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 Post subject: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:15 am 
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My posting here of the very lyrical No. 3, “Nocturne” in F# completes the Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12 of the Russian late romanticist Georgy Catoire published in 1901. The piece opens with a lovely introduction featuring counterpoint and interesting harmonies. As the music unfolds it takes on a Chopinesque sound, although Chopin was not a major influence on Catoire. Half way through the piece, the writing changes with the left hand taking the melody, sometimes suggestive of Russian bell motifs, while the right hand plays a difficult arpeggiated accompaniment. All of this leads to an extended coda involving a gorgeous interplay between the hands locked in polyrhythms, ending in a final flight of fancy. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

I must apologize for a few slips causing some wrong notes. I find this piece to be very, very treacherous. Right now I'm feeling that I need a respite from it. While writing this, I nearly called the piece a "bear"; but I had a black bear at my kitchen door a just few nights ago, and the bear and I struck up an instant friendship, so that metaphor wouldn't have worked well. :lol:

Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid raised on the singer prop.
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Mics: Matched pair of Earthworks TC20 small diaphragm, omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

Comments welcome!

Catoire - Nocturne, Op. 12, No. 3 (5:10)

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Last edited by Rachfan on Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:49 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
I must apologize for a few slips causing some wrong notes.

Haha yes, blessed are the slips that dont' cause a wrong note :lol:

I did not hear any slips actually, but I don't know the piece. Convincing and authoritative playing once more. The only nag
I have is the sometimes over-generous pedal usage. In music so dense and chromatical, one must take care with that
so as not to create a wash of sound.

I've put this one up to complete your set. Congrats to a job well done !
As you have lived with this set for so long, maybe you can write some page content about it ?

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:02 pm 
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Chris wrote:
Haha yes, blessed are the slips that dont' cause a wrong note :lol:

:lol: :lol: But aren't there also some that cause only weak notes?
Quote:
The only nag I have is the sometimes over-generous pedal usage. In music so dense and chromatical, one must take care with that
so as not to create a wash of sound.

I agree to Chris' observation. Perhaps did the composer write something about such pedalings?

David, congrats on this wonderful CS! I went to the main site to listen to this op.12 at a whole, and completely enjoyed it presented through your beautiful and convincing playing.

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:55 pm 
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Hi Chris,

That's the big advantage of playing unknown music--listeners don't catch the wrong notes unless they're watching the score. But I definitely know where the skeletons are buried in this recording. :lol:

When I first examined this score away from the piano, it looked fairly straightforward to me. Once I got into the piece, the second half of the piece with the right hand arpeggiated figuration that comes out of the octave at times was very, very Brahmsian. I thought it would drive me mad. So learning it took longer, as I had greatly underestimated this work!

I think the reason the pedal got a bit heavy in places is that I was on the umpteenth "take" by then and my pedaling was getting lazier as the grueling recording session dragged on. It's a fair criticism. This nocturne is quite atmospheric which lends itself to some washes of sound, but even at that, I agree I should have been more careful overall.

I might be able to write a content page for Op. 12--sort of like "program notes"? How long would it need to be? Are there any examples in the archive that I could look at?

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Hi Hye-Jin,

I'm glad you enjoyed listening to Catoire's entire Op. 12. You probably noticed that Op. 17 and Op. 24 are in the archive as well. You'd probably enjoy those too, as they are very different.

Once in a while Catoire made a "Ped." notation in a score, but never indicated the duration of the pedal, leaving it to the discretion of the pianist. Catoire was a professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory. I once read that his books and articles on composition are still used by Russian students today. I don't know if he devoted any time to the subject of composing for piano in his writings, and whether or not he treated the subject of pedaling therein. Those scholarly writings are all n Russian, and have probably not been translated into other languages.

Thanks for listening and commenting!

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:22 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
That's the big advantage of playing unknown music--listeners don't catch the wrong notes unless they're watching the score.

Haha yes, tell me about it :D Even with the score, not many people would spot a lone wrong note in a piece they don't know.

Rachfan wrote:
I might be able to write a content page for Op. 12--sort of like "program notes"? How long would it need to be? Are there any examples in the archive that I could look at?

There are no hard rules except that I don't like long essays. It's always nice when some text fills out the space to the left of the image - if there is one (maybe we'll find one yet ?). I'm sure there are examples to be found of the 'right' size as well as of multi-page prolixity :wink: Whatever you do, don't make the user scroll, is my device.

