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 Post subject: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:16 am 
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Hello all,

Until this recording, I had been taking a hiatus to reconsider my setup in response to some helpful comments on that subject from Chris. For this recording (not that anyone probably really cares :P), the mics are on the same side of the piano roughly in an ORTF position about three feet away from the crease of the harp (as opposed to on opposite sides of the piano pointing down toward the front end of the strings, which, according to a recording engineer acquaintance of mine, was resulting in certain lower frequencies sticking out). Unfortunately, with a seven-foot Steinway in a little box of a room, it can be a bitch to get a really satisfying sound, but I think this came out better balanced and with more emphasis on the treble range. Any further thoughts anyone has on this would be very helpful, as I will almost certainly refine this setup for future recordings.

Anyway, enough on technicalities :P This sonata is on a program I'm currently preparing along with the Chopin Preludes and a few Liszt pieces, though I plan to return to the specific Chopin/Scriabin preludes project soon.

The Pastorale Sonata is probably one of my two favorite Beethoven sonatas, along with the Hammerklavier (which I plan to do if I can somehow find time to practice double sixths for a month :P ).

Anyway, hope you enjoy. Comments welcome as always.

Joe


Beethoven - Sonata in D major Op.28 'Pastorale' - 1: Allegro (9:22)
Beethoven - Sonata in D major Op.28 'Pastorale' - 2: Andante (6:00)
Beethoven - Sonata in D major Op.28 'Pastorale' - 3: Scherzo - Allegro vivace (2:16)
Beethoven - Sonata in D major Op.28 'Pastorale' - 4: Allegro ma non troppo (4:36)

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:48 pm 
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Joe,
Very nice playing throughout. For some reason the file for 3rd movement has only a phrase worth of music in it. I like the spirit of your interpretation and your performance is artistic and well-executed. I am sure it will be warmly received by your audience. This sonata is also one of my favorites. Good luck! To offer 1 penny's worth of suggestion: for the first chord of the RH in the 1st movement (and similar spots), consider voicing the melody more distinctly from the rest of the chord (for a texture of treble melody, supporting harmony and ostinato bass).
Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:27 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Until this recording, I had been taking a hiatus to reconsider my setup in response to some helpful comments on that subject from Chris.

Can't remember offering any constructive advice on recording setup ! As I know beans about that stuff and just put my mp3 recording in the most convenient place. Anyway I'll listen to these tomorrow.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:37 pm 
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Quote:
Can't remember offering any constructive advice on recording setup ! As I know beans about that stuff and just put my mp3 recording in the most convenient place.


Yes, but do note that I said "comments," not "advice." What I meant was that on the Scriabin/Chopin, you had commented that some of the melody notes were hard to hear and recommended that I might change my recording setup to "pick up more of the treble." Thus I was pricked to reconsider nmy recording setup mostly on the basis of your comment there, which thus was helpful to me, regardless of how much you know about recording setups.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:59 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Yes, but do note that I said "comments," not "advice." What I meant was that on the Scriabin/Chopin, you had commented that some of the melody notes were hard to hear and recommended that I might change my recording setup to "pick up more of the treble." Thus I was pricked to reconsider nmy recording setup mostly on the basis of your comment there, which thus was helpful to me, regardless of how much you know about recording setups.

Ah yes. Isn't it wonderful that one can be helpful without any subject knowledge whatsoever :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:04 pm 
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Quote:
Ah yes. Isn't it wonderful that one can be helpful without any subject knowledge whatsoever


Indeed. Somehow it sounds a bit like the scientist's proverbial "Aha" moment when he stumbles upon a new discovery :)

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:08 am 
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Eddy,

Thanks for the compliments and suggestion.

Quote:
For some reason the file for 3rd movement has only a phrase worth of music in it.


Funny, it works for me through to the end; I will re-upload if other members experience the same issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:33 pm 
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Hello Joe,

I listened to the first movement.

I like the narrative gesture you put in general to this Sonata; by this I mean e.g. the opening when you take up slowly the pulse or the simple/noble sound you play the melody of the end of the exposition (b.136).

Unfortunately, there are a few things which disturb this gesture.
(1) You do not keep a steady pulse throughout the movement. Whenever there are more than two quavers to be played, you speed up, especially in bars 48 f. and 183 f. (201!). This leads to an unpleasant tempo-shift in the repetition of the exposition and to a hasty impression at the questionable passages.
(2) The balance between the melody and the accompanying quavers could be better (quavers softer, melody with more contour).
(3) A comparatively small problem: Sometimes transitions between single notes or bars seem to be a little clumsy: e.g. the quavers in bar 4 and similar places (the last one a little to short and loud, to my ears) or the octaves from bar 29 on; maybe there you could use a better fingering (fingers 3, 4 and 5 for melody-legato?) or the pedal in an unobtrusive way.
(4) And ultimately a personal remark: I believe the sfz could be much stronger; especially in the beginning I missed them (I like he one in b. 165).

