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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:05 pm 
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Hi David,

Thanks for listening and for the compliments and comments.

Quote:
I believe you can more prominently etch with the RH thumb the inner scalar line, G, A, B, C and C#.


Yes, I would like to make the thumb slightly more prominent throughout.

Quote:
In measure 17, I suggest that you maintain forward motion in tempo. Then when you play the slentando in measure 18, it will occur as written and will be much more differentiated, meaningful and effective.


Interesting, although my score shows the slentando in measure 17, not 18.

Quote:
You've made an "emendation" to the score in measure 17 by playing the B octave one octave lower than written with a fairly big crash as well. The problem as I hear it is that the effect is simply too much given the character and context of the rest of the piece.


I'm actually surprised you're the first person to mention this. I thought I would be flayed by the purists out there :P I don't know, I guess after playing this piece for years, I would say that the regular octave doesn't do it for me any more. I think the low octave provides much more dramatic fire at the climax (it's an idea I admittedly stole from Cortot).

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:37 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Hi Eddy,

Interesting analogy, though frankly it seems a bit vague to me (I never was one for applied science :P ). I'll zero in on the primary musical statement:

Quote:
So rubato affects tempo NOT rhythm (except in the context of said tempo). If you play "rubato" on the first beat of three consecutive measures, or in a figure that is featured repetitively then what you're doing (I would argue) is not rubato, its dissruption of the rhythm.


Again, I don't think this is quite right, or at least an oversimplification. The rhythm with a uniform pattern is not really being substantivelyaltered because its internal pulse is consistent and the same and you can't completely alter that when applying rubato, just change its internal consistency. It's different than playing an entirely different rhythm that indeed would result from one's negligence in keeping time. The end of the exposition of the late Haydn E-flat Major sonata is one example that popped into my head; I've heard several professional pianists incorrectly play the last two shakes as rests followed by sixteenths rather than eighths, which mathematically and unambiguously alters the duration of the measure. That, in other words, is a completely different rhythm. You're correct in saying that the effect of rubato is one of overall tempo, but in altering that, one cannot help but make slight to moderate alterations in the rhythm of a consistent figuration, for indeed even if we mechanically follow the traditional definition of the term, the speedings up and slowings down do just that to both the tempo and the rhythm. In other words, tempo and rhythm are inextricably linked and rubato by necessity affects both (which is why your "except in the context of said tempo" doesn't really make sense to me -- because rubato always affects both tempo and rhythm to some degree, however small). The notion of whether you find the rubato repetitive is, I think, irrelevant. Speedings up and slowings down that occur repetitively change the tempo, and internal rhythm to some degree, the same mathematical amount as speedings up and slowings down that occur with greater variation (assuming we could replicate the same amount of change in both places in the passage). You can argue that you don't find it aesthetically pleasing or that you would want to hear it applied in a different way, but "rhythmic freedom" is in fact part of the universally accepted meaning of the term.

Joe

Joe, specifically, what precisely is the musical justification in your rendition of the Op.28 no.4 for hurring only the second half of the first beat (3rd and 4th 8th-notes in cut-time) in the first four measures? Except for those four isolated pulses, your interprestation is very nice. But given that there is nothing of interest on those four selected time-keeping pulses (no harmonic change, no melodic change, no dynamic change) its hard to see what the purpose of rubato is on such "empty" pulses. In fact what happens is that you draw attention to the up-beat of beat one repeatedly. Why 1 & 2 & 1 & 2 & , etc. when the work is structured: & 1 & 2 & 1 & 2 & 1, etc.?

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:06 pm 
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Quote:
Joe, specifically, what precisely is the musical justification in your rendition of the Op.28 no.4 for hurring only the second half of the first beat (3rd and 4th 8th-notes in cut-time) in the first four measures? Except for those four isolated pulses, your interprestation is very nice. But given that there is nothing of interest on those four selected time-keeping pulses (no harmonic change, no melodic change, no dynamic change) its hard to see what the purpose of rubato is on such "empty" pulses. In fact what happens is that you draw attention to the up-beat of beat one repeatedly. Why 1 & 2 & 1 & 2 & , etc. when the work is structured: & 1 & 2 & 1 & 2 & 1, etc.?


