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 Post subject: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:57 pm 
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Here are a couple fruits of my labor from this afternoon. They are small fruits, maybe kiwi or grapes...

Anyway, thanks to our member Julius for directing me to the Borodin Nocturne. It's a sweet piece and part of a set of 7 miniatures that looks intriguing, although I haven't had a chance to look at any of the others besides the nocturne. As a side note - the composer himself gave the Nocturne the description as, "Lulled by the happiness of being in love”. That's just a little too sweet for me, but it's a nice piece nonetheless.

The Poulenc I recently heard at the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition and knew I wanted to learn it right away. I really LOVE the harmonies. And the final chord is so Gershwin! At least to me it is.
Hope these are okay - comments welcomed! :)

Borodin - Petite Suite No. 7 "Nocturne"

Poulenc - Improvisation No. 7 in C Major

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:31 am 
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Hi Monica,
I know neither of these pieces (there's just an ocean's worth of music I don't know) but you play both of them very musically. You do a fine job of voicing what you desire to be front-and-center. Your use of rubato is sensitive and contextual, helping to illuminate the form. I know you know this already but you might ponder more how you want to shape those melodic phrases, both within themselves and in context to one another. Regarding the last chord of the Poulenc, I feel pretty sure that there's a tonic (C) in there some where, and I would voice it quite prominently with the color-tones more subdued, otherwise the last chord seems quite foreign to the whole (IMO).

Thanks again for these performances.
Eddy

Edit: Spelling

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:01 am 
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Hi Eddy,
Thank you for listening. That's a great idea about that chord at the end of the Poulenc! :D When I first played this piece and came to that chord, I thought "oh, that was different". I love the chord but also felt like it didn't quite fit. I'm having second thoughts about my recording of this piece now, and might re-record it in a couple days. I'll try incorporating 'your' chord if I do.

If anyone has other suggestions - now would be a good time to tell me....

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:42 am 
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Of the Mighty Five, Borodin was the one who had the least affinity with the piano - even Rimsky-Korsakov produced better piano pieces (not to mention a rather good piano concerto). I played Borodin's little suite in a dim past but gave up on it eventually, finding it rather tedious. It was especially this here Nocturne that put me off. Well played though it does not make me appreciate the piece anew.

The Poulenc is another ballgame, a sumptuous piece. What a great piano composer Poulenc was. No complaints about the crystal clear performance although I would prefer a little more opulence, more great washes of sound using the pedal (Poulenc half-joked that one could never use enough pedal).

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:05 pm 
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techneut wrote:
The Poulenc is another ballgame, a sumptuous piece. What a great piano composer Poulenc was. No complaints about the crystal clear performance although I would prefer a little more opulence, more great washes of sound using the pedal (Poulenc half-joked that one could never use enough pedal).
I would like to explore more Poulenc. This is only the second piece I've played of his, and I really really love both of them so maybe there are more that I'd like just as much. I didn't know that about the pedal - that will be hard for me because I prefer more clean harmonies, but I suppose I should try different things so thanks for that suggestion.

I forgot to mention this earlier, but if anyone else has chance to listen here, can you please tell me if the sound sounds okay? I have been fooling around with the audio settings again and to me the sound in these recordings sounds much different than my other recordings. But I'm too close and need a more objective ear. I just want to know if the sound is good, bad, weird...etc?

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:24 pm 
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I have a similar opinion to Chris. The Borodin doesn't seem like a very inspired piece, though you do fine with it. The Poulenc sounds a bit dry and needs more colour (the louder midsection worked the best). The paradoxical thing is that in many of your previous recordings you've done a good job of making sure we can hear everything with clarity, but here we don't want to hear everything. To make an analogy: in some pieces if there is an arpeggio, the audience should ideally hear every note, individually, with clarity and even spacing, whereas in others the arpeggio is a wash of sound, essentially a gesture that goes from X to Y, and the audience should hear a blur of colour. It depends on the repertoire and stylistic context. Your playing's not inherently poor, it's just in the wrong musical mindset. I would guess you need more pedal and to not be afraid of blurs.

