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Schubert - Op. 90, no.2 (last time, I promise)

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by pianolady, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Regarding the magic I'm talking about at the enharmonic modulation (see my prior post), it is about attitude that sneaks its way into performance. This is very psychological and could never be proven "scientifically" but we're talking about art here. How real is it? For me it is VERY real! How real would it be to an auditor? That would be an interesting test. An educated audience is asked to listen to this work performed by ten pianists (half of which in their mind play an F# chord instead of the Gb. Would the auditors (who know that some will play F# major and the others the enharmonic) be able to tell a difference in the approach? I must admit, probably not. But that doesn't change my mind that when I play the first two notes of the Beethoven Op.57 (C-Ab) I do so in my head over a "silent" Dominant 7th chord, not the tonic chord! The difference is that I feel like I'm playing it lifting off the seat with infused energy, rather than sinking back into a comfortable chair. For me, the enharmonic modulation to the "B" section of this Impromptu, requies a REAL dominant to propel the music into it, not some sappy Gb major chord to sneak into it sideways. Having said all this, it may only affect those who are in a masterclass audience and getting their idea changed too, but I will continue to "live in my own little world." :D

    The difference is editions (taken as legitimate) only raises the notion that we can take more liberties than we think we can in interpreting the work.
     
  2. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    Hi Eddy,

    There's a lot of good points in what you say. I just disagree with one detail:

    This is a rather "hardcore" attitude! Would you play Chopin's opus 25 no. 11 without pedal too? Certainly you need to be a little discreet with the pedal in the Schubert. It's important to have enough clarity, and it would be a good idea to practice the piece entirely without pedal. But in performance, I wouldn't want it to sound too dry.
     
  3. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Alexander, Just one point of disagreement?! I'm elated! :D To answer your question, no; that is, I would use pedal as I do also on the cascades of the trio section of the Chopin 3rd Scherzo. (But the RH of the Chopin you mention is not foremost, it is background to the LH chords.) I think a fine execution of the Schubert is possible without use of the damper pedal in the "A" section, but can also be accomplished with judicious use. I agree that it is best practiced without pedal, but legato not secco.
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi,

    Personally, I like the Schubert with judicious and careful pedal to assure clarity in light of the continuous neighboring and passing tones in the passage work. Otherwise, I feel it would sound altogether dry. To make a parallel point, back in the early 1990s (Chris calls these my "historic recordings" :lol: ), I recorded Chopin's Etude, Op. 10, No. 6 in E flat minor nearly entirely without pedal, as I believed that doing so was actually the whole point of the etude--playing a lyrical etude with legato touch with the fingers alone. I had too often heard other pianists cast an impressionistic-like haze over it that seemed more like a pall. But... if I were to relearn that etude today, I believe I would play it with pedal, albeit a very controlled pedal. It would be the same if I were to undertake this Schubert impromptu. Just my 2 cents.

    David
     
  5. pianolady

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

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    I agree about the pedaling too and think it should be used, but like we all know - you have to be very careful or else you end up with a blur. But talk about applying the concept of etude to this piece; then not only is practicing playing 'finger legato' one of our goals, but also the goal of practicing the pedaling so that it's just right. It's a double-whammy! (for me, anyway) Boy, I think EVERYBODY should practice this piece and then record it so that you can listen back and see if you played things correctly. I really learned a lot from doing so (thanks to all of you! :) ) from the talk about clear runs, legato, pedaling, getting the triplets/rhythm right, and the list goes on. Most of you do not know this, but a few years ago we had someone submit this piece (and a couple other pieces) but it turned out to be a fake. He/she was not the player - the piece came off a demo-track from a digital piano. We booted him/her right off the site. Anyway, that's when I first heard the piece, liked it right away and knew I wanted to play it too some day.
     
