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Sibelius - Impromptu Op. 5 No. 5 in b minor

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by jerryknight, May 14, 2010.

  1. jerryknight

    jerryknight New Member

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    Hi,

    My first recording submitted here. This is Sibelius' wonderfully written b minor Impromptu - by far my favorite of his piano compositions. I was inspired to learn this by listening to Havard Gimse's masterful performance (Sibelius: Piano Music Vol. 1 - Naxos). Much of my interpretation is based on his performance, but I did not achieve his level of clarity and continuity. He plays it so fast without making it sound rushed.

    I'm not a professional - just a life-long hobbyist, so don't judge the technical execution too harshly. :) The opening harp-like arpeggios are incredibly difficult. Ideally, I'd like the opening to sound as if it's starting from silence.

    Recorded to MIDI and rendered using Pianoteq v3.6 with the C3 Solo Recording preset, if anyone's curious.
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi Jerry - welcome to Piano Society. First of all - I am usually turned off when someone says they use all sorts of technology/electronic gizmos to render their recordings. I feel that people who do that sort of thing are capable of editing their music to a degree that makes them sound too perfect, which is really cheating. However, I think I heard a slip or two in your recording here, maybe also some inaudible notes, so that's good! :lol: And the sound is quite nice - I can still tell that it's not an acoustic piano, but it's better than some other digital piano recordings we have on our site. Seems like high notes sound better than low notes on digitals (and your system here) - the low notes and some mid-range notes have that sort of fuzzy/hollow/smooth/empty sound that gives it away. It's like there is no character in the piano. Not sure that makes sense... . Anyway, I don't know this piece but it's pretty.
     
  3. jerryknight

    jerryknight New Member

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    Thanks!

    Even though I rely on technology, I'm a bit of a purist. I'll never edit a single note of any recordings I make. I will tweak the piano settings used, but only to maximize the "other" side of the performance that pianists rarely have much control over. Things like acoustics of the room, brightness of the piano, tuning adjustments, etc. to hopefully alleviate the fact that it is an artificial recording.

    I've been playing on Pianoteq for about a year, and I always thought that the higher notes sometimes give away the "artificiality" of the sound. Sometimes I'll hear a very specific resonance that comes from the right combination of mathematically "perfect" frequencies interacting. You rarely get that in a real piano, and I think the advancement of the Pianoteq software has been in the direction of making it sound less perfect and have more character.

    The thing I love most is that you can adjust so many settings to "build" the piano you want. You can change the temperament, voice the hammers (Is that the right term?), even adjust the properties of the soundboard. I don't want to sound like an advertisement for the software, but I really do find it fascinating and very fun to experiment with. And it's also a heck of a lot cheaper than the grand piano I would have one day bought.

    And since it's being rendered entirely in the computer, you'll never hear distracting artifacts like coughs, squeaks, or recording hiss (assuming you play the recording on a good sound system). On the downside, you'll never hear things that might add to the performance - breathing patterns, humming along (I've heard so many good recordings with faint humming) and similar sounds. Still, to get the recording quality that can be achieved this way, it would take a very expensive studio and very expensive recording equipment, none of which is available to me.

    EDIT: I meant to add that I think "normal" digital pianos are horrible, almost laughable except that so many people play on them without knowing any better. The individual notes on my Roland's built-in piano voice sound decent (they're recorded from a real piano) but I feel so limited playing on it. The sound is so flat and distant and all the notes decay way too fast. I personally do not feel that my expression is at all limited by Pianoteq, which can sound "close" and intimate when playing softly, and as long as you don't make the resonance and sound duration too long to where it sounds absurd, it can ring as long as a concert grand.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I can understand how it would be fun to play around with so many different settings. Most of here who play on acoustic pianos also edit in reverb or some sort of noise filter and in my case that is plenty enough for me to play around with.

    But one other thing that I think about regarding all this is that it seems like people who use a system like this spend more time fooling around with all the buttons and settings in an effort to get the sound they like. Whereas when playing on an acoustic piano, the player spends more time working out all the multitude of adjustments needed in the weight of the hands since that determines how the hammers actually strike the strings. It's like trying to tame a beast is how I think of it. On a digital keyboard, even with weighted keys, aren't you only going to get a loud sound or a soft sound but not much in between? I could be wrong about all this - I also have a digital piano but it's old and has been through several home remodeling projects - lots of dust has fallen into it. Actually, I'm surprised it still works but I really don't like playing on it because it doesn't help my playing at all when I go back to my acoustic.

