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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:38 pm 
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Well, you see: it is not mine and any investment on it benefits solely the piano shop from whom I rent it. The thing is that I must pay transport charges and having it taken away now and a new one brought in only to have it moved in two months does not seem sensible, as it would also involve tuning the new one twice.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:58 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
That's weird....I posted something here ten minutes ago, but it's gone...

Anyway, what I said Richard, is that I have not had a chance to listen to your recording yet. But I did download it onto my phone while on the train this morning, so maybe I will get a moment sometime today to listen. In the meantime, I just wanted to say that if your piano has unbalanced keys, and/or some keys are stiff or sticky, you may be causing permanent damage to your hands. Be careful!


Oh, there is no problem with the keys. It is the sound which is appalling and the piano that is as sensitive as a rhinoceros after anaesthesia. The tuner almost made my sign a document exempting him from all responsibility! In the end he achieved a miracle, but even a miracle was not enough.

I thought I might ask the music school with whom I now work, but there there would a a great amount of noise, what with other instruments playing and a doorbell that is louder than a steeple on Sunday. Imagine half-way through this lullaby a big RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:41 pm 
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Ok, Richard, I have listened to your recording. It's a pretty piece, however, besides your piano being out of tune a little, I heard a lot of background hiss. Granted, I was running on a treadmill just now during my lunch hour while I was listening, but even with the noise from the machine I still heard the hiss. On every note that comes down, a splash of hiss comes with it. I don't understand why it's always just me who hears it, though. Is there any chance of changing your recording gear?

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:12 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
On every note that comes down, a splash of hiss comes with it. I don't understand why it's always just me who hears it, though.
Now you mention it, I hear it too, if I turn the volume up enough. But I don't hear a splash on every note, just on some, like on many of the downbeats. Could it be pedal-related swish which just sounds a bit like hiss?
Quote:
Is there any chance of changing your recording gear?
:wink: Inasmuch as the piano itself is part of the recording setup, I'm sure Richard would be delighted to change it!

I'm surprised its owners have the nerve to charge him rent for something so bad he'd be only too pleased to have someone take a sledgehammer to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm 
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Yes, I would love to, but at the moment I have to figure out how we are going to pay for next months food bill.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:54 pm 
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rainer wrote:
pianolady wrote:
On every note that comes down, a splash of hiss comes with it. I don't understand why it's always just me who hears it, though.
Now you mention it, I hear it too, if I turn the volume up enough. But I don't hear a splash on every note, just on some, like on many of the downbeats. Could it be pedal-related swish which just sounds a bit like hiss?
Quote:
Is there any chance of changing your recording gear?
:wink: Inasmuch as the piano itself is part of the recording setup, I'm sure Richard would be delighted to change it!

I'm surprised its owners have the nerve to charge him rent for something so bad he'd be only too pleased to have someone take a sledgehammer to it.


No, Rainer: it is the editing and I hear it too. The souind editor removes the hiss between the notes, leaving it on the notes themselves. At times I think it best not to remove the hiss.

They were willing to sell it to me, considering the first year of rent as part payment and not chargins transport. That is how much they wanted to see the back of it. Why did I take it? because in the flat where I lived before it was the only one that could negotiate the stairs, as bringing in through the terrace would have required major egineering works.

I just hope they do not decide to give it to me, rather than forking out (I paid for its removal when I rented it) to take it. I raher think that the transport cost is higher than its value.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:43 pm 
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This one is up.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:12 pm 
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techneut wrote:
This one is up.


Really? I thought the piano sound had made that impossible, Thank you, then!

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:27 am 
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Its IMO only the first couple of bars that are really bad. Otherwise it's an acceptable recording. It helps that it is a piece we did not have before.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:14 pm 
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I will see if I can use one of the music school's grand pianos, though their best one is off-limits for now. The only problem is... It is a music school with little boys learning the violin, Russian tenors being coached (funny that one should have come in the very day I was introducing a Russian soprano to the director!) and a doorbell that can be heard over a fff! No recording will survive that!

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:23 pm 
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You'll have to book for the night then ! And hope nobody rings ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:52 am 
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Hi Richard,
I'm trying to catch up here - sorry for the late post.
I had to listen to this on lower volume than usual because of sleeping children in the house (ironic because it's a cradle song) and thought it was fine. (There's something slightly funky at the beginning but that's already been noted.)

I can see why you don't like the piano, though. This is probably a really stupid suggestion, but have you tried playing an entire piece una corda? The sound will be different - who knows, maybe better?? Of course, finding repertoire for which that's appropriate is challenging, but there are pieces in which it's used heavily.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:07 am 
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Hello Richard,

You did a very good job with the echoing of the phrases at a softer dynaic level. It was highly effective.
The character of the piece throughout was solid.