  6. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi Monica,
    first, let me say, I love clear playing (at least in 99% or so of all cases). :wink: And also concerning this piece, it´s the usual way to play the runs clearly, more or less without pedal respective some attentive foot kicks. That doesn´t mean, that an exception can be also convincing. (You know, artistic thinking can´t be hundred percent fix respective "stiff".)
    In your version you use more pedal than I do in my newest version, btw.
    And generally this piece cannot be considered as a real etude, I think that´s evident, at the best as an "etude" with musical respective artistic value like f.ex. the etudes by Chopin.
    In summary you did a quite nice verison here, of course! I have the following positive remarks and suggestions of improvement:
    The crescendos and decrescendos in bar 3-4 respective 11-12 and parallel places could be more audible (I hardly could notice them).
    I don´t understand the accent on beat two in bar 38 in the bass-voice.
    The ff is too weak (bar 68 ff.). Especially in Schuberts music the extreme dynamical contrasts are essential. They are expression of his inner disruption and his suffering, which was immense. They mirror the contrast between suffering respective resignation and sudden respective quasi eruptive attempts to fight against his destiny. Especially the coda is such a moment and should be played as fortissimo as possible (you play it much too softly and elegantly).
    The cresc.-decresc. in bar 85, 89 and parallel places are missing.
    I like your ideas of staccato at some places (which is not in the Henle-Urtext-score, btw), but it´s a nice change for the year and underlines the dancing rhythm of the 3/4-bar, like f.ex. in bar 101, 145, bar 154-162 (here I really love that, though its not in the score!)
    On the other side you don´t play staccato on many places, there is a staccato-point in the score like f.ex. in bar 123, 124. (I also take some few freedoms concerning the staccato, btw).
    The tempo of the reprise (A-section) still is too slow compared with your tempo before.

    It´s a pity in my humble opinion, that you say, it´s the last time you have recorded that piece, Monica. I think, we are in a piano forum here, which sense it is to give us praises and suggestions of improvements, so that we always feel encouraged to work further on the pieces and to bring them up to a certain perfection.
     
  7. pianolady

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

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    Thanks, Andreas. Good that you liked my staccatos. Feel free to use my way in your own playing. Regarding the 'etude' issue - sorry, but I agree with the others that this piece is an etude. But really I've grown bored talking about it, and anyway I have already moved on to learning some new pieces.
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I agree with your point but in this music I would not recommend 'as fortissimo as possible' on a modern grand. On a period instrument you'd probably need to do that to make the desired impact but on a bright powerful Yamaha I think it would be out of place. This was a discussion I had with my teacher about the many places where Grieg wrote ff or even fff, which on a modern grand we should treat more as f and ff respectively.
     
  9. pianolady

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

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    That is a very good point.
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Then of course, if on a modern grand we can make more noise than on a 19th century instrument, there seems no reason why we shouldn't :lol:
     
  11. pianolady

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

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    True. But like you referred to before, maybe earlier composers would not have marked ff or fff if their pianos could go that loud.
     
  12. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    What did I see the other day, that in some countries it is forbidden by law to play fff in concerts?

    I am not sure I would care to go deaf just because Schubert wrote ff when ff in modern notation would be f. Anyway, has anyone defined what ff is? I am yet to see indications such as fff = 100Bb on a score. Then of course, it depends how big the room is, if it is full or empty. In the warehouse where I last tried out a piano p became ff.
     
  13. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    This is an interesting turn of the thread: interpretatin of dynamic indications across centuries. I have found it to be far more interesting to consider the difference in the psychological perception of speed (tempo) across the centuries. Consider that for most of human history the fastest velocity a human could experience was on horseback. Then, the "mind-blowing" train! Consider what it takes to now make a 21st century human (in industrialized modern contries) to think a thing is fast. We speak or bullet-trains and mega Hertz and giga Hertz tera Hertz frequencies, and we know the speed of light, and of escape velocity and "plain-old" supersonic flight. And then there is the rapidity that our minds have grown accustomed to with images on TV and movies, etc. Then a musician sees a score that says "Presto," like in the C minor prelude of Bach's WTK Bk.1, and what do we do? We bring our "warp-speed" 21st century mentality to a work of a time when horseback was the fastest human experience. Food for thought?
     
  14. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Indeed, Eddy, indeed. Maybe this is why I feel so at unease leastening to pieces I know that I simply cannot follow because of speed and all the lovely harmonies that get lost when one goes over them so fast that wrong notes could be played in their place and no one notices.

    The analogy with dynamics is the same. Would Schubert ever have considered that ff is so loud his ears would buzz afterwards? Could he even consider such a level of noise to be possible or even desirable?

    And then consider an ff that is not actually loud, but intense. An ff that is not really much louder than mf but is somehow stronger. I remember when I took lessons this is what the teacher spoke about. She also used to say that before any crescendo you need to decrease volume, so that you seem to grow much louder than you actually do. Like this:

    mp < ff

    played

    mp - p < f
     
  15. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    All that comparisons between historical instruments and pianos of today concerning the loudness respective dynamic range is nice and well, but all these prescriptions like ff and fff etc. are relative, so for me it´s just a matter of feeling and taste, of course. In every case from my view Monica plays the Coda much too silent, even for a modern grand-piano...

