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 Post subject: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:01 am 
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My next step in direction of completion of Well-Tempered Clavier, book II. I choose this pair, though I would have first to record prelude and fugue in e-major and e-minor, if I would follow severely the chromatic order. But I love this pair in f-minor so much, that I couldn´t await to play it, so I decided to pull it out from behind!
Artistically, that means concerning my musical interpretation, I´m absolutely satisfied with that recording.

But, of course, there will be always something to "nitpick". :wink:

Feedbacks are very welcome!

Here are the video-links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDISLqkTO1Q (prelude in f-minor, BWV 881)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeJglIO70-4 (fugue in f-minor, BWV 881)

The mp3-file below is exactly the audio-track of the videos.


Bach - Prelude & Fugue in F minor, BWV 881

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:08 pm 
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I'm up early this morning, and just happened to see bwv 881 waiting for me!

The prelude~
Terrific performance. It's damn hard, I think, to add one's own ornaments in Bach; but in this instance it's done tastefully. Schepkin is famous for it; but really not to many pianists attempt it. Risky. But you pulled it off.

I like Bach played slowly--Tureck-like--carefully, as it is here. Only a personal preference. I can handle it Gould or Gulda-like. All entirely a matter of personal preference. This prelude is very hard to play at this tempo. Usually it's played just a little faster. But this works. So it's a real achievement.

I also like the dynamics and phrasing.


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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:42 pm 
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On to the fugue.... well, all the fugues from B II are works of art in and of themselves, but I particularly like this one.

What can I say? Great interpretation. So many interpretations treat the F Minor fugue (b2) as if it were a pleasant, charming, toss-off. I see something more in it. I think it's really a more serious statement, as brief and simple as it is structurally. If the opening bars of the subject are played without fanfare--just plain straight--the effect is electrifying. So it is in this interpretation. The battle is won as the Episodes (so use the formal term) that follow with what Tovey calls "increasing brilliance" are absolutely firm and predictable, which they must be for this fugue to work its magic. The tempo is unyielding throughout, again, as it MUST be for this fugue to work.

Everything is right here.

Great job.


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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:59 pm 
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Ok, Andreas - this is up. I liked the Prelude a lot! One little thing: on your next recordings please use kbps below 192. We're trying to keep a handle on bandwidth usage so we don't have to keep asking people for money so often.... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:48 pm 
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Very good indeed ! And no wrong notes - unless one would count the mordent at the start of the fugue going up instead of down :D
I find the prelude a bit slow, but that's just me. At the end of the first repetition of the second part, your arpeggio and ritenuto made me think you were not going to repeat - but you did. I always reserve a theatrical ending for the very end. The extra ornamentation is nice though I would not have inserted these elaborate turns, just simple trills or mordents. Matter of taste, of course. Nice voicing in the fugue. And all in all, great work.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:50 pm 
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Johnlewisgrant wrote:
Quote:
The prelude~
Terrific performance. It's damn hard, I think, to add one's own ornaments in Bach; but in this instance it's done tastefully. Schepkin is famous for it; but really not to many pianists attempt it. Risky. But you pulled it off.

I like Bach played slowly--Tureck-like--carefully, as it is here. Only a personal preference. I can handle it Gould or Gulda-like. All entirely a matter of personal preference. This prelude is very hard to play at this tempo. Usually it's played just a little faster. But this works. So it's a real achievement.

I also like the dynamics and phrasing.


First, thank you for your interest. I´m glad you like my way to play this prelude. You are right, usually it´s played just a little faster. I have to admit, I was inspirated by Barenboims version of this prelude (in his newest recording of the complete WTC). He nearly chooses the same tempo, but plays it in another way than I do. F.ex. he does not add any own embellishments. Also concerning phrasing and dynamics I have elaborated a complete own and individual interpretation. Just his tempo has inspirated me. I really would like to listen to Schepkins and Tureks version, which I still don´t know, honestly said. Playing Bach slowly has the advantage to be able to play him expressively and meditatively, which is more or less lost from a certain tempo on. (But, of course, there are many pieces, which need a faster tempo, but IMO Bach very often is played much too fast. Glenn Gould is a special case, because he has convincing musical concepts, if he plays fast, he simply is a genius, who can´t be imitated. And I don´t want to try that, because it´s not really my manner. Also, if Gould plays extremely slow, it´s always very convincing music IMO.)

