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 Post subject: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:09 pm 
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Every now and then I find a completely unknown piece of music which I'm really partial to. I rate this paraphrase very highly. Here, from a concert last year, is Giuseppe Martucci's fantasy on Verdi's Force of Destiny. Remarkably, it's a piece of juvenalia, written when 16 or 17. I had a small memory lapse and flirted with disaster by trying to play too fast and soft at one point, but other than that I'm pretty happy with the performance. Hope it's of interest.

Martucci - Fantasy on Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" (8:05)


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:38 pm 
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If you say this is a very good paraphrase I will believe you :)
Certainly Martucci was a phenomenal pianist, judging by his two gargantuan piano concertos, and apparently he reached mastery at an early age. Some years ago on holiday in Italy I bought some Martucci scores but eventually sold them as I did not find much that could hold my interest. This paraphrase is expertly composed (and performed !) though I find it a little perfunctory, the end being particularly unsatisfactory. But I don't have the paraphrase/transcription bug, so that could just be me.

Now while I've already uploaded the file, I am pondering on where to put this on the site. I think it will be the _Various page because I don't want to create neither a Martucci or Verdi page for this one.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:07 am 
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I've never heard of this composer, let alone this piece. It sure is big and showy! I liked your trills in the middle part. But really all of your playing here is very good, as usual.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:19 am 
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techneut wrote:
If you say this is a very good paraphrase I will believe you :)
Certainly Martucci was a phenomenal pianist, judging by his two gargantuan piano concertos, and apparently he reached mastery at an early age. Some years ago on holiday in Italy I bought some Martucci scores but eventually sold them as I did not find much that could hold my interest. This paraphrase is expertly composed (and performed !) though I find it a little perfunctory, the end being particularly unsatisfactory. But I don't have the paraphrase/transcription bug, so that could just be me.

Now while I've already uploaded the file, I am pondering on where to put this on the site. I think it will be the _Various page because I don't want to create neither a Martucci or Verdi page for this one.


I can't cite a source offhand, but I do recall that when I was doing research for programme notes on this piece I found a claim that Liszt himself was very impressed by the young Martucci's playing. I like this paraphrase for its varied colour, and for its avoidance of the trap which I feel many 19th century paraphrases fall into - some Liszt ones and in particular several by Thalberg - i.e. thinking bigger is better and not knowing when to stop. Curiously, like you, I used to not like the end at all and would perform it in a truncated version, but I've changed my mind. It's possible it would benefit from a bigger statement of the thematic material (either by me as pianist, or compositionally): I'm not sure.

Various seems fair enough as the site location, particularly as the bulk of my "hyphenated" repertoire is in there. (I'm going to be annoying now and point out that I noticed that while my two Liszt transcriptions on the site appear to be in the Various section on my pianist page, one is in the Various and the other in the Liszt section).


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:26 am 
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pianolady wrote:
I've never heard of this composer, let alone this piece. It sure is big and showy!


You're not alone. My teacher hadn't heard of him either ;)

pianolady wrote:
I liked your trills in the middle part. But really all of your playing here is very good, as usual.


Thanks - there are a few things I wish I could do again, but it is quite demanding, and it's on my "record in studio" to do list, so I'll hopefully get a chance to sort those out in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:56 pm 
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Hello Andrew,

that's very good playing again. You really do like your transcriptions ! I've never encountered anyone quite so interested as yourself.

I don't think Martucci is quite in the same league as Liszt though.

I notice on Wikipedia (if you can trust that of course) there is a long list of piano compositions. Does anyone know anything about them ?

I sympathise with your comments on Thalberg. I really have no time for his compositions at all.

Thank you.

