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 Post subject: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:20 am 
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I wanted to write my bio so I could get my official page up, but got sidetracked by this Mazurka. I started recording it a week ago (before I knew about this site) and was pretty eager to finish it.

Just 50 more to go and I'll have caught up to Monica. :)

Chopin - Mazurka Op.67 No.4 in A minor (2:46)

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:29 pm 
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Bruce Siegel wrote:
Just 50 more to go and I'll have caught up to Monica. :)


Fifty-five to be exact! :lol:

Hi Bruce, I have not chatted with you yet, so let me first say welcome to Piano Society. Regarding your mazurka recording: I think it's played well and I like your interpretation. The only tiny little things are that there is sometimes too much of a pause in between certain sections (I'm not looking at the score at the moment). The other thing is the sound, which I know is digital but it's not that - it's that there is a fuzzy hiss but it's only coming off certain notes. So when I'm listening, I hear clear sound, fuzzy sound, clear, fuzzy, etc... Anything you can do about that?

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:44 pm 
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Hi Monica!

Thanks so much for listening, for your warm welcome, and for the kind words on my Chopin!

Not quite sure what you mean by the fuzzy hiss off certain notes. Are you talking about something that happens on the loudest notes? If so, I think I know what you mean. I'm not all that technically savvy, so if anybody else has a thought as to what can be done, it would be greatly appreciated. (John Grant or other Garritan users—are you in the house?)

As to the pauses, I know exactly what you're talking about, particularly in one spot. The longest pause I'm aware of happens after I play the second section, just before I repeat it. I was aware of that pause when I listened to it, and gave it some thought. What can I say—it feels right to me. But I can understand that it might bother someone else. I'll be interested to see how others feel!

[update] I just listened again, and now I'm not so absolutely sure about that pause I described above. Maybe it is a tad long. I'll have to live with it for a bit.

And I also realized that there are other pauses that may seem questionable to you that I wasn't thinking of as being between "sections," but maybe you're referring to those, too. Anyway, I fully admit that the performance is a bit, shall we say, idiosyncratic.

Rubato is such a strange thing, isn't it? What feels right to one person, can feel so very wrong and annoying to another.

Actually, come to think of it, I guess that makes it like everything else on the planet. :)




Thanks again, Monica!

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:35 am 
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Bruce Siegel wrote:
Anyway, I fully admit that the performance is a bit, shall we say, idiosyncratic.

This was my impression too. It's wonderfully done, full of fine nuances (such as one maybe can only achieve on a digital) but it seemed a bit too 'precious' for me, a bit apologetic in places with those sudden hush-hush pianissimos. Whether right or wrong, I think Mazurkas have a dance origin and should have a certain earthiness and robustness. But this is a matter of taste, and what do I know of Mazurkas anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:37 am 
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Thanks, Chris. I really appreciate your frankness. You've given me something to think about!

I purposely didn't listen to any other performances before I made mine, but afterwards, I did find this performance by Kissin.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXiGrkOFPQ8

On the scale of preciousness, I think maybe I'm a ruby, and Kissin a diamond.

There's always that tug of war. I like to keep things moving, like to keep the dance feeling going, but still want freedom to . . . well I'm not sure exactly how to finish that sentence. Mess around, I guess.

Anyway, I'm glad you've heard my ragtime. At least you know I can keep a beat. :)

Oh—I do have to take exception to this: "full of fine nuances (such as one maybe can only achieve on a digital)." Do you really think that there aren't a host of pianists who could get these effects on an acoustic?

It's an important point to me, because I'm purposely avoiding doing anything on my digital setup—be it tempo, dynamic, or whatever—that I (or others) wouldn't be able to duplicate on an acoustic. That's because my recordings are intended largely for the ears of my private and online piano students, and the last thing I wanna do is record stuff that can't be done on a real piano.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:45 pm 
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Bruce Siegel wrote:
Oh—I do have to take exception to this: "full of fine nuances (such as one maybe can only achieve on a digital)." Do you really think that there aren't a host of pianists who could get these effects on an acoustic?

Sure there are. And let's not forget the postprocessing that's routinely done for recordings. I would not be surprised if many dynamic contrasts are created or enhanced afterwards.
Let me rephrase my statement then... Whenever I hear someone here with such totally controlled dynamics, it's most often on a digital.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:33 pm 
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Quote:
I would not be surprised if many dynamic contrasts are created or enhanced afterwards.


You mean for acoustic recordings? I didn't know that was possible.

Quote:
Let me rephrase my statement then... Whenever I hear someone here with such totally controlled dynamics, it's most often on a digital.


Thanks for clarifying!

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:07 pm 
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Bruce Siegel wrote:
You mean for acoustic recordings? I didn't know that was possible.