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:08 pm 
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Johnlewisgrant wrote:
Quote:
On to the fugue.... well, all the fugues from B II are works of art in and of themselves, but I particularly like this one.


Me, too.

Quote:
What can I say? Great interpretation.


Thank you once more.

Quote:
So many interpretations treat the F Minor fugue (b2) as if it were a pleasant, charming, toss-off. I see something more in it. I think it's really a more serious statement, as brief and simple as it is structurally.


I agree at hundred percent. And the fugue follows a lamenting and very lyrical prelude. So, for me after the lamento in the prelude here in the fugue come the deep feelings and thoughts. The fugue from my view is not so much an opposite to the prelude as it often is taken.

Thank you for your interesting thoughts and comment.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:23 pm 
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Quote:
Ok, Andreas - this is up. I liked the Prelude a lot!


Thank you, Monica! :D

Quote:
One little thing: on your next recordings please use kbps below 192. We're trying to keep a handle on bandwidth usage so we don't have to keep asking people for money so often.... :wink:


Oh, I´m sorry, Monica, seems I had entirely forgotten that rule. I promise to better myself again next time. (Usually I have used the 192 kbps for this site.) I´m very much on the "high-end-trip" again in that time and I wanted to keep as much as possible from the original recording, which is done with 192 Khz and 32bit-float. I´m thinking of doing SACD-recordings in future or buying me a new portable hard-disc, from which I can play my recordings directly over the amplifier. I´m very much inspired by the newest CD´s of a sound-engineer (Ulrich Katzenberger), which my father in law knows personally. It´s a difference like day and night to the usual CD-recordings. Indeed, one hears a quite big difference between 44 Khz and 96 respective 192 Khz, also between a mp3 with 192 kbps and one with 324, if one has high-end speakers and amplifier. But, of course, I respect and understand the rules of this site from a pragmatic and social view.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:34 pm 
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Techneut wrote:
Quote:
Very good indeed ! And no wrong notes


Phew, what a luck, so I can open a bottle of sparkling wine today. :D :lol:

Quote:
- unless one would count the mordent at the start of the fugue going up instead of down :D


Really, I don´t care too much about such a detail concerning an embellishment, since they are just suggestions, not prescriptions.

Quote:
At the end of the first repetition of the second part, your arpeggio and ritenuto made me think you were not going to repeat - but you did. I always reserve a theatrical ending for the very end.


Yes, normally I also do so. But in this case I decided to do a fermata twice: just a quite little one before the repetition and a bigger one at the very end, because I find, one can´t play on as if nothing had happened after this dramatic diminished chord, which is like the world has gone to the pieces in that context. (Just also my personal view, of course.)

Quote:
Nice voicing in the fugue. And all in all, great work.


Thanks for that, Chris. Now I will go to your re-recording of d-sharp-minor.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:38 pm 
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Quote:
I have to admit, I was inspirated by Barenboims version of this prelude (in his newest recording of the complete WTC).)


Barenboim takes both books in an entirely new direction: a new romanticism, I suppose it could be called. Like Barenboim's approach to the Beethoven Sonatas, which I confess to loving, the pianism and musicality is so completely rock-solid, that it is hard to take issue with the "liberties," so to speak. Where others--and there are so many WTCs now to choose from--seem content to give us honest, workmanlike, but ultimately unrevealing accounts (and I include myself) Barenboim takes enormous risks. I think he succeeds in spades. Every p and f is a revelation, even where the revelation is not necessarily a pleasing one!! So in my view his wtc (the recent complete version) is historic, perhaps the way Richter's "spiritual" account (for want of a better term), and Feinberg's electrifying, and thoroughly engrossing account are historic. Not to play favourites, two others (on piano) come to mind as well: Arthur Loesser and Jorg Demus. Perhaps not as well-known.

