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 Post subject: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:38 pm 
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I think most of you must know me by now. If not, you are lucky!

The Geyer was tuned,though the tuner suggested the dustmen might have done a better job. Anyway, his best he did and I will again take my life in my hands and try my luck. I recorded 6 pieces of which I will only submit 4:

Grieg, Edvard - Lyric pieces op12 - Arietta op 12/1
Bortkiewicz, Segei - From Andersen's Tales. op 30 - The Angel op 30/4
Camilleri, Charles - Due Canti - Cantilena
Gershwin, George - Three Preludes - Prelude No. 2

I will leave out Bortkiewicz' Prelude op 33/3 as there seems to be a note missing as well as an andante from a Mozart sonata, because it is too fast.

The Piano is the same old Geyer upright while the recording was done with a Sony IC Mp3 portable recorder. All edititng done with Audacity, not that there was much, but anyway.

All recordings done today after I kicked out wife and daughter. No, not forever: they came home soon after!



Grieg - Lyric Pieces, Op. 12, no. 1 "Arietta" (1:41)
Camilleri - Due Canti no. 1 "Cantilena" (2:34)
Bortkiewicz - Andersen's Tales Op. 30, no. 4 "The Angel" (2:10)

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:55 pm 
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Location: Brazil
Hi, Richard!

I listened only to the Grieg piece. (all the others I don't know)
It's well played. If something could be improved, I'd talk about shaping the phrases a little more (dim at the end). In my opinion, I think bars 10, 12, 20, 22 would sound better if played calmer than you do here. It would also help the precision of rhythm in bars 12 and 22.

Welcome to PS!

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:37 am 
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I listened to your Gershwin, which is a piece I know very well. I think the opening is very nice and you have the (most) of the notes correct. But I'm sorry to say it's not quite ready for the site. I'm not sure how to explain things, but this piece is very seductive and I wish to be more seduced. 8) The piano sound is okay, I think, although it sounds like maybe the mics are too far away (?) Then again, I heard some peaking out near the end at the forte part.

Here are a couple more specifics that need addressing: The grace note at bar 8 (and all other grace notes) could use more snap. I think you made a read-error at bar 12 (and also later when it repeats), the LH top note of the fourth beat - should be an A-natural, not an A-sharp. Your pauses at bar 18 and at the key change at bar 31 are too long. The rhythm is wrong in bars 41 and 43 - you hold the RH half notes too long.

I don't have time right now to listen to your other recordings - but I can probably do so on the weekend. In the meantime, maybe other members will critique them.

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:17 am 
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Hi Richard,

I enjoyed hearing your pieces. Here are some thoughts:

In the Grieg "Arietta", the melody soars nicely there. I would have wished for a slightly quieter left hand accompaniment, but well understand that with the Geyer's balky action, some notes might not sound in trying to obtain the best possible balance between the hands.

Bortkiewicz's "Angel" has good clarity, phrasing, clean pedaling, and accuracy. I've always thought that Bortkiewicz, a resourceful composer, could have devised a more angelic composition to better fit the title. Probably this piece is not most representative of his style, but that aside, I think you've given a very good account of it here.

Camilleri "Cantilena": I can readily tell from your playing that you really enjoy playing the Camilleri piece. You definitely feature the cantilena throughout. You do justice to the piece overall in my opinion. It's good too that you choose less-known pieces from the piano literature such as this one at hand.

Gershwin "Prelude": Just a few suggestions.

In the first eight bars (which occur again elsewhere), in the LH there is a chromatic scalar voice leading that occurs there. Starting on the first beat notice how the upper E goes to the E# and then to the F#. In measure 4 the F# finally leads to the G in the RH, the beginning of the melody. So in the first measure on the third beat, for example, in the double notes consider the underlying F# actually to be more important note to be heard than the C# over it. The C# is not melodic, but actually harmonic background accompaniment despite it being at the top. Scalar passages in music take on significance to the listener. So in executing those legato slurs, that voice leading needs to be heard. Voice leading is important, as is the voicing of melodic chords because music is all about voices, yes?

In measures 15 and 16, there is a device from Bach there. 15 frames a question, and 16 the answer being the C natural on the last beat rather than the earlier C#. I think you handle those measures convincingly.

At the end of 16 you take quite a pause there, but there is nothing in the score justifying one. I would instead suggest maintaining continuity there.

In the bottom line on page 1 (I have the Warner Bros. Edition), what needs to be most emphasized in the RH is the voicing not of the octaves, but rather the middle voices within the octaves. I think you're almost there with that, but just need to enhance those a bit more. Clarifying middle voices is always the most difficult voicing situation.

At the Largamenta con moto on page 2, you have a good balancing of the hands there with the LH playing melody in the foreground. What Gershwin had in mind for the very soft RH accompaniment there is having the piano simulate the brushes used on a snare drum. If you can imagine that sound in your ear, it helps in the execution of the double notes at the piano.

At the top of page three, last couple of measures, you could make a little more out of the rit. there; however, you're quite right, it should be non troppo. It takes a little finesse to get it just right.

