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 Post subject: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:33 pm 
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Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951), a Russian Late Romantic composer, composed his “Sonata-Elegia”, Op. 11, No. 2 between 1904-1908 as part of a triad of sonatas which can be played as a set or individually. The “Sonata-Elegia” is written in one movement in sonata-allegro form.

The preceding Sonata, Op. 11, No. 1 carries a dedication to the memory of Andrei Bratenshi, which applies to the entire triad. Medtner’s wife was Anna Bratenskaya, thus Andrei Bratenshi was a close family member.

When we think of an elegy--Rachmaninoff's "Elegy" from Op. 3, for example—it usually creates a mournful or even funereal mood. However, Medtner was an inveterate storyteller. Once, upon hearing Medtner play one of his “Fairy Tales”, Rachmaninoff exclaimed, “Nobody can tell a story like Nikolai!” As I was preparing this sonata, I came to the realization that the piece is not so much an elegy as it is a musical eulogy giving us glimpses into the life and times of Bratenshi. And what a remarkable eulogy it is! It contains moments of somberness, romance, pensiveness, nostalgia, anguish, and even jubilation.

Medtner's music strikes me as being more in the Germanic than the Russian tradition of pianism, as Medtner considered himself a student of Beethoven. His musical line is often embedded in a thick texture. At some moments I thinned it a little through melodic voicing, but at other times allowed the more daring harmonies to be more robust.

Do pay attention to the first six melodic notes spread over the first two measures of the introduction, as they form the “germ motif” for the sonata.

Comments welcome.

Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”)
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Microphones: Earthworks TC20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration


Medtner - Sonata-Elegia Op.11, No. 2

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Last edited by Rachfan on Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:26 am, edited 12 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:16 am 
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I just knew it would be a matter of time before you turned your attention to Medtner :D
This is an original choice, one hardly ever hears this triad of sonatas. I know them well though I have not
played them for quite some years. IIRC the middle one is the 'easiest', insofar as anything is ever easy with Medtner.
All three are quite a handful (though a smaller handful than the large-scale sonatas) and I'll certainly excuse you for
missing a few notes. For a non-professional to play this repertoire is a great achievement. I plan to listen tonight and give some feedback. Medtner rulez 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:20 pm 
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Hi David,
I don't know this piece and don't have the score, so I can't offer anything real useful. It does sound like it's not an easy piece and you played it well! There are those page turns, though. You know how I love that... :lol: . Don't worry, I'm not expecting you to memorize something like this, but maybe you can at least eliminate some of them by making copies - like the very first page turn came up so soon - you can copy that first page and have it up next to the book...things like that. Also, I don't think I heard any reverb. Did you apply any? To me, a little would sound nice. Just my opinion, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:07 pm 
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Oh yes, I meant to say this sounds rather dry, not quite the opulent Medtner sound. Certainly not in the sparsely written beginning where some pedal could have helped.
And yes these page turns are really obnoxious... And does your bench creak as well when you do it ? When are you going to start editing David ? :P I'd prefer a cut (even if it's not a good one) to a laborious and noisome page turn.
Also, while the Baldwin bass is warm and full, the treble is a little sour here, and could maybe benefit from a tuning.

I listened without score. It's a bit of a struggle in places, but you come out chin up, I give you that. I believe the coda should go much faster but that's easier said than done. I will listen with score tonight and give some more detailed comments (though I fear that listing all the booboos is not an option :( )

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:18 pm 
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Hi Monica,

Thanks for listening, and thanks too for your compliment! This was my first Medtner piece, so it posed quite a challenge. Medtner's very complex idiom is more in the German than the Russian tradition, which has never been my forte to be honest. Medtner also loves double-note passages. By the time I reached the coda, my hands were tired from pushing through the thick textures of his writing. It was a trip! I wish I could have been more accurate, but am prone to taking risks which sometimes work better than at other times. :oops:

Thanks for the suggestion on that first page turn. I can no longer memorize what I had for lunch, never mind a music score. :lol: In all of the turns, I was able to continue playing through them, but could not prevent the rustling paper sound unfortunately. As for reverb, I've never taken a shine to that echo effect, even when on a low setting. I really prefer the pure sound of the piano and the fidelity of my recording equipment. So I adhere to authenticity, warts and all. Plus I think most people understand that these are room, not recital hall, recordings. But that's just me and my point of view.

Thanks again. :)

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:44 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Yes, at the urgings of you and some of the other members, I finally did a Medtner piece. Raise the flag! :)

I purposely used very little pedal in the introduction. In my mind that's the moment when Medtner peers into Bratenshi's coffin, so I wanted a very stark effect there. After Medtner's dizzying shock followed by his fond memories of his relative and good friend, I try to play the sonata in a more lush and rhapsodic manner.

Nope, I'm not going to edit my room recordings, although my two edit programs are starting to rust and feel neglected. Call me incorrigible, but authenticity rules! :lol:

I have a Jansen bench and keep the bolts tightened, but sometimes it does squeak. I think it's the huge fluctuations of humidity and dryness that we have in this climate. Two days ago the relative outdoor humidity was 90, yesterday it was 46, and today it's 82.

As to the treble, the piano was just tuned last week. It was sharp, but we decided to keep it sharp and tune it in place. Once fall starts, pianos tend to go flat here.

One thing I tried to do for this musical eulogy, as I call it, is to make the piano sing it, not unlike a long Wagnerian aria. If I achieved nothing else, I believe I accomplished that to my own satisfaction.

Looking forward to your comments. I do know where the skeleton of every wrong note is buried. The irony is that in some outtakes they were correct, but other problems cropped up instead. Frustrating! I don't think it's a matter of practicing. Instead it's trying to cope with the complexities in the moment of performance, including risk taking. I couldn't produce a flawless play-through. Others would have been sorely tempted with editing to cut and paste the sections to produce an improved overall recording. But... I'd rather stick with the real thing. Today's professional CDs are often more the product of the recording engineer than the artist, which leads to sterile, plain vanilla recordings including the cookie cutter renditions that one hears at competitions and recitals. Individuality is on the wane it seems. These days they all sound alike.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:14 pm 
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I listened with score now, and have some suggestions. I generally admire your idiomatic and individual way with this. I'd do things differently but your choices are always artistic and convincing. There are are many nice things, but I hope I can persuade you to have another go at this and clear up some things that aren't right. I listed those that seemed most important, while not picking on each and every little thing. I'll give timings because my score doesn't have bar numbers.

