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"Poeme" (Improvisation)

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Rachfan, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Everyone,

    I realize there is no improvisation forum here, but just as a lark I'm posting a spontaneous improvisation since entitled "Poeme" that I recorded a couple of days ago. Of course I realize it won't qualify for inclusion in the PS archive, which is OK. I figured that while I struggle preparing the last of the Catoire preludes, this novelty might add some light entertainment. It's not perfect, being as it is an impromptu creation. I should add that this is the first and only improvisation I've ever attempted (it could be the last too :lol:.) As you might expect from me, it has a neo-romantic sound. I hope you might enjoy it.

    David :)

    P.S. The music file below is an uploaded replacement, as the original was lost.
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Wow, very good if you just sat down and improvised all that on the spot ! A beautiful theme as well. Some of the phrases do not seem to resolve in a logical way, and it's a bit on the long side, but very impressive and enjoyable al the same. Maybe we should have a place for quality improvisations like this. I'm just not sure of how we should lay down the rules - some improvisations we get are brilliant but most are absolute trash.
     
  3. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Bravo! Bravissimo! That´s absolutely great, David! It´s a very good idea to post improvisations, it´s really splendid, this one.
    I wished, improvisations would become more "in" again and it would be great to have a place also for improvisations on this site. (It would probably motivate me to try one, too.)
    Do you know recordings of Gabriela Montero? I like her improvisations very much.
    You are a very good musician, David, and I truely hope, that this is not your last improvisation!
     
  4. pianolady

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

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    I agree with the others. This is beautiful, David. I wish you could come to my home so I could just curl up on the couch and listen to you play.
     
  5. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for your kind words! I agree that there are definitely flaws present. Luckily, I was able to either cover the klinkers or made them sound intentional. :lol: (It's a valuable technique in recital too :).) This was done in one continuous unedited recording. Basically I sat at the piano, turned on the recorder, started to play the statement of the theme and went with the flow from there. This was a whole new experience for me. There would be no way I can imagine to practice an improvisation to get all the wrinkles out. If I were to play this one 16 times, it would likely be 16 different pieces! Plus, in practicing it, by definition it would no longer be a spontaneous improvisation. So the pianist just has to do his best in the moment.

    I learned a ton in the few minutes of doing this. First, decisions have to be made in a split second, and the reflexes need to respond in the very next split second to execute the intent--not always easily done! Very quickly after beginning it, I became acutely aware of the need to not drift too far afield and for too long away from the theme--too dangerous and self defeating. Also, as the theme recurred, I was often concerned with making subtle variations to try to keep it interesting. Those were some of the "split second" choices I mentioned above. There was some pleasant serendipity involved, which was a good thing. For example, the improvisation is in C, but I began to feature F# at various points and really liked the sound.

    I'm sure I could do more improvisations. The only thing is that it would rob me my very limited practice time for regular repertoire. So it would be quite a trade-off. Plus, it's not easy. Yesterday I returned to Catoire, and as as difficult as his music is, I felt back at home again.

    David
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Thanks so much for your compliments and enthusiasm about this improvisation. I appreciate it, coming from a fine musician like yourself.

    I don't know Montero's work, but will definitely look into it soon.

    And if I can find some time, given my limited practicing opportunities, I'll try my hand at improvising again. Hopefully I'm not a one book author. :lol:

    David
     
  7. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    Hey, I'll be over within the hour! :D

    David
     
  8. pianolady

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

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    Ok! :)




    p.s. I deleted your duplicate post.
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Monica!
     
  10. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    One man's trash is another man's contemporary music :lol:
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi juufa,

    You're right--and another man's contemporary music is someone else's trash. This is actually a huge subject and goes well beyond improvisations per se to contemporary solo piano literature. It also transcends individual aesthetics of what is beauty and what is trash.

    I think that's why in the repertoire pieces 20th century contemporary music never quite made the same mark as in the earlier centuries and musical periods. When you walk into a large discount sheet music store, it would take years to look through all the 20th century piano music, never mind evaluate it all for quality! I'm not talking about Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, but what came later with all the fads and trends in composing styles.

    With the rise of "systems" of composing, MIDI, computerized score realization programs, the proliferation of schools of music with ever increasing enrollments, Internet publishing, and the like, it seemed that composers were ubiquitous and still are. In cities, there could be four composers on every street corner. So the published "modern" piano literature is truly massive in its own right. Much of it is probably low quality even from a statistical standpoint. The bell curve alone would suggest that at least 33% is actually, yes, trash. But therein lies the conundrum.