Thanks for sharing.
Kaila Rochelle

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:25 am 
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StuKautsch wrote:
Hi Richard,
I'm trying to catch up here - sorry for the late post.
I had to listen to this on lower volume than usual because of sleeping children in the house (ironic because it's a cradle song) and thought it was fine. (There's something slightly funky at the beginning but that's already been noted.)

I can see why you don't like the piano, though. This is probably a really stupid suggestion, but have you tried playing an entire piece una corda? The sound will be different - who knows, maybe better?? Of course, finding repertoire for which that's appropriate is challenging, but there are pieces in which it's used heavily.


Thank you, Stewart. Funny about sleeping children. Yesterday my daughter wanted to take a nap half-way through the ballet she was watching (composer Valerij Gavrilin (1939-1999). Asked if she would like me to play the piano for her she said, "Yes!" so I practised one of my later pieces, by a certain living composer (I am not giving my secrets away! :) and it was not Ismagilov, either!) and she was aleep in 2 minutes - and your children wake up with 19th century cradle songs! :shock:

Technically I cannot play "una corda", because I must be the only member who does not have a grand (or 1/4) piano and, as you know, on uprights all the action does is bring the hammers closer to the strings.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:27 am 
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musicrecovery wrote:
Hello Richard,

You did a very good job with the echoing of the phrases at a softer dynaic level. It was highly effective.
The character of the piece throughout was solid.

Thanks for sharing.
Kaila Rochelle


Thank you, Kaila. It took practice that, as I did not want to use the soft pedal, as it changes the quality of the sound.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:59 am 
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Richard, I had a discussion with Monica abut this one's sound quality, and feel like I've been rash to put this up. As Monica noted, if someone dips into PS randomly and finds this, the first couple of bars could make them run away or at least get a wrong impression of the standard quality here.
Can't you record this on a decent piano, or maybe get this thing tuned ?

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:20 pm 
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I suppose so, but it will take some time. Meanwhile I take it you will be removing it.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:00 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
I suppose so, but it will take some time. Meanwhile I take it you will be removing it.

Well hmmm... I'd feel a bit rotten about removing it. Maybe we can just cut off the first few bars ? :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:38 pm 
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That is no problem. If you remember I myself expressed surprise at your including it, so you do not need to fell overripe or whatever it is. Monica once removed the Arietta and she is still alive, though with tendonitis (though she did make up some excuse not to meet me in person! :D). Or you can use these supermodern editing programmes: you cut out the first four bars, get the next four, put them an octave higher and there we are! :!:

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:24 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Monica once removed the Arietta and she is still alive, though with tendonitis (though she did make up some excuse not to meet me in person! :D).


:lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:51 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Monica once removed the Arietta

Which I had probably put up there to start with. Guess who's the boss around here :P

So, I'm afraid we'll scratch the Solvejg for now. Rest assured it is not your playing this time.
Actually, did you never consider a digital ? Not that I like them much but they might sound better than your upright.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:39 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Actually, did you never consider a digital ? Not that I like them much but they might sound better than your upright.

That's a good idea! I don't care much for digitals either, but I forgot to say this earlier....Richard, what bothered me most was your recording setup. With a digital you can get a totally hiss-free recording. But the digital piano does have to be good one, or else it sounds to thin and tinkly.

I bet you can find a good used digital maybe on Ebay or something like that.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:40 pm 
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I cannot say the idea of digital fills me with any enthusiasm. I once had something similar and I passed it on. Somehow I feEL better not playing than using something electronic.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:16 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
I cannot say the idea of digital fills me with any enthusiasm. I once had something similar and I passed it on. Somehow I feEL better not playing than using something electronic.

I sympathize with that. Even though a digital would save so much money on tuning, and remove the anxiety about sour notes, I don't think I would want to play on one.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:24 pm 
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Yes, I have a digital and also a grand. When my kids are still sleeping, I have the option of going downstairs to practice on my digital, but I hardly ever do that because I'd rather wait until I can get on my grand. It's like there is no life in a digital, it doesn't draw me. Whereas, the grand is like a living thing that I attempt (on almost a daily basis) to coax into submitting wondrous sounds and emotions. Is that weird...? :)

p.s. Richard, see Andrew's note in the General forum about translating Spanish.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:57 pm 
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You do not worry about sour notes, but you do about the electricity failing, which does happen now and then.