    And really, it generally is musically incompetent to consider this Impromptu as an "etude" (in the sense of a finger excercise), because it definitively is an Impromptu and no etude, so it can´t be meant by Schubert as such. (That´s very simple, isn´t it?!)
     
  16. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Andreas, I couldn't disagree more! First let me make clear that I never said it was "an exercise," rather "an Etude". An exercise is not a study, it is simply an exercise. Also, since it was my admittedly controversial idea to begin with, I will say that under no uncertain terms am I musically incompetent - I have had too much professional training to allow for that. I won't even begin to justify that scale work is found in Uber-abundance in etudes (of both kinds: the less artistic (Kohler, Czerny, etc.) and the more artistic (Chopin, Henselt, Liszt, etc.)). So I will address other items:

    1. the climbing triplet figure of bars 3-4: Well, if anyone had first studied exercises nos. 3 and 4 of the 3rd section (Exercises based upon the Chromatic Scale) of "The Complete School of Technique for the Piano" by Isidor Philipp, they already would have mastered these type passages.
    2. A similar study to that indicated above is found in Pischna's 60 Technical Studies at exercise no 18.
    3. The Impromptu bears great resemblence to Moscheles Op. 70 (24 Studies for the Piano) No.1
    4. The Impromptu bears great resemblence to Moszkowski, Op.72 (15 Etudes de Virtuosite) No.6
    5. MacDowell's Twelve Virtuoso Studies Op.46, has etude no. 11 titled "Impromptu" and has frequent RH work that is not too dissimilar from the Schubert.
    6. While we're at it, look at the enormous similarity of the 3rd Impromptu with Czerny Op.299, No. 27!

    I wonder if your opinion of "Etude" is a very lowly form that struggles to be musically respectable. I don't share that view. I assure you that I am not on a crusade to "retitle" the 2nd Impromptu as an etude, however, I very much did intend to bring to the discussion a justified view that I believe has bearing on the performance of the work. In fact, this is precisely the sort of thing that one might hear at a masterclass.
    Respectfully,
    Eddy
     
  17. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Absolutely (maybe not any and every, but certainly many). This is a standard "trick of the trade."
     
  18. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    Hello Monica,

    I just started working on the entire Op.90 set--what a gorgeous music (of course, as most of Schubert) and such a pleasure to play!

    I listen to your recording and enjoyed it. If I may take a liberty to give you a couple of little suggestions. First, I'd lighten up the beginning even more and instead of "working with fingers" treat it more as "caressing". I'd also paid very special attention to harmonic fillings in LH (B flat on the second bit, followed by the chords). Very often they stick out, covering interaction of the melodic line of the bass (pay more attention to that one, instead), and "creek flow" in the RH. I think such a simple thing will give you much more control, as subconsciously it won't take your attention (and mine, as a listener) to it.

    Best, M
     
  19. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    I see a little difference comparing a Schubert-etude with a

    If we're going to keep flogging this dead horse, then let me point out that in the other thread Andreas said:
    (the 13th post in the thread; I'm not sure how to make a link to a specific post).

    I agree with this comment. And I think it reinforces the point that others are trying to make: that it's no good trying to be dogmatic about what this word "etude" means.
     
  20. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    STOP THE PRESSES! STOP THE PRESSES! Ooo, I think I found some very interesting goodies on the Impromptu No. 2 "etude" issue.

    From John Gillespie's Five Centuries of Keyboard Music, c. 1965 by Wadsworth Publishing (available as a Dover Reprint), page 204, "Impromptu Op.90, No.2, in E-Flat Major is like a study piece." [emphasis added] But much better than that is what follows.

    From Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 3rd edition (the only one I have in my house), s.v. Impromptu: "... two sets of pieces by Schubert known as impromptus -- op.90, Nos. 1 to 4, and op.142 Nos. 1 to 4, mostly variations -- were, the first certainly and the second propbably, not so titled by him. The autograph of the first exists. It has no date, and no title to either of the pieces, the word 'Impromptu' having been added by the publishers, the Haslingers, one of whom also took upon himself to change the key of the third piece from Gb to G...." [emphasis added] Fascinating! I wonder if any on PS have a subscription to the on-line Grove's, or perhaps another more recent edition in their home?
     

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