The run ending the introduction is impassioned but rather fumbled. The page turn after that is not too bad.
1:00 - 1:05 Wrong rhythm (this should be 2 against three)
1:19 The upward run is too fast and unclear
1:25 - 1:26 Why change from f natural to f sharp ?
1:30 Wrong chord - missing note - I miss the molto allargando and concluding fermata
1:31 - 1:47 This passage really needs more work. Some notes are missing, impacting the rhythm
1:48 Why this huge pause
2:35 This bar is one eight too short
2:41 The page turn not too bad but the pause could have easily been cut out
3:09 - 3:20 This passage doesn't quite hang together. Too many notes missing, impacting rhythm
3:25 - 3:28 F sharp should be f natural
3:38 You seem to collapse instead of playing rinforzando
4:17 - 4:21 Here are too many wrong notes, the closing chord is wrong - and that page turn !!!
5:21 A chord is left out, impacting the rhythm
5:58 - 6:02 Hmmmmm.... this needs more work really...
6:09 This is funny... you hurry thought that fermata, play the first chord of the coda (rather dubiously), then take your time
for the page turn ! The fermata gives you all the time in the world to do it silently, if only you think ahead a little.

The coda, while hardly Allegro molto, does actually contain your best moments I think. It seems to work well at a slower speed. Also a great many fumbles throughout these two pages, especially the last, but you manage to convince all the same.

I'm sorry to be a little nitpicky here David. But I am sure you can do much better with this one if you give it some more careful practice. So, no editing for you.... I respect that. Still, you should do something about the page turns somehow. Be sure we'll keep nagging you about it :D

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:50 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for that list of errata. It's a help, and I appreciate your time in listening with the score.

Regarding the run after the introduction, I do wish it could be better, but I think that the arthritis robs me of dexterity that I once possessed. I've tried practicing the run in rhythms which helps, but sometimes I can play it fairly well, and other times not. Seems that I can't be consistent with it.

I disagree with your point at 3:25 noting that the F# should be a natural. I'm reading from the Dover Edition based on the Soviet Union edition of 1959-1963 in four volumes. In the RH, according to this edition on page 64, the hand starts in the bass clef where there is an accidental F#, and as the hand then moves into the treble clef Medtner gives the obligatory F# accidental again due to that clef change, as accidentals, of course, operate independently within their own clefs. In the final 16th chord in that measure, there is no choice but to continue with the F# in the D 7th first inversion chord forming the slur with the G-B double-notes across the bar line, as Medtner placed no natural on the F to mitigate it. When I first starting practicing the piece, I too at first played it as an F natural, but later in the process, the preceding F# caught my eye causing me to stop and study it for a moment, and I decided then that F# was the proper note there, wrote it into the score, and played it accordingly.

I'm certainly willing to invest more time with this piece to try to incorporate these improvements, and will submit another recording. If that's still insufficient, then I think we'll need to delete it from the site so I can move on to other repertoire where I can be more successful. Although Medtner was Russian born, he was of German heritage and and was a great admirer of Beethoven, certainly an influence on his composing. I seem to have a much greater affinity to other Russian and French music. It's been interesting and challenging though. :)

Thanks again.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:36 am 
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I didn't realize you were suffering from arthritis :shock: That would make some of these pages a bitch, indeed.
It's too easy to say 'don't give in to that', you surely have to make at least some allowances. Maybe taking that run a bit more relaxed would help. Or, concentrate to get the end of it right. My teacher once told me it doesn't matter so much if you screw up a run, as long as you end it correctly.

Not sure about the Dover edition. I have the original Jurgenson score, and am referring to the last two beats of the 3rd measure in attached image. I don't see any F-shaps anywhere near. But this is not a big deal.

I'm sure when you give this another go it will be much much better, and you will be much more satisfied with it. As amateurs we can hardly hope to reach note perfection in works like this so don't worry about it not being good enough.

But you do make life awfully hard on yourself by insisting on one take without any cuts..... It's a noble goal but just so impractical. I don't think the artistic quality would suffer if you cut out a page turn or nasty flub, or combine the best of 2 takes provided that they match well.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:55 pm 
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Hi Chris,

I was working on that run in my sleep last night! The osteoarthritis isn't too bad, but just enough to cause a hint of stiffness sufficient to interfere with nibble execution sometimes. I hate aging! :evil: (The arthritis is worst in my neck actually where about 10 years ago I had an excruciating pinched nerve which made some of my LH fingers go numb although I played the piano that way :lol: . I take glucosamine which I believe helps considerably.

OK, from the score fragment I see where you're looking now. The irony: When I first started practicing this piece, I played that F as F#, but later discovered my error and penciled in a large natural sign there. But evidently the F# habit resurfaced to haunt me in making the recording. That's why the books suggest slow practice and hesitating to play any notes while learning until you're absolutely sure they're the right ones. Otherwise, wrong notes in practice can quickly become habit, and undoing a habit is much more difficult than forming it in the first place. And chances are, it will reemerge during a performance or recording. So yes, I definitely got stung there! :oops:

I should have another recording in a couple of weeks, I hope.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:26 pm 
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Hi David,
I have listened to your performance with great pleasure, because this a rendition with a convincing artistic concept (as we are used by you). I like how you work out all the harmonic "special points" respective highpoints. I think, that´s a typical feature of that piece, that appears a clear major or minor chord after a long "Wagnerian" chromatic phrase. And all that interesting aspects of phrasing you seem to feel very well while playing. I´m sorry to hear about your arthritis, David, but you still play quite well with it.
Of course, that Medtner-piece is a big challenge, but mentally you are not so far from it as you want to make us believe above. I think, you really have some good affinity to it.
Thank you for posting that interesting and rarely heard sonata!

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:01 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

Thanks so much for listening! Other than our moderators, you're the first. I was trying to figure out whether it was my playing, or Medtner, or both. Then it dawned on me that it might be the back-to-school time factor during which activity seems to drop off every year.

Anyway, I'm delighted that you found some things to like in my recording. I did put much effort into the treatment of harmonies and the phrasing, so am glad you noticed it while listening.

The idiom of this piece is very Germanic, and to be candid, I've never been as good at playing the Germanic piano literature as the Russian and French repertoire. Medtner's textures become quite thick at times which is as taxing as some of Schumann's works. The sonata is a difficult piece to play well, and for the amateur pianist like myself, it's definitely a "stretch".

Regarding Medtner's ouevre, I searched for quite awhile to find a piece that has great beauty to it. The "Sonata-Elegia" fit that requirement nicely, and yes, I admit to having an affinity to it, as it actually has melodies in it! There are many Medtner pieces that turn me off, however, striking me as being dry, detached, lacking in "purple patches" of beauty, and sounding rather dreary. Pieces like his "Sonata-Reminiscenza" or the "Sonata-Tragica", although seemingly very popular, leave me completely cold. Medtner's music seems more abstruse. He also (like Mendelssohn) favors faster tempi, while I tend to be better playing the more lyrical tempi. A composer's piece has to engage and inspire me before I'll commit to it. Life is too short, and as I get older I want to play music that deeply moves me and, as a result, the listeners hopefully. I'm sure that there are some other gems hiding in Medtner's works, but I need to uncover them. As long as I'm interested enough to continue exploring, it means I have not yet given up on him. I'd like to do a couple more of his pieces anyway

I hope to have a new replacement recording of this "Sonata-Elegia" ready in the relative near future that irons out some of the rough spots in the present one.