I shall have to invent a scheme to get hold of a real piano. I would buy one with the money I eventually will get, but first I have to convince my wife that it is best to invest 30,000.00 on a good (even if used) grand than buying a house on the never-never plan and make the last payment at 85 and dying next day of old age, having seen the value of the house become less than that of the morgage, as has happened not to long! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:55 am 
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Hmm. I'm sure you can get a decent used grand for an awful lot less than 30k (true for whichever of €/£/$ you mean). I am in any case not at all convinced that a grand is a terribly wise investment unless you can also afford a house big enough to put it in, and I don't just mean that there is enough floor space for it. Unless you have the (spatial) volume and the acoustic that can actually take the sound the piano will produce, which implies high ceilings and a room large enough to seat at least (say) ten guests in reasonable comfort whom you might entertain before or after dinner with your playing, there is simply no point and I would say you are better off with an upright. You don't want the piano (lid down, protective cover and decorative tablecloth in place) to have to double as a sideboard from which the buffet is to be served.

A big piano and a big house (or at least a house with at least one big room) are not things you can trade off against each other - they go together. I'm sure you know that fine well and were just joking. Besides, you need to budget for other potential expenses. What if your daughter turns out to be highly musical and is drawn to a non-piano expensive instrument? She might in due course require a top notch instrument costing 20k or more. There is a good reason why uprights were invented, and it's not only down to floor space. They are perfectly adequate for most domestic situations and quite a lot of them actually have a rather nice sound.

Although I have regular access to two modest-size grands (both (is it allowed to say "unfortunately"?) Steinways), one of them about 120 years old, the other nearly new, I actually prefer the sound of my own piano, even though it is "only" an upright, and only 40 inches tall (but overstrung). It's an Everett which my (late) parents bought new in Kansas City in 1953 (supplied by the Jenkins Music Co if that means anything to anyone) and which (due to my dad's job) has endured quite a few international house moves in its time. I like it so much that any other piano somehow feels and sounds inferior. I don't know whether that is simply down to "what I'm used to" or I was just lucky to have grown up with such a nice instrument. For a few years (about 15 years ago) I had to put up with a cheap upright (£600 - roughly 10 times the cost of a tuning), which was all I could afford. It was definitely inferior (though perhaps not quite as bad as your old groaner). Luckily circumstances (which also had their unfortunate sides) reunited me with the old faithful I grew up with.

So my recommendation for when you part company with the old groaner would be: Don't get a digital, and (unless you have money to burn, which seems unlikely for someone who has mentioned worrying about next month's food bill) don't get a grand. Get a decent upright, but accept that you may have to try a few, and that they won't sound the same in your home as in the shop, so make sure you negotiate terms which let you change your mind as often as you like.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:03 pm 
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rainer wrote:
Hmm. I'm sure you can get a decent used grand for an awful lot less than 30k (true for whichever of €/£/$ you mean). I am in any case not at all convinced that a grand is a terribly wise investment unless you can also afford a house big enough to put it in, and I don't just mean that there is enough floor space for it. Unless you have the (spatial) volume and the acoustic that can actually take the sound the piano will produce, which implies high ceilings and a room large enough to seat at least (say) ten guests in reasonable comfort whom you might entertain before or after dinner with your playing, there is simply no point and I would say you are better off with an upright.


Well, my piano is not in a large room with high ceilings but I think it sounds fine. No matter how good an upright is, you will never get a sound as full as a grand. But of course if you don't have the money, then investing in a 'very good' upright is most practical.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:16 pm 
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The big room is a factor and is a reason why I would settle for a 1/3 (the next size up from the baby grand). Another consideration is technical: some pieces simply cannot be played on an upright: has anyone tried Albéniz's Leyenda on an upright? It is mechanically impossible! The same goes for Liszt's Consolations (about the only Liszt I have attempted), which seems impossible without the sustaining pedal.

Before I had a Baldwin upright, that cost me Ca. 2,000.00 (bucks) and, when I moved I had to sell it and I fetched something like 600.00. To have it sent to me would have cost more than the original value of the piano, let alone its sale value! Was it good?, Why, yes, thought it was very very loud and my ears would buzz after a practice session.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:39 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
The big room is a factor and is a reason why I would settle for a 1/3 (the next size up from the baby grand). Another consideration is technical: some pieces simply cannot be played on an upright: has anyone tried Albéniz's Leyenda on an upright? It is mechanically impossible! The same goes for Liszt's Consolations (about the only Liszt I have attempted), which seems impossible without the sustaining pedal.

You must mean the sostenuto pedal. Doesn't every piano have a sustain pedal? Whenever I play the 3rd (I think) Consolation I use the sostenuto pedal (the middle pedal).