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:21 pm 
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Hi Chris,

I did do a good biography and picture of Catoire when I submitted my first Catoire recording which is posted when one clicks on his name. As I looked through the archive, the page formatted for the bio was the only instance where I could find "space to the left of the image". So am off the hook?

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:39 am 
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I must admit that even though I followed the recording with the score, I still didn't spot anything particularly grating in the way of wrong notes. There are many things I like about this; some fine pianissimo touches and in particular I thought you paid considerable attention to ensuring that both the left and right hand lines were brought to the listener's attention. Some critics frown on left-before-right mannerisms, but here you used it effectively in putting the lines across. The one criticism I would have is that in the middle section with the broken rh hand passagework, as the section progresses and increases in volume, the rh becomes a little too prominent, when I suspect it should be background and the lh foreground (with the exception of the rh tenuti, or where there is a line running across both hands e.g. third page, end of fourth line.)

Overall however, congratulations on completing the set and a worthwhile project well done.

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:16 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

I'm glad you listened and liked the performance overall, and thanks for your helpful comments. I have to say, despite the many Catoire pieces I've played, this one was nearly my nemesis! From an early examination of the score, I never expected that. And the beast lies in that very section with the right hand broken chords that you discussed. I tried several practice techniques on it, and it yielded ever so begrudgingly. The broken chords are not completely consistent in pattern, so are harder to ingrain in the brain. Too, like Brahms' writing, they occasionally come out of the octave to an interval of a 10th, necessitating hand shifts. Worse yet, the thumb plays a crucial role in landing correctly to execute these enchanting but also demanding figures. Thus, one has to anticipate positioning the thumb to execute on time. Many pianists (like me) tend to have "lazy thumb syndrome", so that became a difficult challenge. I believe that I was so intent on playing the taxing, arpeggiated right hand part correctly, I did not give as much attention to the left hand as I had given it earlier. If I were to ever revisit the piece, I would certainly work more on that facet. It is a lovely piece, and I'm glad I finally succeeded with it to complete the set.

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:53 pm 
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hi, David!

you're right! I can't say much because I don't know Catoire's pieces well. hehe
but it's a nice job! the music starts like a kind of Scriabin + Szymanowski, then it becomes "Rachmaninovian". and you achieve a very nice sonority at 2'30.

I didn't understand the bear thing... but nowadays I feel like acquiring a bear like this to put here at home:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAgllXbUT54

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:45 pm 
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Hi Felipe,

Yes, this nocturne has a beautiful late romantic sound to it, as evidenced the composers you mention in your post. Thanks for listening!

Here in the U.S., if something is difficult to do, we sometimes exclaim "It's a bear!" The U.S. does have Grizzly Bears in the states in the northwest and Alaska. Here in the eastern U.S. we have Black Bears. I watched the video you attached. That bear snores! :lol: It's a good thing the home owner didn't try to rouse the bear, as it wouldn't have taken it lying down ha-ha!

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:05 pm 
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Hi David,
for me it is a valuable experience to meet the Quatre Morceaux by Catoire played completely by you. I think, also this last recording of number 3 is a musically very ripe and empathetique interpretation. You manage the passages, which are rhythmically not so easy, very well and sensitive, also the dynamic nuances seem very elaborated to me. And the end is a master-work of a well-sensed close. So, have my congratulations to this final piece of a great complete recording!
I was happy to see the link to your interpretations below the score on imslp, by the way. Could you post them there yourself?

P.S. to your bear-related remarks: I would be glad, if you will not be eaten by a bear one day. Americans truely seem to live dangerously, isn´t it?! :shock: Here in Germany we only have wild boars in the forests sometimes. One day I walked in a nearby forest four wild boars raced directly into my direction. But when they arrived shortly before me, they recognized me, frigthened and very suddenly hit the road. Seemed, that it wasn´t a nice view for them. :lol: I´m not so sure, if I would have such a frightening effect on a wild bear. Probably I better stay in german forests. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:25 am 
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Hi Andreas,

Thank you so much for your kind words about the "Nocturne" and the Quartre Morceaux in general! I very much appreciate that.

