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Wolfgang Rubsam

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by mbloedel, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. mbloedel

    mbloedel New Member

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    I've seen a lot of CD reviews that don't like the extent to which he uses rubato in his recording of Bachs Inventions and Sinfonias. I'm interested in knowing what people here think. Personally, I think Rubsam's version of the Inventions and Sinfonias is very pleasing to the ear since I don't like how mechanical (and fast) others play them. My brother studied under him (Rubsam) at Northwestern University and from my discussions with him (my brother), I understand that performers of Bach's time and Bach himself probably held the first note of repeated paterns slightly longer. Of course we can't ask him (Bach) and I would have to ask my brother again for what evidence he has to base this on. I'm currently learning to play the Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias and think they sound much better when played with some rubato, however maybe not with as much as Rubsam uses.
     
  2. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

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    What an interesting question. Yes I have heard Rubsams recordings of the sinfonias and they are very pleasing.

    Most harpsichordists that I have heard use a certain amount of rubato in their performances. The harpsichord does not have the dynamics capabilities of the piano, and it can't articulate or accent notes in the same way the piano can. Because of this most harpsichordists use these rubatos or gasps in their play. I think the Baroque rubato is very different then a chopin rubato for example, but I think its still their.

    Also the same technique applies when playing on instruments of weaker quality or in concert halls with poor acoustics. I believe that I read that Glenn Gould used this technique in concert performances because of poor acoustics (from the book Music and Mind.) I bring up Glenn Gould as he supposedly disliked the performance with excessive rubato, thought some of his early recordings have it too.

    Personally I imagine my baroque performances with some of these rubato's, gasps or hesitations. For me this is really a baroque sound. Like anything else it should not be out of taste or interrupt the flow of the lines or voicing (harder to do).


     
  3. mbloedel

    mbloedel New Member

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    Maasaki Suzuki

    Maybe I should start a new thread on him, but since you mentioned harpsicord recordings you've listened to, I wondered if you have heared Maasaki Suzuki playing Bach's inventions and sinfonias. You would probably like his CD. I noticed that you have a bunch of the sinfonias recorded and on this site. I've listened to a few of them and like the way you play them. If I can learn to play them as well as you do, I'm satisfied. So far I have learned Sinfonia #5 and Invention #7. I am currently working on Invention #1 (triplet version—BWV 772a) and then I'll probably learn another Sinfonia after that. I'm letting my kids pick the ones they want me to learn. I notice you do not have a recording of Sinfonia #5 on this site. If you have learned that one and can post a recordings of it, I'd like to hear how you play it.
     
  4. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

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    Re: Maasaki Suzuki

    Hey mbloedel,


    Thanks for you kind comments and for listening! Yes I have heard Maasaki Suzuki. I believe I have a few of his sinfonia mp3's. He is of course in my opinion a fine harpsichordist.

    My own recordings often aim at simple aesthetically pleasing interpretations. In the end I might be using a bit too much rubato here and there :) Probably my left hand is often too weak in comparison to my right hand, and I might ignore too much the architect like structres found in all of them.

    I did play through sinfonia 5 but it might be a while before get to recording it. For me for some reason this is one of the hardest sinfonias with its many ornaments :)

    I think its great that you share this music with your kids. Are they learning to play?

     
  5. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    The Schott-Universal Urtext edition I have has both an unadorned version with only a couple of ornaments at key places as well as an embellished version. I noticed that most people do seem to play the embellished version, but I wonder that if by putting the unadorned version first, the publisher is claiming it is the preferred version?

    I play the unembellished version. I think that many ornaments in a piece is almost beyond what the piano can handle and starts to sound a bit fussy (though on the harpsichord, it would undoubtedly help sustain the tone), but maybe that's just my copout to make things easier for myself :p
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Not sure which one is preferred. My Henle Urtext has the straight version first too, which is what I used to play, and in a rather jaunty tempo, as if it were Scarlatti. I used to think that was a good idea. :? Then when it was time to record this one, I heard the embellished version, and I was bowled over by it. Taken in a much slower tempo, with the ornaments, the piece seemed to suddenly acquire a whole new depth and meaning.
     
  7. mbloedel

    mbloedel New Member

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    I agree.

    The non-ornamented version is very boring IMO. With the ornaments, it sounds like a completely different piece of music to me and I love the way it sounds when played slow like Rubsam plays it. I also have András Schiff's CD and I also love the way it sounds played fast the way he does it.

    I would say the same thing about the variant (triplet version) of Invention #1 (BWV 772a) that I am currently working on. It sounds like a totally different piece of music when played that way and personally, I like the way it sounds that way better. Schiff also does a great job on this one. Again, he plays it fast, and Rubsam plays it considerably slower with Rubato.
     
  8. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can certainly see your point here. I have always found this probably to be one the least interesting overall of the sinfonias (at least in unembellished form). The ornaments certainly do add a whole new layer and flavor. At some point, perhaps I will learn the ornamented version and play and compare it against the unembellished.

    In listening to some embellished versions, the main thing I miss is the strength and solidity of the dotted rhythms, written rather in the style of a French overture. The ornaments sound impressive if they are brought off clearly and accurately (no mean task on the piano), but the bite and retention of IMO the strong masculine rhythms appear somewhat lost within the complexity of the ornamented texture.
     
  9. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can certainly see your point here. I have always found this probably to be one the least interesting overall of the sinfonias (at least in unembellished form). The ornaments certainly do add a whole new layer and flavor. At some point, perhaps I will learn the ornamented version and play and compare it against the unembellished.

    In listening to some embellished versions, the main thing I miss is the strength and solidity of the dotted rhythms, written rather in the style of a French overture. The ornaments sound impressive if they are brought off clearly and accurately (no mean task on the piano), but the bite and retention of IMO the strong masculine rhythms appear somewhat lost within the complexity of the ornamented texture.
     

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