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Schumann -Fantasiestucke Op. 12 no. 2 "Aufschwung"

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by hreichgott, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Not perfectly neat and clean, but it has some qualities I liked more than neatness and cleanliness, especially for this piece.
    I find Aufschwung to be the most physical piece of the set: both the demands on the performer and the meaning of the music.
    Tags are still 2.3 tacked onto 2.4 until the Rainer cavalry arrives to help me out.


    Schumann - Fantasiestucke Op. 12 no. 2 "Aufschwung" (3:33)
     
  2. troglodyte

    troglodyte Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well played, I like the expression very much! I agree that in this piece this is much more important than getting all the notes exactly right. I liked in particular the buildup for the repeat!

    A few gripes should you want to work more on it: in m6 the final RH Bb sounds too short.
    The same goes for similar places.
    In the Db section the RH melody F - F Gb - Gb G -G etc sometimes sounds like F - Db Eb F Gb - Db Eb Gb etc, giving too much relative weight to the Db - Eb ornament. This is one of the main difficulties with this piece to do at speed. You do it better in the repeat. Perhaps it is just a problem of concentration.

    Joachim
     
  3. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Hi Joachim,

    Good ears -- those are two things I continue to find difficult in the piece.

    In the Db section (and in the Ab repeat of it later) the melody is especially hard to sustain since it is long melody notes on finger 5 and sometimes 4, short non-melody notes on the stronger fingers, and the phrase demands an overall crescendo. I have heard other recordings of it where the pianist either doesn't realize what the melody is, or doesn't bother with it, so that they just sound like groups of 6 equal sixteenth notes rapidly spinning around. I endeavor to bring out the melody but sometimes it happens more successfully than others.

    I don't know if I will re-record in the short term, but I intend these pieces to be part of my long-term repertoire so they will certainly get some more work!

    Heather
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    While I much admire your other two op.12 recordings, I find this one a bit too hard-hitting, with a fair number of slips and muddles that I'm sure would not happen if you were to cool down a little. I think you do need to re-record this one before it goes up. It's a bit of a bore to have to re-record it, I know, I do it all the time :) But it's always much easier the second time with much better results, well worth the effort. As you wrote elsewhere, spending some more time with a piece pays off :)

    But isn't Traumes Wirren the most challenging piece in this cycle ? I find Aufschwung a walk in the park by comparison.
     
  5. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    No, I don't mind re-recording, but I'm not inclined to play Aufschwung calmly ;)
    I find In der Nacht the most difficult. Granted, I only recently started Traumes-Wirren and have been instructed to increase tempo only gradually so I am not experiencing the performance tempo yet.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Caution to the wind, eh :) Fair enough. But there's a whole spectrum between supercharged and calmly. Not being an old-school pianist (are you one?) I don't buy the theory that reckless playing is an excuse for a lot of hits and misses. Maybe so in a live performance, but not in a recording.
    I'll listen again today but my initial impression was that there are far too many slips here. I think you can do much better even without sacrificing the excitement.
     
  7. troglodyte

    troglodyte Member Piano Society Artist

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    Way to go! To me hitting all notes is poor excuse for a boring performance. It is much more interesting to listen to someone taking a risk. Of course there is a limit where misses become distracting. This limit depends a bit on circumstances. For a recording by Kissin my threshold would be low. For a live performance by a pro, higher but still quite low. Coming here I have a much higher tolerance. If I want perfection I go somewhere else. Here I can find interesting ideas and expressions and music I wouldn't come across otherwise.

    A friend plays the violin in our local symphony orchestra and they just finished recording Mozart's violin concertos. Her stories of the recording sessions are horrific, hundreds of retakes of each phrase, which are pasted together. That is not something to do for fun.

    Joachim
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It seems to me that a clean performance is not necessarily boring. And that an engaging performance does not necessarily have to have a
    lot of clonkers (which is stating the bleeding obvious, as both statements are logically equivalent). It is not that the little slips here bother me so much, but I find them so unnecessary. A re-recording with just a bit more control and concentration would be much cleaner, and none the worse for it. I shall make the same point about some of your Kinderszenen. Personally I find that mistakes will grate on repeated hearing.

    No, but people don't want a CD with mistakes - unless they're friends and relatives of the orchestra :)

    But this debate (modern perfection vs. old-world abandon) is as old as PS, and will rage forever... The truth will be somewhere in the middle, IMO.
     
