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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:28 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
I'm afraid to lead this post to too Off-topic, but can you help me in understanding what a perfect Chopin rubato is? (Sorry for my ignorance again :oops: )

lol, just that the tempo remains steady in the accompaniment hand - maybe not metronomic, but with a strong enough pulse to at least sound metronomic to the casual listener - while the melodic hand is free from the accompaniment hand, weaving in and out. Perhaps both hands will weave in an out a bit, but the time that is borrowed must always be returned. GG's melodic hand was not all that free - I have heard more convincing Chopin rubato, that's for sure - but he kept the tempo under control, which is something that is lacking in most pianists' recordings of Chopin (Ashkenazy comes to mind....I have his complete Chopin). It is much easier for us to add ritardandos and accelerandos where there are none, than it is for us to keep the tempo and the precise rhythm in one hand, but not in the other. :lol: I find that the structure of the piece weakens when the rubato is too free. Melodies become garbled statements, and syncopation becomes meaningless.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:56 pm 
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Thank you Terez. I had read that thing somewhere, but I never considered it as so important... Maybe cause most pianists observe that not so strictly. At the first sight, it sounds a bit strange that you must obey a strict rule in interpreting music, but as you wrote, it is important.

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:04 am 
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I think that most pianists do not observe it strictly because it is extremely difficult. Not so difficult to play in tempo....but difficult to be expressive while playing in tempo. Even after playing so much Bach, so that our hands are independent of each other, it is extremely counterintuitive to most of us to let one hand be free of the other in this sense, especially in certain types of music, like the more lyrical pieces and episodes of Chopin. So we do what is easier: we are expressive via the unwritten ritardando and accelerando - this 'all over the place' rubato that is common in most Chopin interpretations (including mine, much to my disappointment).

So, since it is difficult, I think for many years, professional pianists have justified this non-Chopin type of rubato in Chopin by saying that to play Chopin in strict tempo must be mechanical, and non-musical. But I don't believe that is the case.

Sorry for going OT, Monica...especially seeing as how I think we have argued about this before. :lol: I will add my voice to those who think you should play what you are most comfortable with, at the competition. As Alfie says, it's a no-brainer.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:20 am 
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Monica, thank you for sharing your planning of pieces! I think the combination of Mozart, Chopin and Mompou is good. I know how you play Ch and M. You love them and play well. But which mov. of Mozart are you going to play? The first mov. from K570 which you recently recorded? Or the third? I personally would really agonize over choosing just one sonata movement for a recital program. Cause I'm a bit obsessed by the puristic thought that a sonata schould be played in a whole and based on this it would be difficult for me to find a movement which could harmonize with other pieces. But I know well this is a competition with time limit and the jury allows to play only a movement from a sonata. Besides, playing a Mozart for a competition would be never easy, since a small mistake or uneven runs would be too apparent. Just a personal thinking from an unexperienced one :roll: :roll:
BTW your Barcarolle was good...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:22 am 
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Monica, the last post of me came to my mind as I awakened this morning and found my concerns against selecting just one Mozart movement totally useless and rather confusing. So never mind it :oops:
However I wanted add one thing that is hopefully useful. When you play a technically tricky piece before the audience, you schould plan another short and easy piece before that one: This was what I learned from my performance of that Bach-Rach transcription. Actually I made the most terrible performance ever on that day. As I warmed up on the instrument before it, everything seemed to work well. But during a not that long break until the real performance I was frozen from the cold and the nervousness. So the result was horrible. It turned out that my RH can alway work also in the emotional stir, but my LH not. After it I thought if I played another comfortable piece directly before that piece, I could more relax myself and recover myself not only technically but also musically.
So if you play the Barcarolle (which I suppose very hard) in any round, check if you can play that in any circumstances comfortably.

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:39 am 
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hyenal wrote:
Monica, the last post of me came to my mind as I awakened this morning and found my concerns against selecting just one Mozart movement totally useless and rather confusing. So never mind it :oops:

I was going to say...I dunno if 'purist' is even the right way to go about describing that need to play a whole multi-movement piece. Even in Chopin's time, it was still common to play other things between movements of a multi-movement piece, for variety. I have been thinking about that a lot lately, because of the way the Bach organ passacaglia was written. The fugue was obviously not written to be played right after the passacaglia, because the ending of the passacaglia is so awesome as to make one wonder why he wrote anything after it. But when you take into consideration that the fugue was not intended to be played right then - made obvious by the way the opening pickup note of the fugue overlaps awkwardly with the final chord of the passacaglia - it all makes sense. Bach probably played the passacaglia to open the church service, putting the fear of God into everyone as they settled down for worship. Bach, of course, achieves that magnificently. The fugue might have been played at some other time during the service, but it makes the most sense to me as something to play as the service ends. Maybe because the ending of that one speaks to me, saying 'church is over now!' :lol:

I will probably never try to play anything as hard as the Barcarolle for anything like this. :cry: I do love it though....

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:19 pm 
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On the competition guidelines, it states that they like to see a variety of styles and composers on competitors chosen list of repertoire. And with the first round being only ten minutes, I could only squeeze in the one Mozart sonata movement.

@Hye-Jin, that is a very good tip about playing something easy for the first piece so that you feel a bit more relaxed for the next pieces. I've had similar problems like you did - seems that if I play a piece very well, then the next time it goes very badly and vice versa. Therefore, when I am practicing/warming up before performing, I try to end that warming up time when I've played my piece badly. That means that the next time should go well. Probably some weird psychological thing...