Thanks again for your comments!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:57 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Regarding Medtner's ouevre, I searched for quite awhile to find a piece that has great beauty to it. The "Sonata-Elegia" fit that requirement nicely, and yes, I admit to having an affinity to it, as it actually has melodies in it! There are many Medtner pieces that turn me off, however, striking me as being dry, detached, lacking in "purple patches" of beauty, and sounding rather dreary.

Whohooo ! Don't subscribe to that worn-out cliche that Medtner is like Brahms without the melodies. It is true that some of his works can be overlong, academic, and/or notey, and that some of those are so complex as to being hard to unravel, both for the pianist and listener, but great beauty abounds everywhere else ! I could cite many examples, most often in the Skazki, those wondrous tales by a master storyteller. Some of them take your breath away with their beauty, some knock you over with their ferocity. The Forgotten Melodies are in the same league. I've long wished to record some items from these sets, but there' always something else taking priority somehow.

In the end of course it's down to taste. I find that with only few exceptions, Bortkiewicz leaves me cold, and so, to a lesser extent, does Catoire. So I can't well blame you for not waxing lyrically over Medtner. It's ok, I will do that instead :D

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:47 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for mentioning the Skazki and Forgotten Melodies. I do have the complete Sonatas and Fairy Tales here, but not the other two volumes, although I can get them easily enough. But I do have a CD of Irina Ossipova playing Cycles 1 and 2 and Earl Wild playing the Vergessene Weisen, Op. 39 from the Forgotten Melodies, but nothing there really caught my fancy. But they are not the only pieces in the volume. The law of averages says that I should find something of interest looking through it all.

Once I redo the Medtner, I'm going to need a break before undertaking his next piece. So a couple of other interesting late romantic composers coming up. :)

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:26 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Quote:
Thanks so much for listening!


I really do that with pleasure, because I like your great musicality!

Quote:
The idiom of this piece is very Germanic, and to be candid, I've never been as good at playing the Germanic piano literature as the Russian and French repertoire. Medtner's textures become quite thick at times which is as taxing as some of Schumann's works.


I don´t know, if I find him so "Germanic", o.k. may be he has something of Wagner or Hugo Wolf, but Schumann is much more alive and soulful in my personal opinion. (I have to admit, I hate Wagner and I´m also not a too big fan of Hugo Wolf, but I really love Mendelssohn, Wagners enemy, btw.) Medtner for me has also a lot of this kind of intellectual complexity like a Schostakowitsch or other russian (more modern) composers. In everycase he has not so much in common with Beethoven IMO. But all these comparations seem always to "limp" a bit, isn´t it? So, probably Medtner simply stays Medtner and that´s it!

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:22 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

Here's an interesting observation by a fine pianist regarding this piece that I want to share:

"Difficult composer in many ways! And difficult piece indeed! How do you effect a balance between the running narrative, the melody which weaves its way throughout the piece, and the many conversations of the thick, complex counterpoint? On top of that you need a transparent sound that's wrapped in the sustained warmth of the vertical harmony, and an emphasis on many character shifts through the course of a singularly focused structure...Medtner's demands are close to impossible! But if you can just catch that imagination...."

That probably better captures the complexities I was referring to earlier. In the execution of this piece, at times a third hand would certainly have been a big help! :lol: I think what helped me most though, as that person said above, was "catching the imagination", and that ties into your comment about musicality, as the latter depends on the former. With imagination--sensing Medtner's narrative--I could better deal with the technical demands and intricacies of the music. Yes, your notion of a Wagnerian influence is possible, but in the end as you say, Medtner is Medtner.

David :)

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:15 pm 
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Thanks for uploading this, as I'm not familiar with the piece at all. There are moments where you don't sound technically comfortable (in fairness, some of it sounds tricky) but for the most part your musical feel and shaping more than makes up for it. I agree that the coda works well.

A few thoughts on some of the contentious issues :) Re page turns, it doesn't apply here, but in shorter pieces if I haven't got them memorized and want to run through the full piece, I photocopy or scan the music and tape the individual pages together, no page turns! Works for up to about five pages.

Re editing I really do think your principles are making your life unnecessarily difficult.

Rachfan wrote:
Instead it's trying to cope with the complexities in the moment of performance, including risk taking. I couldn't produce a flawless play-through. Others would have been sorely tempted with editing to cut and paste the sections to produce an improved overall recording. But... I'd rather stick with the real thing. Today's professional CDs are often more the product of the recording engineer than the artist, which leads to sterile, plain vanilla recordings including the cookie cutter renditions that one hears at competitions and recitals. Individuality is on the wane it seems. These days they all sound alike.


Firstly, if you allowed yourself a small amount of cosmetic editing i.e. patching the occasional wrong note, you would be able to take more risks. Secondly, I don't see anything wrong with such editing. It's just removing the odd blemish and not actually changing the overall conception in any way, just making a small improvement to the execution. And you remain both the recording engineer and artist.. What I would stand 100% against is wholescale cut and pasting putting entire recordings together from a multitude of different takes. Is it really true (as I've heard) that Vasary's Chopin etudes were done in 4 and 16 bar segments and joined together later? Sounds to me like the antithesis of true music-making. Still, it remains your choice and far be it for me to try to convince you otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:39 pm 
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Hi andrew,

Thanks for listening, and I'm glad I was able to introduce you to a new piece. I appreciate your kind comments!

I too do the four- and five-page pieces by spreading copies out on the music desk. This sonata, however, is 9 pages. I can't memorize anymore, and there is no page turner here, so I have to do the best I can, even where some turns come at awkward places.

Your arguments for reasonable editing do make sense, but if I can produce a full take that is really good save a few minor errors, I really prefer to go that way for the sake of authenticity and continuity. But I do appreciate your thoughts on it.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:57 pm 
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The discussion on editing remains as interesting as always :D
andrew wrote:
What I would stand 100% against is wholescale cut and pasting putting entire recordings together from a multitude of different takes.

I've done this on a couple of occasions, when during postprocessing it turned out that the last take, which I thought was good, did have some nasty flaw. In such a case it is good to have some alternative takes available. IIRC there was one occasion where I had to use 3 takes.... no fun really. As a rule I have one take with a couple of cuts (typically not more than one per page or else it becomes too fragmented).

andrew wrote:
Is it really true (as I've heard) that Vasary's Chopin etudes were done in 4 and 16 bar segments and joined together later?

I thought that was about Pollini's set. But I'm sure it happens more often. It would be all too easy to smooth out the tempo differences and join them together seamlessly.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:40 am 
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When it comes to Pollini, cutting and pasting or a single take wouldn't change my usual reaction to his playing--falling asleep. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:46 pm 
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techneut wrote:
andrew wrote:
Is it really true (as I've heard) that Vasary's Chopin etudes were done in 4 and 16 bar segments and joined together later?