  9. troglodyte

    troglodyte Member Piano Society Artist

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    Unless it also becomes more cautious - I'd hate to lose the passion here. Of course, all other things being equal, more right tones = better.

    Amen to that! And it is also the case that our personal preferences are different.

    Though you should be aware when asking for a re-recording that not all of us are in your fortunate position that it can easily be done anytime. I certainly agree, it is not perfect (as Heather says herself in the OP), but whether it is worth a re-recording is up to her, as only she will know what that involves.
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    True. It may not be easy for everybody to sit down the next day and re-record. Whether this should influence our quality criteria, I'm not sure. I counted about 22 little flubs in total, give or take some, 5 of which in the first 20 seconds. Granted, they're all tiny flaws, but they do add up. Yes, it has a certain manic quality which some will like more than others. Does that make up for the flaws ? I really don't know. Are we being overly critical ? Possibly. I'll need to hear Monica's take on it. I don't want to be the only naysayer.
     
  11. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    22?! I listened closely twice just now and heard only 6.

    To clarify, my comment in the OP was not to indicate that I think more expression equals less accuracy. I have never understood that debate here and frankly find it a little silly. The best way to be musical is with the notes provided by the composer for said music. Those old school pianists cared about accuracy every bit as much as today's; the only difference was that numerous edits were not easy to do. And many of those old recordings are live performances. As for taking risks, I cannot imagine a risk one could take in performance that would add musicality but detract from accuracy. Maybe playing at a faster tempo than the one prepared? But then why not prepare at the faster tempo to begin with if that was a more musical choice?

    When I recorded this Aufschwung I made 3 takes. Two of them were among the most energetic and expressive times I've ever played it, and I was delighted to have captured them on recording. I spliced the start of one take onto the rest of another and that is the only edit. If I had made a note-perfect take I would also have been delighted. It didn't happen this time. I suppose if I had one note-perfect but restrained take and one expressive take with a few note problems, I'd choose to keep the latter, but it could just as easily have been a restrained take with note problems or a note-perfect take with good expression. 6 note errors is about one per page in my edition, and as none are major bloopers nor affect the melodic line I felt ok about it. I don't know how much editing I'm comfortable doing. At some point the integrity of the performance is lost, I think.
     
  12. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh dear, yes, it is an age-old debate, isn't it? :) Please forgive me for popping in and being a dissenting voice as usual :wink:

    But first, as to the performance, my two cents (please take it for what it's worth) are that it's perfectly acceptable for the site. I'd have to side with Heather that 22 seems a gross exaggeration to my ears, but maybe I just don't care about such trivialities until they become a major issue.

    While nothing mistakewise bothers me here, I do think it could be a bit more polished in other ways. I admire, and fully agree about, your energy in the outer "rasch" sections, but the tempo sags and struggles a bit in the subsequent sixteenths, which are sometimes uneven (it's very difficult to keep this going, I know). You might also work on your balance more, which is a bit opaque overall. Balance IMO is one of the most difficult aspects of Schumann and his rather lush polyphonic textures. Also, I'd work more on the pedalling, which is blurring some of the harmonies too much in places, potentially contributing to some of the muddled passages Chris mentioned. One detail that stuck out to me is the ending, which seemed abrupt -- whatever way you do it, I'd pull in and park more and give it a greater sense of finality.

    The fruits of a very strong and interesting conception are here, though. IMHO, it just needs to gel more so that the fire you introduce at the beginning can be sustained throughout.

    Now, as for some of the other views expressed:

    Well, that would be true . . . if this were mathematics. But it's not -- only qualitative judgments matter in music. From performance to performance, all other things never are equal.

    Not that I haven't sometimes been guilty of doing so myself, but I often wonder why people throw around this word so much. Of course it isn't perfect. It never will be, whether she hit every right note or not.

    Yes, it's obvious; it's practically a truism. However, what doesn't seem so obvious to so many pianists these days is that risk taking tends to lead to more exciting performances and worrying about accuracy tends to lead to cautious performances and detract from spontaneity and music making. Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with Heather's view on this matter and admire her willingness to take risks to deliver the performance she wants.

