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 Post subject: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:01 am 
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Next installment of my WTC re-recording. I worked on these for a very long time so I hope they are ok.

Bach - BWV 858 - Das Wolhtemperierte Clavier I - Prelude and Fugue No.13 in F sharp major (4:24)
Bach - BWV 859 - Das Wolhtemperierte Clavier I - Prelude and Fugue No.14 in F sharp minor (4:33)
Bach - BWV 882 - Das Wolhtemperierte Clavier II - Prelude and Fugue No.13 in F sharp major (5:51)
Bach - BWV 883 - Das Wolhtemperierte Clavier II - Prelude and Fugue No.14 in F sharp minor (9:22)

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:50 am 
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I'm commenting only on BWV 882, since it's the one I've played most recently. I found the prelude a bit too "right-handed"--the counterpoint is all invertible, so I'd sometimes like to hear the left hand sound louder than the right to give a sense of dialogue. Also for my taste you can afford to relax (slow down slightly) at phrase endings sometimes. For what it's worth, in bar 52 for the LH I play A sharp as the second note. All the scores I've checked have G sharp, as you play it, but it just sounds wrong to my ears. I've heard it played both ways, so there seems to be no consensus.

The fugue I think is one of the most difficult in WTC--even though it's only three voices, it doesn't lie under the hands comfortably, there are a lot of leaps, and the ornaments are difficult to bring off. On the whole your playing is very clear and you've met most of the challenges successfully. But you could have made it a lot easier for yourself by not insisting on so much legato--the 6ths suggest a more detached style of playing, which would help to bring out the gavotte character, and it's also easier to play that way. Be careful with the voicing in places such as bars 26-27--I think you need to play the alto voice louder than the soprano in order for it to make sense.

I'm impressed by your dedication in rerecording all of these. I think most people would be very satisfied to do it just once!

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:36 pm 
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Thanks for the feedback Alexander. Your professional opinion is always welcome.
hanysz wrote:
I'm commenting only on BWV 882, since it's the one I've played most recently. I found the prelude a bit too "right-handed"--the counterpoint is all invertible, so I'd sometimes like to hear the left hand sound louder than the right to give a sense of dialogue. Also for my taste you can afford to relax (slow down slightly) at phrase endings sometimes. For what it's worth, in bar 52 for the LH I play A sharp as the second note. All the scores I've checked have G sharp, as you play it, but it just sounds wrong to my ears. I've heard it played both ways, so there seems to be no consensus.

It never occurred to me this G sharp sounded wrong. Indeed A sharp sounds good too, just as plausible if not more. But who are we to improve on Bach ? I've learnt that everything he does is for a reason, even if I don't always get it. Isn't Bach a lot like God :D

Curiously, I do have such an issue with the fugue of BWV 858. In bar 21, last beat, the RH has two D#'s that sound wrong to me. In fact I've always played C## but for the recording I decided to be puritan. Others I heard play as written too. What is your take on this ?

hanysz wrote:
The fugue I think is one of the most difficult in WTC--even though it's only three voices, it doesn't lie under the hands comfortably, there are a lot of leaps, and the ornaments are difficult to bring off. On the whole your playing is very clear and you've met most of the challenges successfully. But you could have made it a lot easier for yourself by not insisting on so much legato--the 6ths suggest a more detached style of playing, which would help to bring out the gavotte character, and it's also easier to play that way. Be careful with the voicing in places such as bars 26-27--I think you need to play the alto voice louder than the soprano in order for it to make sense.

I gave the soprano priority here, and when that passage re-occurs in bars 56 onwards, I tried to give the alto priority to provide some variation. I guess that idea did not work as I thought it would. Yes this fugue could be played more lightly, detached, and dance-like, but I get carried away with its powerful driving force.

hanysz wrote:
I'm impressed by your dedication in rerecording all of these. I think most people would be very satisfied to do it just once!

It's a labor of love :D Also my first cycle was only just passable in terms of sound, interpretation and technique. It had to be replaced.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:22 pm 
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techneut wrote:
It never occurred to me this G sharp sounded wrong. Indeed A sharp sounds good too, just as plausible if not more. But who are we to improve on Bach ? I've learnt that everything he does is for a reason, even if I don't always get it. Isn't Bach a lot like God :D

Curiously, I do have such an issue with the fugue of BWV 858. In bar 21, last beat, the RH has two D#'s that sound wrong to me. In fact I've always played C## but for the recording I decided to be puritan. Others I heard play as written too. What is your take on this ?