As concerns the piano sound, I can't say I noticed anything untoward.


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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:43 pm 
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andrew wrote:
I have a similar opinion to Chris. The Borodin doesn't seem like a very inspired piece, though you do fine with it. The Poulenc sounds a bit dry and needs more colour (the louder midsection worked the best). The paradoxical thing is that in many of your previous recordings you've done a good job of making sure we can hear everything with clarity, but here we don't want to hear everything. To make an analogy: in some pieces if there is an arpeggio, the audience should ideally hear every note, individually, with clarity and even spacing, whereas in others the arpeggio is a wash of sound, essentially a gesture that goes from X to Y, and the audience should hear a blur of colour. It depends on the repertoire and stylistic context. Your playing's not inherently poor, it's just in the wrong musical mindset. I would guess you need more pedal and to not be afraid of blurs.

As concerns the piano sound, I can't say I noticed anything untoward.


Okay, thank you. I am afraid of blurring so seems like I do have to change my mindset on that. I'll practice the piece with more pedal and re-record in the mid-week.

But this is great help, guys! Thanks so much :!: :D

And you know...that Borodin piece...I can't get it out of my head now. It's getting a little maddening! I'm walking around with it playing all the time. Even when I sit down at the piano to practice something else, it's there. Like someone put something in it.... :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:50 pm 
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Hi Monica,

I listened to both pieces. The Borodin "Nocturne" is an odd duck. I listened to it twice as a matter of fact. I believe you did your utmost to put the piece in a good light for the composer and to make it effective, and I admire your efforts. But... I'm afraid the composition... is not so good.

I love the Poulenc "Improvisation" No. 7. I have the Salabert Edition of the 15 but have not yet played it. You played it very well in my opinion. Poulenc's style of writing borders on classical here but with modern touches of harmony, tonal changes, and dissonances. In many places there are neighboring and passing tones, so I well understand your caution in pedaling. But you don't want it to sound dry either. I think the solution is to be an opportunist and pedal wherever you can. For example in the opening line you can safely pedal every eighth count. In measure 8 you could pedal the entire group on the 3rd beat. In measure 9 you could experiment with one pedal for the measure lifting off for the last D. Over on page 3, you could separately pedal each octave in the LH. I picked these measures at random, but you see what I mean. What I'd do is sit with the score away from the piano and examine every measure and its figuration to discover what's possible for pedaling. I'd tentatively mark them with a pencil then test them at the piano. A generous use of half pedals would further extend the possibilities.

I think Eddy's right about bringing out the C in the last chord in the RH in the final measure. Most pianists would likely take that chord comfortably with 1-3-4-5, but Poulenc has specifically called for 1-2-3-5, yet he wrote no other fingerings into the piece. I believe the reason is that the 4th finger being the weakest in the hand would not suffice for bringing out the tonic C there, so he wanted the pianist to get 3 on that note for more power, especially where the dynamic is pp, the C needs to be voiced to still sound there. Also where the C is tied, it has to last to the end. To handle the tie in the second beat, I think the idea would be to lift the fingers off the notes while keeping 3 anchored on the C to be relieved through a transfer of 5 onto the note silently being careful not to replay it while taking the B flat with the thumb during the shift of the hand. I'm not at the piano, but I believe the whole last measure could be taken in a single pedal also maintaining that C during the finger transfer just described.

I think the recording sound is fine.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:56 am 
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Hi David,

Well, okay so the Nocturne is a bust, although I still think it's kind of pretty. I guess if anything, maybe it will help convince someone out there not to bother with Borodin's piano music....

Thank you very much for your suggestions for pedaling on the Poulenc piece. I've been practicing it a lot today and will do so again tomorrow so that I can re-record it the next day. I'm aiming to find that happy medium - being an 'opportunist' but staying a little true to my sort of dry way of playing. I hope I don't use too much pedal...