    Unlike looking retrospectively at the Impressionists, Romantics, or Viennese Classicists, or the Baroque composers, where most of "the wheat has been separated from the chaff" over centuries and decades, I don't believe there is really a universal, broad and in-depth perspective on the 20th century piano literature--which is quite frustrating to many of us. The repertoire guide authors like Hinson and other authors like Burge and Kirby, to name a few, have tried to make a dent in the 20th century piano offerings, but the task seems overwhelming given the sheer volume. I get the feeling none of them have but scratched the surface. As a result, large numbers of pianists find it all too daunting, so explore only the "sure bets" that have been identified to please audiences. Even an artist like Earl Wild, who can sightread anything and has spent a lifetime accumulating an enormous repertoire (like Horowitz), could never get a full grip on the 20th century solo repertoire and find enough really satisfying music beyond the tried and proven. A related problem is that some of this stuff is difficult or impossible to memorize, and even when one goes to the trouble, in a recital audiences give a cool to chilly reaction to much of this music. So there is not as much incentive to learn it--which also leaves it relatively unexplored.

    For me, the most worrisome aspect is that fine composers who wrote extraordinary piano music might be lost in the heap, like needles in a haystack. We've been fortunate to rediscover early 20th century composers like Bortkiewicz and Catoire. But as to the second half of the century, there might be wonderful composers and their "gems" there that will perhaps never be discovered. It's sad to contemplate.

    I didn't mean to hijack my own topic and thread here, as I'd prefer that people listen to my improvisation! But you do raise a nettlesome and nagging issue.

    David
     
  12. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    My post was two-fold. One was in response to Techie's response: "some improvisations we get are brilliant but most are absolute trash." And the second was a slight dig at contemporary music.

    I did not mean to insult your improv; I had no intention of doing so. Therefore please do not take it as an attack.
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi juufa,

    Yes, no misunderstanding at all, and I never felt that you were attacking anyone in any way. I know you well enough by now, juufa, so not to worry! :) Your dig at contemporary music is probably shared by many of us here. But you raised an important issue and concern about the state of modern piano music. So I wanted to give my thoughts on it, as it seems like a sorry state of affairs. I'd like to play some contemporary American music--that is, if I could find something that sounds somewhat musical that would appeal to me. But... haven't found it yet.

    David
     
  14. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi David,
    did you ever play piano-pieces of A. Schönberg (f.ex. Klaviersuite op. 25), H. Jellinek (Twelftone-inventions), P. Boulez (f.ex. "Structures"), K.-H. Stockhausen (Klavierstück XI), A. Pärt (Neue Einfachheit, f.ex. "Für Alina" etc.), John Cage ("Interludes" for prepared piano)? There are so nice and valuable pieces of twelftone-music, Aleatorik, Postserialism and experimental Avantgarde. I think, as pianists of the 21 century we should all play some of those "Avantgarde"-composers. I have played more or less profound all of the pieces I mentioned above. The only thing I don´t like is real Serialism like Boulez "Structures" f.ex., because there is no place for individual expression. But all the others are very good music from my view! Of course, we have to solve ourselfes totally from the tonal system and habitude, if we want to open us for this music. But that´s all and only a matter of habitude, nothing else IMO.
     
  15. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I liked the general idea/concept, David. There are a few points where you seem to be short of fresh content but this is one of the biggest challenges of improvised music, to always keep the interest high.
    Contrary to what many people believe, improvisation needs exhausting preparation. Not the actual music, but the state of it, the musical spirit behind it, the sound one is after. And then, it can be so personal as nothing else. This personal aspect here, with this piece of yours, is obvious.

    I also know how heart consuming a four-minute improvisation may be to the artist, so I sympathise with your possible unwillingness to devote time or effort in the future. Sometimes it resembles a black hole sucking all energy from the artist with small or no returns at all. But the joy of it, if it succeeds, may well worth it.
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Thanks for those recommendations. Hmmm... the "music" of those composers have never appealed to me at all. What about some contemporary neo-romantic composers who write tonally?

    David
     
  17. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis,

    I agree with you on my improvisation. If I wanted to, I could probably edit out some redundancy here and there to tighten it up, enhance some of the figuration, develop it a little more, etc. Then, rather than an improvisation, it would become a nice composition actually. There are some really good ideas in it that could be far better exploited.

    Yes, where my practice time is so limited, and because I have new repertoire constantly in the queue, improvising, although challenging and fun, can become a real distraction from my primary goals. Probably I'll remain open to improvisation should a compelling concept come to mind, but otherwise I'll probably stick to "business". Take the Catoire music for instance. I've come to feel not only an affinity to that composer, but an obligation too to enable people to hear this music, who might not otherwise encounter the opportunity to do so. Getting hooked on improvising could defeat that commitment--not just for the Catoire or Bortkiewicz repertoires, but the other late romantics I also want to explore. The problem with improvisation is that it can become an all-consuming addiction--that black hole you mention from which nothing escapes. I've seen it in others. So there'd need to be a fine balance there.

    David
     
  18. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Rachfan wrote:
    My friend and former teacher, Franz Josef Streuff (username: francois_streff), who is a current member of this site, wrote very nice pieces in neo-romantic style (, but he wrote also some in "free-tonal style".
     
  19. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andreas,

    Thanks for that additional information. It gives me another angle to check.

    David
     
  20. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi,

    I realize there is a "404-not found" message when you attempt to play this file, and I have already reported it, so hopefully the link can be restored soon. Thanks for tuning in!

    David
     

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