Regards

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:16 pm 
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MarkB wrote:
I notice on Wikipedia (if you can trust that of course) there is a long list of piano compositions. Does anyone know anything about them ?
Too little. I had a Scherzo, a Concert Etude (in both of which I found the musical content did not justify the technical demands) and an album of selected pieces. Some of these were nice, some were cute (I remember liking one or two of the Foglie Sparse) but none of them were really fetching. It is the same with his piano concertos, which contain some good things and some impressive moments, but ultimately fail to convince. Nothing wrong with the pianism, but his tunes are just not memorable enough.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:04 pm 
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andrew wrote:
Various seems fair enough as the site location, particularly as the bulk of my "hyphenated" repertoire is in there. (I'm going to be annoying now and point out that I noticed that while my two Liszt transcriptions on the site appear to be in the Various section on my pianist page, one is in the Various and the other in the Liszt section).

Ok this is up.
What do you mean going to be annoying ? You already make my life miserable with all these transcriptions, paraphrases and fantasies. Can't you just record one normal opus number for a change ?
I well realize we're being woefully inconsistent but I just can't seem to be able to define a rule that fits all cases. Complaints to the management :D Or, you can sign up as an admin and put it all right ! And get to handle everything that involves more than one composer.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:25 pm 
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MarkB wrote:
Hello Andrew,

that's very good playing again. You really do like your transcriptions ! I've never encountered anyone quite so interested as yourself.

I don't think Martucci is quite in the same league as Liszt though.

I notice on Wikipedia (if you can trust that of course) there is a long list of piano compositions. Does anyone know anything about them ?

I sympathise with your comments on Thalberg. I really have no time for his compositions at all.

Thank you.

Regards


I don't know a huge amount about other Martucci piano compositions, only having the cd of his second concerto and other works. He did a few Bach transcriptions but I've never looked at them properly.

I've got more time for Thalberg than you do, but I think you have to be quite picky to get the best of him. Also, I'm not convinced that having Francesco Nicolosi as the main proponent of Thalberg puts him in the best light; Earl Wild's virtuoso recordings of Thalberg are in a different class altogether. It's my opinion that the op. 70 set of arrangements (paradoxically, the non-virtuoso output) is of considerable importance, and there are some good paraphrases of which I would especially cite La Sonnambula and La Traviata as worthwhile. That said, there's a large amount of comparatively throwaway fare to wade through to find these. I'm not persuaded in general by the original works I've heard, though the Soirees de Pausilippe are quite nice miniatures.

Liszt does tend to get the kudos for being the undisputed king of this type of repertoire but I do feel there are some romantic era operatic transcriptions/paraphrases outwith him which are of considerable merit (ones by Tausig, Pabst, this one, a few others). It's only fair to say that I've waded through literally three figures worth of alternatives to Liszt trying to find ones which I feel are on a similar level.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:34 pm 
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techneut wrote:
andrew wrote:
Various seems fair enough as the site location, particularly as the bulk of my "hyphenated" repertoire is in there. (I'm going to be annoying now and point out that I noticed that while my two Liszt transcriptions on the site appear to be in the Various section on my pianist page, one is in the Various and the other in the Liszt section).

Ok this is up.
What do you mean going to be annoying ? You already make my life miserable with all these transcriptions, paraphrases and fantasies. Can't you just record one normal opus number for a change ?
I well realize we're being woefully inconsistent but I just can't seem to be able to define a rule that fits all cases. Complaints to the management :D Or, you can sign up as an admin and put it all right ! And get to handle everything that involves more than one composer.


Not meant as a complaint, was just meant as an observation really. If you don't want to change it, it's obviously ok with me. I may not have designated them consistently in the first place anyway. Normal opus number? What's that? :lol: (I think I've not played a single-composer work in public for three years!!) Technically I believe this is Martucci's op.1, for what it's worth.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:24 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

This was a first-time hearing of the Martucci Fantasy for me. I think your playing was wonderful and I totally enjoyed it. Congratulations on your performance of the very difficult piece.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:37 am 
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Thanks, I'm off to listen to your Liadov now! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:21 am 
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Hi Andrew,

You've played Liapunoff's "Nuit d'ete". What do you think of No. 12, the "Elegy to Liszt"? I've been playing through parts of it trying to decide whether to tackle it or not. The bravura sections and melody/accompaniment within the same hand are very difficult to be sure. Plus it's a very long work. Another consideration is that my practice time is very limited which makes it difficult to do justice to a big piece. Nor do I have a big technique. But then again....