Page 3, line 2: Here is another reprise of the main theme, so again we need to observe the voice leading, same as at the opening.

Line 3 first measure: To create some variation with the sound of the grace notes, instead of playing these particular ones separately followed by their principal notes, I liked to play these grace notes simultaneously with their principal notes, plus it creates a nice dissonance too. The only trick is that if you do that, then you must immediately release the B#s once sounded.

Line 4, last measure: Notice on the last beat of the prior measure the G# at the top of the LH double notes. It's the beginning of scalar voice leading again. That G# goes to the A on the downbeat, then to B, on to B#, to end on C# on the next downbeat. Best to voice all of these except the last C# with the LH thumb to sufficiently bring out that line. Notice too that as the RH melody drifts downward, the LH line to be voice ascends bringing about a Bachian converging counterpoint. That is justification to momentarily suspend the rule of balancing the hands such that the LH part can now be heard with clarity along with the RH in a very brief duet.

I like the way you play the last syncopations without any rit. there in the coda.

I notice your tempo is a slow andante, the same way I like to play the piece. I prefer that, as it gives the music more of a sultry feeling. Nice job!

So, I want to emphasize that I think you play the piece well in the main. The items I mention here are fine points of performance that you might find helpful.

The piano was definitely in tune and the quality of recording was much improved.

You may well have qualifying audition pieces here in my opinion, but our moderators have the last word of course.

Thanks for sharing your recordings! :)

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:38 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:14 pm 
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So far there does not seem to be too much response to these recordings, though the three so far are welcome. Let me address tem in order of arrival.

Thank you for your welcome, Felipe. I agree with you this piece needs to be taken with more tranquility. Even though I know it by heart, I was nervous. My upright has the sensibility of a fat elephant after taking a shot of anaesthesia. Trying to keep the accompanyng voice down is really only possible by bringing out the melody, that is, playing forte. In matter of fact I had to discand many takes because even if the finger went on the key no noise came out.

Monica, I am not so sure how I can make Gershwin more seductive. For me music is absolute and while I can apply a limited number of adjectives to a piece, such as melancholy, dramatic or agitated, more complex concepts simply fail to say much to me. I have not played the piece over, but I believe you are right about the reading error. Funny, though, because in practice I do play the a natural, but when I played it silently today I did catch my thumb on the a sharp. Thank you for calling my attention to that. Indeed, some of the grace notes can snap more. Maybe I need to find a new way of playing them. The pause after A1 can be supressed, though I did make it thus intentionally. When you mention the right hand half notes (I believe these to be what I call minims, is that not so?) as being too long I take it to mean the whole passage is too slow. I have listened to the other two recordings present on the site and I find they also take may liberties. Have you ever heard Bernstein's version? It is not Gershwin at all!

Thank you for your appreciation, David! Your commentary on the Gershwin, David, is quite interesting. This is one of the pieces I learnt wie I was still taking lessons. I lead some of the voices differently. In fact, the first three bars I paly with separate hand and little pedal, so, in the end, there are two voices. Yours is a new perspective and I shall certainly look into it.

The countermelody sandwiched between the octaves is something I have always tried to bring out (I was told how Bach had given me a hand there). I actually try to use finger legato there, but it os only possible from the d sharp to the e bny sliding the finger! Let my try to make a better job of it.

I shall also look into the other points you mention.

For speed, I have tried it faster, but, to me ast least, it loses all its character.

let us hope someone else lends an ear.

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:01 pm 
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Hi Richard,

At the p subito, to play the LH counter melody, it must all be done with the thumb--no fingers involved. :wink: The reason is that the hand is already preoccupied playing and holding the underlying half-notes for a value of two beats each and cannot escape from that duty. Given the spread of the hand there, and the necessity of keeping the underlying half-notes depressed, that leaves only the thumb available to execute the counter melody. Legato thumb is difficult to effect, but with care it can be done.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:29 am 
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richard66 wrote:
When you mention the right hand half notes (I believe these to be what I call minims, is that not so?) as being too long I take it to mean the whole passage is too slow.

I have no idea what a "minims" is, but all I mean is that your rhythm is wrong. It's the syncopation, the LH F-sharp tied notes are throwing your off RH half notes. Count all the eighth notes, it's got nothing to do with style or interpretation.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:34 am 
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Nice clean playing here Richard ! Both the sound and playing have markedly improved so as to be quite acceptable.

Arietta - It's good but needs more phrasing and dynamics. Not unlike Bach's first WTC prelude, this very easy piece is difficult to bring off convincingly.

Bortkiewicz - Very nice. It could still be a bit more limpid and ethereal. There's a passage in the middle that sounds rather too detached to me. And the snippets of Russian Orthodox chant could be broader and more sonorous - here's your chance to make a nice contrast. A bit more dynamics would help. But well done anyway.

Camilleri - That is a good performance ! It seems to have the right quasi-Arabic languor about it. This one is certainly ready for the site and I would urge you do do more Camilleri as you seem to have empathy with this music.

