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Verdi-Thalberg Fantasy on La Traviata

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by andrew, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Revisited.

    Firstly, I'd like to replace the version which already exists on the site (http://pianosociety.com/protected/verdi ... wright.mp3) with this one which is a lot tidier.

    Secondly, this is the first full test from my recent recording session. I'm almost sure it's the hardest piece and I truly hope to not spend as much time on any of the others. I would be grateful for thoughts on the sound, how the editing holds up, possibly even on the playing. :wink:

    Piano: Steinway Model D; mics: Rode NT5 pair, Rode NT4 stereo and U87 pair.


    Verdi-Thalberg - Fantasy on La Traviata, Op. 78 (8:24)
     
  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Andrew,

    Bravo! This is a great paraphrase and an inspiring rendition too. Congratulations on your wonderful recording!

    You get a very nice sound out of the Steinway D, and the Rode mics seem to serve the effort well too.

    David
     
  3. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks - in particular I'm glad you like the overall sound. Other than possibly doing some very minor cosmetic editing, this is now in the form where I'd intend to put it on CD: the mics and sound levels are balanced to my satisfaction.
     
  4. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Andrew,

    Your performance shows a tremendous amount of hard work. Thank you for posting.

    Kaila Rochelle
     
  5. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Andrew,
    I listened to this with the score yesterday and enjoyed it - very good recording. I was waiting until I had something intelligent to say.

    I had a difficult time finding this work's home on Piano Society. (I did not know of the "various" page.) There is, I suppose, a line between something like "Verdi-Thalberg" and, say, Vaughn Williams' "Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis", the latter always being listed as a work by Vaughn Williams.

    But it's too bad, really - I looked up Thalberg online and it looks like much of his work was variations, etc., on others' compositions. But he was so prolific I'd think he would deserve his own page.

    Anyways, again this was very enjoyable and a real throwback to another era. Gives us a hint to the audience experience of 100 years ago.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is replaced(but please check).
    Excellent playing and demonstration quality sound !
     
  7. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks - I have indeed put a lot of effort into this piece; it's probably one of the hardest things I've ever played and some parts are deceptively difficult - looking fairly palatable on the score, but once you incorporate attempting to balance lh/rh (or individual voices within the hand) they become much harder to control.

    Thank you, good to hear another vote for the sound quality. I've checked and the correct file is now on the site.
     
  8. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Nomenclature with such pieces is always a little bit of an issue. There is maybe an argument for having Thalberg on the site as a separate composer with his own page, and I would be happy to write a bio if the admin felt it necessary, but on the minus side only a small amount of his output was truly original works as opposed to paraphrases and transcriptions. (Re the original works, it wouldn't be a bad thing if someone were to look into recording extracts from his Soirees de Pausilippe, incidentally).

    It seems that variations etc on other compositions were practically de rigueur for virtuoso pianists in Thalberg and Liszt's era - even Chopin (Variations brillantes on "Je vends des scapulaires"!) and Alkan succumbed. Although history and critics have not been kind to Thalberg's compositions, I believe this to be one of his finest virtuoso fantasies and think it's head and shoulders above the more run-of-the-mill 19th compositions in a similar vein (see Herz, Czerny, Dreyschock and others). Glad you enjoyed it!
     
  9. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    Hi, Andrew!

    Nice playing! Specially those right hand octaves, which were played very softly, despite the tremendous difficulty.
     
  10. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks, Luis. I must admit to thinking the octaves should be even quieter. Difficult though!
     
  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sorry I'm late here, Andrew. I was on vacation.
    Anyway, this sounds very well played! Great job!!
    Regarding the sound, seems the mics pick up the swooshing sound of the pedals a lot.
     
  12. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for your comments, Monica - and in particular for drawing my attention to ambient noise. Any particular places where you hear pedal movements, or is it endemic? I've listened to it on my computer using (admittedly pretty cheap) headphones, looking for such problems, but not heard anything. I heard a few spots, not primarily in this particular piece, when listening in the editing studio - mostly in quieter passages. I'll certainly be mentioning this to my engineer. It's possible to do some level of manipulation to deal with these noises, through adjusting the level of the close mics, but I wouldn't want to be doing it throughout the piece as it will surely affect the overall sound.