Excuse the lengthy deviation... you got me going!

JG


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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:39 am 
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Dear John Lewis Grant,
how nice to have such a competent dialogue partner here concerning WTC! Your thoughts are really very interesting. I already have seen your MIDI-project on this site and I have planed to have a look at it again as soon as I will find some time. (I remember having listened to some of your recordings one or two years ago, but then I didn´t know, that it was a MIDI-performance.) I also have made some experiments with MIDI, mainly to reproduce orchestral pieces with "Finale" (the notation program). I remember, that I have liked your recordings then, I have them as excellent ones in mind!

Quote:
Barenboim takes both books in an entirely new direction: a new romanticism, I suppose it could be called. Like Barenboim's approach to the Beethoven Sonatas, which I confess to loving, the pianism and musicality is so completely rock-solid, that it is hard to take issue with the "liberties," so to speak. Where others--and there are so many WTCs now to choose from--seem content to give us honest, workmanlike, but ultimately unrevealing accounts (and I include myself) Barenboim takes enormous risks. I think he succeeds in spades. Every p and f is a revelation, even where the revelation is not necessarily a pleasing one!! So in my view his wtc (the recent complete version) is historic


I agree at hundred percent, he has found a new (individual) way to play Bachs music. Though may be in one or the other Bach-piece he uses a bit too much pedal for my taste here and there, his musicality and conceptions are great and convincing. And for me that´s the main thing: to reveal something in an interpretation! The "workmanship" is just a self-evident assumption for to play piano and that´s what everyone is able to. From my personal view, it wouldn´t make any sense to do the one million and one interpretation of WTC, if you haven´t to reveal something "special" respective "personal".
I also admire and appreciate Barenboim as a human being, because of his idealism and his humanistic mind. It´s great, that he founded that Israeli and Arabian Symphony orchestra, isn´t it? (I have seen a documentary film, where this attempt of a reconciliation was shown and explained.)

Quote:
the way Richter's "spiritual" account (for want of a better term), and Feinberg's electrifying, and thoroughly engrossing account are historic. Not to play favourites, two others (on piano) come to mind as well: Arthur Loesser and Jorg Demus. Perhaps not as well-known.


I agree, and I have to admit, that I still don´t know Arthur Loesser. So, have many thanks for that tip, I will look for that recording. Jörg Demus is a real good historic orientated and specialised musician. I also like his interpretations of Beethoven-pieces on the original grand-piano by Wilhelm Graf in Wien from the 19th century. I have seen that instrument, when I have visited the Beethoven-house in Bonn in my youth.
What do you think of the new rendition of WTC by Martin Stadtfeld? I think, this is also a capable young musician, but not such a "revealing" one, more a good "workman".

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Last edited by musicusblau on Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:26 pm 
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@Johnlewisgrant:
I have listened to your version of prelude and fugue d-minor and c-sharp-minor of WTC I today and I have to say I´m absolutely enthused. They sound very expressively and they are played with a lot of feeling, I like them very much! These are great interpretations, but the only thing is, that they probably are not played in one take, but edited note by note by MIDI after the recording, isn´t it? Would be very interesting to learn more about them. The fugues have an excellent voicing and I admire your trills, they are so light and pianissimo, also the concept of dynamic in the subject of the c-minor-fugue I like especially much.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:48 pm 
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It's been a LONG time since I did WTC 1! But no question: the C sharp minor fugue, one of Bach's masterpieces, was totally edited. Edited to death, one might even say. I'm listening to my interpretation now, but on a MACbook. I don't like the timbre of the piano sample at all, but I'm going to head upstairs to the IMAC which has much better speakers built in. I remember that I edited practically every note: a labour of love, or of insanity perhaps. I wanted, of course, every entry of the subject to be heard. And then there was the problem, which can't really be defined, of trying to get the whole thing to hold together as a whole. I would have had Tovey at my side.

