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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:52 am 
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David,

At first, I clicked on the link in this post but said to myself that it couldn't be Medtner because it was far too modern :P (also saw Alexander's name and Symanokwski in the tag). Then I looked and saw your comment above, so I listened on the main site where it is right.

Anyway, what a wonderful example of late Russian expressionism! Very fine playing overall as well. I particularly liked your phrasing, at turns tapered. sweeping, and grand. Good voicing too in general. There are perhaps some places where you could bring it off with a bit more conviction but I know that that can be very difficult with some of those left hand leaps and the interlocking texture between the hands. The only other thing I noted is that at times your pedalling seemed a bit abrupt so that I heard a light hiccup between certain of the phrases (though mostly your foot lifting seemed fairly even).

As a general comment, I very much enjoyed listening to both the piece and your playing. It's nice to hear IMO one of the best lesser-known composers (and a gem I had not yet heard) and convincing handling of the polyphonic textures on your part.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:16 am 
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Hi Riley,

I tell you, that piece is a treacherous beast to play! When I listen to the recording, all I hear are things I wish I could have done better, but overall people seem to like it. It amazes me that an Op. 1, No. 1 is of this high quality. I would have expected more of a student conservatory piece written in composition class. But this Prologue has incredible complexities in it. It definitely shows the promise of things to come from Medtner. Yes, I should have done more with dynamics. I think I was hanging on for dear life most of the time, so I couldn't give that is much attention as I would have liked. But, there are some nice dynamic contrasts. The often wide separation of the registers you mention was a challenge along with the leaps. More often than not, the thumbs were playing the melody while the other fingers handled figuration. I think the style is a mix of impressionism and expressionism. The impressionism sets the nocturne-like mood of the reverie. The expressionism is especially present in the ecstasy of the the climaxes. It was tough, but I'm glad I learned and played it.

Thanks for listening and commenting!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:30 am 
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for your very kind comments, especially on my playing. I have to say that as I listen, I cringe at certain things I should have done better. But people seem to love this music. I believe it is seldom played, but what a jewel! I wish I could have done even more with the voicing (the problem is the thumbs doing melody while the other fingers are busy with harmony and accompaniment figuration). I too noticed a few of those pedals that were a bit abrupt. Usually I'm fairly good at half-pedaling to take care of the overtones. I think that the complexities of the piece riveted my attention such that I was less aware of the pedaling. This is a piece where if you get off track, it's difficult to impossible to get back on track. And in places where the texture is thinner and more transparent, there's no place to hide. It's very treacherous and unforgiving in that way. I feel relieved now that it's recorded. Thanks again!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:24 pm 
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But from the cuts mentioned already, very well done! I have not seen the score and have no experience from the piece, but it sounds pretty complicated and it sounds like the hands are often wide apart. That is always very complicated if you need to read the score at the same time, or maybe you know most of the piece by heart? Anyway, very good!

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:21 pm 
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Hi Robert,

Thanks for listening and commenting! When I first looked at the score of this piece, I underestimated it. Once I was practicing, Medtner made that clear very quickly. It's truly devilish and treacherous to play. Yes the hands are often spread widely apart. Plus the notation is very often an elaborate Thalberg "three hands" technique with the thumbs playing the melodic line while the remaining fingers attend to all of the harmony, filligree and accompaniment in both hands. It still amazes me that Medtner could come up with such an intricate design for his Op. 1, No. 1! It certainly foreshadowed big things to come. I'm certainly glad to have played and recorded it (while retaining my sanity), despite some flaws here and there. Trying to get a single-take recording of this beast was no less a challenge. Thus, I'm also very glad to be moving on to other piano literature now.

For the last couple of decades I've played and recorded everything with the scores. Unfortunately, I'm well passed the age where memorization is an option. Also when I record, I have to be the pianist, sound technician, and page turner. :lol:

I very much appreciate your compliment on my playing. Thanks!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:41 pm 
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Happy New Year, David!
I am not familiar with this work, but it seems that it fits the description of the grand Russian piano tradition. Rhythmically you have the piece under control, and it is very expressive. Some wrong notes don't detract our attention. I am not sure which program you use, but in WaveLab, for example, there is "Waveform Restorer" which essentially removes clicks and pops either automatically or when you manually select the area. One of the difficulties in a piece with polyrhythms and polyharmonics is to project cohesiveness of all the elements. The need for that unifying force would be my comment on this wonderful piece. It's very difficult to achieve that in 2 months for a piece like this... I find that such pieces take much longer to achieve a stylistic and technical cohesiveness; an organic sense of unity that binds all aspects of the music together. With time, familiarity, and continued understanding, this is just one of those pieces that you might find yourself wanting to re-record where the focus of one's energy lies solely on the music and not the notes... It will improve every time that you do. Nonetheless, I always enjoy your deep understanding of Russian Romantic piano music.