Methinks, anything is possible.... And whatever is possible, will be done. Some of the things you hear are just improbable. But maybe I'm way off the mark here.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:34 pm 
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Actually you may be right—I have no idea. But when I experimented—just a tad—in Protools with altering dynamics on acoustic recordings, the results were awful. Trying to reduce the volume of a single note also reduced the ambient room noise at the same time. It sounded like turning down the radio.

But jeez, there's probably a way around that. Maybe!

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:59 pm 
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Bruce Siegel wrote:
Actually you may be right—I have no idea. But when I experimented—just a tad—in Protools with altering dynamics on acoustic recordings, the results were awful. Trying to reduce the volume of a single note also reduced the ambient room noise at the same time. It sounded like turning down the radio.

Commercial recordings are often made in 'dead chambers' with the most sophisticated equip. So I guess there is no room noise to worry about, and they can do pretty much what they want with the sound. Including dynamics, I guess.
Can't be much fun to be a recording artist...

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:23 pm 
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Hi again, Bruce. I had a little time just now and felt like nitpicking something so I came back to your mazurka! :lol:

First of all, it's not your rubato that I was talking about earlier. It's definitely those pauses. Yes, the most obvious one is at the first repeat. But also at bar 16 you hold the RH third beat E too long - like you are thinking about if you should go on or not. That's the same impression I got at your pauses in the repeats - like you were trying to figure out where to play next. And even the background sound goes out, so I think you may have taken a cut there and edited in sections. That's fine - most of us do that. But to warn you - I have sensitive ears and hear that sort of thing. Which brings me to the fuzzy sound: It is quite obvious to me. Have you listened to this with head phones on? That's when you really hear the in and out fuzzies. Sorry, I don't know how to clear that up or how you are recording...all that stuff.... Oh, there's one other pause - it's at when you go from bar 40 into bar 41. Another thing - just a suggestion - maybe you can play the repeats at a softer dynamic to give them a little more interest. In your recording here - all repeats sound exactly the same.

Well, I know and understand about personal interpretation and all that, and there is nothing bad with your version here and as I said before, I like your overall rendition. These are only my observations and impressions and if anything I just hope you will find it interesting to learn what other people hear and how they listen to your recordings.

One more thing - I have three mazurka books with op. 67 included and all of them show trills at two places in the first section and again when it comes back at the end. You don't play any of them. I'd ask you why, but it must be because of the edition you are using. Or maybe you have a trills phobia? :lol: That's really a joke, because I actually do. Trills give me nightmares. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:25 pm 
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Quote:
Hi again, Bruce. I had a little time just now and felt like nitpicking something so I came back to your mazurka!


And I am honored that you took the time to do so, Monica. You raise some great points!

Quote:
First of all, it's not your rubato that I was talking about earlier. It's definitely those pauses. Yes, the most obvious one is at the first repeat. But also at bar 16 you hold the RH third beat E too long - like you are thinking about if you should go on or not. That's the same impression I got at your pauses in the repeats - like you were trying to figure out where to play next.


My approach to matters of tempo and timing is this—I trust what my body tells me. I really wouldn't know what else to do. But I do understand that the results will not always be everyone's cup of tea!

By the way, as I record these pieces digitally, I do a lot of manual adjusting of dynamics, but virtually none of timing. And I'm fairly sure there are no edits in this Mazurka in the sense of stopping and restarting—it was all one take.

Quote:
And even the background sound goes out, so I think you may have taken a cut there and edited in sections.t
.

As I said, I'm pretty sure it was all one take. And there is no background noise in a MIDI recording, so I'm not sure what you're hearing.

Quote:
Which brings me to the fuzzy sound: It is quite obvious to me.


OK. I just listened again with headphones and I do know what you mean. I really need to consult a technical expert about this.

Quote:
maybe you can play the repeats at a softer dynamic to give them a little more interest. In your recording here - all repeats sound exactly the same.


Very good point. I confess to not always knowing what to do on repeats. Sometimes I do, but sometimes not. Repeating a section softer often works well, but sometimes that strategy can get tiresome. Do you think you always need to vary a repeated section?

Quote:
One more thing - I have three mazurka books with op. 67 included and all of them show trills at two places in the first section and again when it comes back at the end. You don't play any of them.


I thought someone might bring that up! And I've given this a great deal of thought over the years, and my answer won't be to everyone's (anyone's?) liking: I leave 'em out if the music sounds better to me without them.

I can play these ornaments quite well, so it's not a technical thing in this case. But every period of music has its own taste in ornaments, and what sounds great to one generation, can sound awfully corny or inappropriate to the next.