The point of the exercise, when I started years ago, was in fact to provide myself with a learning tool. That is, a model of what I would like the piece to sound like, as opposed to how I was playing it in practice. The "idea" is thus expressed (made external) without the fingers at the keyboard! The edited account becomes a goal or end point to direct my own playing of the piece. In practice, you play the piece at the keyboard; you edit it to make it, obviously, closer to your mental conception of the piece, then you attack the piece once again with your "bare hands," with the goal of emulating your mental conception.

Of course, separating and rejoining (playing together) the voices is the hard part of playing Bach fugues at the keyboard. 3, 4, or 5 voices and only two hands! But midi (rotten as it is) can (for me at least) help to provide a model at which to aim, particularly as it allows the pianist to immediately envision how the fugue might sound with 1 or more voices taking prominence at certain times.

Preludes in Bach are fuguelike, so the same reasoning applies to them. Speaking of which, I really don't like the sound of the C # minor prelude here, particularly on this little macbook. As you know, it is not difficult to play at all; but as with all Bach keyboard music, the easier it seems to be (c major prelude) the harder it ends up being! I would really like to redo the prelude, now that I listen to it after all these years! But I wouldn't put it up here. There are enough versions of it here already!

Listening to the D minor Fugue. Again, on the Macbook, sounds harsh! All the trills are by hand. You would easily detect a midi trill; just as it is easy to detect midi timing imposed on anything. I'm not sure what controller I was using back then. But the trills are obviously going to be easier on a fake keyboard because the action is so much lighter than the action of the average piano, and much lighter certainly than the action on almost any Kawai. They tend to be a little heavy.

Truth (and it is horrible) be told, what set me back over the last few years was my injury. Believe it or not, I managed to lose the tip of my right thumb: it had to be sewed back on. But of course it is not easy to use. For a number of years I had to deal with infections and so on; so the whole thing became one enormous drag on my piano playing. (I hesitate to call my playing "practising" because that implies much more than I and disciplined enough these days to do.)

So much for now. I don't want to burden you with too many details. I am heading to the IMAC to have a better listen to D minor and C # minor. Could they really sound that tinny???

JG


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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:54 pm 
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Quote:
What do you think of the new rendition of WTC by Martin Stadtfeld? I think, this is also a capable young musician, but not such a "revealing" one, more a good "workman".


I will have to get ahold of this one.

Barenboim's political bravery: I concur.

Demus, the early recording, is virtually impossible to get hold of. But it is fabulously lyrical. Loesser is available at Amazon. It is clear, thoughtful, without any reverberation. Many people adore it.

On the subject of "midi", see the thread under "Schumann's Novellette". That discussion really boils the whole issue down to its essentials. Midi editing is not encouraged at PS, for reasons which I fully appreciate. The solution, at least a partial solution--but it is work--is, from here on in, to distinguish between verifiably authentic acoustic piano recordings (which probably means that there must be a videotape record of the performance) and, well, everything else. Even professional pianists edit their recordings nowadays. So the distinction is, in a way, unique. The separation or distinction between live and recorded as never been clearer and more stark than it is now.

Once you leave the stage and live performances, anything is and can be done. I vividly recall Angela Hewitt's Toronto performance of the WTC: Book 1 MEMORIZED performed live in 2 concerts! B2 MEMORIZED performed live in 2 nights. WOW... What an intellectual feat. But there were mistakes, in fact, a shockingly long period of the B minor Fugue (24) Book 1 in which she completely lost her way!! She was improvising the fugue to get through! Finally she got back on track. The broadcast version I can only assume was completely corrected.

PS, in my view, can get a leg up here. But to make the unique category of "verifiably live, authentic, acoustic" recordings may be quite a bit of administrivia. I can well understand why a huge site run by Robert and 2 other overworked souls might not want to contemplate the prospect!!!

