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Rachmaninov Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by musical-md, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Eddy, nice to hear your interpretation. Of course, with a piece as well known as this, quirks are likely to ruffle feathers.

    A few thoughts:

    mm. 7,8: I assume this is a conscious rubato. I'm not sure about it and think it slightly disrupts the alla marcia aspect.

    from m 17: I'm less sure this is rubato and not a safety measure, but I don't like the slowing down in the r.h. octave semiquavers.

    Un poco meno mosso: you could do more to bring out the "big tune" with better voicing of the r.h.

    The rit.: Beautifully done in the first bar, but don't continue the rit through the next two. To my mind, that would be perfect!

    I also caught a few interesting agogic accents in the performance, which I certainly don't mind, though some people are prone to complain about them.

    I don't have a problem with you explaining interpretative ideas; on the contrary it shows that you've thought deeply about the piece (more deeply than I have, for sure, which makes me slightly loth to present a critique based on my rather superficial views of it)!

    Thanks for an interestingly individual performance, which I enjoyed despite my reservations.
     
  2. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for listening and commenting; I really appreciate it! Regarding the rit in 7-8, it (though very subtle IMO) it is an attempt to acknowledge with reduced energy (both volume and speed) the diminuendo in bar 8 just as pretty much everybody does for the dim in bar 34. I didn't detect that I was slowing down my octaves in 17-20; I certainly do not want to. Regarding the B section voicing, honestly, I can't hear how you could think that the melody is not "front and center." I listened to it again and can't find much room to make it more prominent in the mileu. Maybe something got lost in the transmission somehow. Then "the rit." :) Well I don't need to speak anymore to it, :wink: I just need to be more convincing (hopefully) in my future rendition. I remain convinced from my analysis that the dim e rit should continue to the poco a poco accelerando ..., and that the question reduces to, "Where does that apply? At the begining of bar 52 or the beginning of the chromatic climb?"

    I think playing iconic works is an interesting proposition; opinions are understandably quite engrained (that's why they're icons after all). For instance, take the 3rd Chopin Scherzo, Op.39 for example: everybody (?) accelerates the descending cascading ripples that answer each phrase in the chorale section (Meno mosso), but there is nothing in the score to suggest this practice. So four measures are played slower (relatively) and two are played faster (relatively), and this vascilation repeats several times with the tempo alternating depending solely on which music one is playing. I try to find a happy medium between the two.

    Best wishes,
    Eddy
     
  3. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Richard,
    I appreciate your sentiment and there is some stregnth to your logic. But I really feel like I'm sitting in a beautiful intimate salon filled with all of us (that participate) in upholstered chairs and we take turns going to the piano to play for eachother and then can engage in sharing ideas. Having just performed the work, I hear you say, "Eddy, since we're among friends here I just want to ask you why in the world did you played it that way?" "Well, Richard let me tell you what I see when I examine the score ..." And like good opinionated (all musicians) and accomplished individuals we argue about it over coffee, wine or beer. Hopefully, we gain a bit from eachother for all the interaction; I know I have. BTW, music, as an art, is subject to aesthetics, a branch of philosophy. My approach to music is admittedly intellectual, but that is not to say it is bereft of emotion. :)
     
  4. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    Absolutely. I have no problem with your general approach and attitude here.

    They are the sort of changes that I might suggest to a student if they're not comfortable playing it exactly as written. But Rachmaninoff was a good enough pianist that we should at least hesitate before departing from his suggestions, even if the difference isn't audible. Essentially you're trying to reduce the amount of jumping around involved in playing this piece. But if you're capable of doing it, it's exhilarating to jump all over the place! Regarding the "missing notes" of the RH octaves: I believe Rachmaninoff's intention was to create a more legato feel there; you'll notice that his own performance uses less pedal than most modern performances.

    I don't know numbers 4 and 6 so well, but I'll see if I can make time to listen to them over the next few days.
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I relistened to the B section, and you're right. The projection of the melody is a lot better than I had first thought. Re the rit, your initial point a few posts above, about the duration of the rit and lack of dashed line is pertinent. I would personally view the rit and the dim as pertaining only to the half-bar they are above (the dim lasting as far as the ppp but only that far), but there is clearly an ambiguity over the rit and thus it is open to interpretation. As are semantic arguments over differences between ritenuto and ritardando :wink:
     
  6. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I appreciate your sentiment and there is some stregnth to your logic. But I really feel like I'm sitting in a beautiful intimate salon filled with all of us (that participate) in upholstered chairs and we take turns going to the piano to play for eachother and then can engage in sharing ideas. Having just performed the work, I hear you say, "Eddy, since we're among friends here I just want to ask you why in the world did you played it that way?" "Well, Richard let me tell you what I see when I examine the score ..." And like good opinionated (all musicians) and accomplished individuals we argue about it over coffee, wine or beer. Hopefully, we gain a bit from eachother for all the interaction; I know I have. BTW, music, as an art, is subject to aesthetics, a branch of philosophy. My approach to music is admittedly intellectual, but that is not to say it is bereft of emotion. :)[/quote]

    Indeed, if this is, as you say, among friends and you are trying to reach a consensus on how to perform these pieces before people who do not know you and maybe do not even care for you (the general public, that is), it is valid, but I feel that your friends should say, "Eddy! What a bright idea that was!" for you to know your interpretation is to be released to the world.