I thought that was about Pollini's set. But I'm sure it happens more often. It would be all too easy to smooth out the tempo differences and join them together seamlessly.


You could well be right that it is Pollini; I was told the anecdote a long time ago and wasn't completely sure that I remembered who the pianist concerned was. I've also been told horrific stories of chamber music recordings been made by musicians who've never previously met each other, nevermind rehearsed together, sitting down, more or less sightreading through the music several times and some unfortunate engineer then having to construct something from it. Not my idea of how to do things.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:20 pm 
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Hi David, congratulation on this nice job! Even though I'm not familiar with this piece, I can hear your artistry and heroic command over the difficult spots. This is really an attractive piece, which seems to tell a great story. I listened to your recording already three times :D

As I'm always curious about working processes of the fellow pianists, I'd like to ask you how you find the rare pieces you play. Do you start from a listening of CD of other pianist or from studying the score of unfamiliar pieces?

By the way, how about asking one of your friends/family/your wife to turn (silently) the pages for you while you play for recording? The noise could be quite reduced.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:06 am 
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Hi Hye,

Thank you for your very kind comments on this sonata! I wish I could have played it better, especially where you listened three times! At the moment I'm trying to get a better performance of it, but today I failed in my quest, so feel a little down about that. Some of the textures are really dense, and it makes it really difficult. Maybe the next time I'll succeed.

There are a couple of factors that make me search for the repertoire I play. The first is that where I'm much older now, I feel no more obligation to be "a well-rounded pianist". I paid my dues doing that in my younger years. The literature of the piano is vast, and life is too short. So now, no more Baroque and Viennese Classical music for me, and very seldom will I play a Contemporary piece. I prefer instead to focus on the Late Romantic and Impressionistic periods mostly. The second factor in selecting repertoire for recording projects is this: I have no interest in presenting the 1,897,145th rendition of Chopin's Ballade No. 1 or other "conservatory anvil". What new insight could I possibly bring to such a piece? I love finding "new music" that is actually obscure or mostly forgotten works of great beauty written by worthy composers. That's what inspires me to my best efforts. And where so very few pianists play these pieces, I can contribute a little toward helping to establish the modern performance practices for such works. Playing many pieces of Bortkiewicz and Catoire was an honor for me, and both composers taught me much about playing the piano too!

Usually I become interested in a composer unknown to me by hearing a single work posted at a piano website like Piano Society. For example, Koji Attwood's live recording of Bortkiewicz's "Impromptu", Op. 24, No. 3 at another website inspired me to delve into this composer's music, and as I result I've posted recordings not only of the impromptu, but also of the preludes here. Similarly, I happened to hear Koji's performance of Catoire's "Etude-fantastique", and was immediately addicted to that composer's music. Yes, sometimes I'll find a recording. For example, Cyprien Katsaris did a Bortkiewicz CD, and Marc-Andre Hamelin played a Catoire CD. When a CD is available, I'll purchase it--and put it away for awhile.

I have found a lot of the scores at the IMSLP as well as at Pianophilia. There are also a couple of professional artists who have helped me out. In the case of this Medtner sonata, it so happened that I had the complete Medtner sonatas in my library (Dover Edition)... which had gathered dust. So I was searching through Volume I when I came across this Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2, then looked into it. There is a lot of Medtner music that I dislike, so I am selective to ensure that I'll be motivated and enjoy studying and playing it.

I prefer to formulate my own interpretations, and allow just a bit of my own personality into it to put my own "stamp" on the performances so to speak. I prefer that the composer teach me the music rather than another pianist. As the last step, if I do have a CD (or can find a good performance on YouTube), I'll play it specifically to listen for any wrong notes, although sometimes I'm right and the recording artist is wrong (unless it's explained by playing from different editions). :lol: But again, I would rather not be influenced by the artist's interpretation of the piece per se. So, for example, if you listen to my Catoire pieces and then listen to Hamelin, of course as a professional he is more virtuosic and polished in his playing by far. But more importantly, you'll find significant differences in interpretations. The same is true of Koji's Bortkiewicz "Impromptu" and mine, for example. They have marked dissimilarities which is a wonderful thing because it demonstrates the range of possibilities in interpreting music unheard for decades. Getting back to the Catoire pieces, one pianist told me that he was glad to have both my renditions and Hamelin's, as he thought that I brought out some of the features of the bass that could not be heard as clearly in Hamelin's playing. Another pianist upon hearing Catoire's "Etude-fantastique" asked me why I played it so differently than Hamelin, but added that he was glad that I had because I brought out more of the complexities making the piece richer in his opinion. So I'm always very happy to do my own thing, especially when the performance practices disappeared many decades ago, and need to be reinvented by the new champions of the composer(s). Many Late Romantic pieces need to be played from the inside out rather than from the outside in. And sometimes I find I have to discover the composer's visions and intents not in the musical notation, but between the lines of the music. Those are the kinds of pieces I love the most.

Well... I don't have a page turner here. :( Our kids are all grown up and out on their own. My wife of 43 years dislikes piano, practicing, and classical music in general, so I practice only when she's away doing errands, and stop when she returns. So I couldn't possibly ask her to turn pages! :lol:

Thanks again, Hye, for listening to the Medtner and for taking an interest in my work methods.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:23 pm 
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Hi David, thank you for sharing your method and thoughts. You are a great model to younger amature pianists like me. I'm very grateful for that. Hopefully you and your hands are always healthy :)

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:24 pm 
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David wrote:
Well... I don't have a page turner here. :( Our kids are all grown up and out on their own. My wife of 43 years dislikes piano, practicing, and classical music in general, so I practice only when she's away doing errands, and stop when she returns. So I couldn't possibly ask her to turn pages! :lol:

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op. 11, No. 2 in Dm
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:51 am 
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Hi Hye,

I knew you'd get a laugh out of that! :lol: And thank you for your very touching compliment and those kind wishes too.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (NEW RECORDING 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:22 pm 
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The re-recording is now in place. Hopefully this will be more acceptable than my original rendition. Again, comments welcome!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:31 pm 
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Hi David. I still cannot comment since I don't know the piece, but I know you worked hard on this so now it is up on the site.
(grrrr to the page-turns, though....)(I know....don't yell at me... :lol: )

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:44 pm 
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Hi Monica,

Thanks! I can say though that I worked harder on the page turns, trying to anticipate them more, to turn the pages more quietly, and to make sure that they occurred while one hand was either still playing or while both were on a fermata in another case. I do think they were crisper or less sloppy than in the previous rendition. Given the flow of the music, I don't think I could have improved them much more short of having a page turner. Anyway, I'm glad it's in the archive! If I had work on it more, I think probably Medtner and I would be having a pistol duel out on the front lawn! :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:05 pm 
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Hi David,
I have enjoyed your performance very very much! All sounds clearly, voices and dynamic seem very differentiated and elaborated. This new attempt has truely gained concerning preciseness and expression. I think, every note is on the right place here. Very few wrong notes are really minor in such a virtuoso piece and do not disturb in any way your musical interpretation, which is on a high level. I think, one can hear your great experience in that recording in the best sense of the word!
Bravo, dear friend, to this very expressive, poetic and clearly elaborated interpretation! It´s a great achievement from my view!

