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Rameau - Suite in A (harpsichord) - Beginning

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Jul 26, 2015.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Dear All,
    Please find the four first pieces of the third book of harpsichord pieces, by Jean-Philippe Rameau. I intend to complete the suite in the coming months.

    The suite starts by an "Allemande" of quite large dimensions, in a contrapuntic style not so far from Rameau's contemporary German composers. Then comes a Courante, that I have played alternatively with unequal, or equal fourth notes to create a contrast between a part and its repetition. The "Sarabande" is the most beautiful (according to my taste), calm and noble, that I recorded with a lute sound. Finally, the "Trois mains" resembles to some Scarlatti sonatas. The hands cross each other and are often written in the same range, which makes the execution quite tricky with a single keyboard (forgive the false notes !).

    I have recorded the four pieces in an unequal temperament, and baroque tuning fork (415). Thanks for listening and giving some feedback !

    Rameau - Suite en la - 1: Allemande (6:11)
    Rameau - Suite en la - 2: Courante (5:01)
    Rameau - Suite en la - 3: Sarabande (3:50)
    Rameau - Suite en la - 4: Les Trois mains (5:08)
     
  2. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hello Francois,

    Very interesting to hear this. I'm not particularly well acquainted with Rameau's harpsichord music, having mainly listened to the versions of Wanda Landowska (though the gavotte et six doubles seems to be performed more on piano). FWIW, on the basis of what I've listened to thus far, I think I much prefer Rameau to Couperin, the latter of whom sometimes seems overly fussy and ornate to me.

    Overall, I quite enjoyed this. There are quite a few small mistakes (as you yourself point out), but they seem just slips of the finger and don't detract from the overall listening in my opinion.

    Very nice and clean ornamentation. Sometimes, however, I think your rhythm could be more precise, such as the dotted rhythms in the courante. Also, on occasion you seem to rush ahead a bit too much, which makes me miss a bit of the nobility and stateliness (e.g., in the Allemande). IMHO you are most successful in the lyrical sarabande (and I love the lute effect). The trois mains does sound like a bit of a beast, and there are some very nice, crisp moments here, coupled unfortunately with some unevennesses and slight jerkiness. You may want to polish this one just a bit more.

    All in all, I very much enjoyed this even though I think you should work on increasing your finger precision a bit more.

    Joe
     
  3. pianolady

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

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    Hi Francois, I don't have time to listen to these right now, but I'll try to tonight. Chris, if you are reading this.....can you upload the recordings and then I can update the site tomorrow?
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Yes, I will do that tonight. I hope Francois has tagged them correctly.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Yes, that's what I meant. I'll do it tonight :)
     
  6. pianolady

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

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    I was wondering..... :)
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    These are uploaded. Over to Monica for updating the site.

    Thanks Francois for doing the tags almost right. The only things I missed were:

    1) Sequence numbers for the individual items, see the links in the OP (this so they will be sorted in the correct order by various software)
    2) Composer
    3) Genre

    I must admit I am not a great lover of the harpsichord, not even in Bach. Having listened to some of these, I find the incessant trills as irritating as in Couperin, and the music terribly thin, even though I'm sure Rameau was a very good composer. I just seem to have a black spot in this particular repertoire. Maybe it will get better when I grow up :)
     
  8. pianolady

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

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    Ok, the site it updated.

    I listened to most of these recordings. I liked the third one best because of the acoustic guitar. Out of the the other three, I like the last one. As far as what Chris said about Rameau and Couperin, I think I like Couperin's music better. But I certainly haven't listened to a lot of Rameau, so this is a fairly generalized statement.
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Dear All,
    Many thanks for your comments.

    @Joe
    I am pleased you like Rameau. I find Couperin equally lovely, with less formal construction but more charm, however this is a matter of taste, of course. Regarding the rythmic precision, I think no one is anymore playing harpsichord as Landovska did during the last century. Since the new Baroque musician school arose, during the '80, people has considered that some flexibility and rythmic delay should be adopted in the harpsichord articulation, otherwise it becomes mechanistic and boring. This is not a reason to make wrong notes, of course, and for this my only excuse is my nature of amateur musician and amateur sound engineer. As for Les Trois Mains, I could record it at a much slower tempo then accelerate at recording (which is possible with my digital keyboard). It should be cleaner, so I made a trial yesterday, but the result was quite 'sanitized', and lacked expressivity (my bored mood could be heard !). Finally I prefer to keep the current version, in spite of its flaws...

    @Chris
    Thanks for the tags editing - I have hard time to stick to the rules; I'll try to do a better job next time. Regarding your lack of appetency for French baroque music (that you constantly point out at all my related submissions), my advice is just to stop listening it: at our age life is too short to continue doing unpleasant things, unless for professional or family obligations, of course... especially when the other administrator does not seem to share your disgust!

    @Monica
    Thanks for loading and also for your kind listening. And thank you for your Couperin's advocacy. If you play some of his music, you'll be even more happy with him (at least it was my experience when I started to practice this composer, some 20 years ago or so).

    With Couperin, we are far from drama and extreme feelings that you may get when playing romantic musicians. It is closer to the pleasure you may have talking with a young and charming infant, while being in vacation in a beautiful garden. A music which has a modest ambition, but which appears successfull in providing peace and serenity. Not too bad I think for an art piece... A last point regarding ornaments: an harpsichord musical phrase ending with a "mordant" is like the vibrato of a singer. It brings life and expression to a sequence which otherwise would appear dry and lean. There is also an equilibrium with the relatively low quantity of notes in the themes and main melodies on one hand and the numerous notes added by the ornaments, to be compared with posterior music (eg Mozart) where the melody is much more talkative, with less ornaments. At least in rapid movements, Allegros or Allegrettos...
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Putting a number in the Title of suite/cycle items isn't an documented rule I think, although it should be. It's just common sense. You probably notice in your own player (as I do in iTunes) that the tracks are shown alphabetically, which is not usually the order you want to see them. Composer and Genre are not used at this time, but it's not a big deal to fill them, right ?

    Haha yes, I should really stop doing that. Once is quite enough. I should better have said it is very well played as usual.

    I only listened to (some of) this partly by force of habit, and partly because I had good memories of a Rameau suite played on piano by Robert Casadesus. I remember being quite impressed by the music, but he probably did not play it like a harpsichordist :)
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I think it's perhaps only fair to point out that trills were a common mechanism to create an effect of sustained sound. (I'm a bit out of my musical knowledge comfort zone here!)
     
  12. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    And I must say the Sarabande is quite beautiful.
     
  13. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Robert Casadesus was a great player of French baroque music. Have you ever heard Marcelle Meyer ? An amazing pianist, who had a too short and too discrete career given her outstanding talent. You may listen her Rameau for instance here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPl4jbfPSc4

    True ! Trills prolongs the notes and provides expression as vibrato.

    Yes, it's my preferred piece within the whole suite (including the part I have not yet submitted). Thanks for your appreciation !
     
  14. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very nice. I have nothing to add musically.

    However, I will offer my opinion about a short (1-second?) pause at the beginning of the recording. All four of these had no discernible silence at the beginning. Back in the day, that would not have bothered anyone (or even on a CD these days), but as an MP3 which is frequently played by double-clicking on the file name, it can be a little disconcerting.
     
  15. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hello Stu,
    Thanks for the compliment ! OK, for my next submissions I will add some seconds of silence at the beginning of the files.
     

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