David

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:41 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Andrew,

You've played Liapunoff's "Nuit d'ete". What do you think of No. 12, the "Elegy to Liszt"? I've been playing through parts of it trying to decide whether to tackle it or not. The bravura sections and melody/accompaniment within the same hand are very difficult to be sure. Plus it's a very long work. Another consideration is that my practice time is very limited which makes it difficult to do justice to a big piece. Nor do I have a big technique. But then again....

David


I've actually played it in concert and was half-thinking about revising it! I found the hardest bit to be the leggiero in the Db major section, where the r.h. melodic patterns lie offbeat against the l.h. melodic pattern. That section drove me up the wall; one of the trickiest things I've ever played. The poco sostenuto, con maesta octaves are quite treacherous (you need good octaves on a regular basis in this piece!) The section directly before that calls for a fair amount of athleticism; it didn't bother me too much but that's purely because it's basically a souped-up version of the type of passage which is de rigueur in Liszt/Thalberg fantasies and so I'm used to it.

Piano roll, I'm afraid, but as it's not something people are likely to encounter casually, here's the composer himself playing it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl_HHeuItQ0


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:18 pm 
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That's not just a "piano roll" but the performance of a Welte-Mignon Reproducing piano. IMHO these are very valuable in allowing us to hear performances of a century ago during the "Golden Age" of pianism. Edison was capturing the output of performance, and the Welte company its input.
Wikipedia sv Wlete-Mignon wrote:
The firm was already famous for its inventions in the field of the reproduction of music when Welte introduced the Welte-Mignon reproducing piano in 1904. "It automatically replayed the tempo, phrasing, dynamics and pedalling of a particular performance, and not just the notes of the music, as was the case with other player pianos of the time." In September, 1904, the Mignon was demonstrated in the Leipzig Trade Fair. In March, 1905 it became better known when showcased "at the showrooms of Hugo Popper, a manufacturer of roll-operated orchestrions". By 1906, the Mignon was also exported to the United States, installed to pianos by the firms Feurich and Steinway & Sons. [1] As a result of this invention by Edwin Welte (1876-1958) and his brother-in-law Karl Bockisch (1874-1952), one could now record and reproduce the music played by a pianist as true to life as was technologically possible at the time.

Incidentally, the piano roll method of capturing data would later be used by IBM on card stock for it's computers before magnetic tape.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:48 pm 
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I've been listening to some Welte-Mignon piano roll recordings of Granados playing his own music. It's wonderful - I love it so much!!

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:04 am 
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musical-md wrote:
That's not just a "piano roll" but the performance of a Welte-Mignon Reproducing piano. IMHO these are very valuable in allowing us to hear performances of a century ago during the "Golden Age" of pianism.


They are very interesting historically, but just how reliable actually are they as a means of reproduction? Dynamics don't seem to come across with any great subtlety - there are some passages in that particular recording which don't sound very natural to me. Obviously they can be edited copiously (so what's new?!) and there are question marks over manipulation of tempo (whether conscious or accidental). I think I'm correct in saying that Busoni detested them and said so in letters to his wife. Obviously I'd rather have them than nothing.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:25 am 
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Hi Andrew,

Yes, I've heard that Liapunoff recording of the "Elegy to Liszt" many times. Not only was he a great composer, but also one of the finest pianists. Thanks for your comments on the piece. I didn't know you had performed it. Did you make a recording at the time? (And not on Welte-Mignon, but a digital one. :lol:)

David

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:47 am 
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Yes, I do have a recording, though it is handheld camcorder footage only, so the sound quality could be better. It's also from a lunchtime concert and there are extraneous noises like doors closing in the background! The performance suffers from a consistent fault i.e. I fell into the common trap of concentrating on other things and inadvertently tripletised some of the dotted rhythms. I can upload it later if you want to have a look at it.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:57 am 
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Hi Andrew,

Yes, I'd love to hear your rendition of No. 12. Thanks!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:34 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Andrew,

Yes, I'd love to hear your rendition of No. 12. Thanks!