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:47 am 
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Hi Andreas,

I'm delighted that you could hear improvement in my newer rendition of the sonata. And thank you too for those kind comments! It does feel like an achievement to me. It came with a price though. Because of its length and complexities, it took me longer (with my limited practice time) to learn this piece than is customary for me. I also found that Medtner can knock a piano out of tune just as easily as Scriabin. :lol: It took a lot of energy, but in the end was well worth it. I do need a "vacation" from Medtner for awhile. He and I are not quite on good terms yet, having battled to a truce. I'm open to looking for another piece or two of his to learn in the future, but with Medtner, it'll be a long search. Any piece of Bortkiewicz or Catoire I examined, well, it was love at first sight. Medtner is very different.

I've begun work on my next piece to record. It will be a trifle, but a most surprising one for the members here. :)

Thanks again, my good friend.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:03 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Quote:
I'm delighted that you could hear improvement in my newer rendition of the sonata. And thank you too for those kind comments! It does feel like an achievement to me. It came with a price though. Because of its length and complexities, I took me longer (with my limited practice time) to learn this piece than is customary for me. I also found that Medtner can knock a piano out of tune just as easily as Scriabin. :lol: It took a lot of energy, but in the end was well worth it. I do need a "vacation" from Medtner for awhile. He and I are not quite on good terms yet, having battled to a truce. I'm open to looking for another piece or two of his to learn in the future, but with Medtner, it'll be a long search. Any piece of Bortkiewicz or Catoire I examined, well, it was love at first sight. Medtner is very different.


Well, I think, we all have composers, we feel a lot of affinity and such we feel less of it. You have mentioned from beginning, that the "germanic mind" of his music is not your first preference (to express it attentively). But nevertheless it seems to me you can express that kind of mind very well in your interpretation of the Medtner-sonata. I think, the steadiness and clearness in your elaboration is an element of that "germanic mind". (Saying that as a german, I have to add, that this is not meant as a self-praise, of course. :lol: )

Quote:
I've begun work on my next piece to record. It will be a trifle, but a most surprising one for the members here. :)


I´m attending that piece with curiosity!

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:18 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

I think back years ago to my playing of Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms. Very honestly, those composers were not my "forte". Bach has all those intricacies. To be honest, I played only enough to meet requirements when I was very young, and then abandoned Bach. Beethoven is very challenging--every one of his pieces is a superb teaching piece and holds lessons for even the most advanced pianists. I've only played a half-dozen or so of the the sonatas, and none from his late period. Brahms was always difficult for me, as he often thought orchestrally rather than pianistically (although as a younger man, he was a fine pianist). Brahms loved figuration which came out of the octave, making it much more awkward to play well. I've played about a half-dozen of his intermezzi and a couple of the rhapsodies and let it go at that. I probably fared best with Schumann, although I'm easily put off by his sometimes quirky rhythmic notation and his sometimes "thumpy" music, although I cannot lump all of his compositions into those categories, of course. I tended to select pieces from his lyrical side: I played an intermezzo, some of the Kinderscenen, the Arabesque, Blumenstuke, the first Novellette, and the second Romance (in the correct key of F#, not G). So yes, I put just a little scratch in the surface of the Germanic piano literature, but I simply don't believe I can play it nearly as well as music of France or Russia, or pianists who spend a great deal of time with Germanic music. So the problem is not the Germanic repertoire per se as much as my own difficulties in trying to master it. So I try to capitalize on my strengths by turning to other composers who music feels more natural for me. These days I certainly enjoy listening to and admiring others, like you, who play these very important composers so well. And I have a good appreciation for the hurdles they overcome to produce fine performances and recordings. Well, I guess it comes down to the old saying: "We cannot be great at everything!" :lol:

I'm grateful for your comment that in the Medtner sonata, I seem to get into the spirit of this music more than I suppose. That's reassuring. As I say, I'm keeping an open mind and will likely revisit Medtner in the future. Hopefully we can be more amicable at our next meeting. :)

I was able to practice the trifle today of the nearly forgotten composer. I think you and the others will enjoy hearing it, perhaps for the first time.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:19 am 
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Hi David,

Thanks for sharing your recording, my first taste of Medtner! Fascinating stuff. You bring true passion and commitment to this very difficult music.

Forgive this very long post, but I couldn't stop thinking about one of the issues raised in this thread because it has such relevance to my own situation, though in a different way. It's the question of authenticity.

Others here have been saying that you're being unnecessarily hard on yourself when you record, because you won't allow yourself the advantages afforded by editing. And you've replied that editing would rob your music of its authenticity, since you would no longer be playing the piece in one take, as you would in a concert situation.

I'd like to suggest that there's another way of looking at the question of authenticity. And it has to do with being true to the composer's vision, as well as your own. Because that's what we're doing when we present a recording to the public, right? Offering, as accurately as we can, a record of what the composer intended, as it filters through our own artistry and personality.

And surely, neither Medtner nor you, would hear, as part of a vision for this piece, a brief audible struggle at page turns, or the sound of rustling paper! Not to mention some inaccuracies that could, with editing, be improved upon.

Plus, you might feel more relaxed if you didn't regard each run-through as all-or-nothing. And that can only improve your playing.

So is it possible that by adhering to one version of authenticity, you're actually ending up with a recording that's less authentic?

As to what this has to do with me: I've been recording on a digital instrument recently (after almost 60 years of playing nothing but acoustics). And part of me is struggling mightily with this, because I enjoy playing my acoustic more and have much better control on it.

But, for various reasons, I want and need to record my playing these days, and share those recordings with others. And, compared to what I end up with when I use my upright, my digital recordings seem to me to provide results that are truer to what I hear inside. (Better tone, quieter background, more precise dynamics (at times) thanks to easier editing.) In those very important ways, the recordings seem more authentic.

That word, again. And it surely sounds strange that I'm applying it to digital technology, as opposed to acoustic. But that's just my take on my situation, at this moment in time, given what I have to work with.

Anyway, I'm sure there are no easy answer to these questions. I hope what I've written has some meaning for you!

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:57 am 
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Hi Bruce,

I would fully agree with you that you have a point of view, but I'm not persuaded. Let me share more of my thoughts on this if I may.

