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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:06 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
richard66 wrote:
It is a battle that cannot be won.
and
richard66 wrote:
And a civil discussion at that, which is always a good thing.


Hmm, Richard, a little dissocciated are we? :lol:


Not really, because I was thinking of the expression, losing battle, not of any fight, verbal of physical. If you could kindly cite me an equivalent expression I will surely rephrase what I said.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:55 pm 
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I came across this discussion, which might be interesting. I happen to belong to that forum, though I only posted once a couple of years ago and no one ever bothered to reply.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:27 am 
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richard66 wrote:
It might be interesting, yes, to know what his thoughts were on rubato. Just do not make too much trouble for yourself if they are too long.

Some are a little long, but I type quickly so it's no big deal. I get to practice tonight, though, so I will have to type them later (maybe when I get home).

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:32 pm 
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I am on the train and listening to Carlos Antonio Jobim sung by Gilberto (love this) in order to clear my head and calm my nerves after a busy day
at the office, and I just thought of our rubato discussion. Very often Gilberto sings something like two or three beats ahead of the accompaniment.. Is that rubato too?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:36 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Very often Gilberto sings something like two or three beats ahead of the accompaniment.. Is that rubato too?
Na. That's just a singer that can't read music. :P

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:49 am 
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musical-md wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Very often Gilberto sings something like two or three beats ahead of the accompaniment.. Is that rubato too?
Na. That's just a singer that can't read music. :P

Maybe it's a singer who can read music but chooses not to. Some of them are gentlemen ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:33 am 
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Well, whatever you call it, I'm glad I don't have to lip-sync those songs. It would probably come off like the old King Kong vs. Godzilla movies where the mouth moves and then a second later you hear the voice. :lol:

p.s. Alexander, I don't get the gentlemen thing...

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:57 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Well, whatever you call it, I'm glad I don't have to lip-sync those songs. It would probably come off like the old King Kong vs. Godzilla movies where the mouth moves and then a second later you hear the voice. :lol:

p.s. Alexander, I don't get the gentlemen thing...

I didn't either :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:32 am 
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From Eigeldinger, Chopin: Pianist and Teacher (an indispensable book for the Chopin-lover; keep in mind this is only a small tidbit from the book). I will also give the footnotes since they are so instructive.

Streicher via Niecks wrote:
[Chopin] required adherence to the strictest rhythm, hated all lingering and dragging, misplaced rubatos, as well as exaggerated ritardandos. 'Je vous prie de vous asseoir' [Pray do take a seat] he said on such an occasion with gentle mockery.

Mikuli wrote:
In keeping time Chopin was inexorable, and some readers will be surprised to learn that the metronome never left his piano. Even in his much maligned tempo rubato,[92] the hand responsible for the accompaniment would keep strict time, while the other hand, singing the melody, would free the essence of the musical thought from all rhythmic fetters, either by lingering hesitantly or by eagerly anticipating the movement with a certain impatient vehemence akin to passionate speech.
Note 92, Eigeldinger wrote:
Of those who heard Chopin play, rarely did any criticize his rubato. Those who did were non-Poles: Berlioz (see p. 272) (below) who was little of a pianist and whose symphonic aesthetic was quite contrary to Chopin's, and Mendelssohn (see p. 267) (below) who expressly declared allegiance to a more metrical conception. Moscheles's sudden change of mind (see note 97) is significant; he recognized, though, that Chopin's music in the hands of other players could well degenerate into mere lack of rhythm [Taktlosigkeit]. We know how much any such accusation irritated Chopin if directed against himself (see Peruzzi/Niecks, p 339). The quotations reproduced here concerning Chopin's rubato all reject this accusation and come from the most reliable pupils.

