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 Post subject: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:50 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
I'd like, if it's not too much bother, to replace the old live recording I have on the site (http://pianosociety.com/protected/meyer ... wright.mp3) with this newer studio recording. It's more accurate but still not perfect, sigh.
Video with part score: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjcacWgW37g

Also (Monica, you were particularly helpful with this last time and seem to have much more acute hearing than me for this sort of thing) if anyone would like to critique another short studio recording, purely on the basis of spotting pedal noise and extraneous string noises, that would be very useful to me. I don't think I can completely eliminate pedal noises as some are even showing up on the auditorium mics as opposed to the close mics, but there has been work done with pass filter noise reduction, etc. to try to minimise it.

(Bellini-Thalberg A te, o cara; link http://www.mediafire.com/?rglz0ux522a95cb)

I don't feel the need to replace the recording of this piece which I currently have on the site, partly because I quite like it and partly because I want to edit the above recording further.

Meyerbeer-Wright - Fantasy on Robert le Diable


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:35 pm 
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Ok Andrew, I have replaced the file. I also put on my listening ears and listened to your " A te, o cara", which sounds very beautiful! Regarding the sound, I heard no pedal noise or any other extraneous sounds, so it looks like you have all that worked out now. Just a small thing - there is a little bit of hiss. Probably others won't notice it. I'm just attuned to hiss because I finally figured out on my own program how to eliminate it without messing up the sound of my piano too much (I think).

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:10 pm 
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Thanks, Monica. That's great news about the sound; I was a bit worried about what you had heard earlier. Re the hiss, although some noise reduction has already been applied, it doesn't entirely surprise me: my engineer told me that the auditorium mics had picked up lot of ambient room noise on the original recording (things like water tank noises from beneath the hall, heating systems, etc). It was quite telling comparing the unprocessed "there's no piano playing" silence with computer generated silence on the studio sound system.


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:13 am 
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Fantastic! This is quite a transcription (more interesting to me than the Thalberg), and very impressive playing, especially the interlocking octaves and the upper-register filigree. Uncharacteristically for me, I don't really have anything to criticize :) Technically, this is in a class by itself.

Regarding the sound, it sounds deeper and fuller than I remember your previous Thalberg recording being. One thing I wondered, is there an edit around 3:13 (between sections)? It just seemed to fade out a bit awkwardly.

Anyway, brilliant playing!

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:03 am 
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Thanks, Joe. Structurally I prefer to bring themes back (ornamented differently) whereas Thalberg tends to go through them one by one in what I assume is chronological order. I imagine the latter approach is more "authentic" but I suspect it can also be more disjointed.

This was recorded on the same day as the Thalberg, so the only thing I can imagine regarding deeper sound would be a different approach from me. Part of it may be my feeling that the Thalberg (apart from the end) is somewhat introspective, whereas here I want quite a volcanic sound in certain places. Also I remember that this was the last piece recorded, and I had an hour and a half studio time left, so I approached it in quite a relaxed manner - the fuller sound you hear may be a reflection of this.

There was something done around 3.13 - I'm pretty sure the pause silence was extended. It couldn't be extended with computer-generated silence as that sounded totally artificial, so "room silence" was used - I can't remember what final decision was arrived at, but I'll look again at the ProTools file and check.

Thanks for listening and for your kind words!


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:02 pm 
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Awesome playing ! Great sound, although initially it seems a little dry. Once things really get going that seems less obvious, but stillI'd have preferred a fuller, more opulent and reverberant sound.

Now I'll say something you will probably hate me for. What I was thinking all the time was this : So much talent and dedication wasted on such awful music. As a transcriber, you're probably doing as well as anyone, but I'm not sure if the millions of notes, octaves and chords makes Meyerbeers themes any more interesting. It seems hollow virtuosity at best. Note, this is just a personal philistine opinion from someone who has no creative talent or urge whatsoever.

And to add insult to injury: when will you record some real music ? ( Ducking and running now...................... :P )

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:04 am 
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Firstly, thanks Chris, for listening to music which I know isn't your scene.

techneut wrote:
Now I'll say something you will probably hate me for. What I was thinking all the time was this : So much talent and dedication wasted on such awful music. As a transcriber, you're probably doing as well as anyone, but I'm not sure if the millions of notes, octaves and chords makes Meyerbeers themes any more interesting. It seems hollow virtuosity at best. Note, this is just a personal philistine opinion from someone who has no creative talent or urge whatsoever.

And to add insult to injury: when will you record some real music ? ( Ducking and running now...................... :P )


Whether Meyerbeer's themes are bad or not, I don't know. Certainly they aren't a patch on some of Bellini or Wagner. They are nicely accessible and make for tuneful variations; the end result certainly has no claims to intellectuality and aims purely for entertainment value. That, I guess, is part of the difference between this sort of transcription and Godowsky's transcription style. { edit: to be fair, Liszt often transcends the slightly vacuous aspects of such transcriptions, through his skill with structures and commentary on the original } Regarding the empty virtuosity aspect, I beg to differ in some cases. Sometimes a vast number of notes, octaves, or whatever, fulfill a musical, textural, or dramatic function. For example, the opening alternate octaves are a curtain-raising device - they could be expressed as chromatic scales, which would be much less virtuosic, but also less dramatic and effective. Similarly, filling out harmonies with arpeggios rather than chords seems like a purely virtuoso device, but it tends to be used as a mechanism for sustaining sound more effectively than just a pedalled chord on its own. I can't make any real claims to originality with these devices; I'm really just recycling the lessons of Liszt and Thalberg's paraphrases.

