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Chopin Berceuse

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by MindenBlues, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello together,

    after a longer time of absence here I like to give a sign of life from me.

    Here is a recording from summer this year, the Berceuse from Chopin. It is not at all a perfect recording, and my grand piano was also not in perfect tuning.

    I wonder why there is only a single recording of that beautiful piece on PianoSociety, and if there comes a better recording as my attempt or what is already on the site, please feel free to remove it then.

    Nevertheless, here it is:


    Chopin - Berceuse Op. 57
     
  2. pianolady

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

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    Hello, Olaf. I'm very glad! :wink:

    I have never seriously played this piece, but I think it is almost as hard as the Barcarolle ?- the phrasing, tempo, steadiness/rubato and all those tiny little notes. But mostly it is just the overall sound - did the piece come out sounding beautiful and relaxed? The answer regarding your playing is Yes! I could hear the gentle waves in your phrasing that is so important here and your tempo stayed nice.

    I don't think you sound stiff at all, but I know what you mean. Like the Beceuse, the first line of the Barcarolle after the introduction I find very hard to play, even though it is the easiest part in the whole piece. Keeping those single notes going soft and legato and with tricky pedaling and then coming in with the RH in just the right way and balance is so hard (for me). I think that's why Chopin said something like "simplicity is the hardest thing to do".

    Anyway, nice job and it is on the site.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Good to see you back at last Olaf.

    This may not be as perfect as you had in mind ( get used to it :p ) but it's a very beautiful performance, and such imperfections as there are, are almost negligible. Rather than listen to the few little things that may not satisfy you, listen to all the things that do go just right, and there are many of them.

    Overall, I had expected a bit more poetry and dreaminess from you. The beginning, and also the ending, are a little too fast and too literal. You automatically slow down to the 'right' tempo when the passagework comes in. Should you ever decide to re-record this (not that it is necessary) you may want to think of keeping one basic steady pulse.

    Yes it is strange we do not have more recordings of this amazing piece. It's not very hard technically (vertainly not in the Barcarolle league), but to keep it smooth and dreamy all the way is rather a job. This piece is so easy to underestimate.
     
  4. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Why not more recordings?

    Because playing this in front of a mike is terrifying, that's why - but you had the courage to pull it off.
    This piece is entering my repertoire, and I had thought of putting myself through the anguish of getting it recorded so we could have a higher-kbps copy of it, but now I don't have to. (Which is *great*, because I have another project I need to work on.) I figured I was looking at 20 takes to get a good one.
    I don't think the tuning of the instrument was noticeable at all - the high notes in this piece go by so quickly that the listener does not hear them as individual notes. It sounded like there were one or two keys that did not resonate as well as others, but we've all got that problem.
    Your interpretation at times is reminiscent of the recording by Michelangeli - do you know that one? The sound fidelity is not great (I think it might date from the 40's), but his ideas come through pretty well.
    As far as difficulty: there are a couple of really tricky points in the high sextuplets which are the points where the microphone demons jump out at hit one's fingers out of alignment, but they sounded really clean here. Congratulations.
     
  5. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    This is captivating. Also I like very much your intimate and warm sound. Congratulations and thanks.
     
  6. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks very much for all the kind and constructive comments!

    Regarding difficulty, I dunno whether it is in the Barcarolle league or not, foremost it is much shorter. But there are also some really tricky passages for the right hand, so at least it is difficult enough for me! :lol:

    @ techneut:
    Yes, one can think of keeping a steady pulse with same tempo throughout the piece. Because it is a lullaby (the most wonderful I can imagine) and a steady pulse gets the baby maybe the best to sleep.
    On the other hand I don't know of any professional recording which uses same tempo through every variation (since it is a piece consisting of theme and variations, each 4 bars long). Maybe I was too fast at the beginning, maybe not - at least the ending could slow down more evenly. But I don't think that I slowed down so much, even in the variations with more and more notes to play.

    @StuKautsch:
    Yes, I know the Michelangeli recording (on YouTube), and I love it. He plays so perfect and noble and with kind of understatement, exactly what the piece demands. I have a recording by Rubinstein, that is also great. He plays it very, very soft -and everyone who tries will probably agree that it is hard to keep a soft and evenly played left hand part in the Berceuse (I will never succeed in that, unfortunately), regardless what the right hand does.

    Regarding recording quality, it is the first recording I used my ZOOM H4 with internal mics instead the more difficult setup I had before (with external condenser mics, mixer, notebook). It seems to be sufficient this way, and I believe that it noises less as e.g. the Edirol recorder but has crisp and clear recording quality too.
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Not so much, indeed, but the difference was a bit sudden. When a piece starts so innocently, with few notes, it is all too easy to start out too fast, only to find yourself slowing down when the action arrives. Coincidentally this was an issue in both my recent organ and piano lessons, as I tend to fall in exactly that same trap. So I guess I'm sort of listening out for it now.

    Indeed you would not want to be rigid throughout the piece, but maybe the beinning and the first 'variation' should match tempo-wise, as should the last variation and the ending ? Just an idea.
     
  8. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    A nice interpretation, a nice technique and nice sound!
    I haven't thought about playing this myself, so I've never considered, whether this is in the Barcarolle league or not. But from listening to this recording I suppose it's never easy to play!

    Mindenblues, may I ask you about the position of the Zoom 4? I have the same thing, too, so I wonder how you produced this nice sound.
     
  9. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I played with fully opened piano lid (Steinway-O), and the Zoom H4 was placed about 3 meters in distance from the piano, on the right side (maybe the same place as where a listener would sit in the first row, watching the right side of the piano). And a bit higher as the piano, so that the mics face towards the open lid. I have not experimented much with recording position, I simply put it on a loudspeaker which is in my living room on that place and seemed to be appropriate.

    I know that Techneut puts the recorder on the opposite side of the keyboard, and according to what I have read, that is an often choosed spot too.
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Yes, of the various positions I tried, this seems to sound the best, so I stick to it. I have a pretty small room so I can't really put the Edirol much further away. It's only just above the rim of the grand, it may be worth a try to put it a bit higher up, as Olaf does. I can't believe it will give a significant difference though.
     
  11. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Mindenblues and Chris! As I bought the recorder, I asked a friend of mine who is a professional recording engineer about the recording tips and he said, you should put it opposite the player in order to get a stereo effect. I've sticked to this position so far, but the many recordings on PS which were recorded at the position of audience (like that of Mindenblues) sound actually much more vividly and clearly to me. So, I'll try put this position, too :)
     
  12. arensky

    arensky New Member

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    Beautifully played Olaf. Sometimes it seems a bit heavy to me and I lose the flow of the melodic and harmonic embelleshments. But this is a piece that can never be too subtle. Keep playing it, the subtlety will come. You certainly have the notes. And, your piano is sounding better than ever, what an instrument. Chech out my Gershwin Prelude if you have the time, I'm curious about what you think of my old Steinway's regulation and hammer tapping.
     
  13. robert

    robert Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    A wonderful interpretation of the Chopin Berceuse! I have played this a long time ago but never really got it down properly. It is more difficult than one might think at the first glance and you manage to keep the steady left hand rhythm while achieving the improvised feeling of the right hand's work. Some of the passages are technically tricky and I find it especially difficult to keep a soft and balanced sound. I mean, it is a lullaby and should be treated like one so no room for sudden dynamics, tempo changes or too much rubato. Smooth in and smooth out and you do it very well!
     

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