit more variety in places.

    The piano sound is very full, clear and detailed, but rather dry. It sounds like
    played in a small room with no acoustics, which I'm sure was not the case. I can
    add some light reverb with CoolEdit and post the result if you wish.

    We'd be happy to have this on the site. If you mail or PM me some input for a bio
    page, it will be done.

    Now, any chance for you two to record Poulenc's Histoire de Babar ?
     
  4. DLGoodman

    DLGoodman New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I am glad you both enjoyed the piece.
    To techneut - I would be happy for your mastering help.
    No mastering has been done on this recording.
    I have the original .wav file and could send you that, if it would be better to start from an original instead of the .mp3 file.

    By coincidence, Jack and I are currently working on Poulenc's Babar and plan to present that in about a year! But at least there exist recordings of that work. While working on the Prokofiev, I really missed having a piano version to listen to. There is out-of-print recording by Marian Lapansky of Slovakia entitled "Peter and the Wolf." He kindly sent me a copy, but that turns out to be variations on each of the characters' themes, written for solo piano without narrator.

    I will send biographical info directly for you to post.

    Dan
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well, mastering help is a big word, it's just that CoolEdit has some very good reverb presets which really make a difference. I usually use the Light Concert Hall setting. In your case this makes the piano sound just right, but the voice too echoey. So I picked the "Vocal Natural Reverb" which gives a nicer result here. Of course one could fiddle forever with this, but I do not want to compromise the clarity. Attached is that version, let me know if you hear a difference - it's very subtle. Yes perhaps working from the WAV would make it still better, but we're used to mp3 quality over here ;-)

    Great that you are doing Babar as well ! It's fully on a par with Peter and the Wolf, Poulenc being just as witty and urbane as Prokofiev. But rats, now we have a year to wait ... Ah well I am sure it will be worth it.

    Amazing there existed no piano recording of Peter and the Wolf ! It must be fun to play as it's so totally pianistic
     

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