If I could be 100% sure that Bach wrote it, and that he checked and rechecked it carefully, then I'd feel very bad about changing it. (I'm much more conscientious about sticking to the score with Brahms, because it's known that he was meticulous in checking the publisher's proofs.) But handwritten manuscripts being what they are, I don't believe I'm improving on Bach's work, but on the work of some unknown copyist or editor. At least, that's my excuse so far.

Re BWV 858: I haven't yet performed this work, so it's possible that my opinion might change after I spend some time practising the piece. But my feeling at the moment is that, yes, the dissonance in bar 21 is a little uncomfortable, but the D sharp is intended as a pedal point. If you change it, then logically you should also change the parallel passage at bar 12-13. So I'd be inclined to play this one as written.

While we're on the subject (possibly this should be in another thread), the other place where I do depart from the score is the G major prelude of book 2, BWV 884. I'm absolutely convinced that bar 7 should have C sharps.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:09 pm 
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For what it's worth, I'm looking at my Tovey (hardly the last word, I admit) re bar 52 of Bk 2 the F# prelude: he gives us G#. (I take it the "second note" LH refers to the first beat, second sixteenth note.) And as I sit here at the piano playing it, it sounds right to me, because I am used to hearing it; altough playing the LH A# does sound more consistent with the RH A# that immediately follows.

This is one of my favourite preludes from Bk 2. The tricky dotted rhythms, which are the hard part, all come across perfectly. My only quibble would be with some of the ornaments, which could be clearer and more precise, especially in the left hand (ditto with the Gavotte/Fugue that follows.) I here a trace of reverb, but barely perceptible, which I personally am unable to bring myself to do (even though I know it is the right thing to do).

The piano is very nicely tuned!

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:58 pm 
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hanysz wrote:
While we're on the subject (possibly this should be in another thread), the other place where I do depart from the score is the G major prelude of book 2, BWV 884. I'm absolutely convinced that bar 7 should have C sharps.

I don't see the problem. There is a C# in bar 7 of that prelude (just the one though). At least in Henle Urtext. You mean your score has C natural ? That would be silly because we're modulating to D major.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:02 pm 
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johnlewisgrant wrote:
This is one of my favourite preludes from Bk 2. The tricky dotted rhythms, which are the hard part, all come across perfectly. My only quibble would be with some of the ornaments, which could be clearer and more precise, especially in the left hand (ditto with the Gavotte/Fugue that follows.) I here a trace of reverb, but barely perceptible, which I personally am unable to bring myself to do (even though I know it is the right thing to do).

The piano is very nicely tuned!

Thanks JG. I though I had the ornaments pretty well nailed, but seems like not. Have you got any particular ones in mind ?
I use the same reverb as in all my recordings, Concert Hall Light. It sounds drab without it. I guess you would not need it, having a better instrument, acoustics, and equipment.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:15 pm 
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[/quote]
Thanks JG. I though I had the ornaments pretty well nailed, but seems like not. Have you got any particular ones in mind ?
I use the same reverb as in all my recordings, Concert Hall Light. It sounds drab without it. I guess you would not need it, having a better instrument, acoustics, and equipment.[/quote]

Re reverb: actually meant to say that I am pathologically addicted to too much reverb and I am unable to use a tasteful amount. You use a tasteful amount.

Re ornaments: I should have been more precise. I meant the shakes or trills, only, of the F# Major Fugue: The first note of the main subject --E#-- should (for me anyway) be stated, even over-stated, at the outset. So either one sits emphatically on it at the start and THEN the shake (which is contrary to the usual rule but safe: Afanassiev, Ashkenazy do it) OR the shake starting on F# must be letter perfect, not even slightly truncated *eg A. Hewitt. Maybe my ears need cleaning, but I hear Feltsman starting on the F# but truncating the shake; whereas, if anything, I would err on the side of overextending the duration of that all important trill.

