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Scriabin, Prelude Op. 31, No. 1 in D flat major/Cmajor

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Rachfan, May 16, 2012.

  1. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Scriabin's "Prelude" Op. 31, No. 1 is dated 1903 which falls into his middle period. There is less Chopin present in this music. The piece is ultra-romantic and being in 3/4 time suggests a very leisurely and sensuous waltz. I hope you'll enjoy hearing it.

    Comments welcome.

    David

    Scriabin - Prelude in D flat major/C major, Op. 31, No. 1(2:48)

    Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid fully open
    Recorder: Korg MR-1000
    Microphones: Earthworks TC-20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well played as always. Sometimes you leave the keys rather abruptly which sounds a bit comical. This one is on the site.
    next time, please remember to do all the tags correctly (some were ok and some were not) and also submit the correct filename. I'll keep nagging about it.
     
  3. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the compliment on my playing. I appreciate it!

    On leaving the keys abruptly in places, I wanted to scrupulously observe the rests, as they are meant to contrast with similar notation elsewhere without the rests. Had I composed the work, I would have omitted those rests altogether, as they seem to interrupt the seamless flow of the music, but... regardless, I "played" the rests deferring to Scriabin's genius. He might have meant those lift-offs to add some lilt to the waltz. Of course, Mozart considered the silence of rests to be more important than notes--a principle transcending the classical era. Had I played the piece the way I wanted to, I believe that other members would have brought the missing rests to my attention, so I adhered to the score for that reason as well.

    Thanks for putting it up for me. I believe that my recording is the first of Op. 31, No. 1, thus filling a gap in the archive.

    David
     
  4. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Hello David,

    It is indeed an unfortunate turn of events that when you post a new recording you receive, after almost a week, only one comment and that from Chris, one of the administrators.

    Strangely enough, though I like most Russian composers, Scriabin is one of the few that lets me almost cold. Apart from three or four preludes, I find his work either bland (early) or unpleasant (late). Your playing is good as always, but this is one of those preludes that to me is like the proverbial water and the duck. Maybe it is something to do with the fact he never really wrote anything Russian, Russian in the sense that one applies to Glinka or Tchaikovsky (yes, Tchakovsly IS Russian, no matter what the pundits argue.)
     
  5. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    David,
    First, allow me to echo the comment from Chris about leaving the keys early. It's noticeable and I think it jolts the listener. Your intentions are good, but I think rests are frequently a signal from the composer to the performer to "do something" with the phrasing. (Of course, how to treat rests could become a comment stream of its own in another folder.)

    Second, thanks so much for telling us the details of instrument and recording equipment. I love being part of a "music club" but also think of this as a "recording club" and this adds to my experience.

    I noticed that this is the first recording from this opus on the site. Great - keep it up.

    Your playing is so clean. Thanks for that kind of quality.
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Stu,

    Thanks for listening and commenting. I appreciate you praise on my playing.

    Regarding the leaving the keys early, as I recall the notation has the quarter rest in the bass clef on the second beat with the right hand sustaining a half note within each chord which would theoretically be sustained by "finger pedaling" into the second beat over the rest. It might be I didn't execute that detail well enough. Also Baldwin does have a faster tone decay than Steinway. I just now looked for a recording on YouTube either by Scriabin or Softronitsky but there were none unfortunately. (Whenever I'm working up a piece, I never listen to recordings, as I don't want to be influenced by other interpretations.) I did find three good performances, and all three pianists simply pedaled through all the rests. I too was sorely tempted to do likewise. But I also knew I could be criticized for doing so, thus refrained. I believe this is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't situations. If my rendition sounds a little different from performance practices, I'm OK with that. Incidentally in the coda I alternated between pedaling through, and lifting the pedal for those rests. Nobody has noticed that yet. I think it was a good effect.

    Yes, I was first to record this piece for Piano Society. Similarly, on my previous Scriabin recordings of Scriabin preludes, those were first postings as well. I'm working on a couple more which should likewise fill in gaps there. I make it a point to check the archive first before selecting repertoire. I play late romantic music, and often by neglected of forgotten composers. So I have a fair number of "first" recordings here actually.

    David
     
  7. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi David,

    I had a listen to your recording, it is my introduction to this piece. I seem to remember hearing some recordings by you around this time last year. Not to mention many other times meantime! Nice to know we have a committed pianist/recording artist aside from the admins and many others :p

    I agree with your assessment, this music is quite of the romantic idiom, some of it sounds like writing by liadov, rachmaninov. In which case its not only the romantic idiom, but the russian romantic idiom!

    Personally, I like the quick release of the keys. Certainly the contrast between this soft dynamic interlude starting at :57 and ending at 1:13 transitioning to 1:18 is convincing. One nag is at the very beginning the end of the first phrase in the left hand sounds very dry, shouldn't these be legato (the Bb, F natural Csharp)?