I don't have a justification, nor should I need to have one, any more than most things about a performance are really explainable. In looking at Wikipedia (not the best source I know, but I don't have a musical dictionary handy), I see nothing about rubato having to accompany a "harmonic, melodic, or dynamic change." It can occur within a phrase, regardless of where that is. To be honest, these are all pieces I've played for many years, and because preludes 4 and 6 have no to little technical difficulties, I confess I didn't practice them much before I recorded them. Not so numbers 3 and 5, which I worked pretty hard on just to get in my fingers again (i.e., since I have so little time to practice, sometimes I pull a bit of triage). Of course now, as I generally do when people make a significant objection to something, I will go back and experiment more, see to what extent I agree with the criticism, and probably do something very different. Such is the nature of performing, but I like to try to be as spontaneous as I can. If one tries to plan rubato, the effect will be deadwood as it often is in so many performances to my ears nowadays.

I must also say that I personally find this kind of hyperanalysis a bit of a bore that in any event would result in only marginal improvement in an overall performance. It's the reason I don't delight in pointing out a note mistake or spending my time craning my eyes for an infaithfulness to the score. It's the big picture that matters. And IMO rubato is one of the most tenuous aspects of a performance one could possibly pick to analyze.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:38 pm 
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Hi Joe,

I like the Paderewski Edition for playing the preludes, but just now looked in the Schirmer edited by Joseffy (one of the finest editors of all time). There the slentando does occur in measure 17, unlike the Paderewski. So I guess this is just one more of those many "edition moments" in Chopin. :lol: And there is no urtext edition that will settle this, as most pianists agree that at this moment there is still no true and definitive urtext for Chopin's works, despite the scholarly efforts of Henle and others. A major part of the problem was Chopin himself. Unlike Liszt who went over his publisher's proofs with a fine tooth comb, Chopin was very lax in that regard. Plus there are his unpublished changes noted in his performances, as well as his pencil markings in his students' scores--i.e., Klindworth, Mikuli, etc.--that raise more questions than answers. Were they corrections of printing errors or impromptu revisions? Who knows? Well, I guess it provides more variety in performances anyway!

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:22 pm 
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Quote:
It's the reason I don't delight in pointing out a note mistake or spending my time craning my eyes for an infaithfulness to the score.

Joe, I totally agree with you here.

I have found a better voice (I believe) for the distnction I have tried to make about rubato being fundamentally about tempo, rather than rhythm, and that it's excess results in rhythmic distortion. Here are the words of Carl Mikuli, from the first paragraph of his introduction to all his Schirmer edition of the Chopin works:

"According to a tradition -- and, be it said, an erroneous one -- Chopin's playing was like that of one dreaming rather than awake -- scarcely audible in its continual pianissimos and una cordas, with feebly develped technique and quite lacking in confidence, or at least indistinct, and distorted out of all rhythmic form by an incessant tempo rubato! ... " [bold added by me] I hope this gets my point across; I don't think I can say it any better or more convincingly.

Regards,
Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:20 am 
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But then there's the other story about Chopin playing his own mazurkas in 4/4 time (sorry, can't remember the source)... Without recordings from that era, we'll never really know.

Sorry to come in late on this conversation. A couple of times I've read a post with interest, decided to think a while before replying, and found that things had moved on.

The pseudoscience that has grown up around rubato does get ridiculous sometimes. If we start trying to give precise definitions of "tempo" and "rhythm", we'll soon find that the two can never be entirely separated. We can analyse as much as we like, but in the end it still comes down to a matter of taste.