So (I guess that puts you in good company with Feltsman): that opening trill sounds truncated to me. Bar 40: trill seems to my ears uneven.... Contrast to LH bar 64: trill is perfect and the trill at bar 5, second statement of the subject, likewise so: exactly the right length.

May be a quibble. May be my ears. I just call'm as I see'm! Of course, one only gets into this sort of detail when there is nothing else to critique.

JG

*I'm not a fan of her Bach; but she does everything right.


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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:57 pm 
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johnlewisgrant wrote:
Re reverb: actually meant to say that I am pathologically addicted to too much reverb and I am unable to use a tasteful amount. You use a tasteful amount.

Ah right. I evaluated the various preset reverbs in CoolEdit long ago and found that I consistently liked Concert Hall Light. So I've stuck to that religiously over the years, no matter the type of music (though I like to use Large Occupied Hall for some organ recordings).

johnlewisgrant wrote:
Re ornaments: I should have been more precise. I meant the shakes or trills, only, of the F# Major Fugue: The first note of the main subject --E#-- should (for me anyway) be stated, even over-stated, at the outset. So either one sits emphatically on it at the start and THEN the shake (which is contrary to the usual rule but safe: Afanassiev, Ashkenazy do it) OR the shake starting on F# must be letter perfect, not even slightly truncated *eg A. Hewitt. Maybe my ears need cleaning, but I hear Feltsman starting on the F# but truncating the shake; whereas, if anything, I would err on the side of overextending the duration of that all important trill.

So (I guess that puts you in good company with Feltsman): that opening trill sounds truncated to me. Bar 40: trill seems to my ears uneven.... Contrast to LH bar 64: trill is perfect and the trill at bar 5, second statement of the subject, likewise so: exactly the right length.

I suppose with shake you mean the Nachslag. Yes that first trill seems a bit too short, listening back.
The trill in bar 40 is with 3-4, which I find uncomfortable. There are a couple more like that in this fugue, which to me accounts for its difficulty than anything else.

johnlewisgrant wrote:
May be a quibble. May be my ears. I just call'm as I see'm! Of course, one only gets into this sort of detail when there is nothing else to critique.

Haha good point. If all there's to nag about are the odd imperfect trill, there may be hope for me yet :D

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:12 am 
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techneut wrote:
hanysz wrote:
...G major prelude of book 2, BWV 884. I'm absolutely convinced that bar 7 should have C sharps.

I don't see the problem. There is a C# in bar 7 of that prelude (just the one though). At least in Henle Urtext. You mean your score has C natural ? That would be silly because we're modulating to D major.


Interesting, there must be two different Henle urtexts! Mine is published 1970 with a preface by Otto von Irmer; catalogue number HN 9256/9258. I haven't checked for a newer one. I also have Dover's reprint of the Bach-Gesellschaft edition, which also has C natural in that bar, and I've heard commercial recordings where people do play it that way (sorry, can't remember offhand which pianist(s)).

The bar in question has two Cs: right hand on beat 2 and left hand on beat 3. Surely you don't have one sharp and one natural?

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:04 am 
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hanysz wrote:
Interesting, there must be two different Henle urtexts! Mine is published 1970 with a preface by Otto von Irmer; catalogue number HN 9256/9258. I haven't checked for a newer one. I also have Dover's reprint of the Bach-Gesellschaft edition, which also has C natural in that bar, and I've heard commercial recordings where people do play it that way (sorry, can't remember offhand which pianist(s)).

Same here. Though mine is dated 1974 and doesn't seem to have a catalog number (or I can't find it). BTW I have great respect for Hans-Martin Theopold's pragmatic fingerings. I find them most always spot-on.

hanysz wrote:
The bar in question has two Cs: right hand on beat 2 and left hand on beat 3. Surely you don't have one sharp and one natural?
Oops... been looking at the wrong prelude :oops:
Indeed two C naturals. I think I was used to play a C sharp there because there's a note in my score. Yes probably C sharp would be more logical. But sometimes Bach does unexpected things. I think if you want to change the LH C to C# you would also change the following D to D#. Anyway I believe it is good as it is.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:57 pm 
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Hi Chris,
I've just listened the BWV 882 too, because I played it a long time ago. Very nice rendition ! I have little to add to what the others said. For my taste, I'd like sometime more non-legato, more dialog between voices (e.g. marking the entries of the fugue theme), and also with contrast between tense and calmer sections, but I guess you have strong views about your aesthetical choices, and they are highly respectable.
I admire the cleanness of your technique. Sometimes we hear notes that are (probably) unpurposedly weak, but you never fall down ! Congratulations and good luck for the completion of this huge work,