David


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqvujtEdmho

I definitely fancy revisiting this piece (I think I would handle it better now, additionally I now have a lot more experience playing live - that was only my second formal public concert), though no. 9 of the set is more of a personal priority.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Hello Andrew,

Thank you for a very enjoyable performance. Your technique is absolutely amazing and you maintain a beautiful tone throughout.
Beautiful piece.

Congratulations.

Kaila Rochelle

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:36 am 
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Hi Andrew,

Bravo! You gave a splendid performance of this very difficult work. Very inspiring! It's a huge achievement, Andrew, and I congratulate you. Yes, we can all improve a thing or two in our recordings in later revisits as you mentioned here. Nonetheless, this is marvelous artistry. Thanks for sharing your video, and I hope that others who read this thread will enjoy it as well.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:48 am 
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musicrecovery wrote:
Hello Andrew,

Thank you for a very enjoyable performance. Your technique is absolutely amazing and you maintain a beautiful tone throughout.
Beautiful piece.

Congratulations.

Kaila Rochelle


Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's one of those pieces which just won't get played unless someone makes a point of it, and to me that is a real shame.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:55 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Andrew,

Bravo! You gave a splendid performance of this very difficult work. Very inspiring! It's a huge achievement, Andrew, and I congratulate you. Yes, we can all improve a thing or two in our recordings in later revisits as you mentioned here. Nonetheless, this is marvelous artistry. Thanks for sharing your video, and I hope that others who read this thread will enjoy it as well.

David


My technique's better now than it was then, so I think I'd handle a few of the untidinesses more cleanly, and hopefully wouldn't run out of steam a little towards the end as I feel I did there. That said, it was quite an exciting performance and better than I (looking back several years later) thought it might be. I can tell from watching that I'm quite involved in the piece, but nowadays I wouldn't open my programme with it; it's asking a lot!


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:56 pm 
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Hi Andrew,
that´s an excellent performance! I had no score and cannot judge details so. But my whole impression is, that you play it very expressively and subtle. It´s the great virtuoso style of 19 th century and I like that a lot. (Have you ever listened to Horrowitz´ "Carmen-variations"? They are so great!) You seem to master that piece with high perfection without playing here too much for to reach sureness, you also seem to "risk" something, which is absolutely necessary in such pieces in my humble opinion. Also the end I find successfull and brilliant (like I said, without knowing the score, but I think, it would be insignificent, if there would be two or three wrong notes here, because the whole harmony is absolutely brilliant and clear. In fomer times pianists didn´t also care too much about such little mistakes, good examples are Edwin Fischer and Alfred Cortot and also Horrowitz)!
You also seem to have a very nice piano and recording equipment, since the sound-quality is also really good.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:58 am 
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Hi Andreas, thanks for your comments!

In playing such pieces I always aim to keep the performance in an improvisational style, as I suspect that's how many of these pieces were originally conceived. I did take chances in this recording (as it's live and the piece is pretty difficult it's hard not to!). Not all of them worked - there are some inaccuracies which I would correct if I was recording it in a studio - but I think it's far better to take risks and enter into the spirit of the piece rather than concentrate on a dull but accurate projection of one note after another. (Horowitz Carmen Variations being a good example, he's certainly not technically perfect in it, but it doesn't matter).

