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 Post subject: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:13 pm 
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Some of Bedrich Smetana's many piano works in folksy idiom. Excuse a couple of less than clean notes - these are far trickier than thy may sound.

Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8 - 1: Vivo (2:40)
Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8 - 2: Meno Allegro (Moderato) (4:25)
Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8 - 3: Allegro (2:58)

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:11 pm 
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Very nice set, Chris!
I particularly liked the 2nd one - both for the piece itself and your rendition. Your playing had a more "authoritative" sound on this one. And the piece has several beautiful passages.
The emphasis on the bass notes in the passages around 2:20 and then 2:50 sounds good through the speakers, and I like the added punch the second time - shows the effort necessary to keep an audience happy. If I had any criticism at all for the second mvmt it would be the broken thirds just before those two passages; they could sound crisper.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:15 pm 
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StuKautsch wrote:
Very nice set, Chris!
I particularly liked the 2nd one - both for the piece itself and your rendition. Your playing had a more "authoritative" sound on this one. And the piece has several beautiful passages.
The emphasis on the bass notes in the passages around 2:20 and then 2:50 sounds good through the speakers, and I like the added punch the second time - shows the effort necessary to keep an audience happy. If I had any criticism at all for the second mvmt it would be the broken thirds just before those two passages; they could sound crisper.

Thanks for that Stu. Yes the 2nd is beautiful and offers many opportunities to be profound and subtle, whereas the other two are just merry romps.
I'm not sure where you hear broken thirds in it though !?

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:04 pm 
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Chris said:
Quote:
I'm not sure where you hear broken thirds in it though !?


Interesting question: Now that I've looked at the score, the words "you hear" in the question take on more importance. The leggierissimo passage in the G-Major section looks like descending broken seconds, but, if not accented, apparently can be heard as broken descending [minor] thirds, which is what I heard. (In the previous sentence, the order of the words "descending" and "broken" is important.)

Without the LH to guide the ear, this can easily occur. I do not know the purpose of this passage, but it bothers me. Now that I've seen it, I'm not sure it can be made sensible by the pianist, unless it's perhaps very quiet (even una corda), and so fast as to be a blur. The rest of the piece is so well written, too ...

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:42 pm 
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StuKautsch wrote:
Interesting question: Now that I've looked at the score, the words "you hear" in the question take on more importance. The leggierissimo passage in the G-Major section looks like descending broken seconds, but, if not accented, apparently can be heard as broken descending [minor] thirds, which is what I heard.

Ah yes, these leggierissimo runs were the only thing I was dissatisfied with in no.2. For some reason they just would not come out as smooth as they do usually (when I'm not recording). I think I'll need to redo all 3 of these as 1 and 3 have their little issues too.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:41 am 
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Hi Chris,

I enjoyed hearing these three polkas which you played so well. Probably the only other polka I've heard is Rachmaninov's "Polka de W.R." :lol: Smetana, both in his orchestral and piano repertoires, seems to be one of those composers who are never at a loss for a good tune. Much of his music is nationalistic, but these pieces are also very bucolic in nature adding a lot of charm. A fine performance and recording!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:25 pm 
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Thanks David, glad you like them. True, Smetana has a true knack for rousing tunes.
I'm not sure I am wholly satisfied with all these three. Such a thing seems to get harder and harder.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:21 am 
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Really enjoyed the Polkas, Chris.

In the first one, I especially liked the rubato you took at the end of the second
repeat section, despite the marking [a] tempo.

In the second one, I see what Stu was saying about the seconds/minor thirds. Man,
that's an awkward passage to make musical while executing a molto accelerando.
I really liked the Piu Lento section.

I have a recording of the second one on CD and there were a few noticeable
differences from your performance. The initial tempo was considerably faster,
and there was care to enunciate the portato in the non-pedaled sections of the
piece such as the beginning and the last section. In the poco piu vivo section,
the artist started faster and was doing a slight rallantando starting as early as
your 0.49. As for the leggierissimo molto accelerando section, let's just say
that there wasn't really a noticeable accelerando, at least not during the run.
Of course, different interpretations are part of what makes piano music so
endlessly fascinating, but I think the lack of embedded accelerando makes more
musical sense.

I couldn't find the music for the third one on IMSLP and I don't have a recording,
so I'm afraid all I can say is that it sounds to be cleanly executed.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:30 am 
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Thanks for your appreciation Mark. Smetana's piano oeuvre is a rich vein, his writing sometimes on a par with Liszt.

Incidentally I had just re-recorded no.2 yesterday, because of the leggierissimo section which was a bit awkward. Not sure if you heard the first of second version. It's better now though it sill would not come out as it does when I'm playing for fun. This bar is marked leggierissimo accel. (not molto accel.) bit I have to concede the accel. never registered with me if I saw it at all. Sometimes one can be blind !

I though about re-recording nos. 1 and 3 too but thought better of it. They are not bad enough for that.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:53 am 
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The only Smetana piece I've attempted was inspired by pianosociety, and that was Slepicka
(Little Hen) from the second book of Czech Dances. It's a delightfully offbeat piece that
really does mimic the short attention span of a hen, but there's a very fast RH section
in the middle that's quite tricky.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:41 pm 
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yes that is a cute piece, and very tricky. And yet it's probably one of the 'easiest' pieces in that set. The Czech Dances are easily the best piano music ever produced in Czechia - very very difficult but enormously rewarding. It baffles me that this music still is the domain of a handful unknown specialists, and that great pianists do not feature them in concert programs. Maybe their time will come yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:06 am 
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Hi Chris,

Had a listen to your first last Saturday. I think you have the right idea here with this piece. You bring out the happy-go-lucky character and I think it is effective. Sorry I've been away for a while. It looks like you've been productive in these past few weeks. I wish I could sample all of them. I am on a public computer and there isn't free Wi-Fi in my new apartment. I just moved house, recently.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:28 am 
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Thank you Riley. Indeed we had not seen you for a while ! Well moving house is a valid excuse. I had no time for PS when I was moving, and for quite some time afterwards. I hope you get settled soon, and get a good Internet connection.

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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:52 pm 
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I just listened to these and think they are great! In particular your rendition of no 2 is very expressive and with careful phrasing and bringing out counterpoint persuasively - something that is often more difficult in slower pieces. I also quite liked the cheerful first one. The last one is also good but for some reason did not make the same impression on me, though I think it is due to the music and not your playing.

Joachim


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 Post subject: Re: Smetana - 3 Polkas Poetiques Op.8
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:29 pm 
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Thanks Joachim ! Smetana should appeal to you, as he lived and worked in Sweden for some years.

I agree that the 3rd one is somehow not as good as the first two, it's a bit monochrome and repetitive. I think it might be an earlier piece, maybe one of Smetana's many stand-alone polkas which somehow found its way into an opus.

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