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:10 am 
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Francois de Larrard wrote:
I've just listened the BWV 882 too, because I played it a long time ago. Very nice rendition ! I have little to add to what the others said. For my taste, I'd like sometime more non-legato, more dialog between voices (e.g. marking the entries of the fugue theme), and also with contrast between tense and calmer sections, but I guess you have strong views about your aesthetical choices, and they are highly respectable.
Strong views I would not call them, but these days I do lots of conscious things with phrasing, articulation, dynamics, and voicing. I find that in most any WTC item I can put something of my own. It's all very subtle though, and never quite enough to satisfy everybody. I won't shove the fugue theme in-yer-face as some do.

Francois de Larrard wrote:
I admire the cleanness of your technique. Sometimes we hear notes that are (probably) unpurposedly weak, but you never fall down ! Congratulations and good luck for the completion of this huge work,
Clean technique, I like that. Bach has done more for my technique than Chopin or Liszt or any composer ever did. Thanks for the thumbs-up. I'm over half way now 8) But some great challenges are yet to come.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:39 am 
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Ah, genuine Bach. Really nice phrasing and clear voicing. Somehow, I can't say why, I prefer the PFs of WTCII. It's something I sense in your rendition here also.


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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:44 am 
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wiser_guy wrote:
Ah, genuine Bach. Really nice phrasing and clear voicing. Somehow, I can't say why, I prefer the PFs of WTCII. It's something I sense in your rendition here also.

Thanks Pantelis. I believe my Bach to be unspectacular but reliable :D
Can't say I have a preference for book II over book I though. If it sounds like that, it must surely be coincidence because I spend equal time on them.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:02 am 
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Just listened to f# minor Book I. Wow. Chris, you are a Bach master. This a big step beyond your first Bach piano recordings, and the new recording equipment (and new piano?) is a boon. In the middle of the fugue you played a descending bass line, it sounded like a clavichord, made me think maybe it was your Gaveau, not a different instrument (Hamburg Steinway?).

Your Bach playing is profound, you make it sound like he had a modern grand piano, and wrote for it. I can follow all the voices without effort, and I love the pedaling that doesn't mar the nessacary clarity essential in Bach, but lets the piano be the piano, not a fake harpsichord. You understand him and counterpoint so well. Bravo!

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:25 am 
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Hi Chase, good to see you back ! And thanks for the feedback :D

I am not sure this is not way too much praise... Someone on Youtube seemed to think that Tureck and Gould were still better than me (Felipe found this posting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P2cju5f9GQ , see the Comments section)... Then again, they're both dead and I am not :lol:

But you're certainly right in that these recordings are several classes up from my initial ones.
It is still the Gaveau, but with new strings. Together with the new Tascam recorder, it makes a huge difference. Though it was suggested that maybe the hammers need voicing by now.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:12 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Someone on Youtube seemed to think that Tureck and Gould were still better than me (Felipe found this posting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P2cju5f9GQ , see the Comments section)...

With the help from the Google translator I got the meaning of that comment: "I like this interpretation rather than those of Glenn Gould ... or Chris Breemer... Thanks for uploading..." Wow, now you are abreast of Gould and Turreck, Chris :D

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:52 pm 
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Hehe, quite funny isn't it.
All he says though is that Tureck is better than Gould and me. Could mean anything, he's probably just taking the p*ss :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:17 am 
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I just thought I'd say that I've been enjoying your WTC recordings lately.I think I've said this before, but I'm really amazed at how much you've advanced both technically and artistically in the three years I've been visiting these forums.They're a great improvement on your first set.
I'm trying to learn bwv 881 at the moment and the fugue is giving me some trouble.I think your recording of the fugue is very impressive.The prelude from 879 also caught my ear, just beautiful.Also the prelude from 859.In fact there's a lot to enjoy in every single one of them, they obviously mean a lot to you.


