Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by hreichgott, Nov 14, 2013.
I haven't resubmitted this one yet. I think my recording of no. 1 is the only one up.
There is a link to it, if you look at your first post, and the attachment is no longer there.
The main thing that strikes me in this piece is that in the opening and similar sections, the playing is somewhat violent. I can't prepare a piece until I figure out its character. It's very important to me. "Aufschwung" as the title is usually translated as "soaring" in the editions; however in prose I believe it's more understood as lifting up or rising (although I could be wrong). The rising could be the initial effort to soaring I suppose. But Schumann's imagery seems far removed from Rachmaninoff or Vaugn Williams in that regard. And yes, I do get it that Schumann was Romantic Age, not Late Romantic. But the image of birds soaring doesn't change because a musical style has evolved. Living near the ocean I see birds including eagles and gulls soaring frequently. They climb high in the sky where they can spread and hold their wings nearly stationary and glide like kites on the upper air currents. It's beautiful, calm, peaceful and there is no frenetic beating of wings involved except if they must regain altitude with momentary help from their wings. This Schumann piece suggests to me a bird battling through a very heavy wind storm--except birds instinctively avoid that as it's very dangerous. They usually roost until the storm has passed. So much for ornithology. But I think you see the problem with characterizing the piece.
I've played a good amount of Schumann, but have not studied this piece. I've heard others play it. And I don't even know if I could do it justice. If I were to take it up, I think I would not altogether abandon all drama in those sections, but I would avoid a harsh or violent sound and see if there might be a way--even though the tempo is very fast--to make the sound more lyrical.
It's obviously a difficult piece, and I commend you for efforts to master it. What about putting it aside for a week or two? You might find upon taking it up again that there is some added improvement in getting all the notes, for example. Just a thought.
As much as I like the image of the birds, I don't think ornithology is very helpful here. The translation "soaring" doesn't really hit the nail on its proverbial head either. "Aufschwung" suggests something like rising energy rather than a bird's struggle against the wind. Schumann also added the titles after the composition was finished and so they reflect his own characterisation of the pieces rather than "programmes". It is, of course, a matter of personal interpretaion but I think the music itself is very clear here, even if we ignore the title, which is gives a vague idea but not anything specific. In my opinion, "Aufschwung" is a fine example of Schumann's two characters the "wild" Florestan and the "mild" Eusebius, and expression of two totally different temperaments.
I think that the present recording nicely juxtaposes those two contrasting temperaments but I also agree that some "Florestan" parts are a bit too violent and aggressive.
The first time I saw this piece, in very bad printed edition (many accidentals were missing) I was struck how familiar it sounded. Then I bought a copy of Schumann's songs, which included Diechterliebe. There! the piano part of the fisrt song sounds just like Aufschwung! so much so that for I time I thought my bad edition was no more than a transcription or simplification of the song.
Does this give any ideas?
That's quite interesting. We would need to see which was published first, the piece or the song. Either way there is plenty of sturm and drang present there.
Yes, I had considered that too. A volcano came to mind--big blasts followed by beautiful streams of lava. But it's doubtful that Schumann ever witnessed such an event. Maybe something more fitting would be a very gusty hailstorm. It's true that Florestan and Eusebius usually show themselves, either singly or together, within a piece. Precisely what Schumann had in mind will always be a mystery. If this piece were Mendelssohn's, we'd understand it immediately. Other than three or four pieces in the Songs without Words, his publisher choose the titles for purposes of selling sheet music.
If Schumann had anything particular in mind at all. Maybe he didn't. "Aufschwung" is at the same time clear and unprecise. It is clear on an emotional level. Rising energy, exuberance, relentless optimism... On the other hand it doesn't express any precise image like the sea birds or the volcanic eruption. And I think this is the beauty of it -- the language of the music is very precise but the word which is used to describe it is quite vague. And this is where the pianist comes in
Those are all very good points.
What an interesting discussion. To me this is a very physical piece. The beginning is like the violent push of a rocket engine against the ground when it takes off. The middle section is looser and freer, still with the feeling of something swinging upward.
I had not thought of Florestan and Eusebius both being responsible for the same piece at once, but that's an interesting idea.
I plan to visit the Steinway maybe this week to re record this and do a recording of Grillen, no. 4. The M & H is out of the question until the Feb. tuning, alas.
Probably the harshest moments in the set are the first theme of Aufschwung and the very end of In the Night. I don't play everything harshly. That said, I do need to work on taking the edge off my forte when it's not appropriate.
Well, we know how Schumann ended :lol:
(Actually, he basically died not very far from where I live).
The latter is my favourite piece in the set! I just love it. Have you recorded it already?
I love that one too! I performed it in October but haven't made the recording yet.
I performed and recorded it back in 2010 but haven't played it since. I'm very much looking forward to listening to your recording! Are you going to do the whole of opus 12?
Yes, that's my plan. Numbers 6-8 are in the learning stages now. And as you can hear from this re-recording of Aufschwung, the Steinway's tuning is starting to slip so I don't think I'll do any more recording till the work pianos get tuned in Feb.
Right, here is a re-recording of Aufschwung from today. Once again it's two different takes spliced together, with more attention to note issues when choosing the two "best" takes this time. It's also a little slower which helps both with accuracy and with forte sound.
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