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 Post subject: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:52 pm 
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Well it seems to be Bach time again, as here are my re-recordings of the E minor pairs from both books. I've been polishing these for several months (not slapping them on like I did in the past). These are very different from Andreas' versions, maybe not as perfect but I hope they can hold their own in a crowded field.

Bach - BWV 855 - Das Wolhtemperierte Clavier I - Prelude and Fugue No.10 in E minor (3:21)
Bach - BWV 879 - Das Wolhtemperierte Clavier II - Prelude and Fugue No.10 in E minor (6:53)

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:55 pm 
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Hi Chris,
so, seems we have an "e-minor-weekend"! :lol:

To BWV 855:
prelude: it´s accurately played, no doubt, with some very few hesitations in the sense of agogic in the first part. My suggestion of improvement is to make more contrast between the "aria-like" part and the presto, there hardly is a tempo-difference!
The Presto-part here in this prelude is one of the places in the WTC, where I prefer an absolute extreme celerity. (If you listen to my version you will discover, that I´m able to play in a very high tempo, if I want that. :P ) The aria-part offers so much possibilities of motivic and melodic phrasing and interpretation, so that a slower tempo than yours from my view is very adequate to bring out these structures or individual ideas. I don´t find to much of that in your version.
fugue: here we have nearly the same tempo, if I compare our versions (my one by memory). Apart from the usual lack of voicing it´s a properly played version. There are some nice staccati in it.

To BWV 879:
prelude: here your tempo is definitively too high (I don´t know, if for your technique or generally). At some places there are the (old) problems of inaudible (or left out) notes and the preciseness of the rhythm suffers because of a too high tempo. F. ex. in bar 71 you leave out the "d" in the bass during the repetition. Many of the trills should be overworked because of impreciseness (also because of the high tempo, I suppose), though I have to say, your formation of the embellishment is really creative here, there are just some, which are not executed too well. Do you trill with "f natural" in bar 89 during the first time? I think, it should be "f-sharp" in every case, because it´s also in the melody of the bass voice, so it´s "melodical" a-minor here, not "harmonic" a-minor. In this prelude from my view there are really important moments of voicing, when the main subject wanders between the left and right hand. I miss that in your version. For me the subject of that two part invention has a more contemplative respective narrative caracter than the expression of a super high speed race.

fugue: Principally I think, this tempo could be a possibility for this fugue, though you loose some possibility for the phrasing. The subject of this fugue has a delevopment, which could be made audible in the dynamic and agogic (that´s the concept of my version). To have more "space" for this idea I have choosen the slower tempo (it´s not so much slower than yours, I think). There is a lack of vocing and I have discovered the following matters: in bar 32 the bass run "hangs" for a while (that causes a little rhythmical problem here), bar 37: you leave out the "b" in the soprano,there is a wrong tone on the second beat of bar 73.
It´s a good possibility from my view to play the end-part after the fermata in a much slower tempo like you do.

So, that was a very interesting weekend of comparation, Chris! I thank you for that. We all try our best, isn´t it? :D

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:37 pm 
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Thanks for the analysis. Yeah we all try our best, some of us with more success than others.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:07 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Doesn't it seem that no subject in music causes more debate than tempo in Bach? :wink:

With the possible exception of the Book I prelude, I wouldn't quibble over any of your tempos here in the abstract. The only thing I might suggest considering in some instances is whether, given your technique/preparation, certain of the tempos are too fast for right now, even if you are conceiving of an ideal tempo. In other words, as someone once advised me when I was preparing for a performance, "Never show an audience what you can't do."

I don't mean this to sound harsh. It's just that I hear many very good aspects in your playing, for instance with the voicing, that you would want to come across in the best possible light, without the slowings, unevenness, and asynchronicity between the hands. Not that anyone will be close to perfect in these regards, it's only when it's too much that it may be a problem.

Book I Prelude: As noted above, this is the only place I might say I don't think your tempo works (in the first section), if only because I'm not sure anyone can get in all the trills/rhythms in the right hand and make it all sound graceful. I've always found this an odd piece for Bach; it's one of the few where I think of the left hand as more of an undulating accompanimental figure (almost like a Chopin nocturne perhaps) rather than a voice of equal value. So I might suggest thinking a bit more about balance (i.e., left hand quieter?). Your technique seems all there in this first section. I just would say you need to slow down a tad and think more about the phrases, and then the ornaments/thirty-seconds will sound less harried. The presto's certainly not easy, and you start off fine, you just seem to get a bit bogged down in places tempowise.

Book I Fugue: Good job here overall. Personally, I might like to hear a bit more vigor and firey drive in this piece, but that's just personal opinion. The only I might advise is that your left hand could be a bit crisper and less noodley in a few places.

Book II Prelude: I like the tempo and some passages are very solid, but it puzzles me that other passages are rather flubbed and uneven. Maybe it's just a matter of finding those and practicing them more? In other words I think you have the right idea on this piece, I think it just needs to feel more secure perhaps, both in terms of internal evenness and overall tempo, which seems to get a bit bogged down in the second half. One detail I heard also that sounded odd is the extended trills, it seemed that the right hand trill was significantly faster than the left.