In fact, Mikuli is referring here to generations of pianists subsequent to Chopin's; victims of a pseudo-tradition, they submitted his music to agogic distortions in the name of the vague and convenient term 'rubato'. This practice was in vogue from before the second half of the nineteenth century up to the 1930s. The statements where Chopin's pupils denounce such abuses - which Chopin was accused at the time of having fathered - all date from that period: Streicher (around 1879), Mikuli (1879), Mathias (1897), Viardot/Saint-Saëns (1910). Kleczyński - a pupil of some of Chopin's pupils - reacted similarly in 1880. It was only with the gradual return to respecting the letter of scores (which carries its own dangers), from the years 1930–1940 or so, that this type of pseudo-rubato disappeared from most playing.
Berlioz via Eigeldinger p272 wrote:
Chopin was impatient with the constraints of meter; in my opinion he pushed rhythmic independence much too far [...] Chopin could not play in time.
Mendelssohn via Eigeldinger p267 wrote:
...as a pianist Chopin is now one of the greatest of all - doing things as original as Paganini does on the violin, and bringing about miracles that one would never have believed possible. Hiller too is a remarkable player, vigorous with a touch of coquetry. Both, however, labor somewhat under the Parisian tendency of overdoing passion and despair, and too often lose sigh of calm, discretion and the purely musical; I on the other hand perhaps do this too little - and so we all three supplemented and, I believe, learned from each other... (Letter to his mother, Düsseldorf, 23 May 1834)

Viardot via Saint-Saëns wrote:
Through Mme Viardot [...] I learned the true secret of tempo rubato [... where] the accompaniment holds its rhythm undisturbed while the melody wavers capriciously, rushes or lingers, sooner or later to fall back upon its axis. This way of playing is very difficult since it requires complete independence of the two hands;[93] and those lacking this give both themselves and others the illusion of it by playing the melody in time and dislocating the accompaniment so that it falls beside the beat; or else - worst of all - content themselves with simply playing one hand after the other.[94] It would be a hundred times better just to play in time, with both hands together.

Pauline Viardot was a famous singer, Chopin's favorite, and also a pianist and sometimes student of his. As for this playing one hand after the other thing - I listened to Lang Lang playing Chopin 27/2 recently (a different performance than the one I was looking for), and he does this sometimes. Very annoying. Also, for those who think this type of rubato is specific to only one composer (Chopin), it appears as though Saint-Saëns at least related to it quite well from the above quote. See note 95 for a quote from Mozart also supporting it, and Chopin recommended playing Weber's music in this way in the next quote (after the footnotes).

Note 93, Eigeldinger wrote:
This independence of the two hands, aiming at a complex complementarity, is one of Chopin's characteristic traits. It cannot be fortuitous that he chose to be represented in the Fétis-Moscheles Méthode des méthodes [1840] by three Etudes of which two are based on polymetric principles: the first (F minor) with threes against fours and the third (A-flat) with threes against twos. The [Fantasie-]Impromptu Op. 66 offers a juxtaposition of these two systems through its constituent sections; similarly the Etude Op. 25/2 is based entirely on 'rhythmic exchanges'. Similar ideas occur at bars 249-72 and 849-75 of the Scherzo op. 54, as also in the Waltz op. 42, which Lenz called 'the most typical embodiment of Chopin's rubato style'.

I hadn't previously read this footnote. ^^ It's nice to see an echo of my own thoughts here.

Note 94, Eigeldinger wrote:
This practice, criticized by Saint-Saëns, is clearly recognizable in the recordings of 'renowned' Chopin players of the time, notably Leschetizky, Pugno, Pachmann, Friedman and, to a lesser extent, Paderewski and Maurycy [Moritz] Rosenthal.

Hey, that's our great-great grandteacher there! (Many of us, if I recall.)