One ingredient that hasn't yet been mentioned: in slow pieces I think there's a danger of using excessive rubato to hide the fact that the pianist doesn't know any other way of making the piece sound expressive. The better your mastery of tone quality and pedalling, the less you'll be inclined to do "eccentric" things to the tempo/rhythm (although you still want a certain amount of flexibility).

Having said that, I did enjoy listening to Joe's performance of those preludes. The rubato doesn't entirely convince me, but I can see what it's aiming at, and it's good to hear something a little different.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:31 am 
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hanysz wrote:
But then there's the other story about Chopin playing his own mazurkas in 4/4 time (sorry, can't remember the source)...


Charles Halle. Additionally Meyerbeer told Chopin he was playing (another mazurka) in 2/4.


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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:19 am 
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hanysz wrote:
The pseudoscience that has grown up around rubato does get ridiculous sometimes. If we start trying to give precise definitions of "tempo" and "rhythm", we'll soon find that the two can never be entirely separated. We can analyse as much as we like, but in the end it still comes down to a matter of taste.

Absolutely agreed. I guess the same could be about other aspects of playing. It can't help the music to over-analyse.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:34 am 
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Hi David,

Quote:
I like the Paderewski Edition for playing the preludes, but just now looked in the Schirmer edited by Joseffy (one of the finest editors of all time). There the slentando does occur in measure 17, unlike the Paderewski.


Interesting that these differ. Maybe Chopin himself couldn't decide :lol: I actually use the Dover version of the Mikuli for the preludes and etudes. Dover seems to split between Paderewski and Mikuli. I think the ballades, impromptus, and sonatas are Paderewski, while the nocturnes and polonaises are Mikuli, for example. Even though the Paderewski seems to be universally hailed as the "authoritative" editions, my slight preference might be for the Mikuli. Mikuli being one of Chopin's best students (too bad Carl Filtsch died so young), he seems to be the appointed scribe who ensured that the master's markings were set down. I especially like the fingerings in Mikuli, finding them more natural than the Paderewski in general (a notable example is the B-flat minor, number 16).

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:08 am 
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Hi Everyone,

Just a few comments on rubato in general: In the Romantic and lyrical piano literature in particular, rubato becomes a sine qua non in performance. Rubato, firstly, has to comport with the mood of a piece. Once that requirement has been met, then rubato becomes mostly a matter of degree in my opinion. By nature it must be more the exception than the rule in order to achieve an improvisatory effect in expressive piano playing, while maintaining a sense of perspective and proportion relative to underlying structure. Thus, it has to be applied in good taste to maintain that balance. In other words, rubato should never dominate or displace structure in the broader picture. For once rubato becomes excessive, structure inevitably erodes into a state of vagueness. That indicates that one's pianism has become idiosyncratic, mannered, or exaggerated to the detriment of both the music and the composer. There is no one objective, indisputable, unshakable, or immutable measurement that creates a universal boundary line where musicianship crosses over into idiosyncratic performance. Rather it all comes down to the pianist exercising good judgment in performance so as to be convincing.

This is simply my own subjective thinking about the nature of rubato that I use to guide rubato in my own playing. Others may disagree. It's a delicate matter, and everyone has to make their own choices.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:48 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
By nature it must be more the exception than the rule [snip]

That is very true. You sometimes hear players who continuously distort the music by not playing any two bars, in the same rhythm and tempo. Rubato must indeed be applied judiciously or it will become a bad habit.

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:14 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Rachfan wrote:
By nature it must be more the exception than the rule [snip]

That is very true. You sometimes hear players who continuously distort the music by not playing any two bars, in the same rhythm and tempo. Rubato must indeed be applied judiciously or it will become a bad habit.


Sort of like the way pop singers sing these days. Horrible...they hardly stay on the melody...I hate that!

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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Preludes and Scriabin Preludes Op. 11 -- Part I
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:45 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Sort of like the way pop singers sing these days. Horrible...they hardly stay on the melody...I hate that!

Pop singers these days usually don't have much of a melody to stay on :P

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