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 Post subject: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:51 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:33 pm
Posts: 20
Hello all,

Here is my first recording with my new H2 Zoom recorder...! :) It is so exciting and I am looking forward to adding pieces to the site. I would like to audition MacDowell's Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2. It is again another gem of a piece not yet on site.

If not up to par, I'd like any comments to improve the piece so I may re-record it if necessary!

Thanks!
Vcp

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"The good man is the only excellent musician, because he gives forth a perfect harmony not with a lyre or other instrument but with the whole of his life." ~Plato


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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:36 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
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Location: Netherlands
Yes we can do with more MacDowell on the site.
I don't know this piece, yet I have to be a bit critical about this recording, sorry.

Soundwise, this is ok. The sound could have a bit more bloom (maybe a little more reverb ?) but it is perfectly
acceptable to me. Except for the thumping noises (pedal ?) that get really annoying from 1:40 to 1:45. You'll need to take care of that somehow, it sounds there as if someone is kicking the piano case.

The passage work in the outer sections sounds a bit choppy to me, and not sufficiently sweeping and stormy. Most important, the quiet second subject sounds impossibly stilted and literal, instead of being lyrical, flowing, and heartfelt in the best MacDowell tradition. You really need a better legato and pedal usage here, and some real conviction to make this music sound better than it is. IMHO, MacDowell needs that. His music falls flat if you only go through the notes dutifully.

I hope this helps even though being mostly negative . . .

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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
Quote:
His music falls flat if you only go through the notes dutifully.

His, hers, everybodies!

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:16 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
His, hers, everybodies!

Yes, to a degree that is true for all music. But the weaker the music, the more vulnerable it is, and the more committed advocacy it needs. MacDowell's is an endearing voice but not very strong and personal. It must be presented like it's the best music in the world to make its impact.

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Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
Posts: 1250
Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
Vcp,
I have to agree with Chris' evaluation. I think this needs more work. My concern is that it may be your hands that need more work in order to make the passage work clearer. Specifically, when playing fingering from the pinky towards the thumb (5-4-3-2-1, even just in scales) unless you've done some good work to develop independence of the fingers, the weak 4th finger will not play clearly by: A. not playing loud enough; B. not releasing when the strong 3rd finger plays, or C. not holding long enough before the strong 3rd finger plays and takes over supporting the hand. You will have to carefully evaluate the situation for yourself. I do want to be helpful.
Regards,
Eddy

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:11 am
Posts: 243
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Yes, the sound is greatly improved. It's nice to hear you properly at last! I think this is one of MacDowell's better pieces, and I enjoyed the overall sense of drama. But Eddy and Chris are spot on, there are a lot of details that need attention.

First of all the semiquavers need to be rhythmically even--make sure they are all the same length! You'll probably benefit from playing short passages at half speed or even slower for a while; make sure it's secure and even before you start aiming for it to sound stormy.

Oddly, the passage where you're stamping on the pedal is much more even than the beginning!

And indeed, legato for the melody starting at 0:38. Schumann's advice was that pianists need to listen to good singers. This is an excellent example of why he said that :-)

I'll look forward to hearing version 2 of this.

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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:16 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:33 pm
Posts: 20
Thanks to everyone for the constructive criticism. I must admit, I think I rushed into wanting to audition another recording so soon, in order to test out my new recorder :oops: I played this in early high school and am just referring back to it after all this time. I'm still experimenting with the calibrations/recorder volume and the like...it'd be great to have more crispness in the playback...nothing beats a professional or live recording I guess...!

Anyway, starting off with the initial comments. Yes, I agree, I just now heard the thumping that is being referred to. Subtle, but there, I will try to fix it...
(I particularly like that exciting section of the piece-perhaps too much!?) And the sixteenth notes are out of control and not even I hear...again, tsk tsk on my part!!

Also, listening more critically, the lyrical section definitely needs improvement, although suggestions to the effect would be welcome. I guess the edition plays a part, as it tells me the left hand should be 'harp-like' and there isn't much written for the right hand in terms of articulation. It is assumed that it should be played legato, (and with a singing quality) yet with the left hand, I think of a harp sound not sustaining as much (also the pedal markings in the music are in little sections) and this caused the whole section to sound choppy and stiff. I could perhaps experiment with different pedaling effects, trying to get just the right amount of sustaining and coloring. I'm tempted to leave the pedal down and change with the chords, but maybe it may come out a bit 'wet', and lengthen the written value of the quarter note chords.

And so, I'll be more discerning when auditioning another lesser known piece, so as to better serve it...

Onward to take 2..! :wink:

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"The good man is the only excellent musician, because he gives forth a perfect harmony not with a lyre or other instrument but with the whole of his life." ~Plato


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 Post subject: Re: Scotch Poem Op. 31, No. 2 Edward MacDowell
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:11 am
Posts: 243
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Are you sure that the pedal markings are MacDowell's and not an editor's? The score I downloaded from IMSLP has no pedal marks for that section. Anyway, you'll never get a piano to sound exactly like a harp, so don't take it too literally, just try to make a sound that has the right character.

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Alexander Hanysz, http://hanysz.net


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