    I think the problem with this viewpoint, one I've very often heard expressed about the need for note perfection in "professional" recordings, is that most people don't listen to recordings, even one they like, over and over in one sitting. Actually, they tend to treat it more like a live performance but one they have the opportunity to relive. They'll let the experience percolate in their memory without obsessing over details, and come back to it, say, a week later with a fresh perspective ready to hear new things. The thing is, any detail one doesn't like tends to grate on "repeated" hearing -- the phrases or touches one might think one could do better, for instance -- not just mistakes. But that doesn't mean one overall isn't interested in or doesn't love a performance.

    Why should this matter? Is it because you feel you've wasted your money if Kissin plays a few wrong notes? Don't you feel more robbed if you pay and then you're bored by an uninspired performance, regardless of whether you consider the playing amateur or professional? There really isn't such a fine line between amateur and professional playing anyway. I've heard professional playing (only meaning they get paid for it) that was mediocre and amateur playing that was superb, even on the note-accuracy level. Kissin's playing, incidentally, I find one great big turd of a mistake -- crude, brittle, unmusical in the fast passages -- playing over every detail so that he can grab every note, all at the same time straining his slow phrases with maple-syrup emoting. I wouldn't walk across the street to hear him. Would much rather listen to Heather's playing even as it is now (but would encourage her to listen a bit more carefully and iron out some of the as-yet unrefined details).

    Joe
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I don't have time to read all the comments. I can only say that I also hear many slips. But I'm not sure if they are slips, or if it is the sound of the piano. Several times your LH comes down on something that sounds like two low notes at the same time. It sounds pretty bad. If it's a mechanical problem with your piano, then that's unfortunate and maybe you can get it fixed. Therefore, whether slips or a mechanical problem, I’m sorry, but we can’t put up this recording. We happen to already have a very nice recording of this piece, so we have to weigh new recordings against what is already in our archive.
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm not denying any of the points being made by Heather, Joachim, but I'll not be dragged in a long discussion about it.

    The fact is that the large number of smudges (yes they are tiny, and yes there are 22 at least, just open your ears) make it fall short of our quality criteria. Whether or not the excitable performance makes up for this is a matter of very personal taste. For some it does, for some it doesn't. It would be different when you play something really devilish and flamboyant like a Liszt opera paraphrase, or a notorious passage like the jumps in Schumann's Fantasie, where you HAVE to take risks and some accidents can and will happen unless you're superhuman. Here, I find them distracting and see no justification for them. It's not exactly virtuoso repertoire.

    Counting fluffs may be a petty thing to do but it's one of the few objective criteria we have. I'm sure they do it everywhere. You may ask, how many fluffs ARE allowed ? I really don't know. I only know when there are too much. So much for trying to be objective :)

    Ultimately it comes down to a personal and partly subjective decision of the admins. To which we do reserve the right as we do all the grunt work here as well as try to set a good example in providing clean recordings (which are probably boring because of that).

    I hope this makes sense even to those who don't really agree.
     
  15. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Ok, I don't mind re-recording. The piano isn't mine, it's a Steinway that is in a practice room and was tuned about 4 weeks ago or so. It's starting to lose the freshness of the tuning now, and it does have the characteristic Steinway growl in the bass. (Two of those octaves in the recording did contain neighboring notes. The others didn't.) I also have access to a few other practice room pianos and a Mason & Hamlin in a dance studio which I think is what I'll try next. It doesn't growl as much. An esteemed colleague of mine is fond of "fixing" the tuning on that one with his own wrench though, so I may have to wait till spring tuning.
     
  16. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I cannot help but agreeing with Joe here and this is exacly what I am saying in another discussion. It seems that recordings no longer reflect reality. After all, if someone is not capable to play piece A or B throughout that is no problem: it can be recorded in pieces, even over several days and no need to bother with errors, because they can all be cut out and musical plastic surgery will solve any problems.

    Anyway, I notice there is some diagreement as to the number of errors. I seem to remember the same thing when my last recording was submitted and I am convinced there is some transmission problem that makes those who download hear things which those who submit do not hear, because they are listening not to the files on the server, but to the ones they have on their own computers.
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh but that is such golden bullshit. It does not happen like that, nobody here does piecemeal recordings and splices bits and pieces together afterwards. Such donkey work I would not want to undertake, life is too short. What happens (at least in my case) is that when I slip, which is wont to happen every page or so, I back up a bar or so, repeat until it's ok and then play on. If I have to repeat too often I abandon the track as it's clearly not sufficiently practiced. Afterwards the wrong bits are cut out. I practice my utmost to record with as few mistakes as possible, and not need more than a could of small cuts per recording. Very occasionally I use a part from another take but try to avoid that. Now do these few cuts invalidate the performance, even if you can't hear them ? What does it matter that I've not played straight through perfectly ? Would the music be better or more valid if I'd left the flubs in ? Etc.. etc.....

