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 Post subject: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:29 pm 
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Here are two other miniatures:

Genarij Korganov - Dream op 26
Edward McDowell - from "Forgotten Fairytales op 4 - No. 1: At the Prince's Door.

These are two pieces I only know from my own reading of them, so I have no comparison to offer.

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Richard Willmer
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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:40 am 
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Hi Richard,

I've been listening to your posts here and to your three recordings that have been put on the main board. I am hearing a lot of good things in your playing. I also appreciate that you have been introducing us to works by little known composers. That is always a treat.

For the Korganov "Dream", I believe that you need to rethink the tempo. If I hadn't looked at the score I would have imagined that the first measure contained 4 beats and that the smallest division was the eigth note. Looking at the score on IMSLP I see that the piece is in 2/4 time with a tempo marking of "Lento Espressivo". Thus the "slowness" should be related to the quarter note. Consider a quarter note at about 40 bpm (there is a chart on Wikipedia under tempo that gives ideas of rate for different tempo terms. In the end there is no set rate for any tempo but a tempo chart such as this can give you a point of reference. Ultimately the music will give you clues to the best tempo.) This will allow the 16ths to flow while maintaining a slow, expressive pace that will allow your melody to sing as in a pleasent dream.

Also, regardless of tempo, there are several errors in rhythm starting with the first measure, which is short at least a 16th note. At very slow tempi, it is important to count the divisions of the beat rather than just the beat. Each time in the piece the 16th, 8th, 16th rhythm seems to change the 16th to a 32nd and the eight to a 16th (or something like that).

In the MacDowell, I personally would like a little more flowing tempo. The "tempo" indication (actually a mood indication) is simply soft and wistfully. I'd like to hear a little more of that wistfulness. I would also like to hear a little more dynamic contrast between the piano and pianissimos. To me the pianissimo about 20 measures before the end is entirely too lound.

Another thing to consider on softer, slower pieces that need to flow is to be careful about creating too much emphasis on the metric stress points (here generally the first beat of the measures. When you have a relatively bare melodic line with an accompaniment that plays just on the first beats (the metrical stress) there can be a tendency to make them too strong. The addition of the chord adds emphasis to the beat, and we have a tendency to add a little dynamic stress to these beats two so that they get a triple whammy of accent and can put too much emphasis on the regularity of the beat, hindering a lyrical flow.

This one does also suffer from some rhythmic errors on the dotted 8th 16th rhythm starting in measure 5. (actually measure 1 sounds a little strange, but since it is setting up the context by which to judge the rhythm it is difficult to tell.) Again, on slow pieces be sure to keep the division or subdivision of the beat in mind.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:01 am 
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I quite liked your playing of the MacDowell piece but I agree to Scott's points. There are little or no dynamics, and it could sing more. At least I can hear your heart is in it, which impression I do not get from the Korganov recording which feels more like dutifully going through the notes. To be honest, that one is not an inspiring piece. Like Sviridov, I had not heard of Korganov, and he seems to be in the same league. I'm all for recording educational pieces for PS, but the simpler the piece, the more perfect and convincing it needs to be. Of demonstration quality, as it were, so that parents can point their kids to it and say "Look, this is how it should sound". It is quite a responsibility !
There is rather a big hiss and various background noise here, especially in the Korganov piece. I don't remember your recording setup, but this is something that still needs attention. The piano itself does not sound at all bad here.

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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:18 pm 
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Thank you so much, Scott, for the time and effort you have put into your criticism: much appreciated! It seems my old bugbear is back to haunt me, that it, lax tempi. I do have a take of the Korganov at a more lively pace, but it sounded a bit silly, hence my option for taking it slower. I will look into what you say, however and maybe that way succeed in extracting milk from the stone.

What you say about slow tempi does confirm what my earstwhile teacher used to tell me: that it is much harder to pay a slow piece well and much of the criticism I level at concert pianists is that they invariably play everything too fast. Maybe here we have an explanation?

I certainly will work further on the MacDowell, which is the better piece, though my piano is almost impossible to quiet more than somewhat (in one piece, not posted, I ended up with the key depressed but no note played!)

Chris, the Korganov is not actually a piece for children, though he did produce a lot of things in that genre. I cannot fathom why a digital recorder should have hiss, but it does. The neighbour on the floor above mine has some sort of buzzing implement that he put on at night. Could that be what it is? If so, it makes any recording projects out, as during the day there are workmen drilling and at night neighbours buzzing.

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


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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:57 am 
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richard66 wrote:
Chris, the Korganov is not actually a piece for children, though he did produce a lot of things in that genre.

Ah right... it sounded like it was one though, in combination with the title.

richard66 wrote:
I cannot fathom why a digital recorder should have hiss, but it does. The neighbour on the floor above mine has some sort of buzzing implement that he put on at night. Could that be what it is? If so, it makes any recording projects out, as during the day there are workmen drilling and at night neighbours buzzing.

I hear a fair amount of hiss in my own recordings when I turn up the volume. It must be inherent to the recorder. In your case it sounds like something else may be making a buzzing noise. It is quite bad at the start at one of the recordings (don't remember which). I'd sure hope your workmen will be done drilling one day... it's the sort of noise that would drive me insane.

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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:32 pm 
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It is the neighbour then with his buzzer.

These workmen are my bugbear. Before, we lived in another building, on the 4th floor: they started on the 2nd floor. Extensive damages to the 3rd floor. They go to the 3rd floor. Then they start on the ground floor. We left just before they were due to attack the facade, our terrace and... the 3rd floor again! New building. after 3 months they... attack the facade! 5 months behind blocked windows in complete darkness. And this was while I had my broken ankle and could not go out. And now... They have started on the ground floor just outside the dining room, so at lunch we need to yell at each other, "PASS ME THE OIL, PLEASE!!" only to hear, "WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT MY HAIR?!"

And mind you I was a workman myself at one time, fot 5 weeks, to be more exact. :D

At times I think the cry has gone out: Workers of the world, unite! And they have, all under my window. :x

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


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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:29 pm 
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OMG - that sounds like Stalingrad under siege :roll:
Surely though, some day, they should be done and gone ?

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Chris Breemer


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 Post subject: Re: MacDowell and Korganov
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:32 pm 
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We have to leave the house by January... Then we can go to another one where they can start again, from the bottom up or from the top down! :D

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


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