Gershwin - Bit of a funeral march, sorry. It still sounds too much like cautiously stepping through the notes. I thought I heard some misreadings but won't go into details as others have already done that. This piece is not as easy as it may sound with its wide intervals. Do try to put more lazy swing into it.

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:08 am 
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pianolady wrote:
richard66 wrote:
When you mention the right hand half notes (I believe these to be what I call minims, is that not so?) as being too long I take it to mean the whole passage is too slow.

I have no idea what a "minims" is, but all I mean is that your rhythm is wrong. It's the syncopation, the LH F-sharp tied notes are throwing your off RH half notes. Count all the eighth notes, it's got nothing to do with style or interpretation.


That is perfect: This is what I thought you had meant. I shall look into it, thank you!

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:14 pm 
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I just listened to the Grieg and think that if you could re-record it again with your LH slightly softer, it would be fine. Maybe you could simply move your recorder over to the right side of your piano? Since you have the notes in the fingers, it should not be hard to re-record this one. Then we could put it and your Borkiewicz and Camilleri on the site and you'd be a PS member! :)

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:38 pm 
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:D

That is good news indeed! I shall try to rerecord, Monica and will try to "supress" the left hand (and right hand too, as it joins the accompaniement) more.

Chris, thak you for your comments and your appreciation! You are quite right about my approaching Gershwin gingerly. I really need to relax more, but when one is trying to do one's best... :? Also I am tryng my best not to leave the left hand talk too much while still playing the notes and not just pressing the keys.

Less talk and get to work, Richard! :x

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:12 pm 
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I have recorded the Grieg Arietta again. I hope I have managed to keep the left hand down. I was more relaxed, so let us hope.

I have done as you seggested, Monica, and moved the recorder to my right.


Grieg - Lyric Pieces, Op. 12, no. 1 "Arietta" (1:41)

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:14 pm 
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Hi Richard,
I just listened to your new Grieg recording; I have to confess I didn't hear the first version. I would like to offer a suggestion. IMO the broken chords are still too prominent, whether played in the LH or even when they are played by the RH. But part of the problem is the tempo. Given that for every melody note (8th) you are playing 2 or more accompanying notes (16ths), by that alone the accompanyment will draw attention to itself, and if played slowly, the ear and mind lose the continuitiy of the slow melody and shifts to the more active accompanyment. I think this needs to go more quickly, which will give you much more control over the immediately-decaying melody notes. By going faster our listening ears and mind will shift more towards the slower features (melody) rather than the faster accompanyment. Besides a faster tempo, the tempo itself can and should have some ebb and flow of acceleranado (1st measure) and ritardando (2nd measure). Then there is phrasing. The first melodic statement has 7 notes in it, and then is answered by another 7. In each, start quiet (but distinctly louder than the broken-chord accompanyment which needs to be barely more than a whisper) and then crescendo to the 5th note as the high point, and then relax with 6 and 7. The second melodic statement is more subdued than the first and resolves the tension built by the first, so make sure you do enough with the first melodic statement that you can do less with the second (in its shadow so to speak). If you go throught the piece like this, I bet you can really bring it to life. For me right now it sounds like a shy and restrained recitation when it really needs to express real if tender emotion. I hope you can catch what I'm saying and give it a try; I would love to hear you accomplish what I'm after :) .

Just trying to be helpful,
Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:09 pm 
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Eddy, have you followed other discussions where I speak about this piano? I realise all the things you say do help and are constructive, but when using a fine-quality piano. Here we are talking about making a rhinoceros dance a menuet with a butterlfy.

Why do I bother, you will say. Why do I not wait until a have a Fazioli 6' grand piano and a home studio that compares favourably with Deutsche Gramophon's? Indeed, maybe I am being foolish attempting to record with an Mp3 portable recorder and playing on an East-German ruin of an upright, which even the tuner will only touch after I have signed a document clearing him of all responsibility. It is a lot like that thing couples say: we can't have children now because it's too soon: no house, little money, careers to build... Then, when all these basic needs are met... The couple has passed 50.

Anyway, I have studied your ideas, which, by the way, are very good and which I had been attempting to use before, and recorded a faster version. With this it is already 5 recordings of the very same Arietta I place on the site. And I have not yet been admitted as a member.

This surely must be a record.


Grieg - Lyric Pieces, Op. 12, no. 1 "Arietta" (1:41)

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
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 Post subject: Re: Geyer diehard
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:34 pm 
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Arietta is almost there. It's flowing much better now and the RH is nice and clear. But I hate to tell you this, but we need one more re-re-re-re-recording. The rhythm at bars 12 and 20 are incorrect. You are not giving each of them two beats - it's like you are jumping off the last notes too soon. Practice with your metronome or tap your foot while you play through these places and you see what I mean. And while you are recording, also I did not hear the bottom E-flat in the LH of the first bar, so you can easily fix this.

So, okay, yes I know you must be getting pretty frustrated by now. But look at it this way, because of all our nitpicking you were able to get the sound of your recordings much improved, as well as your playing of certain pieces. That is what I have from day one found to be my favorite part about PS :!: :D

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