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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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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:42 pm 
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for your understanding.

Ah, Cortot, Sofronitsky and Rachmaninoff and others too.... The reason that their slips don't matter is because they knew how to play in the grand manner of the Golden Era of the piano. That style of playing is what I've always aspired to, even if only to get a tiny bit closer to it.

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 11:43 pm 
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Hi Monica,

That was graphic indeed! :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:01 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
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. :(

Sure, a cut can't always be done without a scar. I'd rather have the scar than the bleeding gash, though :D
I don't quite get your point about the tolerance of the cutting function. If you stretch the waveform horizintally (I assume Audacity can do that, I think all editors can), cutting can be done extremely precisely.

Rachfan wrote:
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.

Indeed reducing the size if not ideal, especially with a complicated score. But even 90% will help a bit. Especially if you (get someone to) make a music stand like I did, see
http://pianosociety.com/new/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3316&p=31330&sid=800cc0ed0b26543af94d86a9b31c08fd#p31330

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:07 am 
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Hi Chris,

I'll check Audacity to see about expanding the wave form. Yes, I've seen before that extra long music desk you have there. My problem with that (I notice it with even just four pages displayed), there's a limit to how far I can see well over to the far right. I there we six pages on the desk extended out even farther, I doubt I could see pages 5 and 6 well enough for them to be of much use. Aging is a terrible thing... but it sure beats the alternative. :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:13 am 
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I must admit the outermost pages don't read all that comfortably. I tend to shift the whole wad around a little bit, which I can do with my long straight music desk.

Maybe us sight readers should invest in a MusicPad Pro. They're still quite expensive though.

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:12 pm 
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I also think the new recording is an improvement. I can hear a few infelicities but I don't find them important as they are more than compensated for by the overall feel and sweep of the interpretation. There are some moments of genuine beauty, in particular the lyrical section and subsequent build-up from approximately 60% of the way through. There is definitely more than a hint of old-school pianism about the recording; I think the full piano sound and the use of left-before-right both contribute. I'm a little bothered about the timbre of the very upper treble; it doesn't sound right and that would be my only real quibble.

Rachfan wrote:
I'll check Audacity to see about expanding the wave form.


You can expand it for ease of editing: both horizontally (i.e. time-wise) and vertically. In the version I have: for horizontal expansion there is a +magnifying glass icon (as well as a -magnifying glass icon for contracting) at the top of the screen. Also there is a magnifying glass icon which when activated gives you the option of left mouse click to expand horizontally or right mouse click to contract. Hovering the cursor over the y-axis display gives you the same mouse click options for vertical expansion or contraction (though it's likely to be best to do the clicking with the mouse at the 0.00 y-axis position, or you will probably expand the wrong part).


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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:42 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

I'm glad you found improvement in the re-recording. I agree with all your comments, which I appreciate. Probably the "full piano sound" resulted from the lid being fully open this time. Previously, I had been using only the singer prop to partially open the lid. I think on the "left before right", that I do it occasionally for effect, but not consistently throughout the piece.

Your comment on the treble timbre is interesting. Actually I'm going a long with an experiment on the piano. The Ronsen Wursen hammers are about three years old now, and are grooved and somewhat bright. The tech has been brushing out the grooves after tunings to get rid of the metalic residue from the strings which helps, but he's very conservative and will voice hammers only when there is no other alternative. Voicing on this piano has been very slight. There is a new "method" that tuners are trying now. What he did was to insert three business cards over to the left side of the piano case where the soft pedal mechanism is at rest. The three cards force the soft pedal mechanism to the right about the width of a typical groove on an tenor hammer and hold it in place there. This brings the hammers into contact with ungrooved wurzen wool on the heads of the hammers. After time goes by and that portion eventually becomes grooved, then one or two cards are removed to reposition the hammers such that new felt is again available with which to strike the strings. So what is essentially happening in the long process is that the piano is almost voicing itself by allowing the hammers to progressively receive access to unused wool on the hammers. After the cycle is completed, the technician then files and shapes all of the hamnmers to restart the cycle.

You're used to a more positive, but now brighter treble. I could remove the cards to reposition the original hammer grooves back to the "start" position to restore the previous sound. But where the new position grooving has not taken place yet, I think I should give them more time to groove, at which point the brightness will start to make itself apparent again over time.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:43 am 
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Hi David,

I listened twice to your interpretation of the Medtner Sonata Elegia. I appreciate the "heads up" regarding the opening two measures.

I hear snippets of Chopin like phrases, with short ideas winding their way throughout.
The harmonies are interesting and the piece has many references to Russian romanticism in terms of style.

You bring out so much in this piece. There is a great deal of sensitivity and beauty in the melodic lines and sequences.
It seems as though you use your arm weight in such a way as to bring out the richness of the chords. The is dynamic shading subtle and beautiful.
The piece sounds like it is always going somewhere. You give a rich and powerful performance.

Thank you for introducing me to a piece I haven't heard.

Kaila Rochelle

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:33 am 
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Hi Kaila,

Thanks so much for listening to the sonata (twice!). I really appreciate it, especially your very kind observations on my playing. Although this unusual, one-movement sonata is still in sonata-allegro form, by its nature and intent, it's very episodic, almost segmented, as you noticed. The challenge, I think, is to tie it all together, meaning concentrating on the long lines, the musical intent and execution, and bringing a direction and sweep to the experience so as to put it across to the listener. And there's a lot to put across there!

On the arm weight aspect, I must give all credit to Nancy Oliva, my first piano teacher of 10 years. One of her professors at the New England Conservatory of Music was Albion Metcalf, a student of Tobias Matthay (1858-1945), a guru of the principles of arm weight at the piano. From a young age I received training in that aspect of execution. And I've never forgotten it and always try to employ arm weight appropriately, as when expressing rich chords. In our day there have been assertions that the sole determinant of tone and volume is the acceleration of the hammer--period--and that the same result can be achieve playing a key with a pencil or the tip of an umbrella rather than arm weight. The scientists with their measuring devices have proven that point, but only when speaking of a single key and the sound produced by it. Despite the intrinsically percussive nature of the piano, the instrument's magic is hardly ever limited to a single note. Instead, musicality has everything to do with creating the illusion of legato phrasing by connecting sequential tones and shaping the richness of the overtones in the chords with arm weight and the pedal. That far exceeds poking a key with a pencil or umbrella. It's all about creating a sense of lyricism and nuance and, at times, power. So I brush those arguments aside and continue to believe in arm weight. :)

Again, I'm so glad you enjoyed hearing this marvelous piece.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:53 pm 
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Hi David,

Proper use of arm weight is essential to producing a beautiful tone. You were taught very well from the start!

Kaila

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Sonata-Elegia, Op 11 No. 2 (Re-Recorded 10/16/10)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:34 am 
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Hi Kaila,

I feel most fortunate in that way. :)

David

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