Editing has been around for a very long time. Back in the days of piano rolls, the recording studios quickly figured out that if there were a wrong note on the roll, they could easily paper it over and make the hole in the exact place that would sound the correct key on the player piano. In the days of the 78 and 33 rpm recordings, the engineers had cutting machines used to excise the wrong notes in a part of a tape recording, and then spice the replacement piece of tape. In the digital era, the recording engineers' bags of tricks became far larger and much more facile with electronic wizardry like sampling. I'm reminded of the story of the well-known pianist who had a very difficult and frazzling recording session. At the end of the day the engineer said he'd work on the recording, and asked the artist to return in a few days. When he did return and listened to the recording, he was extolling its virtues, at which point the engineer said, "Don't you wish YOU could play like that?" I think this pursuit of perfection has gone too far--which is not a good thing in my opinion. Years ago when we heard a recording, we could often tell immediately who the pianist was. Nowadays, they all seem to sound alike. Young pianists who listen to CDs today actually believe that the perfection that they hear is real, when quite often the true maestro was the recording engineer. As a result they aim for cautious, note perfect renditions. At competitions they all play the same sanitized, plain vanilla, and boring renditions. They take few risks, there is no hint of individuality in their performances, and then we all wring our hands worrying that recital audiences are shrinking.

The fundamental, irreducible, unshakable and immutable fact of the human condition is that that we are not perfect. If we were perfect, then we would be gods. Horowitz used to say that if in just one moment in an artist's lifetime, he were to get even close to perfection, then that would be a very lucky person indeed! Horowitz felt that the very idea of the perfect performance would be an imperfection. And yet we're inundated with "perfect recordings" on CDs. The reality is that we do not live in a perfect world, and in my view edited recordings present an illusion. That is, they pose as perfection, denying the existential imperfection. Authenticity, I suppose, might be in the eye of the beholder. What if one takes six recordings, uses one cut from No. 1 for the introduction; passages from No 2. for part of the exposition; a cadenza from No. 3; a snippet from from No. 4 to fix some wrong notes; No. 5 for some fluffs in the recapitulation; and half the entire coda taken from recording No. 6. Is that an authentic performance? Is there any assurance at all that the pianist can actually play the piece through reasonably well? Is the performance represented on that recording really authentic? Or what about the midi guru who painstakingly builds a complex piece note by note using sampling and sequencing, spends months fine tuning it, and passes his 100% editing job off as his "performance". Is that authentic? I wonder if Rachmaninoff would enjoy hearing his Etudes-Tableaux played robotically on midi? The question then is where does one draw the line? Is there universal agreement about the positioning of that line? Or is there no line at all? If it's left to "in good taste" then there is no line, and editing is open to abuses. There is a huge relativity there, which further puts me off from having any desire to edit my recordings.

Back in 1901 and before, there were no recordings, only live performances. But there were performance practices, well known virtuosos in those eras as today, and plenty of music critics. Artists made plenty of mistakes in their playing. Did those errors or memory lapses (e.g., Cortot, D'Albert, etc.) dishonor the composers? I recall hearing Artur Rubinstein at Symphony Hall in Boston in the 1960s. The hall was packed with extra stage seating for the conservatory students. Rubinstein was not known for accuracy, and he missed a leap in the left hand, and dropped a few notes under the piano. Did that destroy the composer's intent? Not according to the huge ovation Rubinstein drew from an appreciative audience! They were more taken with the scope of his interpretation, his magisterial approach, his playing in the grand manner, all of which was totally inspiring. When Richter's recording of "Pictures at an Exhibition" was released, klinkers and all, it caused a worldwide sensation. Did Richter's errors dishonor the intents of Mousorgsky? I doubt it given the general response! Nor do I think a few errors on the part of an amateur damages the composer's intent. We all want to serve the composer to the very best of our abilities, but we're not perfect. We're mere mortals, not gods.

When I have to do a recording, there are two microphones on stands pointing toward the piano and a recorder, which I must operate, to the left of my bench. Yet I never think of it as a recording session. To me it's a performance. I'm just an amateur pianist far removed from the realm of a Rubinstein, or Lorti, or Lugansky. Nonetheless, I look at a performance as a noble effort where the only concern is ars gratia artis. My concentration is focused on my interpretation--forming the imagery in my mind, feeling the emotion of it, forming musical intent, executing that intent to the best of my ability, playing with freedom and taking risks, and communicating my interpretation to the audience. And if there are two or three fluffs? Those can happen to anyone in performance. It's the existential reality.

As far as the composer's vision is concerned, a number of things come to mind. I can cover this ground though with two extremes. First, I think of Brahms. The reports of the time when he was getting elderly was that his playing of his own works was sloppy. Unlike when he was a younger man, he no longer put any time into practicing. So he was not achieving his own vision then? His response: "The audience already knows the notes." At the other end of the spectrum, oftentimes a pianist comes to know a work far better than the composer ever knew it. How can that be possible? Because whereas the composer finished the manuscript, sent it to his publisher, turned his attention to six other works in progress, and never found time to revisit that piece again, by contrast a pianist might spend years or a lifetime with that piece always gleaning new and deeper insights into the music. By then the pianist's vision has become as or more valid than the composer's, and is just as authentic in my opinion.

Page turns: I notice that Marc-Andre Hamelin often performs using scores, sometimes with a page turner, sometimes without one. In the latter case, as adept as he is, I wouldn't be surprised if the people in the first couple of rows could hear some paper rattle from that exercise now and then. But given his amazing playing, who would ever care? In my own case I can no longer memorize, have no page turner, so have to turn pages. Again, a Hamelin I'm not, so I do the best I can. I'm thinking that maybe I should abandon big pieces and concentrate on two-page miniatures. It would certainly solve the problem! On the other hand, we seem to forget that websites like PS mostly get home recordings, with a few live recital recordings at times. So in my mind a bit less formality is to be expected from home recordings.

The last thing I want to mention is that I notice here at PS there are two parallel tracks of critique. 1) The quality of the performance and 2) the quality of the editing. Examples: The cut is too noticeable, it needs some noise filtering, not enough reverb, etc. etc. It's as if editing has sometimes seemingly been elevated to an art form almost on par with performance itself. In my own humble opinion, I believe it receives more attention than it deserves relative to performance.

I guess I probably sound very old fashion and unyielding in my views on this matter. But I feel very strongly about it, and yes, I do believe that eschewing editing is the more authentic way of presenting a performance. That's just one man's opinion, of course. I've never had feedback that I've failed to serve a composer's intents well, so feel confident in continuing on course in producing good recordings of lesser known works without editing. For those who wish to edit, I say more power to them if they believe it's helpful to them. It's just not my thing.

Best,
David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:34 am 
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Hi David,

Wow—what a beautiful reply. And honestly, there's not a single point in it I would want to argue.

For myself, what I'm doing now is simply an experiment—seeing how it feels to record music in a tightly controlled and edited manner. At this moment, it's teaching me a lot, and allowing me to create results that are pleasing to me for specific reasons. Tomorrow, the pendulum may well swing the other way!

I just put up a YouTube video yesterday in which I edited just one note, to make it last longer. And boy, was I glad not to have to trash that lovely, spontaneous take, AND not to have to suffer through hearing that one bothersome flaw on each listening. You may disagree, but that feels to me like a good use of editing.