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:09 am 
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richard66 wrote:
Another consideration is technical: some pieces simply cannot be played on an upright: has anyone tried Albéniz's Leyenda on an upright? It is mechanically impossible! The same goes for Liszt's Consolations (about the only Liszt I have attempted), which seems impossible without the sustaining pedal.
You're quite right that some pieces do require the selective sustain pedal, and what the middle pedal on most uprights does instead (simply lifting the dampers on the bottom few octaves) is a very poor substitute for that, and if such pieces are going to form a major part of your intended repertoire, then of course that will have a bearing on your decision whether you really must spend the extra money on a grand or whether you can get by with a decent upright. I could have done with a sost ped in some Barber songs I accompanied recently, but frankly I come across this requirement so rarely that it doesn't much bother me not having one at home.

I don't understand why you particularly mention Leyenda, though. As far as I can see it is perfectly well playable on an upright. The huge jumps are a horror no matter what type of instrument you play it on, but I can't see where in it a sost ped would be especially desirable, let alone necessary. Could you be more specific about exactly which sections you consider mechanically impossible?


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:44 am 
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No, Monica, only grands have the sostenuto pedal. Others have a middle pedal, but it only places a stip of felt between the hammers and the strings. Its only use is when you feel like reading something at 3am, because otherwise it alters the feel of the keys. You mention the very same Consolation I was thinking of and I am now practising pieces that obvioulsy ask for it too. I am trying to do with finger legato, but it makes it all that more difficult, as in one, for example, there on the RH is a suspension (4-3) within a chord being played with 1,2 and 5, which is the main melody), with the LF playing a counter melody whereas with the sustenuto pedal I would play with the RH the mailn melody and the suspension, leaving the rest for the LH - which is the way it is written out.

You misunderstand me, Rainer: in the Leyenda the pedal is not an issue, the issue are the repeated middle-register d's, which alternate between the hands. The hammers on an upright to not return to position fast enough, resulting in many of the d's being dropped out. That was already a problem with my old Baldwin, but on the one I have now it is impossible. The leaps never bothered me too much, except that landing ff on a black key with a finger 3/4 of the way off and skidding might cause injury.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:16 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
No, Monica, only grands have the sostenuto pedal.
Despite their common linguistic root, sostenuto and sustain pedals are not the same thing. Not all pianos have a sostenuto pedal (and apparently not all which do are grands) but all pianos do have a sustain pedal, that's the one on the right, also called the damper pedal.
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You misunderstand me, Rainer: in the Leyenda the pedal is not an issue, the issue are the repeated middle-register d's, which alternate between the hands. The hammers on an upright to not return to position fast enough, resulting in many of the d's being dropped out.
I see what you mean. Luckily it's not really a problem on my piano; the keys are able to repeat as fast as I can play them. Maybe I'm not (trying to) play them fast enough. :?
Quote:
The leaps never bothered me too much.
Really? Wow! I reckon the piece is pretty well impossible to play as written if you also want it fast. All the way through the fast sections, the left hand simply plods along playing on semiquaver beats 1,3,5,7,9,11, and its occasional octave jumps are basically going to govern what your maximum speed is going to be. Meanwhile the right hand mostly plays on 2,4,6,8,10,12. But where the leaps come, the right hand plays its loud chords on beat 1, but still has to play on the neighbouring beats 12 and 2. It therefore has to play on three consecutive semiquaver beats, with a jump of up to two octaves both between the first and second and between the second and third.

How do you play it? I think there are basically four ways:
1) By playing the whole piece slowly enough that your right hand can play its three consecutive semiquaver beats in time. Like this there is no way it will be so fast that the piano's mechanical repeatability will be anywhere near challenged (not even on your old groaner). But this will probably be rather too pedestrian for most people's taste.
2) By not playing 3 consecutive semiquavers at all. The right hand doesn't play 10,12,1,2,4 but only 10,12,2,4 as elsewhere, playing the loud chord on 2. The consequence of this is that you get a "ricochet" effect because the LH and RH chords are consecutive instead of simultaneous, they are a semiquaver apart. The recording on site does it this way. While it's not what's written, it's reasonably effective.
3) By judiciously omitting, or subtly shifting the timing of, the right hand's beats 12 or 2 or both.
4) By pragmatically abandoning all attempts to play in time, and inserting gaps between 12 and 1 and/or between 1 and 2 to give yourself time for the leaps. Unfortunately this rather disturbs the overall perpetuum mobile effect.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:07 pm 
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You forgot one more idea on how to land those leaps correctly, which is to have a friend standing nearby and ready to push down the notes at the right time. :idea: :P