    But really, if you are happy with your setup, then probably that's all that matter to you. One other thing though - you mentioned tweaking 'tuning adjustments'. On a keyboard?
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    How nice to see someone else caring about Sibelius' piano music ! I've always been quite fond of this set, and contemplated recording them, and would have done if it were not for no.6 which I think is a bit of a dud. I'm a keen admirer of Havard Gimse but haven't heard any of his Sibelius recordings. No doubt they are excellent and one could do worse than be inspired by a pianist of such caliber.

    You play this very refined, and the couple of little slips don't bother much. I would not say the arpeggios are incredibly difficult, but this piece is certainly not trivial. Sibelius can sometimes spring unexpected demands on you, not being hampered by any feeling for the 'pianistic'. It's part of the charm of his sprawling piano oeuvre, which contains rough diamonds and rubble in equal measure. Any plans for the rest of this opus ? It's a bit clumsy in places but has a certain rugged charm which I find appealing. I don't care for the digital sound much, but it could be worse.

    Welcome to PS, good playing, but do give us some more recordings.
     
  6. jerryknight

    jerryknight New Member

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    Yes, Pianoteq simulates all of the components of a piano and how they vibrate and interact to create the sound. Okay, not every single little bolt or piece of wood, but the parts that matter most - strings, hammers, dampers, soundboard, case, lid, etc. So this lets you change the tuning (you can adjust the base pitch away from A440) and the temperament (well-tempered, equal tempered, etc). It even lets you adjust mechanical details like how efficient the dampers are, where the hammers hit the strings, and how long the strings are. It also gives you control over how efficiently the strings resonate, even the strings of notes not being played (so-called "harp" resonance).

    It's doing everything it can to mathematically model how a real piano behaves. This can lead to it sounding "too perfect" and they're trying to improve that. Their newest piano model (dubbed the K1) has lots of character, but it sounds too percussive for a lot of my classical-style recordings, so I stick with the older C3 model.

    It's really amazing stuff. The only thing like it so far is the Roland V-Piano, which also has a similar piano simulation program producing the sound. But the V-Piano is much more expensive, and I think it has fewer controls over the properties of the simulated piano.
     
  7. jerryknight

    jerryknight New Member

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    What I meant was that the arpeggios in the first few lines are incredibly hard to play as lightly as I would like before landing in the main melody. Most of the arpeggios throughout the piece flow smoothly between the hands.

    I'm curious as to the impressions the recording would have made if I had not announced beforehand that it was digitally produced. To my (admittedly less trained) ear, it sounds quite convincing. I have my own ideas, but I'm interested in hearing what people are hearing or not hearing that makes it sound artificial.

    Not being defensive at all! I love hearing from people who can hear things that I cannot. Maybe it will help me adjust the settings to make it as "real" as possible. That's my goal. I can't afford a 9-foot Steinway or a concert hall with professional recording equipment, and I don't have access to anyone's concert grands or recording gear. I might have been able to afford a small baby grand and a reasonable tape recorder, but for my money, I think a digital piano (with good, quality key action) and Pianoteq are superior to that option.

    Thanks for your review. I'll try to keep polishing this. Since I don't "cheat" with my performances (editing MIDI notes or splicing takes), I have the same problem as anyone else capturing all that I want in one take. These days I am only rarely able to get things to the level of a concert performance.
     
  8. Espen Ellefsen

    Espen Ellefsen New Member

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    Where are the recording?
     
  9. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I suspect this recording was uploaded as an attachment "for review" and never copied over into the recordings section. There is probably a data restriction on attachments as part of the forum software and thus old ones will disappear over time.
     
  10. Espen Ellefsen

    Espen Ellefsen New Member

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    Thank you for such a quick answer. I was really bummed not to find the midi, as I have been searching for it a long time now. Such a great piece.
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Is it specifically a midi you're looking for, as there is a piano version on youtube, I found a recording at classicalarchives.com, and there's a recent recording by Andsnes as well. There used to be a midi archive site with loads of stuff, but I can't remember its name.
     
  12. Espen Ellefsen

    Espen Ellefsen New Member

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    Im looking for a midi, yes. Andsnes(my fellow countryman:D) are the pianist who introduced me to Sibelius, and I would really like to use the midi on synthesia. Maybe it's a humongous taboo not to read scores in here, but at least I'm being honest. :) I have searched far and wide, but not any luck... Thanks again for your time.
     

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