Bruce

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:17 am 
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Hi David,

Difficult stuff. I admire anyone who takes on Medtner's piano music, what with its cerebral polyphonic motifs and complex polyrhythms (very Scriabinic in that aspect, it seems). Personally, I think it's great that you like to preserve the authenticity of your recordings by using a single continuous take. I don't want to postulate on whether inserting edited passages is unauthentic, primarily because I resort to it sometimes :D. But I like to use complete takes myself when I feel ok about them, it seeming much more spontaneous to do so.

Many passages in this you bring off with great bravura and poise. The difficulties are clearly within your grasp. I can't help thinking, though, that maybe this would come off better if it were memorized, though I do know how difficult that is with this late romantic Russian music. At times, the overall effect seems that the texture is a bit dense and dynamically opaque and the rhythm frazzled and unsteady. It's just that focusing on the page and not the feeling can make one a bit uptight, I know only too well -- and not to beat a dead horse, but the page turns are a bit distracting for this listener as well :P

For my taste, the ending surges come off best -- I think you capture the sweeping lyricism of this music well. Overall, despite my blunt two cents :P , a fine performance and a courageous endeavor to tackle this formidable work.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Hi Joe,

Thanks so much for your comments! I appreciate that.

The problem I have with memorizing now is just age related (happens to us all). I have enough trouble remembering what I had for lunch. :lol: :lol: So unfortunately, memorizing is no longer an option for me. Of course I agree with you, if one is not married to the score, it's easier to attend to the sweep of the music. A problem I have is not being a speed reader. That applies as equally to reading a music score as reading a book or the newspaper. I like to savor what I read rather than pushing through it quickly. So sometimes my hands get ahead of my eyes which once in awhile causes a fluff.

Yes! The thick textures in Medtner--and to manage them up to speed--are an ordeal to say the least. That's an aspect of this music where the virtuoso can show the amateur (like me) how it's done. For me it sometimes felt like wading through snow up to my hips. Not to mention voicing it all. Sometimes I elected not to voice, allowing some of Medtner's more daring harmonies to enter the foreground for a moment.

The romantic surges are the sine qua non of the late romantic repertoire. It's what I love most about it. :)

I'm delighted to hear that your aim too is usually the single take for a recording. There aren't many of us left.

Thanks again!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:03 pm 
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Quote:
These days I certainly enjoy listening to and admiring others, like you, who play these very important composers so well. And I have a good appreciation for the hurdles they overcome to produce fine performances and recordings. Well, I guess it comes down to the old saying: "We cannot be great at everything!" :lol:


That´s right, of course. May be I´m not so good with the russian composers, though I don´t know. I also have played Scriabin (some of his etudes), Mussorgsky (the complete "Pictures at an exhibition) and Tschaikowsky, but until know I havn´t played any Bortkiewitz. May be the day will come I do it, being inspired by your wonderful interpretations. I think, at this moment we complement one another very well with our preferences.

Quote:
I'm grateful for your comment that in the Medtner sonata, I seem to get into the spirit of this music more than I suppose. That's reassuring. As I say, I'm keeping an open mind and will likely revisit Medtner in the future. Hopefully we can be more amicable at our next meeting. :)


Keeping an open mind counts also for me as I should come back one day to some russian composers. Playing the "Pictures at an exhibition" f.ex. was - or still is, because I play in my school sometimes one or the other piece of this cycle - always a great pleasure for me.

Quote:
I was able to practice the trifle today of the nearly forgotten composer. I think you and the others will enjoy hearing it, perhaps for the first time.


You make me more and more curious, must be something very seldom. :o

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:27 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

I agree with your perspective here on repertoire. Anytime we leave our comfort zone and enter a musical territory is is more foreign to us and more difficult, it stretches our abilities which is beneficial to us as pianists.

Ah, the "mystery composer"! I'm going to keep him totally under wraps until the moment I actually post his piece. (And no advance hints either.) :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:24 pm 
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Hi David, congrats on this new and very successful try. I would know how much you have to work to arrive at this level of accuracy in a such complex piece. Actually I liked your last version very much, though. I could feel a vast amount of energy and passion there. In this version you seem to speak your musical language more fluently and more convinced. This improved facility took me of that impression a bit??? Well, I listend to your old one a while ago and the impression may be involved not only with your interpretation but also with this great work itself, cause it was my first exposure to this piece. Anyway, I owe this great experience to you! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:39 pm 
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Hi Hye-Jin,

Thanks so much for listening to the newer recording. You're one of a very few who have commented on it. This is my first experience here re-posting the same piece, so what I learned from the experience is that most people listen to the original and let it go at that. So I'm grateful you made the effort to listen to the new one. I'm delighted that you found this rendition more fluent and were more convinced by it. I tried to carry that same passion from the original over into this performance, and believe I succeeded in that aspect. I did attend also to Chris' errata list, and believe I corrected or improved most of them, although I never heard back from him. So at least it's more accurate than before. (Not that I'm planning a third recording! :lol:) Anyway when I finished up with this recording, Medtner and I were still on speaking terms... sort of. So maybe someday I'll attempt another work of his.

Thanks again for listening and you nice comments.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:18 pm 
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Though I know Medtner and have heard some of his music, I must confesss this piece was to me unknown, so perhaps I am not the right one to comment on the musical side. I can, however, say I noticed a marked improvement between versions 1 and 2.

I agree with Rachfan about recordings and editing. Having listened mostly to recordings and less to the real thing. Why this? Where I grew up concerts were not all that common or at least concerts limited themselves to the same Chopin preludes and Liszt etudes, so only though recordings could one become acquained with a wide array of composers. The downside is that I always heard what seemed noteperfect performances, leading me to believe concert pianist simply did not make mistakes. Mistakes I made aplenty, but then, what could I expect, being an rank amateur! Only now do I realise this actually undermined any hopes I had of making it good as a pianist. Even though I know this to be false and that perfect recordings are down to perfect engineering, I struggle to make any recordings. I play somethimg, realise I can play it quite well, sometimes even note perfect. Then I Say, "Record!" And there it goes all wrong: I grow so anxious not to make a single error that I find myself anticipating the mistakes I make a moment later.

I have something to learn from Rachfan.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:01 pm 
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Hi Richard,

Thanks so much for taking time to listen to the re-recording of this sonata. I'm glad that you could discern the progress made since the original effort. My problem has always been that if I fix one error, another crops up elsewhere that previously had never been a problem! :lol: Given its difficulty, I believe this is one of those pieces that could be studied for a very long time if not a lifetime.