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:55 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
No, Monica, only grands have the sostenuto pedal.
Despite their common linguistic root, sostenuto and sustain pedals are not the same thing. Not all pianos have a sostenuto pedal (and apparently not all which do are grands) but all pianos do have a sustain pedal, that's the one on the right, also called the damper pedal.
Quote:
You misunderstand me, Rainer: in the Leyenda the pedal is not an issue, the issue are the repeated middle-register d's, which alternate between the hands. The hammers on an upright to not return to position fast enough, resulting in many of the d's being dropped out.
I see what you mean. Luckily it's not really a problem on my piano; the keys are able to repeat as fast as I can play them. Maybe I'm not (trying to) play them fast enough. :?
Quote:
The leaps never bothered me too much.
Really? Wow! I reckon the piece is pretty well impossible to play as written if you also want it fast. All the way through the fast sections, the left hand simply plods along playing on semiquaver beats 1,3,5,7,9,11, and its occasional octave jumps are basically going to govern what your maximum speed is going to be. Meanwhile the right hand mostly plays on 2,4,6,8,10,12. But where the leaps come, the right hand plays its loud chords on beat 1, but still has to play on the neighbouring beats 12 and 2. It therefore has to play on three consecutive semiquaver beats, with a jump of up to two octaves both between the first and second and between the second and third.

How do you play it? I think there are basically four ways:
1) By playing the whole piece slowly enough that your right hand can play its three consecutive semiquaver beats in time. Like this there is no way it will be so fast that the piano's mechanical repeatability will be anywhere near challenged (not even on your old groaner). But this will probably be rather too pedestrian for most people's taste.
2) By not playing 3 consecutive semiquavers at all. The right hand doesn't play 10,12,1,2,4 but only 10,12,2,4 as elsewhere, playing the loud chord on 2. The consequence of this is that you get a "ricochet" effect because the LH and RH chords are consecutive instead of simultaneous, they are a semiquaver apart. The recording on site does it this way. While it's not what's written, it's reasonably effective.
3) By judiciously omitting, or subtly shifting the timing of, the right hand's beats 12 or 2 or both.
4) By pragmatically abandoning all attempts to play in time, and inserting gaps between 12 and 1 and/or between 1 and 2 to give yourself time for the leaps. Unfortunately this rather disturbs the overall perpetuum mobile effect.


You know, it has been so long that I have played it (I try now and then, but all those missing d's get me and I stop immediately). that I cannot remember what I do. Considering the mechanical problem stated above, it must be option 1.

Of course I call the left pedal the damper (or loud) pedal and the middle one therefore becomes sustain (which in Italian becomes sostenuto), a silly name really, as it means nothing, while the left pedal is the soft one, or una corda, if one has a grand. On an upright of course "una corda is a non-existent effect and no more that can be achieved by the fingers alone. Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.

The sotenuto pedal is (if I am not mistaken) a creation of Steinway's. The pianos that have it are those built from the lated 19th centurry onwards.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:11 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
... have a friend standing nearby and ready to push down the notes at the right time.
Brilliant. One could think of it as making the page turner's job less boring. In a live performance it might work quite well as a comic double-act, if the friend can pretend to be interjecting the high chords just to spice things up.

For recording purposes, of course, where editing is allowed, you could always be your own "friend". First record the piece without the chords, then (while listening to the first recording with headphones) record only the chords. Then combine the tracks.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:36 pm 
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rainer wrote:
For recording purposes, of course, where editing is allowed, you could always be your own "friend". First record the piece without the chords, then (while listening to the first recording with headphones) record only the chords. Then combine the tracks.

Oh wow!!! Why didn't I think of that! I could really have used that 'friend' in one of my Granados recordings. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:06 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine. It seems to me you are allowing your bad experiences with the groaner cloud your judgement of uprights in general. So far you have mentioned three things which are "impossible" on uprights which in fact aren't. :twisted:
Quote:
The sotenuto pedal is (if I am not mistaken) a creation of Steinway's.
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_pedals it was invented by someone else but perfected by Steinway, and subsequently included on all their grands and some of their uprights.

I was also astonished to read there that the una corda pedal nowadays usually no longer gives you the choice between playing on 3, 2, or 1 strings, but only between 3 and 2, and has therefore become a misnomer (it should be called a due corde pedal). I'm not in a position to quickly check, but I hope that's not true, and that that part of the article was written by some poor soul whose own piano is defective in that respect, and who has simply assumed that all grands were like that (much like you with uprights).


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:40 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine. It seems to me you are allowing your bad experiences with the groaner cloud your judgement of uprights in general. So far you have mentioned three things which are "impossible" on uprights which in fact aren't. :twisted:
Quote:
The sotenuto pedal is (if I am not mistaken) a creation of Steinway's.
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_pedals it was invented by someone else but perfected by Steinway, and subsequently included on all their grands and some of their uprights.

I was also astonished to read there that the una corda pedal nowadays usually no longer gives you the choice between playing on 3, 2, or 1 strings, but only between 3 and 2, and has therefore become a misnomer (it should be called a due corde pedal). I'm not in a position to quickly check, but I hope that's not true, and that that part of the article was written by some poor soul whose own piano is defective in that respect, and who has simply assumed that all grands were like that (much like you with uprights).


