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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:52 pm 
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Hi Eddy,

Here are some thoughts:

I agree with your points about the importance of the interpreter vis-a-vis the composer. A couple of things I've noticed: 1) Some composers, judging by their playing of their own music, do not fully realize the potential within their music; and 2) I believe that over time a pianist comes to understand and know a piece far better than the composer ever did. The reason is fairly obvious. The composer often works on a piece or several compositions simultaneously. (Prokofiev usually had up to a dozen manuscripts open on his work table at all times and would walk around the table making notations from one to the next.) Once the composer bundles the finished score off to the publisher, he starts a new project, or turns attention to others in progress. So relatively speaking, the composer's encounter with the music during its creation was limited and in many cases even brief. Of course there are major exceptions, such as Brahms and his First Symphony, but I'm referring more to the norm.

In contrast the encounter(s) by the interpreter can be many as long as a lifetime. The pianist analyzes the piece for form, structure, style, composing idiom, characterization, figuration, melody and harmony, voice leading, best phrasing, voicing of chords, effective pedaling, dynamics, nuances, expression in all its guises, practical fingerings, and on and on. Moreover, in restudying a piece, a pianist often gains new insights into the composition and implications for its performance. Contrast that with this astonished (and astonishing) retort by Scriabin when a friend mentioned his virtuosic Fantasy, Op. 28 and Scriabin, looking totally surprised, exclaimed, "What?! I wrote a fantasy?" :lol:

Any score is the paper map drawn by the composer, but it's the interpreter who depicts the actual territory for the listener. The artist must usually give the composer the benefit of the doubt while making decisions on interpretation; however, he or she must also reserve the right to question certain points as supported by general music theory, principles of pianism, musicological research, and, most importantly, specific evidence within the score itself in order to decide and justify certain matters of execution. In the standard repertoire, performances practices are helpful as guidelines, but not to the extent of smothering the inspiration of the pianist. Unless the pianist has a reasonable amount of latitude and autonomy, then any rendition will be commonplace, predictable, and perhaps boring too. Thus there must be some leeway for allowing some individuality to be manifested by the pianist, but only as long as it is always in good taste and respectful of musical style.

David

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"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


Last edited by Rachfan on Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:35 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Eddy,

Here are some thoughts:

I agree with your points about the importance of the interpreter vis-a-vis the composer. A couple of things I've noticed: 1) Some composers, judging by their playing of their own music, do not fully realize the potential within their music; and 2) I believe that over time a pianist comes to understand and know a piece far better than the composer ever did. The reason is fairly obvious. The composer often works on a piece or several compositions simultaneously. (Prokofiev usually had up to a dozen manuscripts open on his work table at all times and would walk around the table making notations from one to the next.) Once the composer bundles the finished score off to the publisher, he starts a new project, or turns attention to others in progress. So relatively speaking, the composer's encounter with the music during its creation was limited and in many cases even brief. Of course there are major exceptions, such as Brahms and his First Symphony, but I'm referring more to the norm.

In contrast the encounter(s) by the interpreter can be many as long as a lifetime. The pianist analyzes the piece for form, structure, style, composing idiom, characterization, figuration, melody and harmony, voice leading, best phrasing, voicing of chords, effective pedaling, dynamics, nuances, expression in all its guises, practical fingerings, and on and on. Moreover, in restudying a piece, a pianist often gains new insights into the composition and implications for its performance. Contrast that with this astonished (and astonishing) retort by Scriabin when a friend mentioned his virtuosic Fantasy, Op. 28 and Scriabin, looking totally surprised, exclaimed, "What?! I wrote a fantasy?" :lol:

Any score is the paper map drawn by the composer, but it's the interpreter who depicts the actual territory for the listener. The artist must most usually give the composer the benefit of the doubt while making decisions on interpretation; however, he or she must also reserve the right to question certain points as supported by both general music theory, principles of pianism, musicological research, and, most importantly, specific evidence within the score itself in order to decide and justify certain matters of execution. In the standard repertoire, performances practices are helpful as guidelines, but not to the extent of smothering the inspiration of the pianist. Unless the pianist has a reasonable amount of latitude and autonomy, then any rendition will be commonplace, predictable, and perhaps boring too. Thus there must be some leeway for allowing some individuality to be manifested by the pianist, but only as long as it is always in good taste and respectful of musical style.

David

David, this kind of writing on your part will do nothing but prove that you are just a man and musician of tremendous insight and experience, one who understands the process of creation and re-creation within the domain of the most abstract of human arts.
You had better be careful! :wink:
Truely, I couldn't (and didn't) express it as well as you did.
(So after all is said and done, 1/4-note=42 it is)

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Hi Eddy,

You're too kind in your praise, and in a way I felt very wealthy reading it. Thanks so much!

Ah yes, the 1/4 = 42. Today I was thinking maybe I should do another recording of that piece and play it as if Liadoff had never stated a tempo or MM marking. It would be quite different, I'm sure. What stops me is that element of simplicity I had mentioned previously. I fear that a different approach might rob the piece of that very simplicity, and in doing so, rob Liadoff of his genius. Best to leave it be as you suggest.