    Also, what are you using for listening? You're the first person to pick anything like this up - I even sent the test recording to my teacher and he didn't mention anything of that sort. I'm not doubting you are hearing the noises, but I've not picked them up en masse, even in the editing studio - though I've only listened through studio speakers rather than headphones.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened earlier on ear plugs that I carry around with me in my purse. They aren't the cheapest kind, but not the most expensive, either. Just now I listened at home on my computer speakers using a different pair of ear plugs, but I still hear the noise. I have not listened to the entire recording, but the sound I hear is clearly heard at the beginning - the quieter part. It's a swooshing sound, obviously the sound of the dampers lifting off the strings. I know this sound well because when I first got my new piano, I thought there was something wrong with it; when I lifted the lid all the way I heard that swooshing sound so loudly that I thought there was something wrong with the piano. I even called Yamaha and tried to explain what was wrong....the person on the end didn't quite know what I was saying and probably thought I was nuts. Eventually, I got used to the sound and it has even dampened (haha..pun intended) over time and now I don't hear the swooshing sound.
    Anyway, Andrew, the sound is like that of a snare drum - a light strike on the snare drum and you get that sort of fast, fuzzy/buzzy lingering sound afterward. That's what I hear on this recording.

    (I wish I was a sound engineer.....)
     
  14. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, thanks, I'll double-check this. I've heard something similar to what you describe in a pp passage in another piece I recorded There have also been a few miscellaneous string noises picked up by the close mics.
     
  15. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Andrew,

    I don't know this piece, but IMHO you play this transcription with a combination of Old World charm and delicacy in the slower parts and bravura and nobility in the more expansive passages. Great leggiero, portato octaves! That's no mean feat. Any of my nitpicks would be down to more specific details (little points of polish that struck me as a listener, not knowing the piece). A few comments:

    1. A couple of the more contrapuntal passages seemed as though they could be slightly crisper/more even, notably near the beginning.

    2. The trills in that one part were nice and clear, but seemed a bit prominent against the bass, which seems to be carrying the tune more in that one place. It goes without saying that such passages (which seem to appear a lot in Liszt too) can be a bitch to sustain, so this is pretty picky.

    3. There were one or two places nearer the end (where it breaks out a bit) where you seem to slightly struggle with the tempo, though maybe some retention was intended.

    4. Regarding the sound, I think it's nicely balanced overall, but to my ears it seems just a tad brittle in the upper registers. Could be my speakers though, which tend to sound that way.

    These are very nitpicky things, though. One thing I'm very impressed by is your dynamics and sense of balance. Regarding the piece, I think you make it about as interesting as anybody could. It seems rather meandering to me, very much in the manner of Thalberg's solo works, not lighting a candle to those by Liszt or Rachmaninov. Speaking of which, since you're a transcriptions guy, do you plan to do any of the Rachmaninoff? IMHO those are the very greatest of all transcriptions, great creations in themselves. Given your impressive chordal technique I'd be curious to hear your performance of the Liebesfreud :)

    Again, great style on this Traviata transcription. A pleasure to listen to your playing as always.

    Joe
     
  16. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Interesting comments.

    Completely agreed; there is one note in particular on which my arrival is noticeably less than clean.

    That passage is a nightmare! A full page of linked trills, and whilst you are trying to pay attention to keeping them clean, connected and quiet, the left hand is jumping all over the keyboard, playing accompaniment and a separate thumb melody which must be voiced and put into focus above the accompanimental harmonies - the resultant chords often have to be broken as they reach in excess of two octaves in size. When all's said and done, I think my trills are too loud.

    I think I'm ok here - I did detect a slight mannerism in the big alternate chordal section (from 7.14) where I've taken a little extra time at the end of bars, but that was subconscious rather than a conscious problem. I think my tempo is pretty even on the second last page (passage with hands playing together, but chordal leaps going on all over the place, from 7.48) which is very difficult.

    Again, I agree with you re the upper register. My teacher felt the same way when I sent him the recording. The piano was tuned on the morning of both days which I was recording on it, and my feeling at the time was that the upper treble was vey bright, so I suspect that the mic setup has captured the sound a little too accurately! There is stlil scope for manipulating the sound at the editing stage by playing around with the balance of the various mics.

    Thanks. I think it's better than, for example, Thalberg's sonata. It's perhaps rather episodic by dint of moving from one theme to another and not having any specific structure. Of course that is the nature of many paraphrases of the day. I've not thought about much Rachmaninoff - not least because these transcriptions have generally been part of a larger entity as I've been doing recitals based purely on ones from opera; also I've been spending a lot of time trying to find good transcriptions by composers who are forgotten or semi-forgotten.

    Thanks again for listening and for your perceptive comments.
     

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