I'm glad too you agree on doing authentic rather than edited recordings. Editing has always existed beginning with piano rolls, of course, but seems to have intensified with the dawn of hi-fidelity, stereo sound and on up through the present day. It seemed that to match the wonderful realistic sound quality that became available (a mere technical achievement), then performing too had to become "perfect", even though there is no perfection in life and art. So once again technical wizardry became elevated to an art form of recording engineers. Most consumers of records and CDs actually believed what they were hearing in these commercially edited recordings. So to competitively sell product, all of it had to be made perfect. Worse yet the wizardry began to make all pianists sound alike too. I guess it has been in some ways a benefit, but in other ways a curse. For awhile one could escape this artificiality by purchasing "live performance" CDs instead of studio recordings. But alas, by the 1980s the recording engineers boldly decided to alter live recital recordings too as if revising history. Thus, what we hear on Horowitz's Moscow Recital, for example, is not what the audience heard in the moment. :( Then came the affordable or free edit-it-yourself-at-home type software like Audacity which brought the amateurs into the editing world as well.

As an amateur, if in doing a good recording take there are a few slips or a homey page turn that contradicts the illusion of perfection, well, then I accept that as a badge of courage for undertaking a larger, difficult work and sharing it as a real single-take performance. My sense is that if someone wants the note-perfect and "musically enhanced" version, then they can turn to the professional CDs of Lortie, Katsaris, Volodos, Hamelin, Lugansky and the other virtuosi who not only play with big techniques, but have highly talented recording engineers as well to clean up any issues. I make no pretense of being able to play as well as they can or to even come close. There are many other amateur pianists here at PS whom I greatly respect and who choose to edit their recordings. I have no dispute with that at all. It's just that I prefer not to edit my own recordings. I just want them to be what they are--my best efforts to interpret, perform and record great music.

Again, thanks for listening, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on recording.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:05 pm 
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As always, David heads the no-edit lobby with great flair :wink: .

There seems to be one flaw in the logic though. I see the point of not wanting to correct any minor slips, but why on earth would cutting out a page turn in any way compromise the spontaneity and artistic quality of a recording ? A noisy and rhythm-disrupting page turn is about as homey as a boil on the tip of one's nose, and equally nasty to behold. I would personally take that little effort to remove it, and spare the listener this irritating moment that spoils the musicality of the performance more than a shower of slips will do, and will grate on repeated listening.

An alternative to a difficult page turn could be to plan it better, by memorizing a couple of bars before or after it. Often there is a suitable place nearby where the page turn can be done discreetly, maybe facilitated by letting one hand help another for a moment. With some careful consideration, many page turns are manageable. But under no circumstances they should be heard to disrupt the flow.

Just my opinionated two cents of course.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:56 am 
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Hi Chris,

Although I don't memorize well now, I made that effort on the very first page turn of this sonata. I memorized the measure, was anticipatory, freed one hand in time, missed not a note in the measure, altered the rhythm not at all, turned the page quietly... and still got complaints. Possibly my microphones are more sensitive than others. It proves that you cannot please all of them all of the time. So I give up on that approach!

I do, though, stand by my principles regarding editing. I've given this more thought and have decided on a different strategy. That is, I'll record trifles and short pieces that do not exceed four pages which I can spread out on the music desk, and let it go at that. Longer works I can post elsewhere. I'm hoping this will work for everyone here.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:41 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Although I don't memorize well now, I made that effort on the very first page turn of this sonata. I memorized the measure, was anticipatory, freed one hand in time, missed not a note in the measure, altered the rhythm not at all, turned the page quietly... and still got complaints. Possibly my microphones are more sensitive than others. It proves that you cannot please all of them all of the time. So I give up on that approach!

I do believe the 'complaints' pertain to the really obtrusive page turns, of which I remember a few in some of your recordings. We don't complain about the ones that are discreetly done, even if you can hear them. It's not as if we are listening out for them, just that some rather poke you in the eye, er, ear. I do believe that such a moment can spoil the listening pleasure.

Rachfan wrote:
I do, though, stand by my principles regarding editing.

Those principles are fine, I respect them and have no trouble with a couple of slips. But consider this analogy. You probably would not have your face botox'ed and your brows lifted any more than I would. We just accept that it may not be as perfect as we'd like. But suppose you developed a dirty great big wart on the tip of your nose, one that caught people's eyes and make them wince, would you not have it removed ? I can't put my case any clearer than that, your honor.

Rachfan wrote:
I've given this more thought and have decided on a different strategy. That is, I'll record trifles and short pieces that do not exceed four pages which I can spread out on the music desk, and let it go at that. Longer works I can post elsewhere. I'm hoping this will work for everyone here.

I would not want you to stop posting longer works here just because of this, that would be a loss.
Note that you can be creative with photocopies. With longer works I print them a bit smaller, cut the white margins off the pages, sellotape them together, and fold them harmonica-wise. If your music stand allows for 4 pages, you can then have a six-page piece with only one page turn - and you have a choice of where to make it. This idea has worked well for me on occasion.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:00 pm 
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Quote:
But suppose you developed a dirty great big wart on the tip of your nose, one that caught people's eyes and make them wince, would you not have it removed ?


A vivid and apt analogy...let's hope it doesn't gross Monica out if she reads it :lol:

Anyway, from my limited perspective, I wouldn't worry a bloody crap about slips (thought I'd use my own ribald expression :lol: ) if the playing is generally good. Cortot and Sofronitsky, heck, even Rachmaninoff if you listen carefully, made their share of mistakes, but the playing is so free, orchestral, controlled, etc., that it doesn't detract in the least from the performance. On the other hand, IMHO any time there is such a taint as a wrong note on playing such as Kissin's or Argerich's, it tends to be eminently noticeable since their sound is generally so notey, crude, and ugly.

As I had remarked earlier, I rather enjoyed this performance and any slips were hardly noticeable to me. Regarding the page turns thing, I do believe people should have their music memorized to solve all these problems, especially in romantic music, but I understand and respect David's age-related argument and know that this late Russian stuff can be a bitch in this regard.

Just more of my two cents...I can never resist an interesting discussion :P

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:27 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
A vivid and apt analogy...let's hope it doesn't gross Monica out if she reads it :lol:
It did. Image

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:37 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Sometimes removing a page turn on Audacity is difficult to impossible. The tolerance of the cutting function is not fine enough, and it sometimes takes a fringe of the music with it creating a nasty "cut". Frankly, I don't know which is worse. :(

I can probably try half of your suggestion on getting more pages on the music desk. Most of the forgotten music I play comes from the IMSLP. The PDFs, which are already reduced to 8 1/2 X 11 inch format which is already hard to read, not to mention that some were not in pristine shape to start with. Normal focal length of reading glasses is 16". When you sit at the piano, the focal length is more like 25 or 26" even with the music desk pulled forward, quite similar to sitting at a PC. So I actually use my PC glasses instead. Sometimes on those printouts, the ledger lines are so compressed (including the downloaded original, not just the printout), that I've had to get a magnifying glass to decipher it, as I dread misreads of notes. So for me that would rule out reducing the size of the printouts even more. What I can try though is your trick of cutting off the margins of the sheets. With that I might be able to jam five pages on the desk or six with a page turn. Thanks for that.

Yes, I'd hate not to be able to post longer pieces here. I'll see what I can do.

David

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