The fingering on the last chord is at least something I can manage, because I do already use my 3rd finger on that C. Now I just have to bring it out more.

Thanks again for all your help! I really appreciate it!! See you later....

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:09 pm 
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Hi Monica,

On the suggestions, the pleasure is all mine. :)

Regarding the Borodin nocturne, that's just my own opinion. Best to wait to see if others weigh in on it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:39 pm 
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Monica,
I don't think the Borodin is such an awful piece. In fact, it seems a bit like an "inward pleasure" sort of feel to it. I wonder (I don't have a copy of the score and can't search one while at work) but after that little into section (that I would play with more exagerated rubato), are the repeated "high notes" clearly part of the indicated melody? I can hear a nice melody just using the "low notes" of the RH. Maybe this piece requires some clever voicing to bring it to its best. I wouldn't mind trying it actually, and will look for the score on-line this evening.

Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:29 am 
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Monica,
I've looked at the score (Peters) for the Borodin and have some ideas I would like to share. I think there is much to be mined here. In the first 3 bars (which is just intro) note how the 8th note figure in the soprano contrasts against a 3-note chord with rhythm of dotted-quarter, eighth note, dotted quarter, eighth, etc. Have you thought of playing nothing but the repeated 8th notes with the RH (except for the F natural of measure 3)? That's what I would do in order to divide the two musical features (in this case) between the hands. A general principle to observe is that ostinato is not to be emphasised, rather de-emphasized. So I would voice the chords more than that 8th note ostinato. Once the melody proper starts, continue ignoring the ostinato and emphazise the moving dotted-quarter, eighth note feature. I hear (and see) a lovely melody there: Gb, Gb - - F, F - - Eb, Eb - -Db, Eb F Gb Bb, Ab - -Gb, Gb - - F, F - - F, Gb F Gb Ab, etc. The same melody but in F is transfered to the tenor (cello) and should be voiced the same. Then notice that 9 bars from the end, the RH becoming boring (no melody as before) is compensated for by the 1/4 note melody where the cello really sings. In those "big reach" spots where he writes an arppegiation, I would simply play those first beat melody notes with the RH and forget arppegiating it (its artificial). Through out, the melody is within not above. Let the music sway you about the room with tempo rubato and use dynamics to bring emotional color to it. I think this piece is very under-rated and challenges the pianist to deal the parts carefully. I think you were genuine and sincere to have been drawn by it when you heard it intially. I hope you will look at these ideas and maybe give them a try for a new approach.

Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:00 pm 
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I finally got around to listening to these. At one point I had the Borodin suite, but gave it up as a bad job, for the same reason as Chris, though I must say you do a good job of it and I must compliment you for it and thank you for making me listen to this piece with different ears.

The Poulenc I found less interesting. His music is to me always a bit of a disappointment when I compared it to his orchestral and chamber music.

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:24 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
I finally got around to listening to these. At one point I had the Borodin suite, but gave it up as a bad job, for the same reason as Chris, though I must say you do a good job of it and I must compliment you for it and thank you for making me listen to this piece with different ears.
I wish I could say the same. But it sounded much like when I was playing it myself - tedious. I honestly would not know how to make something interesting out of this piece. Some items in the suite have a little more color but it's all very watery. Borodin's piano magnum opus, the Scherzo, holds more pianist interest but is also rather dull and repetitive.

richard66 wrote:
The Poulenc I found less interesting. His music is to me always a bit of a disappointment when I compared it to his orchestral and chamber music.
Poulenc and disappointment :shock: I thought I heard them all...

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 Post subject: Re: Poulenc and Borodin
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:13 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Of the Mighty Five, Borodin was the one who had the least affinity with the piano - even Rimsky-Korsakov produced better piano pieces (not to mention a rather good piano concerto).



I agree. Borodin did compose wonderful music for chamber instruments. Ooo, also his requiem is rather lovely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEI2DrwSn_Q

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