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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:42 am 
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Thanks for that Tim :D
I am certainly not breezing through them like before. At least they can now hold their own with most other good recordings on the site.
I would not have made such improvement without PS and the members' critical feedback.
Funny how these pieces mean more and more to me the deeper I get into them. It's both a labor of love, and a job for life.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - Prelude and Fugue  no.13 Bk 1
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:19 pm 
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re: Prelude and Fugue no.13 Bk 1

Chris,

Wonderful character, the melodies sing out so well, the tone is truly sensitive to the character of the piece throughout both the Prelude and Fugue.
The statement of musical ideas is sincere.

The embellishments every now and then could be a bit more evenly played.

Very beautiful interpretation, the presentation is gentle but very moving.

Thanks,
Kaila

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - Prelude and Fugue  no.13 Bk 1
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:18 am 
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musicrecovery wrote:
Wonderful character, the melodies sing out so well, the tone is truly sensitive to the character of the piece throughout both the Prelude and Fugue.
The statement of musical ideas is sincere.
The embellishments every now and then could be a bit more evenly played.
Very beautiful interpretation, the presentation is gentle but very moving.

Thank you Kaila, that is great to hear :D
Yes the ornaments and trills.... it's usually those that trip me up however much I practice. One needs an instrument with lighter action. On my organ with its super-light keyboard I hardly ever botch up a trill.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:00 pm 
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Interestingly, I find that your piano sounds like a harpsichord in these recordings, most especially in the lower registers (LH stuff mostly). Or maybe it's a bit more accurate to say it sounds like a guitar in some places. Did you alter the recording sound in some way to produce this effect, or does your piano really sound like that?

I listened to both Book II sets since I am most familiar with them and I find them to be competent recordings with not much to complain about aside from maybe tempo which seems a bit ploddish to me at times (which can detract a bit from the energy of your performance). In some places I even hear some reflection which shows your love for the music. :wink: I thought I heard some read errors but upon checking my score and my GG recordings I found that they were rather GG's read errors. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:22 am 
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Terez wrote:
Interestingly, I find that your piano sounds like a harpsichord in these recordings, most especially in the lower registers (LH stuff mostly). Or maybe it's a bit more accurate to say it sounds like a guitar in some places. Did you alter the recording sound in some way to produce this effect, or does your piano really sound like that?

I've noticed that too. Didn't do anything special for it. Though I have changed my recording position, and I am still not convinced that was a good thing to do. Although for Bach, the sound is quite appropriate.

Terez wrote:
I listened to both Book II sets since I am most familiar with them and I find them to be competent recordings with not much to complain about aside from maybe tempo which seems a bit ploddish to me at times (which can detract a bit from the energy of your performance). In some places I even hear some reflection which shows your love for the music. :wink: I thought I heard some read errors but upon checking my score and my GG recordings I found that they were rather GG's read errors. :roll:

My current Bach recordings are not supposed to have any read or other errors :D
Ploddish tempo, hmmmm.... I've come back from my race-against-the-clock approach to find a more lyrical and flexible style, which allows for some agogics or even slight rubato. I think it is an improvement but maybe not for the GG diehards.
Thanks for the feedback, I am glad these can at least be considered competent.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - WTC F sharp
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:37 am 
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techneut wrote:
Terez wrote:
Interestingly, I find that your piano sounds like a harpsichord in these recordings, most especially in the lower registers (LH stuff mostly). Or maybe it's a bit more accurate to say it sounds like a guitar in some places. Did you alter the recording sound in some way to produce this effect, or does your piano really sound like that?

I've noticed that too. Didn't do anything special for it. Though I have changed my recording position, and I am still not convinced that was a good thing to do. Although for Bach, the sound is quite appropriate.

Yeah, I kinda like it. Bach is more fun to play on piano since you have such a range of expression, but that sound is interesting. It's like cheating, but I don't mind. :wink:

Quote:
Ploddish tempo, hmmmm.... I've come back from my race-against-the-clock approach to find a more lyrical and flexible style, which allows for some agogics or even slight rubato. I think it is an improvement but maybe not for the GG diehards.

I agree, it's certainly an improvement from the previous approach.

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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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