Here's an example. Think of those pop singers from the 1930's and 1940's—Bing Crosby comes to mind. (I'm older than you Monica, so I hope I'm not losing you here!) They used to frequently add this little turn to a melody—you go to the step above and then return to the main note.

People LOVED it in the 40's. Then in the 50's, with the advent of rock, you suddenly have melodies reduced to their raw simplicity. Just imagine Elvis for example—not the later Las Vegas Elvis!—using one of those turns. Or better yet, the Rolling Stones. The notion is pretty ludicrous, right?

Another example—I think that trills in the baroque period may sometimes have been inserted in keyboard pieces to give the illusion of sustain, something harpsichords just can't do.

Anyway, there are many pieces—often baroque, but sometimes even Chopin—that I simple would not enjoy playing if I had to use all the ornaments. To me, the music often simply sounds cleaner and more expressive without that distracting filigree.

Which is not to say that I always leave out ornaments. Sometimes they can be quite lovely.

Quote:
I just hope you will find it interesting to learn what other people hear and how they listen to your recordings.


100% absolutely yes! Thanks again for taking the time to listen and comment.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:34 am 
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Bruce Siegel wrote:
By the way, as I record these pieces digitally, I do a lot of manual adjusting of dynamics, but virtually none of timing. And I'm fairly sure there are no edits in this Mazurka in the sense of stopping and restarting—it was all one take.

You manually adjust the dynamics? Sorry, I don't understand. Are you saying that your digital piano does not allow you to play dynamically? And does everyone who plays on a digital have to adjust their dynamics by way of technology? Digital pianos do have weighted keys - I have an old Yamaha Clavinova and I can play with different dynamics on it, so I really don't get this. Maybe I'm misinterpreting...


Bruce wrote:
And there is no background noise in a MIDI recording, so I'm not sure what you're hearing.

Well, there is 'dead noise' and then there is 'really dead noise'. That's what I mean. Don't worry about it - it's probably just me.


Bruce wrote:
Do you think you always need to vary a repeated section?

Yes, I do. If not by changing the dynamic level, then at least changing the way you string the notes together - maybe less legato, more staccato, something...

And yes, I know Bing Crosby - I'm probably older than you think. But since you do not know me that well, I should tell you that I am not too keen on someone changing something in Chopin's music just to please themselves. Chopin wrote those trills - they should be played!

Oh well, I hope you can solve the fuzzy-sound problem.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:26 am 
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Quote:
Are you saying that your digital piano does not allow you to play dynamically?


The keyboard does allow me to play and hear dynamics as I record. When I adjust the dynamics using my MIDI software, I'm doing fine-tuning, often to make up for the fact that it's harder to control the dynamics playing a keyboard than an acoustic.

Quote:
Bruce: Do you think you always need to vary a repeated section?
Monica: "Yes, I do. If not by changing the dynamic level, then at least changing the way you string the notes together - maybe less legato, more staccato, something... "


This is a really good point, Monica. Often, I know exactly how I want to change something the second time around. But sometimes, I just repeat a section without any specific plan. And that's probably just laziness.

I just listened to Kissin again and heard what he did on one of the repeats, and I've learned something through that. So thanks for pressing me on that point!

Quote:
Oh well, I hope you can solve the fuzzy-sound problem.

Anyone here with some technical savvy have a suggestion to make?

Bruce

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:22 pm 
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That´s a very nice interpretation, Bruce. I especially like the staccato you do sometimes at the end of some phrases. That underlines the dancing origine and is very musically and poetic from my view. The rubati are also adequate for my taste.
The only suggestion of improvement I can give you is, that you shouldn´t forget to play the third quarter in the left hand (the chords of accompaniment) at some places. At some places the third chord in the left hand isn´t any more audible, so in bar 17 and 19, here only during the repeat, bar 35, here only the first time, bar 57, the third chord of bar 66 is audible, but only one note of it, bar 70, 73,75.
Otherwise a very nice recording.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:29 am 
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Quote:
That´s a very nice interpretation, Bruce. I especially like the staccato you do sometimes at the end of some phrases. That underlines the dancing origine and is very musically and poetic from my view. The rubati are also adequate for my taste.

Thanks, Andreas!
Quote:
The only suggestion of improvement I can give you is, that you shouldn´t forget to play the third quarter in the left hand (the chords of accompaniment) at some places. At some places the third chord in the left hand isn´t any more audible, so in bar 17 and 19, here only during the repeat, bar 35, here only the first time, bar 57, the third chord of bar 66 is audible, but only one note of it, bar 70, 73,75.

You're absolutely right about that. I left out some of the "chicks" on the oom-chick-chicks!

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Mazurka in A minor Op. 67 #4
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:34 am 
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This one is up. Please check.

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