Mathias wrote:
Everyone knows that rubato is an indication often encountered in old music;[95] its essence is fluctuation of movement, one of the two principal means of expression in music, namely the modification of tone and of tempo, as in the art or oration, whereby the speaker, moved by this or that emotion, raises or lowers his voice, and accelerates or draws out his diction. Thus rubato is a nuance of movement, involving anticipation and delay, anxiety and indolence, agitation and calm; but what moderation is needed in its use, and how all too often it is abused! [...] There was another aspect: Chopin, as Mme Camille Dubois explains so well, often required simultaneously that the left hand, playing the accompaniment,[96] should maintain strict time, while the melodic line should enjoy freedom of expression with fluctuations of speed. This is quite feasible: you can be early, you can be late, the two hands are not in phase; then you make a compensation which reestablishes the ensemble. In Weber's music, for example, Chopin recommended this way of playing. He often told me to use it, it's as though I still hear him: in the Sonata in A flat [op. 39], in the A flat passage of the agitato in the Concertstück [Op. 79, first movement bars 57ff]...
Note 95, Eigeldinger wrote:
Tempo rubato: stolen time. Although this expression first appears in 1723 in the treatise by Tosi (Bolognese theoreticial of bel canto), the musical reality which it reflects can be traced back at least to the beginnings of accompanied monody in Italian humanist circles. The following postulates emerge from Tosi's seminal writings for the intelligent use of the singer in particularly expressive passages [mostly in slow tempi] in various pieces [recitatives, arias, ariosi], rubato is a system of compensation whereby the value of a note may be prolonged or shortened to the detriment or gain of the succeeding note. This metric 'larceny' is best applied to improvised ornaments [taking the sense of the words into account as much as the music] over the imperturbable movement of the bass (underlined by Tosi). It results from counterpoint between the solo line and the bass line and is characterized, vertically speaking, by moments of metric displacement between the two parts; it is left to the singer's discretion to use it with moderation, according to the rules of good taste. Here we have the pure tradition of Italian Baroque bel canto, linked with the art of improvising suitable ornaments, and deriving from theory of affetti.

Bel canto, dominant in Europe at the end of the seventeenth and above all the eighteenth century, was transposed together with the art of rubato into the domain of instrumental music in its chamber, concertante and solo genres. Thus it came to be codified fairly accurately in the important instrumental treatises of the period: C.P.E. Bach for the keyboard, Leopold Mozart for the violin, and Quantz for the transverse flute. Wolfgang Mozart, who had been well schooled, proudly related to his father (Augsburg, 24 October 1777): 'They all are amazed that I play accurately in time. They can't grasp that in tempo rubato in an Adagio the left hand goes on unperturbed; with them the left hand follows suit'. If this independence of the hands is applied to some places in the B minor Adagio (K540), the adagio sections of the Fantasies in D minor (K397) and C minor (K 475), the various reprises in the A minor Rondo (K 511) or even to some slow movements in the sonatas and concertos, one can feel how closely Mozart anticipated Chopin!

This tradition was maintained in the instrumental field well into the Classical era, and codified once again by Türk in 1789. Tempo rubato, still very much alive in Romantic bel canto (and, exceptionally, in Paganini's Concertos - Chopin heard him in 1829 when the latter gave ten concerts in Warsaw) was, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, gradually supplanted in instrumental music by larger-scale tempo fluctuations. The Frenchman Louis Adam, educated in the old tradition, observed: 'Some people have tried to start a trend of playing out of time, playing all genres of music like a fantasy, prelude or capriccio. It is thought to enhance the expression of a piece, while serving in effect to distort it beyond recognition. Naturally, expressivity requires certain notes of the melody to be slowed or quickened; however, these fluctuations must not be used continually throughout the piece, but only in places where the expression of a languorous melody or the passion of an agitated one demands a slower or a more animated pace. In this case it is the melody that should be altered, while the bass should strictly maintain the beat.' The notion of rubato is then confused with that of tempo ad libitum in pieces written in the free style. According to Schindler, Beethoven finally adopted the term rubato in this new and incorrect sense designating fluctuations of tempo. In 1828 Hummel denounced this latest practice: 'Lately several artists have been trying to replace natural feeling with manufactured feeling; as for instance [...] by slowing down the beat (tempo rubato) at every possible opportunity to the point of satiation.' Hummel, who was a pupil of Mozart, continues to recommend the use of traditional rubato in Adagios, but no longer designates it by this name.

Thus Chopin practiced and taught rubato in its traditional and original meaning, at a time when that practice was on the decline, if not already abolished, in other piano music. His attachment to the Baroque aesthetic may be explained by two factors: first, his training from Żynwy and Elsner, both products of the pre-Classical era and raised within Italianized circles (Prague and Vienna respectively); second, Chopin's own taste for bel canto, evident from in his adolescence on - we have seen how assiduously he frequented the Warsaw National Theater, where Italianism dominated as much through Rossini as through the operas of Kamieński and Kurpiński. One might add that the singing class at the Warsaw Conservatory was then directed by the Piedmontese teacher Carlo Soliva. Faithful to the aesthetic of his education, Chopin was to transmit it through his own teaching (whence the continual appearance of indications along these lines in the annotated scores of Mme Dubois).