Regarding "real music" (whatever that is) someone has to play these pieces :wink: and it might as well be me. However, once I'm finished with this project to produce a CD of various transcriptions (which has been a long-term aim of mine for some years now) I'll feel a bit more free to move to other areas - just don't expect Beethoven sonatas or similar.


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:03 pm 
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Not even ruffled by my provocative assessment, eh.... You're no fun anymore :( :lol:

Quote:
someone has to play these pieces and it might as well be me

If I may paraphrase this (pun intended) a bit: If this music needs to be played at all, it had better be by you.

No I would not expect you to start turning in WTC and Beethoven Sonatas. One can be more adventurous than this. I'll be interested what you come up with !

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:24 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Quote:
someone has to play these pieces and it might as well be me

If I may paraphrase this (pun intended) a bit: If this music needs to be played at all, it had better be by you.


Flattering and appreciated but, tbh, this sort of music gets current occasional outings from the likes of Cyprien Katsaris and Giovanni Bellucci, and they're much better pianists than I am. (Bellucci's Sonnambula(s) on youtube - both the Liszt and the Thalberg paraphrases - are mind-bogglingly good). In the past Earl Wild - his Liszt Robert le Diable is one of my absolute favourite recordings - Cziffra (my turn to provoke :wink: ) and, to a lesser extent, Bolet and Ginzburg have been terrific at this style.

techneut wrote:
No I would not expect you to start turning in WTC and Beethoven Sonatas. One can be more adventurous than this. I'll be interested what you come up with !


My natural tendencies are towards Liapunov and Tausig, because they have so few advocates. Next year is of course the Alkan bicentenary so that's on my mind. Of course much of his music requires an insane amount of effort. I want to revisit Le festin d'Esope (and for that matter, the Symphonie) because I don't think I did a particularly good job last time, but it is very daunting.


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:29 am 
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andrew wrote:
My natural tendencies are towards Liapunov and Tausig, because they have so few advocates. Next year is of course the Alkan bicentenary so that's on my mind. Of course much of his music requires an insane amount of effort. I want to revisit Le festin d'Esope (and for that matter, the Symphonie) because I don't think I did a particularly good job last time, but it is very daunting.

It's always puzzled me why none of the really big pianists play Liapunov, his transcendentals are fully on a par with Liszt's, IMO.
Tausig's Halka is your kind of thing, I guess. A damn difficult piece of work :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:04 am 
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Agreed about the Liapunov TEs; I really like them. I've looked at the Halka and have learnt parts of it, but there are some nasty bits still remaining.


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:54 pm 
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is it your own composition, Andrew?
congratulations! some interesting timbre effects here.

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:15 pm 
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Yes, Luis, it is my composition, and thanks. Glad you liked the effects - I for one think (in a biased way, of course :lol: ) the opening gestures work really well as a curtain raiser. Sorry about the belated reply; I've been exceptionally busy.


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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:00 pm 
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Andrew,
You have perfectly absorbed and synthesized this genre! I cannot imagine a better version of your composition written by anyone else. Your performance is fantastic too. In this you achieve very well the purpose of such works: to bowl over an audience, stun them and make them yell "Wow!" My only criticism is that I find the pedal changes on your linked-octaves to be jarring with the sudden drops in volume, and would not do them. Let the WHOLE piano ring out in these passages! This work and your performance demonstrate the appropriateness of you user name on Youtube: Alkanliszt. Bravo!

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 Post subject: Re: Fantasy on Robert le Diable, plus advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:23 pm 
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Hi Eddy, glad you enjoyed it! You raise an interesting point about the interlocking octaves. When I wrote this piece, about two years ago, I played it in recital, additionally also with another Liszt paraphrase with similar octaves. Prior to this I had a long discussion with my teacher about pedalling in such passages. When I played it to him in a lesson I first played it with the pedal stuck down throughout the full opening four octave chromatic scale (as it effectively is). He criticised the result for being blurry and rhythmically amorphous. He suggested that I pedal with by the octave but that the result would vary according to the room acoustic; during rehearsal time for that recital I recorded myself with 1) no pedal 2) by octave and 3) full pedal so as to see which result I preferred. Of course with this sort of thing the sound that you hear sitting at the piano isn't going to be the sound the audience hears, hence recording, listening to it and checking. In the heat of making this studio recording I forgot all about the experiment I had carried out previously and just played it as I was used to.

There's other issues as well: I quite like the effect that playing with the pedal on the beat during such passages produces. Matter of taste of course, you find it jerky, I think it gives forward impetus every octave. My use of pedal in this respect isn't as absolutely precise as I'd like. There are also three separate octave runs and if I had played them absolutely as desired, the first and last would be the same in shape as the last is an echo of the opening run. Compositionally, the first and last are motivic - there is an abstract musical joke within them in that they are formed in groups of 6 (3 in each hand) which makes for a progression up the keyboard in units of tritones .. and we know whose interval the tritone is supposed to be! - whereas the second one (c. 4.20) purely serves the function of getting from x to y on the keyboard, albeit still in the same octave groupings. That is why my accentuations through pedal use are stronger in the outer two; all three are technically marginally imperfect in terms of consistent accentuation but I can only do so many takes before my hands fall off! My teacher did actually suggest bringing the joke to the fore by pedalling by the tritone rather than octave, but I found pedalling like that to be downright confusing at such velocity and a little impractical, for me at least.

Anyway, that's enough of that! Hope it makes some sort of sense, and thanks again for listening.


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