It was recorded in concert on a Steinway Model D, as you say a very nice piano. I've played on that particular instrument a few times now and it is a pleasure to play. I recorded it with an Edirol R09-HR and with borrowed professional microphones; I can't remember which specific make though.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:08 pm 
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Quote:
Andrew wrote:
Quote:
In playing such pieces I always aim to keep the performance in an improvisational style, as I suspect that's how many of these pieces were originally conceived. I did take chances in this recording (as it's live and the piece is pretty difficult it's hard not to!). Not all of them worked - there are some inaccuracies which I would correct if I was recording it in a studio - but I think it's far better to take risks and enter into the spirit of the piece rather than concentrate on a dull but accurate projection of one note after another. (Horowitz Carmen Variations being a good example, he's certainly not technically perfect in it, but it doesn't matter).


I agree completely to all that you have written here! You have really well done!

Quote:
It was recorded in concert on a Steinway Model D, as you say a very nice piano. I've played on that particular instrument a few times now and it is a pleasure to play. I recorded it with an Edirol R09-HR and with borrowed professional microphones; I can't remember which specific make though.


Wow, that´s interesting, how nice even an Edirol can sound with professional microphones!

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:22 pm 
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Hello Andrew, I've never heard of this composer either and can't comment on your playing because it's far beyond me, but I just wanted to say it sounds very impressive and I've enjoyed it.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:55 am 
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musicusblau wrote:
Wow, that´s interesting, how nice even an Edirol can sound with professional microphones!


That's actually very useful to me as the Edirol forms part of my intended set up for future recordings - I'll speak to the source I got the microphones from so that I can find out details. This will influence my choice of microphone purchase (I'm not convinced by the ones I bought with the Edirol). It probably also helped that the microphone placement was done by one of my teachers who has a keen interest in such things and a very good ear.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:56 am 
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Chopinesque wrote:
Hello Andrew, I've never heard of this composer either and can't comment on your playing because it's far beyond me, but I just wanted to say it sounds very impressive and I've enjoyed it.


Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately recordings of Martucci's compositions are few and far between.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:43 pm 
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andrew wrote:
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately recordings of Martucci's compositions are few and far between.

Actually there's a super budget 4-CD box from Brilliant Classics with recordings licensed from the ASV label, with the complete orchestral works
(the two symphonies, two piano concerti, La Canzone dei Ricordi, and some assorted trifles). Sounds a little dated (1989) but still very good, well worth the modest price. And awesome piano playing from Francesco Caramiello (these are two monster concertos).

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:53 am 
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techneut wrote:
andrew wrote:
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately recordings of Martucci's compositions are few and far between.

Actually there's a super budget 4-CD box from Brilliant Classics with recordings licensed from the ASV label, with the complete orchestral works
(the two symphonies, two piano concerti, La Canzone dei Ricordi, and some assorted trifles). Sounds a little dated (1989) but still very good, well worth the modest price. And awesome piano playing from Francesco Caramiello (these are two monster concertos).


I actually have the original ASV recording of the 2nd concerto; in size and conception it approaches the scale of the Busoni concerto, but not in my opinion on the same musical level.


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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:31 am 
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andrew wrote:
I actually have the original ASV recording of the 2nd concerto; in size and conception it approaches the scale of the Busoni concerto, but not in my opinion on the same musical level.

Indeed not. The problem with Martucci is that he was a very accomplished composer and pianist but he consistently failed to produce memorable tunes. And a good tune is IMO what makes you want to listen to a piece again. The Busoni concerto has them in spades - on top of everything else.

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 Post subject: Re: Martucci Fantasy on "La forza del destino"
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:29 am 
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Andrew wrote:
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That's actually very useful to me as the Edirol forms part of my intended set up for future recordings - I'll speak to the source I got the microphones from so that I can find out details. This will influence my choice of microphone purchase (I'm not convinced by the ones I bought with the Edirol). It probably also helped that the microphone placement was done by one of my teachers who has a keen interest in such things and a very good ear.


That sounds well. Take time to test several microphones and to choose the one you really like!

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