Some thoughts about the recording: It's always difficult to get a nice sound in a small room. In your case, the room is clearly audible. Maybe you want a bigger sound, than this is what you could try: Try a relatively close microphone position and add reverb later; reduce the early reflections of the artificial reverb (you have enough in the recording) and try to find a good balance. I recorded the Janacek-Sonata (which can be found on ps) in a teaching room at the Musikhochschule Nuremberg as stated, maybe this can be a recording-inspiration. ( http://www.musiker-board.de/knowhow-rec ... rd-so.html scroll down to "Jan1980" for some pictures)

Good luck for your performances!

With warm regards

Jan

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:17 pm 
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Jan,

Thank you for your comments.

Quote:
I like the narrative gesture you put in general to this Sonata; by this I mean e.g. the opening when you take up slowly the pulse or the simple/noble sound you play the melody of the end of the exposition (b.136).


Thanks.

Quote:
(1) You do not keep a steady pulse throughout the movement. Whenever there are more than two quavers to be played, you speed up, especially in bars 48 f. and 183 f. (201!). This leads to an unpleasant tempo-shift in the repetition of the exposition and to a hasty impression at the questionable passages.


I disagree. I think my overall pulse is quite steady. I don't think an overall tempo needs to be completely straightjacketed in a composer like Beethoven (this particular movement being broken down into several sections), whom I see as at the forefront of romantic music; that would be unimaginative. When I apply slight shifts in tempo, it is quite intentional. Whether you agree with it or not is a different matter.

Quote:
(2) The balance between the melody and the accompanying quavers could be better (quavers softer, melody with more contour).


Agreed.

Quote:
(3) A comparatively small problem: Sometimes transitions between single notes or bars seem to be a little clumsy: e.g. the quavers in bar 4 and similar places (the last one a little to short and loud, to my ears) or the octaves from bar 29 on; maybe there you could use a better fingering (fingers 3, 4 and 5 for melody-legato?) or the pedal in an unobtrusive way.


Not sure what you mean here. I don't hear this.

Quote:
(4) And ultimately a personal remark: I believe the sfz could be much stronger; especially in the beginning I missed them (I like he one in b. 165).


They sound quite strong to my ears.

Quote:
Some thoughts about the recording: It's always difficult to get a nice sound in a small room. In your case, the room is clearly audible. Maybe you want a bigger sound, than this is what you could try: Try a relatively close microphone position and add reverb later; reduce the early reflections of the artificial reverb (you have enough in the recording) and try to find a good balance. I recorded the Janacek-Sonata (which can be found on ps) in a teaching room at the Musikhochschule Nuremberg as stated, maybe this can be a recording-inspiration. ( http://www.musiker-board.de/knowhow-rec ... rd-so.html scroll down to "Jan1980" for some pictures)


Thanks for your thoughts about the recording setup.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:16 am 
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Thoughtful and polished playing overall, very much a classical interpretation. I did not listen with score but did not hear anything untoward. Though as Jan wrote, there may have been the odd little detail that could still be improved. The tempi of the outer movements seem a bit sedate to me, though I see the good point of it so as not to have to slow down for all these fast runs (which are nice and ripplingly executed btw). In contrast, I found the Andante on the fast side and in fact sounding a bit impatient in places. I though I heard some form of clipping in the staccato notes in the trio of this mvt - but could be wrong.
My only real nit is that I seem to miss Beethoven's wit and impishness (which I agree are not so apparent in this comparatively laid-back sonata). It is all very polite and serious.
The sound quality seems better than before, less bass heavy, but I would have expected a fuller and more open sound from a Steinway grand.

This one is up on the site.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:18 pm 
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Chris,

Thanks for the feedback.

Quote:
Though as Jan wrote, there may have been the odd little detail that could still be improved.


Yes, many. I just don't agree with him about what appears to be his obsession with slavish fidelity to the score.

Quote:
The tempi of the outer movements seem a bit sedate to me, though I see the good point of it so as not to have to slow down for all these fast runs (which are nice and ripplingly executed btw)


Interesting. My tempi in these movements seem faster than those in many performances I have listened to, but then tempo seems to affect me differently at different times, and sometimes I look back later and want to do something totally differently in this regard.


Quote:
In contrast, I found the Andante on the fast side and in fact sounding a bit impatient in places. I though I heard some form of clipping in the staccato notes in the trio of this mvt - but could be wrong.