Thanks again.

David

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"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:28 am 
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David, thank you for posting these. I've gained a new respect for a composer I've largely ignored in the past--this is a wonderful discovery.

The interaction between composers and interpreters is endlessly fascinating. I think it's instructive to compare music with other art forms, especially theatre. How many productions of Shakespeare have you seen where people think nothing of the action being set in the wrong century? Yet we pianists sweat over a tiny little metronome mark.

I'd like to make two specific comments about your performance of these pieces. Regarding op 24/1 my first thought on seeing the score (thanks to imslp.org) was that it should unfold slowly, like someone revealing a secret--it reminds me of the Hugo Wolf song Verborgenheit. So I don't mind the slow metronome mark in this case. But at a faster tempo it could take on a fresher air, almost like an opening scene of a Tchaikovsky ballet--as you say, a sense of expectation. However, to make this interpretation work, your rendition must be much less "vertical"--I feel that the chords get in the way a little--you need to focus on shaping the melody, and make the inner voices much quieter.

Opus 40/3 is indeed a little cryptic. It makes more sense in the context of opus 40 as a whole: it's the moment of repose between two much livelier pieces. I'd like to draw your attention here to the phrase lengths. It starts with a four bar phrase, then six bars in one phrase; later it's broken up into shorter segments. You need just a little bit more rubato (without being tasteless) to bind the long phrases together. You do slow down a little at the end of a phrase and breathe very nicely, but what's missing is a slight forward movement in the middle of the phrase. Imagine someone singing this melody, what an effort it would be to do bars 5-10 in one breath at this slow tempo: surely they would naturally flow a little more, especially leading to the E flat in bar 8 (which is not the end of the phrase!) Then the changing phrase lengths later on help to give a sense of direction.

musical-md wrote:
Rachfan wrote:
It's marked lento, a quarter = 42
...It would be a fascinating study (IMO) to study the tempos of music to see if there are some that are outside "physiologic." Can a pattern be too slow or too fast to fall within the scope of human appreciation? Certainly this is true with frequency of sound. Just because a metronome can go as slow as the 40s does that mean that music (a strictly human affair) does also?

Of course when you're playing at quarter=42, you have to ask whether the audience is really hearing it at 42, or whether they perceive a tempo of eighth=84. (Likewise, if you're playing quarter=176, are people actually hearing half note=88?)

After much experimentation, my current opinion is that performers should be able to feel a beat as slow as 30, in order to sustain a sense of line in slow movements. I'm sometimes frustrated that standard metronomes don't go slower than 40, and occasionally turn my computer to make a click track at a slower tempo. But of course the audience isn't obliged to feel the music the same way I do.

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:39 am 
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Hi hanysz,

Thank you for that very thoughtful critique!

Regarding 24/1, I found it to be an unusual piece. In fact, at first I had some difficulty characterizing it. I believe that these preludes are seldom recorded, so this is one of those cases where I had to develop an original concept. On the tempo, I played it a bit faster than 1/4 =50, but I take it you would play it faster yet. At first I did, but became perhaps overly concerned with Liadoff's metronome marking, so pulled back a bit. But I think my instinct there was similar to yours, and perhaps should have gone with it. I was certainly mindful of the chords really being horizontal in nature with the melody in the top line, so voiced it accordingly. But perhaps I could have worked more on quieting the lower harmonic voices in those chords. I don't disagree there.

Op. 43, I believe, is clearly a lament, so that's the way I tried to musically portray it. I was always very good at accompanying singers, and never missed a breath--ever. In this lament, however, I was feeling the tempo as very constraining. At M = 42 even the 8th notes melody seemed to be plodding along making it difficult to be as expressive as I would have liked to have been. I think if I were to quicken the tempo, the piece and rubatos would flow more naturally and convincingly. Maybe I should really submit a new recording. I've been going back and forth on that.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:12 am 
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hanysz wrote:
Of course when you're playing at quarter=42, you have to ask whether the audience is really hearing it at 42, or whether they perceive a tempo of eighth=84. (Likewise, if you're playing quarter=176, are people actually hearing half note=88?)

After much experimentation, my current opinion is that performers should be able to feel a beat as slow as 30, in order to sustain a sense of line in slow movements.


Excellent point above, Alexander. As soon as I read "beat as slow as 30" I naturally started marking a beat every 2 seconds, and that is certainly a very appreciable tempo.

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:31 pm 
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Yes, that is a very good point. When you look through the other end of the telescope, you sometimes find a new perspective.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:56 am 
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Hello David,

Another nice set indeed! I wonder how many set of Preludes did Liadoff write? Do they follow the circle of 5ths? Since you're accumulating several of these Preludes, would you ever record a complete set of Preludes? It would be great to have "a" set of something recorded, like Monica and Chris did with the Mazurkas. I'd like to do that with the Chopin Preludes someday, I only have learn Nos. 1, 5, 13, 21. I really liked the Op.11/1 Prelude, wonderful melodic line, although the ending sounds unexpected. What a great discovery with these works, and wonderful playing as usual...

