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 Post subject: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Hello everybody,

The attached recording was made at a recital I played yesterday evening (thus missing our glorious victory at the ESC). It was a private recital, in German we say "Hauskonzert".

This recording is not intended for the site as I believe there must be quite a few recordings of this piece. I'll be recording the whole sonata later on this year. I did play the whole work last night though and the recordings of movements two and three are not too shabby at all but I'd rather keep them to myself.

I would be grateful for any comments and suggestions.

Thank you.

Daniel


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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 5:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
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Nice, very Adagio and very Sostenuto :)
The kid calling for his mama is a nice touch.
If I have any critique it is that you could be more careful with the pedal. In some places you don't seem
to change it, creating an ungainly blur.

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Chris Breemer


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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 8:01 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:53 pm
Posts: 467
Location: France
Nice and very adagio: I agree with Chris. Very sostento? Not so much... There are some rushes here and there in the RH three notes patterns that you should avoid. The sound is a bit distant like I would listening in a contiguous room. I like it because it's rather natural and suitable to the mood of this movement but it might not work so good for the two other movements.
You might be interested in the talk about this sonata by Andrea Schiff from his serie of concerts in London at Wigmore Hall. The recording was freely available from The Guardian site. He points out that Beethoven noted 'alla breve', which means that the time unit is the second, not the quarter. Then adagio could be much faster than your tempo. However I do not think that you are wrong with this tempo. Anyway I was not convinced by the interpretation From A. Schiff. It's certainly more difficult to keep the the attention of the audience at your tempo, which is the one of my preferred version played by Radu Lupu. But I like also the much faster one from Wilhelm Kempff.

About the pedal, Beethoven noted that it shall be put on (senza sordina) during all the movement, which may be impossible with a modern piano. But some harmonic strangeness (is it English ?) might be suitable with respect to the intent from the composer...


Last edited by Didier on Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 9:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Thank you, Chris and Didier, for your comments.

I played this on an upright piano, which was sort of ok, and the microphone was at the other end of the room, hence the "distant sound".

The pedalling is a bit sloppy, I agree. However, I was listening to a radio interview with Ronald Brautigam a while ago. He said that in Beetoven's day the complete piece would have been played with pedal - senza sordini. The instruments in Beethoven's day had considerably less sustain than our instrumets.

As for the uneven triplets (most of the time in the RH), I tried to give them a bit rubato every now and then, which may come across as rushed. I'm not sure how much agogics are appropriate here. This is obviously still work in progress...

Anyway, thanks again for your comments and suggestions. You've been very helpful.

Cheers

Daniel


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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 1995
Location: U.S.A.
Hi Daniel,

I really like much of your performance of this movement of 27/2. You are always attentive to dynamics, and as you taper off a phrase, in beginning the next one you match that dynamic which keeps the entire line seamless. It shows thoughtfulness of execution.

On pedaling, I notice that in the Henle edition, they interpret the "Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino" as "The whole piece must be played very delicately with pedal." So I believe you've taken the right approach. Yes, there are a couple of blurs in there, but you know where they are, so a minor point.

The tempo, adagio sostenuto, is somewhat slow to be sure. Right now you're playing it around MM = 46. Of course, in testing a tempo against the metronome, there are no firm rules dictating the boundary, for example, between adagio and lento, so we pianists appreciate having some leeway in the matter. I do sense though that you're probably playing the piece more toward lento at the moment, making it a bit funereal. So I would suggest that you consider increasing the tempo just a notch or two, which would also give it more of a sense of free flow.

I believe that the sostenuto (sustaining the tone) mostly pertains to the upper melodic voice. Whenever that is being "sung", the triplets in my opinion assume more the role of accompaniment, thus being more subdued. So I see the upper voice as foreground and the ever-present triplets as background. When they are the only point of interest, they can take on slightly more prominence--very subtle.

When playing this piece as I kid, the edition I used indicated common time as the time signature (but I guess that volume was misplaced over the years.) So when I just now opened Henle, I was somewhat put off by the alla breve or cut time signature suggesting 2/2! It would seem to me that it would work against the adagio marking. But a bit of research informed me that in the 18th century, the brevis was actually a double whole note, not the customary whole note we see in notation today, so with that explanation it makes sense.

As you know, Beethoven (with Schubert) was a transitional composer straddling the eras of Viennese Classicism and Romanticism. I'm mindful that 27/2 falls into Beethoven's first (early) period--but not by much. Afterward came Op. 28, "Pastorale" and then then it was on to the second (middle) period. So 27/2 is certainly not in the Haydnesque vogue of Beethoven's really early sonatas. The composer's idiom, oriented to the future, was already evolving quite quickly, as evidenced by the mood of "Moonlight". So my only complaint about your rubato is that I believe you could do even more of it, as long as it's in good taste. The piece cannot be played effectively if the triples are executed in a rigid, uniform manner at all times. It's the rubato that provides the slightly romantic touch and nuances to create the mood.

I guess that is all I have to offer.

Again, nice playing!

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:08 am 
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Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 8:48 am
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Location: New York
Nice interpretation and good tempo. You set a nice mood. I teach this quite a bit, especially to my adult students. Try playing the triplet figures more subdued since this is the accompaniment for the piece while you pay special attention to bringing out the outer, melody notes, the line of the piece. In the last few lines of the piece, try keeping the right hand very quiet while you bring out the "tolling bell" in the left hand.

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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:44 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:53 pm
Posts: 467
Location: France
Here attached the beginning of the talk of A. Schiff that I mentioned in my previous post.


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 Post subject: Re: Feedback requested: Beethoven, op 27/2, 1st mvt.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 5:18 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Thank you all for your feedback - this is much appreciated. It also shows that there are many different ways of approaching this Adagio sostenuto and, although there are repertoire guides that say "Moonlight" has been played to death, it still keeps us busy.


@Didier: Thanks for Schiff, I shall give it a listen later onm today.

@Rachfan: Many thanks for the detailed reply. Having listened to the recording again, I agree that it could do with a bit more flow. I shall also try more rubato and incrase the tempo a tad, as you suggested.

As to the classification of this sonata as early period, I think it is usually classified as the beginning of Beethoven's middle period (starting with op 26). In his development it seems Beethoven was a bit further in his piano music than in his orchestra music. Op 27/2 was at the time of the first and second symphonies, which are still pretty much in the style of the Viennese classics.

@hzemel: The tolling bell at the end needs to come out better, I agree. I also think that this piece of about mourning.

There is, by the way, a lovely story that made its rounds in Bonn, Germany (about fifteen kilometres from where I live) in the second half of the 19th century and was quite a popular motif for drawings and postcards until the early 20th century.

One evening Beethoven was walking through Bonn and, as he was passing a house near the "Koblenzer Tor", he heard somebody play his music on a piano. He went into the house and found a blind girl playing the piano. Moved by her fate, he sat down at the piano and started to improvise. The moon was shining through a window and all of a sudden it seemed to Beethoven that the moonlight and the music started to blend. He got up, rushed home and wrote down the "Moonlight sonata".

This is, of course, a legend. Op. 27/2 was composed about nine years after Beethoven left Bonn for good. But there are still quite a lot of different prints showing Beethoven with the blind girl (cf attachment)

Thought I'd share this with you.

Thanks again for your comments. I shall soon-ish record and post the whole sonata properly.
Cheers everyone!
Attachment:
Beethoven_and_the_blind_girl.jpg
Beethoven_and_the_blind_girl.jpg [ 102.3 KiB | Viewed 669 times ]


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