I agree that it's a bit impatient. Not sure why I took it so fast. Of course I don't want an Andante to drag, but sometimes there's a fine line between walking and running :P When you say clipping, do you mean audio distortion? I thought I heard a little too in movements III and IV, but not in II, but I'll go back and listen later to see whether I can spot it.

Quote:
The sound quality seems better than before, less bass heavy, but I would have expected a fuller and more open sound from a Steinway grand.


Thanks for your thoughts on the sound. It seems the only way to possibly create the illusion of a more full and open sound is with closer miking (since otherwise you get the boxy sound of the room). I'll try a similar setup but closer up for my upcoming recordings.

Thanks again for your comments and for putting this up.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:28 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Interesting. My tempi in these movements seem faster than those in many performances I have listened to, but then tempo seems to affect me differently at different times, and sometimes I look back later and want to do something totally differently in this regard.
Yes I saw later that you are actually faster than the two others with a CS on the site. Still, it sounded rather to slow too me. It probably would do with those others too. I guess I'm just used to playing these faster.

jlr43 wrote:
I agree that it's a bit impatient. Not sure why I took it so fast. Of course I don't want an Andante to drag, but sometimes there's a fine line between walking and running :P When you say clipping, do you mean audio distortion? I thought I heard a little too in movements III and IV, but not in II, but I'll go back and listen later to see whether I can spot it.

Not just the overall tempo, but there seemed to be some slight rushes in places, which gave an impression of haste. All very minor though. I just seem to be very particular to shortening the ending of phrases.
Not sure what exactly I hear in these staccato notes, but they sounded a bit strange to me soundwise. We'll have to ask Monica :P

jlr43 wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts on the sound. It seems the only way to possibly create the illusion of a more full and open sound is with closer miking (since otherwise you get the boxy sound of the room). I'll try a similar setup but closer up for my upcoming recordings.

I have a smallish room to, and place my recorder about 0.5 m from the far end of the grand, about 25 cm higher than the rim. Seems to be the best place after all, at least for me. Maybe your instrument just sounds a little muffled ?

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:50 pm 
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Quote:
I have a smallish room to, and place my recorder about 0.5 m from the far end of the grand, about 25 cm higher than the rim. Seems to be the best place after all, at least for me. Maybe your instrument just sounds a little muffled ?


Your height above the rim sounds similar to mine. That distance out seems a good starting point (currently I would say the mics are about twice that far out), so I may start there and work my way in if need be. It's possible the piano sounds muffled. The re-actioner voiced it down a bit. I just wish my parents had a higher ceiling in that room :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:23 pm 
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Hi Joe,

I cannot criticize such an interpretation much beyond what I could do with such a great sonata. However I listened more carefully to movement 2 and found your dynamics could be more pronounced: listen for instance to the beginning of this movement played by Wilhelm Kempff.

About the sound: it is quite good enough for enjoying your nice playing but it could be better for sure. A test for mesauring the quality of your sound : ask someone in your vicinity whether she or he preferred the actual sound of your piano or your recording. If the answer is 'the actual sound of course !', you may still find for achieving a better sound; if the answer is : 'Well, it depends...', you may consider than looking for a better sound is no longer needed.

I prefer now to set the microphone higher above the floor, very close to the rim, so that they are just below the plane of the full stick lid. Then I get a rather dry sound (made still dryer by means of an acoustic screen behind the microphones and another one above. Note that such placement is also used for professional recording (without the acoustic screens not needed in a large hall and high ceiling): see for instance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3XfAcBUZ3Q at 16", because it provides a very detailed sound making feel the hits of the hammers on the strings. The reverberation is caught by other microphones further. For home recording, a bit of digital reverberation may be nicer that the natural reverberation of the room that can be heard very clearly when the microphones are at 3' from the piano like in your case. However your room does not sound bad and you may prefer the intimate feeling of a recording at home than the digital illusion of a larger hall: then your placement is good.

I processed your movement no. 2 for getting a sound closer to my taste, which may be not your one... :)

Anyway thank you much for this sonata,

Didier


Last edited by Didier on Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Op. 28, in D major
PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:52 am 
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Hi Didier.

Thanks very much for listening and for your comments about the recording setup. I agree that your processed version (thanks for taking the time to do this) sounds much better than the original. It's much clearer and brighter, which I like, and overall sounds more professional. Could you clarify what you did specifically in terms of the processing?

The more recent Liszt recordings in the audition room I think are better sound (they are more closely miked), which seems the better option for a clearer sound, but I'm impressed at the clarity of the sound you were able to bring out in this recording as well.

If you have the time, maybe you could listen to the Liszt too and tell me what you think.

Thanks again,

Joe

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