I did not say you cannot use half-keys: I said it makes no effect, because the keys return to position in the very same manner, half or all way. You can check the article and will see that. You can also look at the upright when playing.

I remember about the "some uprights", the ones that cost more than some grands, if I remember well.

On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings. Come to think of it, I have never seen the indication "due corde" anywhere. On uprights, in any case, the hammers are not shifted sideways but forward.

Another consideration is how sound is projected. I have noticed that standing at a higher level than the strings, that is, being able to look into the case of an upright, sound quality improves (for the listener). If you think that a grand projects sound not forward or backward, but up and down, you will see that in an upright sound is thrown at the pianist's (and audience's) face or is reflected from the walls, while from a grand the sound reaching the pianist (and the audience) is not direct, but reflected from the floor and ceiling (hence the hight ceilings, that have, for example, imporved Chris's recording setup). Why are grands sometimes placed on rugs in smaller settings? Here is the answer. I am not alone in noticing this, as I have read about it somewhere, possibly in that controversial book on piano practice.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:24 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine.
I did not say you cannot use half-keys: I said it makes no effect, because the keys return to position in the very same manner, half or all way.
I'm confused now and don't know whether I've misunderstood you. What effect do you want, that works on a grand but not on an upright? What happens on my upright is this: In their rest position, the hammers are about 45mm from the strings (or a little more than half that when the soft pedal is fully pressed). When I press a key and keep it pressed, then the hammer, having struck the strings, drops back to a position about 5mm from the string. Then when I let go the key, the hammer drops back to the rest position. But this drop-back is not all-or-nothing: The hammer comes back gradually as the key moves back up. So if I were to press the key again, having only let it go back up a little bit, then the effect of the next press is similar to using the soft pedal with it, because the hammer then only has a shorter distance in which to build up momentum. Are you saying this is what a grand does, but an upright does not? Mine does.
Quote:
You can check the article and will see that.
Where? The piano pedal wiki article doesn't seem to say anything about your half-key effect. It mentions a half-blow pedal, but that is just the name it uses for the soft pedal which uprights generally have instead of una corda. Interestingly, it mentions that some grands are now are being fitted with a "proper" soft pedal (half-blow) in addition to una corda (so there are 4 pedals altogether).
Quote:
On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings.
That's a great pity, it seems to make having the una corda pedal almost pointless.
Quote:
Another consideration is how sound is projected. I have noticed that standing at a higher level than the strings, that is, being able to look into the case of an upright, sound quality improves (for the listener).
Even with the lid shut (so that you can't actually "look into" the case)? On mine it's not practicable to open the lid, not just because music tends to get piled up there, but also because that's where the lamp goes. However, the design on mine does have slots cut into the front of the case (just behind the music stand), presumably to help let the sound out. There is also a substantial gap above the lower front cover (the vertical surface which goes from above the pedals to below the keyboard).

My piano isn't very tall either, by the way, with the top of the case only about 29cm above the level of the white keys, so that when seated my ears are about 20cm higher than the top of the case, which means I'm already at a higher level than the strings.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:08 am 
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richard66 wrote:
On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings. Come to think of it, I have never seen the indication "due corde" anywhere.

I recently came across due corde it in a piece I am working on, see image. It's the only instance that I know of. I have not given real thought about how to interpret if yet, as I tend to leave the u.c. pedal alone.


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File comment: Only example of due corde that I know about
duecorde.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:29 am 
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techneut wrote:
I recently came across due corde in a piece I am working on. It's the only instance that I know of.
The wikipedia article about piano pedals mentions two examples of Beethoven using this marking, and it's true.

One is the short middle movement of his fourth piano concerto. There is an instruction at the beginning that the entire movement is to be played "una corda", except for the short cadenza-like passage with a continuous trill, which begins with a bar of cresc from pp to ff, marked "due e poi tre corde". This is followed by 4 bars of ff, marked "a 3 cordes" (in French), then a bar of dim to pp, marked "due, poi una corda".

The other is the Hammerklavier sonata op 106, 3rd movement (Adagio sostenuto). This is liberally sprinkled throughout with "una corda" and "tutte le corde" instructions (abbreviated UC and TC in some editions), and in two places there is a marking "poco a poco due ed allora tutte le corde". Although later editions abbreviate this to "poco a poco tutte le corde", the implication is clear that one should gradually shift from one to three strings, necessarily via an intermediate stage of two strings.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Yes, where would we be without Wikipedia...

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:06 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Yes, where would we be without Wikipedia...