@Terez - I tried playing through the Barcarolle again yesterday and man....it would take so much work for me to get it back in shape again. I'm afraid of hurting my wrists. But I still love it too....

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:21 pm 
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Well, I just a moment ago played through Chopin's Bolero. I forgot I even had it - found it just now under a pile of books. And you know, I like this piece! It's fairly long but not nearly as difficult as the Barcarolle. I wish I would have thought of this before - I may work on it now and see if I can get it into somewhat decent shape. Do you guys know this piece and what do you think of it?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:29 pm 
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I didn't know that piece, so I listened to Ashkenazy's rendition on YT (Rubinstein's playing is not available in Germany again :evil: ). I think the piece suits to you very well and just from listening it sounded not so easy to play. Anyway Good luck with that Bolero, Monica!
(BTW does it belong to pieces of Chopin which are hardly played? I have listened to many Chopin CDs so far but had never found it.)

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:57 pm 
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All of the Chopin 'miscellaneous' pieces suffer from neglect, with the exception of the barcarolle and the berceuse. Probably because we tend to buy Chopin by genre - nocturnes, etudes, preludes, mazurkas, polonaises, scherzos, ballades, waltzes, polonaises, sonatas, impromptus. The vast majority of Chopin's solo music is in one of those categories. I think the Barcarolle stands out because it's truly one of his best works, and the berceuse maybe because of its uniqueness (can't think of another piece that varies on such a brief chaconne).

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


Last edited by Terez on Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:00 am 
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Terez wrote:
All of the Chopin 'miscellaneous' pieces suffer from neglect, with the exception of the barcarolle and the berceuse. Probably because we tend to buy Chopin by genre - nocturnes, etudes, preludes, scherzos, ballades, waltzes, polonaises, sonatas, impromptus. The vast majority of Chopin's solo music is in one of those categories. I think the Barcarolle stands out because it's truly one of his best works, and the berceuse maybe because of its uniqueness (can't think of another piece that varies on such a brief chaconne).


Don't forget the Fantasia Op.49. All three are unique masterpieces in their genre (the Fantasia is all but a Fantasy, I actually couldn't find more solidly organized music than that).

Monica, I don't believe it's really important what you play, I mean, the Bolero is a known piece but seldom performed in concert (this is probably a plus in a competition, since you won't bore public and jury with the umpteenth Polonaise héroïque), if you like playing it and play it well, then do not think twice about that and put the Bolero in your program. My only suggestion about the competition is: choose pieces you have already learnt in the past and be sure to have enough time to polish them up focusing on the fine details. Plan your schedule carefully.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:53 am 
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I love the Fantasy! Too hard for me, though. But I may give the Bolero a shot - I'm practicing it now. If I can get it down soon, I'll change my program.

So...thanks to all of you here who have helped me and discussed some ideas. Guess there is nothing more to say now until I learn whether or not I am in the competition.

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

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:51 am 
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alf wrote:
Don't forget the Fantasia Op.49.

And I had to edit my post because I forgot the mazurkas and polonaises. :lol: I don't hear the Fantasy played nearly as often as the Barcarolle and Berceuse, and usually on 'favorite Chopin' albums, the selection of the Berceuse is most common. But I did have the Fantasy as one of four required listening pieces in my keyboard lit class.

Also, at the Ann Schein concert the other night, she played the polonaise-fantasy, along with the b minor sonata and Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze. I think that's the first time I've ever seen the polonaise-fantasy performed. My friend David just did the b minor sonata, and much better than Schein did, I think. I hear Schein wrote a letter to our university president about the unsatisfactory Steinway she was forced to play on...

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:52 am 
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Terez wrote:
Also, at the Ann Schein concert the other night, she played the polonaise-fantasy, along with the b minor sonata and Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze. I think that's the first time I've ever seen the polonaise-fantasy performed. My friend David just did the b minor sonata, and much better than Schein did, I think. I hear Schein wrote a letter to our university president about the unsatisfactory Steinway she was forced to play on...


Is he the same David whose 'Precipitato' from the Prokofiev's 7th Sonata you sent me months ago?

Never heard of Ann Schein before. Your University president should remind her that Brahms had once to transpose at first sight a whole violin sonata by Beethoven from C major to C# major because the old piano provided was so miserable that couldn't hold the diapason and Reményi had in turn refused to tune his instrument half tone lower.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:33 am 
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alf wrote:
Terez wrote:
Also, at the Ann Schein concert the other night, she played the polonaise-fantasy, along with the b minor sonata and Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze. I think that's the first time I've ever seen the polonaise-fantasy performed. My friend David just did the b minor sonata, and much better than Schein did, I think.

Is he the same David whose 'Precipitato' from the Prokofiev's 7th Sonata you sent me months ago?

Yes, and he would probably kill me if he knew I'd shared that with anyone. :lol:

Oh, and you reminded me of another thing about Schein....I heard about all this from our piano technician at my lesson yesterday (he chose that time to stop by and gossip with my piano teacher). She felt like the piano was 'flat', and asked him to tune the entire thing up a bit. So he tuned it to 441 for her, and two days later, they tried to have a clarinet concert with that piano, and the guest artist canceled one of his planned pieces because he couldn't tune with the piano properly. :lol:

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