    I don't think I've told you this but I really like your piano it has an interesting character, the loud dynamics have a good ring to them and the soft is articulate. You're not selling it are you? :lol:

    I enjoyed listening,

    Riley
     
  8. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Riley,

    Yes, I love doing my recording projects, so I post regularly despite low or high volume of postings at any time.

    You mention Liadov: I had posted 8 or so preludes of Liadov here awhile back. When preparing them I was struck by his polyphony, especially in the left hand and how he formed counter-melodies and did hand-offs between the two. He didn't consign and confine the left hand to accompaniment. I had to change my entire thinking to highlight that. Bortkiewicz was great at that too. Scriabin certainly knew the magic of polyphony as well.

    In selecting some of Scriabin's preludes, I of course played some of the obligatory Chopinesque Op. 11 pieces; but there are some marvelous ones from his middle period like this Op. 31 prelude. I have one or two more up my sleeve yet.

    I think you're referring to the end of the initial playing of the motif where it seemed dry. Well, Scriabin put one the controversial rests right there! So I played it. I hung onto the F half note for two beats through the rest without pedal, but it wasn't the same as had I pedaled it, of course. I think he was alerting the pianist from the very outset to expect that figuration later on in the piece. I was hoping to find a Scriabin or Sofronitsky recording to see how they played those figurations, but couldn't find one. Modern pianists seem to pedal through those places regardless. I guess I bring a slightly different sound to the piece. Like you, I like the quick releases where indicated, as it creates contrast and adds some lilt to the waltz.

    Re the 1984 Baldwin L: Nope! This piano is here to stay and will outlive me. When I partially rebuilt it back in 2007, instead of using Baldwin SycroTone bass strings, I used Arledge bass strings. The treble bridge is Mapes International Gold strings. For the hammers instead of Baldwin-Renner, I used Ronsen Wurzen. I also got rid of the Baldwin key punchings and went with Crescendo conical wurzen wool punchings to better transfer energy to the hammers for a more focused tone. I used to like my old 1924 Steinway M, but I like the Baldwin better.

    Thanks for listening!

    David
     
  9. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Hi David,
    Finally listened (without score) to your performance. I like the flow and your attention to melody and voicing. Was that a Mystic Chord about 1/4 of the way through?
     
  10. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Eddy,

    Usually we don't expect "mystic chords" until Op. 50 and above. I believe the one you have in mind is an altered 9th chord, so probably not "the" famous mystic chord, but in this middle period of his composing he might have been experimenting a bit.

    Thanks for listening.

    David
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to this, also without score, and found it enjoyable and convincing. Re the rests, which are the only thing which trouble me, I presume that they are very much open to interpretation. A rest with pedal isn't the same as a rest without, and there is the romantic era convention regarding implicit pedalling to be brought into consideration. I think the rests do sound a bit abrupt, but not having looked at the score, am going to sit firmly on the fence regarding what is actually correct!
     
  12. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for listening and your comments. I know you listened without score, but I want to give a more extensive explanation of my thinking here, as others will probably want to read it as well. The rests in this prelude have stirred up some controversy! :lol: Some like it, some don't, and others are either neutral or didn't hear anything amiss.

    The piece is in 3/4 and every time Scriabin shows a quarter rest for the second beat in the treble clef, he also has a half note on the first beat of those measures to be held by finger pedaling for full value until the third beat. Any quarter notes in the first beat are released before the second beat, of course, only leaving the top half notes sounding to that point. The bass clef is three triplets per measure. Clearly, with the first-beat half notes held in the right hand, he has already signified that there are truly three beats present in the treble clef measure as required by the time signature, thereby making the quarter rests he wrote on the second beats in the treble clef following the released quarter notes redundant, given the held half notes. Or if that was not his intent, then he could have written the first-beat notes ALL as half note chords, exactly as he did in measures 8, 17, 21, 26, 27. Likewise, in the measures in question, if he wanted continuing sound of all voices in the chords of the first beats, then he should never have written the quarter rests on the second beats! Because he did in fact explicitly write in those quarter rests on the second beats, then it would seem that he actually wanted the silence of those first-beat quarter notes to be absolute.

    Probably some would advocate that I should have pedaled through the rests to regardless to better maintain the romantic mood overall. But then other listeners might take issue that I ignored the quarter rests or wasn't reading the score carefully. When playing a short coda of a piece, I'll sometimes take a liberty and pedal through the rests there if it appreciably extends the mood of a piece a la morendo. But that is a different scenario.

    This matter of interpretation, which must be justified by the score, music theory, and/or performance practices, would likely have adherents on both sides in my opinion. I couldn't find a Scriabin or Sofrinitsky recording to hear the earliest performance practices. Modern day pianists tend to play through the rests, but that's not to say they are correct in doing so. The score shows the rests in question occur in eight measures, while similar figuration without the rests appear in five instances, which suggests to me that Scriabin was definitely calling for contrast in sound rather than uniformity. As far as music theory goes, a rest means silence (usually).

    David
     

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