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Rameau Gavotte et six doubles

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by musical-md, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    It's high time I contributed some music and here offer one of my favorite works of the French Baroque. This is a theme and six variations (termed doubles) for harpsichord. The theme is titled Gavotte. The work is in A minor and has little harmonic interest and a simple melody, but I think Rameau does wonders with so little. The form for the Gavotte and all variations is: A (rep A) B (rep B).

    Timings: (length 7'40").
    Gavotte (0:00)
    double 1 (1:45)
    double 2 (2:51)
    double 3 (3:58)
    double 4 (4:57)
    double 5 (5:52)
    double 6 (6:44)

    Details
    Music Edition: from the Rameau Album, published by Edito Musica Budapest. This edition retains the actual ornamentation, unlike the two realized versions available at IMSLP.
    Piano: Baldwin SF-10 (7') with lid on half-stick
    Mics: Shure KSM 141 matched pair on cardioid setting and in ORTF configuration at 63" height and 5' distance
    A-D Converter: Digidesign Mbox2
    Recording SW: ProTools LE (on my HP Pavilion laptop)
    Other: I have the treble down a bit and the bass pumped a bit with EQ and added some reverb.

    It feels good to break the ice again. :)

    Rameau - Nouvelles Suites, "Gavotte et Six Doubles"
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That was very nice, Eddy. Sometimes I'm in the mood for Baroque music and this was just right for me tonight. And boy, no. 4 is really the most double of the doubles! :wink: Sound is good too. I'll put this up tomorrow.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Wow, the devil is in the details ! You forgot to mention the CPU speed of your laptop and the brand of your cables :p

    Very nicely done indeed. The last variations sounds really tricky. I heard a couple of tiny little fluffs and one or two hesitations but it does not matter in such a convincing performance. I always seem to like Rameau better than Couperin and he certainly does a great job with very little material (even though it gets a bit monotonous after a while IMO, luckily he knew when to stop).
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, this is up.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Forgot to mention Eddy, I'm not entirely convinced about your bass boost. In some of the doubles the bass seems a bit too heavy, threatening to overshadow the theme in the RH. In others with a less busy LH, the balance is better.
     
  6. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    I agree with you totally Chris, and I wish that I had just done some more takes at those spots while I was at it. A blemishless performance seems always just beyond me - but I'm closing the gap slowly - it's probably asymptotic. :wink:

    Try as I could, I could not identify any host collection that this may have been from using resources I had access to, but trust that you have better sources than me; certainly I would expect Francois to know to.

    Monica and Chris, thanks for your complements and for posting it!
     
  7. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very nice Eddy! Even though these were written for the harpsichord, I like how it benefits from the expressiveness of the piano. I do agree that you need bass since you're using cardiod mics to tame the room response and counteract the low end roll off in cardiod designs. However, any perceived mid-bass boominess might be attributed to recording with a half-lid aperture. Everything is a trade off in recording. Nonetheless, there is nothing detracting from the music and These variations are wonderfully played!
     
  8. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Completely agreed. I found this recording very enjoyable. I think good taste has been exercised regarding the piano usage; it would be easy to over-exploit its capabilities and end up with something rather unnatural sounding.
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Eddy,

    Baroque isn't my favorite genre, but I listened to these Rameau pieces and have to say I enjoyed them all. It's also good to get a break from Bach now and then. Your playing seemed meticulous, with only a few minor slips that didn't detract at all. You articulated with a nice evenness throughout. And your Baldwin SF-10 sounded fine and your recording set-up was well up to the task too. Overall, a wonderful rendition!

    David
     
  10. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    George, Andrew and David,
    Thank you very much for your supportive words. I hold each of your opinions very highly and have enjoyed your artistry! Thanks for listening and commenting.
     
  11. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Eddy,

    Very interesting to hear these, especially played on the piano. As far as the French Baroque goes, I've never cared much for Couperin but Rameau is a different story (Wanda Landowska's harpsichord performance of Les Sauvages comes to mind).

    Overall, this seemed very well played to me. Like Chris, I heard a few slips and hesitations but they did not distract at all since the playing is generally so clean. Very nice phrasing in general, especially some of the crescendos working up to the climaxes.The trills in the opening statement I'm sure are a bitch to bring off on the piano. A couple seemed a bit unclear and as if some of the notes are missing, but I'm sure you're probably aware of that (many were nevertheless very well executed). The only substantive thing I can find to criticize is that it could be a bit tighter in places, especially some of the left hand passagework seemed a bit flabby. Also too, sometimes the tempo seems to get lightly bogged down and a few notes become inaudible. Mostly though, it's quite clear, and I particularly enjoyed listening to a couple of the later ones (like the one with the repeated note figures).

    The recorded sound seemed nice and mellow, sort of reminiscent to me of those golden-age 50s recordings.

    I think this will make an excellent contrasting work against the Rachmaninoff in the program you are preparing (I assume these will be on the same program?). Indeed it is nice to hear a Baroque composer other than Bach and Scarlatti, and I think you show that these can work very well on the piano. Very nicely done in general.

    Joe
     
  12. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    A most beautiful recording! Loved every second of it and posted a tweet.
     
  13. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Hi Joe,
    Thanks for listening and commenting. I of course agree that I had some spots that were not smoothly clean. The LH gets its work out in the last variation, the RH in the penultimate one; both feature wide-leaping hand work. For me one of the most difficult is variation no 3, and one measure of the B section decided to give me a bit of hesitation (both times). With a recording, I can do more mental practice to improve it. Yes, this is part of a recital program I'm preparing, which I'm slipping to fall of 2013 now (but hope to start learning a new program this fall). The program for both halves is as follows:

    French Virtuosity (this Rameau, then open part 2 with Debussy L'isle joyeuse)
    [post-]Romanticism (Chopin Scherzo no 3, then 3 preludes of Rach's Op.23)
    Sonata (Beethoven Op. 57, and close with Ginastera Sonata No.1)

    A very demanding program (for me anyway) but by golly (better with God's help) I will do it.