There would be far less Internet wisemen (or wisecrackers, cream crackers, cream puffs full of hot air or whatever :shock: ) who know everything after consulting it.

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Last edited by richard66 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:25 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine.
I did not say you cannot use half-keys: I said it makes no effect, because the keys return to position in the very same manner, half or all way.
I'm confused now and don't know whether I've misunderstood you. What effect do you want, that works on a grand but not on an upright? What happens on my upright is this: In their rest position, the hammers are about 45mm from the strings (or a little more than half that when the soft pedal is fully pressed). When I press a key and keep it pressed, then the hammer, having struck the strings, drops back to a position about 5mm from the string. Then when I let go the key, the hammer drops back to the rest position. But this drop-back is not all-or-nothing: The hammer comes back gradually as the key moves back up. So if I were to press the key again, having only let it go back up a little bit, then the effect of the next press is similar to using the soft pedal with it, because the hammer then only has a shorter distance in which to build up momentum. Are you saying this is what a grand does, but an upright does not? Mine does.
Quote:
You can check the article and will see that.
Where? The piano pedal wiki article doesn't seem to say anything about your half-key effect. It mentions a half-blow pedal, but that is just the name it uses for the soft pedal which uprights generally have instead of una corda. Interestingly, it mentions that some grands are now are being fitted with a "proper" soft pedal (half-blow) in addition to una corda (so there are 4 pedals altogether).
Quote:
On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings.
That's a great pity, it seems to make having the una corda pedal almost pointless.
Quote:
Another consideration is how sound is projected. I have noticed that standing at a higher level than the strings, that is, being able to look into the case of an upright, sound quality improves (for the listener).
Even with the lid shut (so that you can't actually "look into" the case)? On mine it's not practicable to open the lid, not just because music tends to get piled up there, but also because that's where the lamp goes. However, the design on mine does have slots cut into the front of the case (just behind the music stand), presumably to help let the sound out. There is also a substantial gap above the lower front cover (the vertical surface which goes from above the pedals to below the keyboard).

My piano isn't very tall either, by the way, with the top of the case only about 29cm above the level of the white keys, so that when seated my ears are about 20cm higher than the top of the case, which means I'm already at a higher level than the strings.



I made a mess of it. What I should have said is that a grand has a special mechanism for the half-key. On an upright you can, of course, keep the key half-pressed and then strike it - at your peril: very often the hammer, instead of stiking the key again, simply slips back into place and when you press the key it goes down but the hammer of course strikes nothing.

If you had tre, due and una corda how could this possibly be used when the bass of the piano usually consists of one string?

I have been off and on working on a Bortkiewicz piece that cannot technically be played on an upright, as he calls for una and tre corde. In the una corda section there is a crescendo that arrives at a forte. Then the tre corde sction begins at p. Now try that on an upright!

I have nothing on my piano and I keep the lid open. I do not even use the standard upright stand, but keep it closed (and stuffed with cotton, to keep it from vibrating), placing a book-stand on top of the lid, more or less where the rack would be on a grand. I did this because the score often interfered with my hands and even now, when I slide my fingers to the back of the keyboard, I hit my nuckles on the lid when I lift my hand.

You are not high enough to escape the effect I mention and, with all these gaps, the sound does hit you directly.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:05 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
What I should have said is that a grand has a special mechanism for the half-key. On an upright you can, of course, keep the key half-pressed and then strike it - at your peril: very often the hammer, instead of stiking the key again, simply slips back into place and when you press the key it goes down but the hammer of course strikes nothing.
OK, I think I see what you mean now. Where the Reblitz book ("Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding") describes how a grand's action works, having just explained what happens when you press and hold a key, and subsequently release it gradually, it remarks: "... when the front end of the key is less than halfway up, the action is ready for another complete cycle without the key needing to return to its rest position. When playing an upright, you must release the key and let it come almost all the way up before the jack slips under the butt, allowing the cycle to be repeated. When playing a grand, you can repeat notes quickly without waiting for the keys to return all the way to their rest position. Because it takes less time and finger motion to reset the action, notes can be repeated on a grand more rapidly than on an upright, particularly when playing softly."