    I speak as one wo has had his interpretations classified as bunk at times, even by members of PS. :D
     
  7. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    Richard, there's no need for you to quote 1000+ words of text each time you reply to something.
     
  8. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I did not mean to. I pressed the wrong button.
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    -- Andrew

    This item has perplexed me for years--ritardando meaning a gradual slackening in speed while ritenuto calls for immediately holding back the speed. I suspect that there have been times when composers, perhaps through sheer carelessness, have written "rit." in their scores for either or both, as there is no rule engraved in stone that a rit. shall always signify ritardando, while ritenuto shall always be spelled out in full to avoid any confusion. Few pianists will be inclined to do a detailed analysis every time they routinely encounter a rit. in a score to make a judgment call as to the justification of one or the other. They will likely rely more on performance practices. As a result, my sense is that an ambiguity has enveloped the two terms making them interchangeable equivalents in the minds of many pianists. Thus one school holds to differentiation, while another school sees them as synonymous. Language changes over time, and musical terms might not be immune from that phenomenon. Seems like a detail, but then again when it comes to interpretation....

    I don't wish to hijack Eddy's thread (again :lol: ), but wanted to share that thought briefly.

    David
     
  10. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    The sudden/gradual distinction is the traditional English translation of the terms, but it's not the literal Italian meaning, and I think it's just plain wrong.

    Ritardando=slow down; ritenuto=hold (check an Italian dictionary).

    The difference is that if a passage is getting calmer, then it's natural to slow down, so it's called ritardando; if you're slowing down to create tension, i.e. holding back the natural momentum of the flow, then it's called ritenuto. Most of the time you should be able to tell for yourself whether it's calm or tense, so it's OK for the composer to write "rit" and let the performer work it out. Whether you slow gradually or suddenly is an entirely different matter, nothing to do with which word is used.

    (Bonus question: what does allegro mean? And how about andante? ;-)
     
  11. pianolady

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

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    Allegro translated via Google Translate means "cheerful". Hmmm...that's interesting!
    But more interesting is that Andante does not translate to anything! Wow!!
    Well, I have always thought it meant "a walking tempo." But everybody walks at a different pace. I'm a pretty fast walker....
     
  12. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Alexander,

    Thanks for chiming in on ritardando and ritenuto. I believe that calm versus tension is a useful way to look at any rit. situation. That's a good distinction.

    Extra bonus: Andantino. -tino is a diminutive form in Italian which makes perfect sense that it would be a slower tempo than andante. Should we then abide by the Baroque and Viennese Classical notions of considering it slightly slower than andante, or the Transitional and Romantic Age concept that it is really a bit faster than andante? And within the romantic piano literature, would the mood of a piece have no bearing on the nature of andantino? :)

    David
     
  13. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    If you notice Bach seems aware that Allegro means cheerful. In his Toccata in G (does anyone else except me play it?) "allegro e Presto". Presto nowadays means early, but i olden times (Remember Figaro saying, "Presto, presto il biglietto!") it meant fast. So here you have "cheerful and fast". Allegro really ought to be a mood and not a speed indication."

    Odd andante is, because the present participle of the verb "to go", "andare" is andante, but that verbal form is almost obsolete.
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    That is good to know. I never realized there was a difference. :roll:

    Now, my burning question is, when a composer just writes rit. (and many do), what does he want us to do?
     
  15. pianolady

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

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    Alexander talked about that a few posts up.

    ©Richard, I have never heard that presto means early. :?

    Andante...maybe it's like the way I cook pasta sometimes... :lol:
     
  16. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    Andante literally means "going" (although as Richard points out it's an unusual form of the verb, which is why Google wouldn't translate it). Therefore piu andante=going more=faster, and andantino=a little bit going=slower than andante. But this is misunderstood so often that when Beethoven wrote meno andante (in opus 109, last movement, variation 4), he felt the need to add an explanatory note to make it clear that he wanted it slower not faster! A number of 19th century composers use andantino incorrectly when they mean to indicate a tempo slightly faster than andante.

    So Monica (pianolady) wins the bonus prize, and David get the extra bonus. Hmm, I didn't get around to asking for someone to donate prizes...
     
  17. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Alexander,

    I'm glad you mentioned Beethoven. He once wrote (I paraphrase) that he got very frustrated encountering andantino in the works of other composers, due to the inconsistency of interpretation at that time. So musicians have been struggling with that for a good long time now. As for myself, I have always abided by the earlier definition (a little slower than andante), so your comment on it is reaffirming. Thanks!

    David
     
  18. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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  19. pianolady

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

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    Well....I'll take a new car. haha

    @Richard - okay, I believe you. I've just never heard presto referenced with other ideas besides musical. Except when I'm turning a frog into a handsome prince. You know, presto-chango! :lol:
     
  20. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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