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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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