Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

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Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

Postby dubya » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Happy New Year all!

Thanks to an ever-evolving music situation I was finally able to figure out how to convert the video files I attempted to submit a couple of weeks ago into mp3 form.

Here's a recent take (November) of part of a program I am working on for upcoming concerts/competitions. I would love to know what you think, and I enjoy listening to your brilliant music as well. I apologize for the piano sound/tuning on these - I had limited time/opportunity to get these recorded, and they are originally from a video camera (and on non-concert pianos).

Best wishes!

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Re: Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

Postby musical-md » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:17 am

Hi Luke. Thanks for posting. This being the work that it is, I suspect there are many of us that have performed this work and there will likely be strong but differing opinions regarding its interpretations. Having said that, for me, I feel that the tempo was a bit too fast, however, it may be as fast as I performed it when I was in my 20s (30 years ago). :) I would approach it more tenderly. More importantly, I think you need to bring the left hand way down in volume (let it be felt more than heard), which would allow you to bring the RH out a bit more. Also, try to shape to the end of the "phrases" too, especially where the melody is using sustained notes. It's difficult to control the sound in a work like this and I think (not knowing a thing about you) that you've got "the chops" for it. Exercise extreme listening as you play and I think you'll have a better result. Just my 2 cents.
Eddy M. del Rio, MD
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Re: Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

Postby pianolady » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:33 pm

Hi Luke,

Sorry, but I agree with Eddy. This is my favorite Chopin nocturne and I really believe that it should played much more tenderly. I'm not criticizing your playing, just the interpretation because this version here made me feel agitated which totally goes against how I think one should feel when they hear this particular nocturne.
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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Re: Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

Postby cmudave1125 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:32 am

Hi Luke:

I'd also like to thank you for taking the time to convert and post this recording. I personally consider this the nocturne that sets the standard for what a piano nocturne should be.

A few opinions on the performance:
1) Tempo. I too think that the tempo is a touch on the fast side. For me a bit slower is better.
2) Touch. Have you considered a lighter touch? This is really a piece that I think requires velvet tipped fingers. As has been mentioned, the left hand is overpowering - the first low D-flat and arpeggiated tonic chord should set the mood for the whole piece. What mood are you going for in this nocturne? I would like to feel the sweep of the phrases and the flow of colors more than each individual note.
3) Subtlety & Surprise. We are not surprised anymore by this piece - we know it too well. Nevertheless, there are little gems throughout the piece that can still take our breath away if we approach them with care. Bar 5 is an example where we keep the D-flat pedal but have the magical a-natural suddenly appear for the measure. A slight hesitation in bar 5 and then again with the resolution in bar 6 "makes" that moment for me.
4) Dynamic Variance. My score starts the piece as piano, swells and fades throughout the first 14 measure, and then gradually ramps up to the first appearance of a forte in bar 18. Even then, it drops back to piano in the very next bar. By the time we reach bar 26, we are all set to repeat the opening theme, but even softer than in the opening measures. I guess the key for me is attention to the dynamics throughout the piece. As I tell my students, Contrast is STILL the first law of the arts.

Overall, I would like for you to take more time and care with this piece. To quote what Earl Wild said to us during one of his lectures in my school days, "A good pianist should be like a good lover. Too many pianists just bang their way through a piece. You want to take your time, caress the keys, make your audience anticipate the climax, and then bring a satisfying conclusion." :) If you knew Mr. Wild, you can go ahead and fill in the more colorful expressions yourself.

I think you have handled many of the technical challenges of the piece adroitly. Now if you can settle some of the artistic issues you will be good shape.

David Harrison

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Re: Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

Postby techneut » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:24 pm

I can only agree with the other commenters. Technically you are well on top of things, as in everything you play. But this needs a lot more refined interpretation. The LH is far too loud, and the whole does not exude that moonlight dreaminess that this of all Nocturnes needs. In fact it's a bit hectic and unsettling. Just lean back and enjoy the scenery :)
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
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Re: Chopin nocturne Op. 27, No. 2 (D-flat major)

Postby Rachfan » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:02 am

Hi Luke,

You display a very capable technique in playing this nocturne.

The piano in general seems very bright, blatant and boisterous. It could be that the video camera sound plays into the problem. If you decide to re-record on the same piano, you might consider propping the lid up on the shorter singer stick rather than the full lid prop. That will help tame the sound somewhat. Also more use of the soft pedal to change timbre and coloration will result in the hammer surfaces meeting the strings with ungrooved portions of the hammer felts thereby mellowing the sound even more. And, of course, using your own pianistic technique to play more softly should bring even more improvement. If you re-record, you might want to decrease the input volume a little if you can control it.

I agree with the other comments on the LH--too loud in my opinion. The LH accompaniment is merely background as opposed to the RH's featured cantilena intended as foreground. Thus the former cannot be allowed to compete with the latter. The way to achieve a better balance between the soaring melody and a more subdued and supportive accompaniment is not to make the RH louder in order to drown out the accompaniment. That never works! It will only cause the accompaniment to grow even louder to be on par with the melody again. Thus the solution is the opposite. Bring the LH way down thereby allowing the melody to clearly dominate and resonate. If you do it that way, you'll find that the competition between the hands ceases immediately.

In the past I've accompanied singers. To collaborate well, the piano can never drown out or compete with the singer. The piano must usually remain in the background except for short solo passages. So in playing a lyrical piece such as this nocturne, a dreamy and romantic character piece played in the evening, I always imagine the melody as being sung, which helps keep the singer in the limelight and her voice in the foreground at all times.

I like cmudave's reference to Earl Wild's comment. In that vain this piece has to be seductive, poetic, intimate, fervent, and sensuous.

That's my 2 cents.

"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April

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