So I've got my own approach: I don't ask how the musical product came into being, but if it "sounds" mechanical, unmusical, or unpianistic, then I say commit to the flames! (Think of these as sufficient negative conditions, not necessary ones!) IE, a submission might be slightly mechanical, but if it is pianistic nonetheless, I would be inclined to accept it. Alternatively, if a submission were unmechanical, and totally natural, but also totally unpianistic, and not professionally played, I would be inclined to admit it. Well... maybe.... because the most important distinguishing feature should be is it pianistic? And if so, is it musical?


JG


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 Post subject: Re: Bach, prelude and fugue f-minor, WTC II, BWV 881
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:04 am 
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Hi John,
thank you for your interesting and detailed thoughts. I also edit my recordings here and there by doing cuts (that means from time to time I cut out a passage f.ex. which contains a slip or a wrong note by another, which is correctly played). Though I proudly can tell you, that my last two recordings (prelude and fuge d-sharp-minor and f-minor of WTCII) have absolutely not cuts and they are made in just one take! :D I think, so it has to be in the ideal case, and in future I want to do all my recordings without cuts, except of avoiding a page-turn (at least I want to try that). I`m personally on the "natural trip", that means I want my recording being kept as natural as possible in a high quality. I am restarting to record me again with 192 Khz and 32 bit float and I want to produce a DVD-Audio of the WTC II in that sample-rate (192 Khz). I also have some high-end speakers and amplifier, so that I truely can hear the difference between a normal CD-recording of 44 Khz and one with 96 or 192 Khz. I also do always video-tapes of my recordings, so that everyone can see, that it´s me life who is playing. You can easily see cut in my recording by a change of the camera-angle in the video, because this is necessary to do, when doing a cut in the recording, otherwise you will have a hitch in the picture. (You also can see, that in my last two recordings there is always the same camera-angle, what can be taken as proof, that there are no cuts in them.) When I do cuts, it means not always, that I have played something wrong, it also often is simply a page-turn, which I don´t want to be heard. So I stop, turn the page, and continue on the next page, and I join the two parts together in my recording. I don´t feel that to be something "bad" or "not decent".

But I also like your MIDI-recordings very much. To what I have listen all has a good and convincing concept, it sounds musically and expressively, so it sounds as if someone would have played "life" and with feeling (sensation) (except from the trills, which are not possible to be played as perfectly in reality, I think). For me that´s the main thing. Your recordings of WTC I musically are very inspiring! I never would have thought, that MIDI can reach such an "authentic" and good quality and I´m not able to produce such MIDI-interpretations (because I haven´t the knowledge, and I have to admit I personally am striving for the "natural method" as I have explained above, and I want to improve my abilities in that natural and direct method, which has the motto "as unedited as possible").

So, I would come to the conclusion, that nowadays there simply exist two (repective three) methods: the old, "natural" one, totally unedited and the new "totally edited" one, for which your MIDI-recordings are an example. The third method are all the nuances between, let´s say "half edited" recordings, which we normally do to avoid page-turns, cut out slips or wrong notes, adding of reverberation, equalizer etc.
All three methods have their good right to exist in my opinion, if the products are pianistic, musical and adequate to the composers intention. One may prefer the one or the other. F.ex. I personally would prefer a musical sounding MIDI-performance (like yours) to an unmusical "normal" performance.

By the way, nearly 20 years ago I was at a concert in a little barn nearby Neuss, where Andras Schiff played the whole WTC I by heart in one evening. This really was a "formative" event for me. I can´t remember that he made just one mistake or slip, it was perfect, notewise and musically! But, of course, the WTC II still is more complex. I don´t find it too bad, if a pianist improvises, when he comes out of the piece, that sometimes can be more interesting than to listen to the original. :wink:

Would be nice to continue our interesting dialogue also in future!

Bye, Andreas

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