    Of course, the aliens invade the data stream and insert errors :roll: The problem IMO is that many submitters hear what they want to hear. It takes practice and courage to listen objectively to your own recording, in the same critical way you'd listen to someone else's. It still amazes me when sometimes people simply do not hear their own flubs (or maybe don't want to hear) even if they're pointed out.

    Oh dear, and I was not going to be drawn in a discussion. Famous last words :lol: Not that discussions help any. There are too strong opinions here.
     
  18. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    You do get worked up... As they say in English, if the caps fits, put it on! :lol:

    You, of course, talk for yourself, hoping no one has strange ideas and I would not put it beyond some people (I am not aware of anyone doing it on the site, so I am not hinting at anybody). After all, have there not been submiters who, uncapable of playing up to speed, have not been reluctant to speed the recording?

    I suppose recordings can be done as you say, but I would find this very distracting and, at least in my case, amounts to stuttering and is, by no stretch of the imagination, a performance. They can be a recording, but of something that really did not take place and of something that very likely could not!

    I had reams of recordings just as you say yours start life as, but most of them, I am glad to say, have been ditched by the notorious computer technician and I have no intention to start doctoring my recordings, which is one reason I have not submitted for some time. Maybe others feels as I do, that I cannot say.

    As for flubs... and not wanting to hear... Speaking for myself at least, I am very much aware of them and am very conscious of when they happen. The recording I mentioned was one of many done over many months and that had been discarded exacly because of these flaws. Why would I suddenly have been satisfied with one recording when so many previous ones had been discarded? Would any pianist worth his salt and who is aware of these flaws, submit?

    Now, have you ever known that you made an error, such as hitting two keys, then listened repeatedly and failed to hear anything wrong? This happens too and you cannot say that it is not wanting to hear, because you know you muddled it.
     
  19. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I sure do. Because if you were to be right, there is no place for (most of) my recordings here or anywhere else. I'd like to think that they have some merit despite containing some cuts.

    I don't know of any such here. There have been some that submitted midi recordings, and were found out quickly.

    Exactly. A recording is not the equivalent of a performance. In a live performance, one forgives the odd flub. In a recording, one does not. Or do you buy only live recordings ?

    Not sure what point you are trying to make. But if you can't bring yourself to "doctor" your recordings, and on the other hand feel you can't submit recordings with flaws, then I don't see you submitting anything any time soon...


    You mean you *know* but can't *hear* ? That seems like a strange way to go about it. It happens that I think everything was ok during recording. and when listening back I became painfully aware of some little flaw. In most cases, that is reason for a re-recording.
     
  20. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Well, you need not be, because my remarks were in general. An opinion, as it were, and were not meant for anyone in particular, principally as I was not really aware of which your recording techniques are.

    My point is, what should a musicians aiim at? Delivering a good performance that can then be recorded or recording because such a performance cannot be delivered? When I joined I hoped to be driven to do the former, exactly because when I play I do just what you say you do when recording: I miss a not, stop, restrart from a couple of bars before, then make a mistake further on, stop, start again, ad nauseam. Is this a pleasure to listen to? Is it a pleasure to do? I call that stuttering and a very bad habit it is too and, at least in my case, it risks ruining any joy I have at playing. When I joined, I hoped I could find the stength I needed to cut this once for all, not to mask my inadequacy in recordings.

    I have many live performances of works. I normally have to edit them, but only to remove coughs and applause. Are they flawed? Maybe, but I really do not sit through them with score in hand and, even if I were aware of any mistakes, I do not listen to any one recording often enough for this to become an issue.

    I did once doctor a recording at a time and I had one comment to the sense that the whole piece was absolutely square and that not once "did you come up for a beath of air". All very flattering it was, considering that counting is not my forte and that I tend to add to long a puase now and then. Too bad that this reflected not my playing, but my editing capacity.

    As for your last point, I do agree. How many "fine" performances I hace ditched, because tempo varied or the cat meowed (I do not have a cat, by the way) or I was aware f two keys being depressed at the same time.

    Anyway, it seems Heather has resubmitted and that it has been accepted.
     

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