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Selections from First Term at the Piano by Béla Bartók

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by pianoman342, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. pianoman342

    pianoman342 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I was listening to some Bartók this past week on the Naxos music library and found some pieces I wanted to play from his set First Term at the Piano. It appears there are no recordings from this set here on PS, so I am submitting numbers 14, 17, 19. I was going to start from the beginning but the first few pieces are kind of dull, I believe they are more or less scales.

    I recorded these pieces yesterday in the music studio and have had time today to assemble a music video. You will see pictures in the video, they are scratch footage from a project I finished last weekend.

    For these three pieces, No. 14, 17 and 19 I am using the ND Music Edition. I don't mark it in the video but the Swineherd Dance is also labeled "Kanasztanc," and is marked allegro on the score. I hope these are not too short (or too easy :lol:) I am starting to think I played no. 17 too slow and no. 14 and 19 too fast.

    I am attaching the audio files which are the same as the video soundtracks except the no. 19 which is cut off for some reason at the end. The audio file holds on an a natural, which should be correct as a score reference.

    The Video:

    http://youtu.be/NfIUWjScPmI

    ~Riley

    edit: I mixed up the file names on no. 19 and 14.

    Bartok - First Term at the Piano, Sz.53, No. 14 "Simple Sentences"
    Bartok - First Term at the Piano, Sz.53, No. 17 "Swineherds Dance"
    Bartok - First Term at the Piano, Sz.53, No. 19 "Smooth Syncopations"
     
  2. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Riley,

    Your tone quality is good. Your phrasing and melodic shaping is good. In general these are delightful pieces and you are playing them nicely.

    There are a couple of things that you should explore.

    #14 is about balance of hands. Bartok is wanting one hand to be in the forefront and the other in a supporting role. He has indicated it by his dynamic of piano for the R.H. and forte for the L.H. at the beginning. In the beginning, the L.H. has the melody while the R.H. has a supporting counterpoint. On this recording both hands are at roughly the same level and thus the R.H. comes out as the melody due to its nature of being the higher part. Your overall dynamic of the L.H. is good, so the R.H. needs to get softer. When the parts exchange hands, the dynamics change with it.

    #17 is all about the staccato while holding a note down. Thus, it is too legato. You will have to make a decision as to how sharp the staccato is. Is it a crisp staccato or a more classical, half the value of the note staccato? Whatever decision you make, it will need to be consistent.

    Notice also the two note slurs in meas. 3 and the like. This will of course come out if the surrounding notes are staccato. The trick with this is that it is metrically from a weak to strong beat, but the 2 note slur is generally strong to weak. This will create a bit of an agogic syncopation.

    Also, in the next to last measure, you play the L.H. as 2 half-notes with the F on beat 1 (where a rest is indicated) and the C on beat 3. The F should be a quarter on beat 3 and the C a quarter on beat 4.

    #19 reminds me a bit of the E major Invention. Really nice tone and shaping. The last phrase is trying to rush just a tad.

    The only real issue is meas. 4. You are playing the last 2 notes - quarter G on beat 3 to eighth C on beat 4 (followed by eighth rest) as 2 eight notes and losing most of beat 4. Other than that it is well done.

    Scott
     
  3. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I have watched your video and listened to the audiotracks with score. You have done a nice job here! I also like the pictures of an autumn (I suppose it´s autumn, isn´t it?) landscape. These pieces are studies for beginners, but they also have a lot of musicality and are real good compositions in my opinion.
    You play them in a subtle way and the sound-quality of your recordings is fine.
    I also have small suggestions for improvement, if you don´t mind:
    no. 14: nice and sensitive playing, may be you could pay more attention to the legato bows respecitive phrasing, which I found in my score (Dover-edition based on Budapest: Rózsavölgyi és Társa, 1913). You do a phrasing of your own, but may be that´s intentional?
    no. 17: also a subtle performance. Here again I can´t find the articulation prescribed in the middle voices in my score (mainly staccato and some legato bows in bar 3,7,12,16). In the penultimate bar I can´t find a note in the bass on the fist beat, but you play one.
    no. 19: very good. I like your articulation here very much, it seems spontaneously and alive, but again it´s not what is prescribed in my score (sempre legato in the first part and in the second part different legato-phrasings).