George

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:54 am 
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Hi George,

It appears to me that Liadoff's preludes were not a single organized effort, rather Liadoff seemed to compose them when the spirit moved him. In all he wrote 31 preludes between 1876 and 1906 that I know of. The very last one was a bit different being titled "Prelude-Pastorale". Actually neither of the two groups of four I played were "sets". They typically fall into three categories: 1) a standalone prelude with its own opus number; 2) sets of two, three or four preludes; and 3) sets containing a prelude with other character pieces or dance forms such as mazurkas. In my case I chose preludes that were lyrical, as they most appealed to me. I did eight in all and it's probably doubtful I will do a set (but never say never), as I've already moved on to another composer. But here's the good news: I believe Chris will be working up a set soon, but again, bear in mind that some sets contain a preludes along with non-preludes (I just coined a new word there. :lol:). In the meantime, if you go to YouTube, you can watch Koji Attwood play the Four Preludes of Op. 46, whereas I only played No. 4. I think he has the only set there.

For these pieces I purchased The Well-Tempered Press edition that collects all and only the preludes from the many opus numbers and consolidates them into two volumes. It was a very convenient way of accessing them. Plus I didn't have to squint at pdf files which is my usual fate in playing off-the-beaten-path music.

The ending of Op. 11, No. 1 is actually a very concise recapitulation or reprise of the main theme. It is unexpected, as you say, as it boldly asserts itself at first, but then the following notes softly drift away punctuated by a soft chord in the bass at the end. It can easily fake out the listener who was expecting more music. I think it's unusual, but a clever and effective device.

I'm really glad you enjoyed these pieces so much! Others who are hearing them have written to me including a teacher who has already assigned one of the preludes to a student and plans to use more of Liadoff's music with others. These pieces aren't a discovery, but they haven't been getting as much play as they deserve, so many people find them new and refreshing. I cannot think of anything better in music than hearing a lovely piece for the first time.

Thanks for listening.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:46 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
I cannot think of anything better in music than hearing a lovely piece for the first time.


Or 'playing' a lovely piece for the first time! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:27 pm 
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Seeing that Liadov wrote sets consisting of a couple of genre pieces, mostly Preludes and Mazurkas, but occasionally other titles, it seems strange to collect only the pieces titled Prelude (or Mazurka). This was the dilemma I faced when introducing Liadov to the site. Initially I had a page for Preludes and one for Mazurkas, as is the way PS is organized - by type. But I felt that while this makes much sense for Chopin, it did not for Liadov so I changed it. So now he has a page called 'Piano Pieces' which is totally lame... but I don't see another way to to it.

Rachfan wrote:
But here's the good news: I believe Chris will be working up a set soon, but again, bear in mind that some sets contain a preludes along with non-preludes (I just coined a new word there. :lol:).

I'm not sure it is good news or not, but yes I will be submitting re-recordings of Op.10, Op.11 and Op.22 before long. On longer term I need to replace all my Liadov recordings. Indeed, be warned of the non-preludes (in this case, aka Mazurkas). But they are nice too :P

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:07 pm 
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Hi Monica,

You're absolutely right!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 5:47 pm 
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Hello, David,

I have finally got around to listening to these. My favourite is op 11/1, which is beautifully played and recorded. Op 31/2 is one I have been attempting for some time but never get too far. It is a bit so-so, which might explain matters a bit.

I find too much importance is attached to names and to the fact pieces are published together. Just because he had a couple of odds and ends that he stuck together and had published does not make them into a set, neither does calling a piece a prelude instead of intermezzo or interlude make much of a difference. Unless they define a form (minuet, fugue, sonata, rondo, etc), mood (Elegy, etc) or imitation (In a Boat, etc), titles in music to me have no meaning whatsoever.

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:08 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
I find too much importance is attached to names and to the fact pieces are published together. Just because he had a couple of odds and ends that he stuck together and had published does not make them into a set, neither does calling a piece a prelude instead of intermezzo or interlude make much of a difference. Unless they define a form (minuet, fugue, sonata, rondo, etc), mood (Elegy, etc) or imitation (In a Boat, etc), titles in music to me have no meaning whatsoever.

This is very true. All the same, names are all we have to categorize stuff. Unless we decide to dispense with individual pages under composers, and just list all pieces directly on the composer page. It is an attractive option, thinking about it. But too much hassle to change it all.

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 Post subject: Re: Liadoff, four more Preludes, Opp. 11/1, 24/1, 31/2 & 40/3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:32 pm 
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For me finding volumes dedicated only to Liadoff's preludes was a boon in preparing these pieces. The reason? I dislike mazurkas! Otherwise, I would have had to comb through every opus on the IMSLP, including the mazukas, trying to find, separate and extract the preludes. Worked fine for me given my purpose! :) I can also understand that for other pianists taking a broader view of these pieces, that a mixed edition would be more suitable.

David

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