George

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:39 am 
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Hi George,

Happy New Year to you as well!

Regarding editors, I have AVS Audio Editor. It has a million effect selections on it, but not Waveform Restorer. Does it go by any other name? Also regarding "pops", AVS does have a Noise Removal option, but those pops you're referring to are so microscopic and so quiet, it would be hard to even accurately sample one of them, and because one pop can be slightly different in sound from the next, it might not even correlate the sample to others that vary. I have used the Noise Removal successfully, for example, to remove air conditioning defuser hiss from a recording (where there enough lead-in before the music started to obtain a great sample). The editor program then removed that from the entire recording. But an isolated very quiet pop would be very tough it seems to me, trying to do it with Noise Removal. There are some great sound technicians here at PS as well their as being fine pianists. To them it would probably be routine as they edit regularly, whereas I try to avoid it altogether if I can, except for page turns that sound like tornadoes.

I agree with everything you say about living with a piece long enough to know it intimately, that "stylistic and technical cohesiveness" as you refer to it. No doubt about it. The problem is that this piece was so fiendishly difficult, I was glad to escape alive, call it a day and move on. Right now I feel like I need a very extended vacation from it. Of course, if you stay away from a piece for a few weeks, the subconscious--without one knowing it--keeps working on the piece such that when one picks it up again, certain challenges seem easier. Beyond that period, I've found it's like relearning the piece all over again. So I'd have to give that some thought. This is my second encounter with Medtner, and I'm not sure I want to tangle with him again at this point. Whenever I select a new repertoire piece, I consider it to be an investment in time and effort. And I feel that I earn larger dividends from playing the music of some of the other Russian late romantics. So when it comes to Medtner, my motivation is at low ebb at the moment to be honest.

Thanks for listening and also your helpful and insightful comments too.

David :)

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:41 pm 
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Hi David,
bravo to that beautiful performance! I think, you have brought out the polyrhythmical structure very well, not too metrical, but with nice rubati, like it should be in a romantic piece. This piece indeed is of an impressive complexity, like it is typical for Medtner respective late russian romantic. I also think, the voice leading of the alto and tenor middle voices is felicitous. Dynamical subtle with many nuances you interprete this piece in an absolutely adequate and enjoyable way! It was a great pleasure to listen to your rendition and to (re)meet this piece, which I only have heard onetime before, I think. Thank you for sharing!

Best regards and a happy and healthy New Year!
Andreas

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:10 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

Thanks for listening and commenting on the Prologue, and also for your nice compliments! I found this to be a very tough piece to play and record. But it was worth all the frustrations. If I were ever to revisit it again, I would try to bring out the sigh motifs better in the climax. I do it at first now, but as the dynamic goes into diminuendo, they are not as clear as they should be. The textures in this piece are so thick at times, it's quite difficult to make all the subtleties heard. But all things considered, I think it's a good start. Thanks again!

Have a wonderful new year!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:29 pm 
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This was a new piece to me, and it seems to me that you have handled the complex textural demands well. The outer sections had some truly lovely moments. At the climax towards the middle of the piece there seemed to be signs of a struggle, but that's probably not surprising. You have certainly been successful in producing the illusion of more than two hands at work.

I don't know how you practiced the piece, but I've found that when working on "Thalberg"-style textures, it is useful to practice the melody as a completely separate entity to the figuration: on its own, or with its (typically bass-on-the-beat and not much else) rhythm accompaniment added - but still without the figuration - and using the thumbs and any other required fingers of both hands exactly as fingered within the fully laid-out texture, whilst focussing on evenness of touch between the hands; then practice the figuration without the melody and try to ensure it is technically secure. Without studying the score, I can't say how this piece compares to the standard figurations in Thalberg, which are often virtuosic in nature but straightforward in concept, usually comprising a fairly linear up and/or down structure of arpeggios, octaves, or quasi-scalic figures - this makes them easy to internalise and thus (hopefully!) leaving more time to pay attention to the melody.


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 Post subject: Re: Medtner, Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures, Op. 1, No. 1
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:10 am 
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Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. Early on in practicing, I did play the melody alone to increase awareness of where it was positioned (as it shifts around now and then). I didn't do as much with the accompaniments alone, although perhaps I should have. Then with hands together in slow practice I tended to very much exaggerate the melodies above the other figuration, and if the melody was in both hands, I exaggerated that too. There were a couple of places in particular where I would have liked to highlight the melody even more in the recording. But... the piece gets so frenetic at times, I think I became distracted simply reaching for the notes, making leaps, etc. That sometimes degraded my musical intents. I believe that if I were to revisit the piece in the future, I could probably overcome those problems or at least get a better handle on them. This is one of those complicated pieces that I consider a work in progress--maybe for many years.

David

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