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Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a (Piano 4-hands)

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by techneut, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    An intensive recording weekend with my friend and piano partner David Dekker produced this version of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. And it's not even Christmas yet ! In fact this was the first dry and sunny weekend in a long time, and we chose to sit indoors all the time. I hope it was worth it :)

    The arrangement is by Russian pianist/composer Eduard Langer. Here and there we had to make some small concessions to Langer's sometimes impractical (and sometimes unplayable)
    writing.

    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 1: Miniature Overture (3:32)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 2: March (2:31)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 3: Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy (1:57)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 4: Russian Dance (Trepak) (1:19)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 5: Arabian Dance (3:12)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 6: Chinese Dance (1:11)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 7: Dance of the Reed Flutes (2:45)
    Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a - 8: Waltz of the Flowers (6:39)
     
  2. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    These sound like good fun! The first two and last two yield a 404 error incidentally. There might be a few unison issues in the Trepak; it would be forgiveable. The Chinese dance is a real highlight - it sparkles! Looking forward to the rest of them
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Oops ! Forgot to upload the others. And worse, forgot to check the links :oops: They are there now.
    Our Chinese Dance is probably a novelty. The 16ths arpeggios are terribly hard to play for the primo player, as it's in the LH. So there's an ossia (for both players ) to play groups of 3 instead of groups of 4. We decided that David take the ossia and I would not (because in Secondo it's much easier). So we have 4-against-three which perhaps is adding some extra fizz.
     
  4. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very enjoyable! My only real concern lies in no.2, where the ornamental accompaniment doesn't seem that consistently synchronised with the other part. It could be just that it's not particularly well written. In any case, I found the other arrangement I know of this for piano solo (think it's Pletnev) to be more effective. Despite my fondness for the Grainger Waltz of the Flowers, I thought the two-piano version was great fun even in comparison and finished the set on a definite high note. Congratulations to both of you.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thanks again ! I'm not sure what ornamental accompaniment you refer to. You didn't mean these high-lying repeated unisono 16ths in the middle part of no. 2 ? Those are simply not playable in tempo for an amateur on my grand, and I don't blame David for wanting a compromise. It still didn't come out so well though, and it's the only part in the set that really bothers me too, despite plenty of little flubs elsewhere. Yes, Pletnev's version of the March is great.
    We were much inspired in the Flower Waltz and even the middle part where we have to play scales over and under each other's hands came out well.
    I've not actually heard Grainger's version although I know of it. Must listen to it soon. And perhaps play it. It seems to me the Flower Waltz is the Mother Of All Waltzes (pace Johann Strauss).
     
  6. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    On second listening, the problem in the March is less than I thought initially. There seem to be a few wrong notes, and perhaps balance could be better (for example if the accompanimental scales were more in the background). Still, sometimes balance problems are as much the fault of the arranger for writing something not very practical as they are that of the performer(s).
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    The March is definitely the item with the most issues here. Indeed Langer's writing is sometimes wildly impractical - one wonders if it had actually been tried out with two pianists. It's certainly the "worst" 4-hand writing I have yet played. Even Dvorak, not himself much of a pianist, did not make things
    this difficult for the pianists. It's amazing how tricky 4-hand playing is once you come together, even if you can play your own part with hand tied behind your back so to speak.

    Having heard it now, the Grainger Flower Waltz paraphrase does not do much for me. Too much pompous and elaborate virtuosity, distracting from the delirious flow and excitement of the waltz.
     
  8. verqueue

    verqueue New Member

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    I listened only to no. 7 - Dance of the Reed Flutes for now. You seem to be well synchronized in almost all spots (near the end there were maybe some notes which were not together, but I'm not sure about this). I liked your articulation very much, it was nicely sharp. I've an impression that there could be more of top notes, I'm not sure if this balance you have is good. But you have the most important thing - musical ideas, so congratulations!
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thanks verqueue. Actually 4-hand music gets bass heavy very quickly when there is a busy LH part, and my grand also has much more presence in the bass than in the treble. One must probably use a different recording technique and/or mixing to get it right, and my simple portable device (no external mics) can't handle that well. But yes, I feel that we've made good music in this suite despite the minor issues.
     
  10. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very entertaining through speakers.

    I did not think the March had many issues. Considering the density of the notes it was fine.
    The only candidate for a re-recording IMHO was #7. It just had the occasional feeling of stumbling. #6 was fine - the 3 against 4 did not bother me in the least. I played two piano stuff for years when I was younger, and am accustomed to the slightly un-synchronized sound.
    And I know 4-hand on one instrument is even tougher. Congratulations.
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thank you Stu. Yes, the reed flutes do have some issues. We should have practiced this one better, or done a couple more takes. Ah well, it will have to remain imperfect. We don't plan any re-recordings.
     

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