    Robert,
    Thanks for tweeting about this (I don't do/follow/know about Twitter :oops: )
     
  14. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    I just found another edition at IMSLP that is nearly identical to the one I play from. The two (Gavotte and Variations) stand-alone editions are highly editied and changed in many places, but the Durand edition edited by Saint-Saëns of the Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin... is excellent. This piece begins at page 17 of same at http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnk ... _suite.pdf
     
  15. troglodyte

    troglodyte Member Piano Society Artist

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    Beautiful and interesting! Simple on the surface but with increasing and well controlled agitation. And the piano sounds really nice. Congratulations!
     
  16. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Eddy,
    As I told you some weeks (or months ?) ago, I have a particular relationship with the Gavotte variée, since it is the first Rameau's piece I've played when I was a teenager, and I still have on my Durand score indications of my old teacher (who I liked very much, and who I miss, 34 years after his death...).
    So I carefully listened your rendition with the score. And I think my professor (who was taught by Alfred Cortot, among others) would have liked it very much. Even I think I would be better saying "he liked it very much!", since I felt him so present while your music sounded in my lounge...
    As already said by the others, the articulation is excellent, your ornaments are finely executed, with a good style and rythmic precision, but without being too stiff. Your tempi were perfect, with a little acceleration at the begining of some variations in order to reinforce the interest and attention of the listener. To conclude: if I had recorded this piece, I would like to achieve this result. I have only one slight reservation about the repetitions. You do not seem to try to do something else in each second playing of a section. With a harpsichord (especially if you have the chance to get two keyboards), you can change the sound, while it is of course impossible on piano. But you may try to do a little orchestration of your playing: for instance, the first time legato, the second more staccato; or the first time mf, and the second mp; or putting more weight on the soprano voice the first time, and emphasize the alto one at the repetition (e.g. in the third double). I know the question of how to manage the repetitions in keyboard baroque music when played at the piano is a disputed one. I am personnaly more in favor of variety, even if sometimes the choice of playing this part louder than that one may appear quite arbitrary. You are probably more of the 'rigorous side', thinking that you have to play all the score and only the score, which you do extremely well !
    Now, I am looking forward to listening your Isle Joyeuse (I intend to record it in the coming weeks, but maybe I won't dare submitting it if you play it as you did with the Gavotte !). Thank you for providing a so nice musical moment...
     
  17. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    @ troglodyte: Thank you for your kind words!
    @ François: I am certain that your teacher would have commented on some of my execution or interpretation, but what you have said is very touching to me -- I'm sure many of us have beloved masters in our past (I certainly do). I am truely thrilled that you enjoyed this given your deep involvment and accomplishments in the French Baroque. I'm afraid I may have not made my case sufficiently strong regarding the changes with variations. Try to listen for the following:
    Gavotte: A section, re-voiced to bring out "alto" line with the repetition.
    Var 1: A section 1st time, 16th notes are staccato, 2nd time legato. B section, has every other phrase staccato during the repetition (in question/answer fashion).
    Var 2: chords legato 1st time, but detached the 2nd time.
    Var 3: No significant changes. :( Maybe I can work on some contrasting dynamics and try(?) the 16ths with legato (?).
    Var 4:The alternating thirds are played for only 3 measures twice and the part on the beat is the LH, but I will explore alternating voicing of the 3rds. Since most of this variation is monophonic and there is little opportunity for changes in articulation, I suppose the best opportunities are found in alternating dynamics. I believe I made an unconvincing attempt at this.
    Var 5: The level of activity in the RH (I believe) only allows for dynamic changes. I must explore the lowest limits of executable dynamics to contrast with strong ones.
    Var 6: A section RH legato first and detached 2nd time. B section 1st half is transposed up one octave the 2nd time around (No one has commented on this 8) ) and the last ornament is only executed the 2nd time.

    Anyway, you've given me much to think about and my performance will only become better for it. Thanks. Oh boy, it will be interesting to see how similar or dissimilar our Debussy's will be. Bon chance!
     
  18. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That´s a beautiful and expressive recording. I like the sound quality very much, ideal reverb, too, for this kind of music. The tone does breath all the time. I have enjoyed this soulful recording very much!
     
  19. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Thank you very much Andreas!
     
  20. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Eddy,
    I have to apologize for the following: yesterday I listened once your Rameau through the bad sound system of my laptop (while taking my breakfast). Then I moved in another room and I plugged the laptop on my hifi sound system. But I had hard time finding that the soundcard has a problem with one of the channels. Also, for some reasons, the sound got out with a kind of saturation, which was not due to your recording, but rather to a loose wire problem. Anyway, I finally listened the piece with the score then I went back to the computer, and I started writing some comments. While writing, I tried to imagine what I would have tried to do if I had to record the Gavotte. My fault was not to re-listen again your recording, what I have done this morning. If I had done so, I would have realised that you were totally aware of the interest of introducing variety from the first to the second execution of each section, and that you were successful in doing it sometimes. As for myself, it is exactly the same: I try to do things, as e.g. adopt a different attitude in a section, and sometimes my technical limitations make me forget my good resolution before the end of the section. Or it can be also my changing mind...
    So, sorry to have tried to convert in my last post an already believer ! As for dynamics, I know also that our recording systems bring compression which quite often smashes our attempts, changing nice hills landscapes into flat plains...
    Regards,
     

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