I'm certainly glad I could complete this set of Op. 12, adding it to the complete sets of Opp. 17 and 24. It's very hard for me to choose the best one, as they are all wonderful music for the piano. I would have to confess though that I am most partial to the Chants du crepuscule, Op. 24. They are very atmospheric, and I felt I could really do my best with those pieces. Probably at some point I'll return to Catoire, although not necessarily with the idea of doing more full sets. Rather, I might draw selections that most appeal to me from other opuses. Although I recorded 12 pieces in all, I only made a dent in Catoire's oeuvre. I will say though that every time I played a piece by this wonderful yet all-but-forgotten composer, I felt very honored to do so.

I don't know how my recordings became linked to the IMLSP. Perhaps they have an arrangement with Piano Society to do such links? It's a mystery to me. It could be that many members here are linked in this way. I very much doubt that I'm the only one.

Wild animals seem to like me. In our yard and woods, during the daytime we have a large gang of gray squirrels, a family of red squirrels, some chipmunks, and a pair of ravens. They're all very friendly. In the evening we have two families of friendly raccoons and a pair of skunks. I can go out in the yard with them all, as they're very used to me. Once in awhile we get a red fox or a less common gray fox or even a fisher. Like the bear, we don't encourage those particular animals, as they're predators.

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:16 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
I don't know how my recordings became linked to the IMLSP. Perhaps they have an arrangement with Piano Society to do such links? It's a mystery to me. It could be that many members here are linked in this way. I very much doubt that I'm the only one.

No you're not, we do indeed have such an agreement with them. Not sure of the details, Robert arranged that with Feldmahler.

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:34 pm 
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It's as I suspected. That probably doesn't prove I'm clairvoyant though. :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:27 pm 
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Congratulations on completing the set, David. Your playing is descriptive and meaningful. You have a patience with phrases and details which helps reveal certain aspects of the musical text which in turn, you obviously have studied thoroughly. Very musical view of things and very clear but highly personal ideas you lay down.
Now I just remain curious what you'll be occupied with next.


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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:56 pm 
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David, congratulations also from me for nailing down your third Catoire set.

While listening to this Nocturne some thoughts spring to mind. First, I want again to learn something by Catoire! :lol:
Secondly, I noticed details that once more make me admire your musicality. In particular, the way you shape the dynamics at the beginning of the first three phrases, the three (poco) crescendo always different and progressively more expansive -and it's so convincing and fits the structure, the first phrase is an introduction, the second one is sort of a false start, in fact the Nocturne actually starts at bar 10. Finally, you do know how to make your Baldwin sing :!:

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:58 pm 
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Hi Pantelis,

Thanks for those congrats! I am relieved, as there were some frustrating moments when I had doubts about being able to complete Op. 12. I'm glad it ended well.

Yes, I do try to be cognizant of details. Always, before taking a score to the piano, I sit with it at my desk first to analysis the piece, specifically looking for details that will affect musicality. I also consider the techniques necessary to realize those details. It was my second teacher who brought my attention to details to a higher level, and I'm ever grateful to him for that. I believe that a successful performance always lies in those details and how they are melded into the musical line to form the whole. There's no question that it's a huge part of musicianship for all of us who play the piano.

Because we have no surviving performance practices of Catoire's works, I always try to go beyond the notation on the page and search for him between the lines of the music. And yes, sometimes I allow my own personality to add some individuality to an interpretation and rendition of any of these pieces. One listener noticed, for example, that I play the "misterioso" section of the "Etude-fantastique" differently than Koji Attwood, or that I give more prominence to some bass harmonies in this "Nocturne" than Marc Hamelin. But that's a good thing! It demonstrates that without known performance practices, these wonderful works can be interpreted in different ways.

Thanks, Pantelis, for listening and you comments too!

David

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 Post subject: Re: G. Catoire, Quatre Morceaux, Op. 12, No. 3, "Nocturne"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:33 pm 
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Hi Alfonso,

Thanks for your kind words! The introduction to the "Nocturne" is interesting too because it reappears again in the piece, instead of simply making its opening statement and retiring. This piece, I think, was the most difficult one I undertook considering all three opuses. Sometimes when I was practicing, I wasn't sure if I'd own it or it would own me. :lol: There are some things I could still improve upon, but for the moment at least, it's a fairly good rendition.

It's true that the Baldwin piano has a slightly faster tone decay than the NY Steinway (but not as notorious as found in the Yamaha). That automatically makes the Baldwin slightly more percussive than the Steinway. So it's a bit more work to make the Baldwin "sing". Once you really come to know the instrument though, shaping the phrases and nuances comes much more easily.

Thanks for listening, and I'm glad you enjoyed the piece and my playing.

David

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