Book II Fugue: Personally, I think your voicing is great here. Some will disagree of course, but I think Bach voicing should never be brought out self-consciously, you just have to hear them as he wrote them, and I think you accomplish that. Again, the only things that are distracting me are places where notes drop out, unevennesses, and some hand-breaking/asynchronicity (practice left and right hand separately more?), particularly toward the end.


Anyway, I don't mean to nitpick too much. I like the direct, unaffected quality of your Bach; in these, I just sometimes find the technical elements a bit distracting.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:25 am 
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I'll restrict my comments to BWV 855 as this is one I've played myself.

Prelude:
I like the tempo you've chosen. I hear a tendency, particularly on the first half-page to give a little too much weight to the chords on the first beats of each bar causing them to jar a little. As these beats are already written as chords and therefore sound different to the other notes, then (in my opinion) there is no need to give them additional help by playing them louder - also sometimes these notes form the ends of phrases so I would be careful not to give them too much.

When I played this I experimented with different phrasings of the repeated left hand figure so that it didn't always sound the same throughout the piece. The faster section was played accurately but I think that the faster notes could have been lighter, for example at around 1:34 and 1:48 where there is another right-hand melody in danger of being lost. Same with what I recall to be a left-hand melody in the base line at around 1:40. In other words, I think the fast notes in this section are not "the tune" that should be predominant. If these faster notes can be played lighter there would be no need to give so much to the melody notes for them to have a chance of being heard.

Fugue:
Again I would work with the balance between the hands. For example between 2:22 to 2:25 the left-hand figure, which I think should be predominant here, is struggling against the right-hand notes. The right-hand tends to be predominant throughout the piece really, sometimes sounding a little relentless, and if it could be made less evident at times then the effect of the melody moving between the two voices of this piece would be more effective. I also felt there could be more dynamic range throughout the fugue - it sounded pretty much the same level throughout to me. I don't know whether this was deliberate? I found myself hoping for a drop to pp or a crescendo...

As in the prelude, I think that if the faster notes could be moved towards the background then it would give you more room to voice the foreground.

Just opinions of course, feel free to ignore. Piano sounds good, what make is it?

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:34 pm 
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Thanks all for the useful suggestions. I thought I had finally these pieces nailed down pretty well, but seems like not - we seem to have progressed to zero-tolerance requirements in Bach. While I don't believe the deficiencies (or the technique) are so bad, there sure is room for improvement, so I'll better have yet another go at these. Sometimes I despair and think that completing a satisfactory WTC cycle is a task beyond me, and wish I had left it to other people who are better qualified. It's far safer playing unknown stuff.....

@joe - I too think that emphatic voicing can be irritating, and I am not sure that Bach's music always needs it. After all this was not possible on the instruments the music was conceived on. I guess the educated Bach listener will hear cq. expect a voice without it being emphasized, provided it is clearly enunciated.

@peter - It's a 1920's Gabriel Gaveau grand, re-hammered some years ago and re-stringed this year. Still suffering tuning problems which is normal with new strings. It had just been tuned two days before these recordings, hopefully it will stay stable for a while now.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:06 pm 
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I listened to the BWV 879 after Andreas' rendition. I'm not capable of giving a useful comment, but I really like the straight way and the tempo in the prelude. It sounds very convincing and natural. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:12 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
I listened to the BWV 879 after Andreas' rendition. I'm not capable of giving a useful comment, but I really like the straight way and the tempo in the prelude. It sounds very convincing and natural. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I seem to have missed your comment, Hye-Jin. A belated thanks !

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:55 pm 
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techneut wrote:
... @joe - I too think that emphatic voicing can be irritating, and I am not sure that Bach's music always needs it. After all this was not possible on the instruments the music was conceived on. I guess the educated Bach listener will hear cq. expect a voice without it being emphasized, provided it is clearly enunciated. ...

Regarding this subject I would like to say that an entire level, and most important one at that, of technical development is missed if one does not pursue the "proper" voicing of the parts. This would result in cheating oneself out of perhaps the most "pianistic" ability of all: to play many notes at different degrees of loudness even (especially so) within the same hand. The progress is so clear didactically. One hand variously louder than the other in the easy preludes and the (2-Part) Inventions; then voicing of one or two voices more prominently in the Sinfonias sometimes in one hand but at other times shared between two hands. Then the fugues of the WTC. This skill is what allows for proper playing of all piano music, instead of sounding like an Organ. As far as "emphatic" if what is meant is "to over emphasize" then I agree; but if simply "to emphasize" then I must disagree. Consider the difficulty too not just of emphasizing but of shaping an emphasized part. The pianist is a conductor of an ensemble of 10 fingers (and two feet) and should manage them in the same way as a conductor manages the sea of sound coming from an orchestra. This is why so many pianists make excellent directors. I must assume an "ignorant" audience and demonstrate the wonders of the fugue, with all its devices, to the listener, even like characters in an opera that come and go in importance on stage. IMHO.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC E minor
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:00 pm 
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@musical-md: I second all you wrote above at hundred percent! The ability of voicing is the normal "pianistic school" and it is, what makes the difference between a true pianist and an organist, that´s absolutely clear and evident!

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