This agrees with what you've been saying, but nevertheless my upright does not seem to behave in the manner above described; it reliably resets well before the key is even a quarter of the way up, perhaps it has an equivalent mechanism for enhancing repeatability, I can't get a good view of it to see. I reckon what limits my repeat speed isn't my piano, but my fingers, but I'll check if I can go faster on a grand, next time I get to one.
Quote:
If you had tre, due and una corda how could this possibly be used when the bass of the piano usually consists of one string?
Good question. Could it be that when the una corda mechanism was first introduced, all notes had three strings? Another possible answer is that once the split approach of having one string per note in the bottom octave (or less), two strings in the next two octaves (or so) and three in the rest, became fashionable, that composers would have made UC/DC/TC instructions only where the material of interest lies within the three string range.
Quote:
I have been off and on working on a Bortkiewicz piece that cannot technically be played on an upright, as he calls for una and tre corde. In the una corda section there is a crescendo that arrives at a forte. Then the tre corde sction begins at p. Now try that on an upright!
I don't see a problem there. Well, you know what they say. One ought to use the una corda pedal only to give a change of tone colour, not of loudness. Despite this, many (most?) players do use it as a "soft" pedal, and indeed it seems clear that historically that's what its main purpose was, any change of colour being a mere side-effect. The Beethoven examples I cited demonstrate that he intended use of the UC pedal to enhance both the crescendos and diminuendos beyond what could be achieved by touch alone, i.e. he sought greater extremes. No doubt many other composers also have volume foremost in their minds when writing the instruction (which is really only a suggestion) to use the UC pedal.

Insofar as that is the case, an upright's volume control capability is perhaps even superior to a grand's, not only because its effect is probably more pronounced, but also because it is continuously variable. In this respect (and maybe only in this respect), to paraphrase a popular song, anything a grand can do, an upright can do better. :P

Now, if you play something (a note, a chord, a section) forte without pedal, and then play the same thing again using identical touch but with left pedal (regardless of whether on grand or upright), then it will sound softer (never mind how much softer). To make something with pedal sound as loud as the original forte, you need to beef up your touch to the level which without pedal would give something approaching fortissimo.

Does the crescendo in your Bortkiewicz piece continue after the change to TC? If so, it seems plausible that the forte he writes just before the UC is not a "sound" forte but a "touch" forte, and that he may have intended the crescendo to be seamless across the change from UC to TC, in other words that he wanted the UC forte to be at the same level of loudness as the TC piano. Such a seamless crescendo is obviously easier to enhance using an upright-style soft pedal mechanism than a grand's una corda mechanism, because you would release the pedal gradually, not suddenly at the place indicated.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:42 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Quote:
I have been off and on working on a Bortkiewicz piece that cannot technically be played on an upright, as he calls for una and tre corde. In the una corda section there is a crescendo that arrives at a forte. Then the tre corde sction begins at p. Now try that on an upright!
I don't see a problem there. Well, you know what they say. One ought to use the una corda pedal only to give a change of tone colour, not of loudness. Despite this, many (most?) players do use it as a "soft" pedal, and indeed it seems clear that historically that's what its main purpose was, any change of colour being a mere side-effect. The Beethoven examples I cited demonstrate that he intended use of the UC pedal to enhance both the crescendos and diminuendos beyond what could be achieved by touch alone, i.e. he sought greater extremes. No doubt many other composers also have volume foremost in their minds when writing the instruction (which is really only a suggestion) to use the UC pedal.

Insofar as that is the case, an upright's volume control capability is perhaps even superior to a grand's, not only because its effect is probably more pronounced, but also because it is continuously variable. In this respect (and maybe only in this respect), to paraphrase a popular song, anything a grand can do, an upright can do better. :P

Now, if you play something (a note, a chord, a section) forte without pedal, and then play the same thing again using identical touch but with left pedal (regardless of whether on grand or upright), then it will sound softer (never mind how much softer). To make something with pedal sound as loud as the original forte, you need to beef up your touch to the level which without pedal would give something approaching fortissimo.

Does the crescendo in your Bortkiewicz piece continue after the change to TC? If so, it seems plausible that the forte he writes just before the UC is not a "sound" forte but a "touch" forte, and that he may have intended the crescendo to be seamless across the change from UC to TC, in other words that he wanted the UC forte to be at the same level of loudness as the TC piano. Such a seamless crescendo is obviously easier to enhance using an upright-style soft pedal mechanism than a grand's una corda mechanism, because you would release the pedal gradually, not suddenly at the place indicated.


He most possibly meant a change of colour, not of volume. It begins pp (other pieces of his go as far as pp without ever indicating una corda.) In this piece, which is in a sort of binary form (the B section is really a coda 7 bars long while A is 16): A-A'-B. he begins A una corda at pp and reaches f, then in A' he asks for tre corde, beginning at p and progressing to ff. In B (or the coda) he returns to una corda at p and progresses to ppp. In The Butterfly, for example, he also uses pp and ppp but never una corda, while in The Angel at one moment he asks for ppp dolcissimo (una corda) for the repeat of the first section of A. Here I understand that it is tone colour he is after.

In the Grieg (to return to the subject of the thread!) there are many pp's and some ppp's but no indication una corda for those passages.

_________________
Richard Willmer
"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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