    Since you differ concerning your articulation from my score throughout in your performances I suppose it either is intentional or you have another edition than me.

    Thank you for sharing these little gems!
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Riley,
    I don't play much Bartok, but these sounded nice to me. Since Scott and Andreas said they are played decently, I have put them up. They can always be replaced if you take into account any of Scott and Andreas' suggestions and make re-recordings. I've also added the titles that I saw in the score on IMSLP. Except no. 17 - Instead of "I Danced with a Pig" (which believe me...I have done a few times... :roll: :lol: ), I kept your title of "Swineherds Dance". Nice video too!
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I have not played these and did not listen with score, so can therefore not give very detailed feedback. But Scott and Andreas did that already. Nos. 14 and 19 are nicely done, especially 14 which seems very Bach-like. I think towards the end you rush a bit in no.14. No. 19 seems to have some small tempo inconsistencies too. No. 17 sounds not as good to me, the volume seems lower, and the playing, while good, is rather timid. I believe a Swineherd's Dance should have a little more oompah (compare the one from For Children). But all in all, good work. You have really improved your playing since you first submitted recordings.
     
  6. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    I like "I Danced with a Pig". Reminds me of some of my younger day experiences (late 60s early 70s we did a lot of things.) :roll:

    Scott
     
  7. pianoman342

    pianoman342 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    @ All thanks for the feedback

    @ Scott and Andreas,

    Thanks to the both of you for your thorough feedback. These must be pieces you two are familar with.

    For the "simple sentences" or no. 14 I agree (or rather the score does :) ) that the left and right hand should have different dynamic levels, switching in the middle section. I had a few other takes were I had the dynamics right, but the piano action is somewhat stiff and so I would hit the key softly and it will not sound at all :x . As a result I wonder if I should play subsequent pieces mf as if they were soft, and loud ff, just so I avoid the problem getting 80% of the notes to sound, even if not totally true to life dynamically. Then of course I would have to set the recording volume lower so the ff doesn't spike :roll:

    About the Swineherds Dance or "I danced w/ a pig" :lol: this title cracks me up! Of course, if it's a swineherd that would mean to me I danced with a bunch of pigs... I'm getting OT.. :oops: it is played staccato in the Naxos version so I wanted to try for a more legato version. I suppose the pigs aren't great on etiquette so maybe staccato is more appropriate in this piece. And one of you called me out on the penultimate measure. Regretably, in my score there is only articulations for the left hand on beats 3 & 4, my mistake.

    About #19, I am surprised you say it is like the e major invention, I was actually thinking that myself. It has the contrasting motion as well as the syncopation that Bach created which is interesting to hear in a piece by Bartok. And yes the g should be held for 1+ then the c should be 2 instead of the g being held for 1 and the c played as 2. Good catches!

    @ Monica,

    Thanks for putting these up! And these new titles are much more appealing than the number titles I have seen on my Nels Drue score and Naxos! One thing about the titles, I made a mistake, the audio of the no. 14 simple sentences is the audio of no. 19 smooth syncopations. The Swineherd is correct. About the title of the swine herd--now I am curious, you have danced with a pig? And a few times?!? :eek: did you grew up on a farm?

    @ Chris

    Thanks for the compliment, I hope I am getting better, now as I am taking proper lessons at school. And yes I admit I sped up on the "syncopations," I was trying to emphasize the following rit. by playing faster but I think it would have been better to play it more steady. And I agree, the swineherds in "Children" has a lot of energy.

    ~Riley
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    No, I meant that I've danced with some men who turned out to be pigs. :lol:

    A what you said about swineherd = dancing with many pigs is funny too!

    It's up to you what title you want here; I can change it if you want. Also, I have corrected the mix-up between 14 and 19.
     

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