For more information on Chopin's connections with Baroque and Classical rubato, see (a bunch of references).
Note 96, Eigeldinger wrote:
This assertion of course applies equally to the inverse case, when the melody is in the left hand and the accompaniment in the right. Amongst many examples can be mentioned the Etude op. 25/7, Prelude op. 28/6, Mazurka op. 7/3 (bars 56-73), Polonaise op. 26/1 (bars 66-82), Waltz op. 34/2 (principal motif and bars 169-88), etc.

Lenz wrote:
What characterized Chopin's playing was his rubato, in which the totality of the rhythm was constantly respected. 'The left hand,' I often heard him say, 'is the choir master [Kapellmeister]: it mustn't relent or bend. It's a clock. Do with the right hand what you want and can.'[97] He would say, 'A piece lasts for, say, five minutes, only in that it occupies this time for its overall performance; internal details [of pace within the piece] are another matter. And there you have rubato.'[98]
Note 97, Eigeldinger wrote:
Chopin was fond of this metaphor and used it often. It appears with small variants or commentaries in the following texts:

—Lenz
—Peruzzi/Niecks
—Kleczyński
—Dubois/Kleczyński
—Franchomme, Potocka, Czartoryska/Planté
—Franchomme/Picquet/Anonymous
—Mikuli/Koczalski
—Alkan/Bertha
—Karasowski

Mme Peruzzi recalls Chopin 'calling his left hand his maître de chapelle and allowing his right to wander about ad libitum.' This corresponds precisely to the impression received by Moscheles (who had a more fundamentally metric conception) on first hearing Chopin: 'His ad libitum playing, which with other interpreters of his music tends to degenerate into a mere lack of rhythm [Taktlosigkeit], in his hands is the most graceful and original feature of the discourse [...] one feels drawn as by a singer who, unpreoccupied with the accompaniment, completely follows his or her feelings'.
Note 98, Eigeldinger wrote:
This text and the preceding one (Mathias) are of prime importance. Originating from Chopin's students, they are the only ones that let us assume that his rubato took two different forms, by no means mutually exclusive. Kleczyński was of this opinion (see above), followed recently by Higgins. I share this view, with the added nuance that a third component of Chopinian rubato is derived from the mobile rhythm of the Mazur. The first type of rubato, descended from the Italian Baroque tradition, has been discussed in note 95; it occurs principally in works with broad cantilenas. The second, more common type consists of fleeting changes of pace relative to the basic tempo; these agogic modifications may affect a whole section, period or phrase, slowing down or accelerating the flow depending on the direction of the music. This rubato is to be applied not arbitrarily but as a function of the musical texture and the basic laws of declamation. These agogic fluctuations are called rubato by extension only, since they affect the musical structure from top to bottom, not merely the melodic line. It is not unusual for these nuances of tempo to be specified in Chopin's music. Thus the section sof the Waltz op 64/2 are differentiated by the indications tempo giusto - più mosso - più lento - più mosso - tempo I - più mosso. Within a section the tempo is also to be progressively accelerated, then slowed down, by the indications agitato - sempre più mosso - calando - smorz. - riten. (Ballade op. 23, bars 40-67) - similarly within a musical period by the complementary copuled indications stretto - riten. (Etude op. 10.3 bars 7-8, 15-16) or poco riten. - accel. (Polonaise op. 26/2 bars 1-6 and similar). The coda of the Mazurka op. 24/4 is a remarkable example of progressive rallentando specified by riten. - calando - mancando - sempre rallent. - smorzando (bar 129 to end). (On the subject of his musical editing, we may note the growing scarcity of agogic and other expressive markings from op. 25 onwards, as discussed in note 99 below.)

The above considerations merely distinguish the two basic types of rubato employed by Chopin; they cannot by any means convey all the subtle flexibility of movement in his playing, of which we know only that it was conditioned by an acute awareness of the length of the piece and by an internal logic commanding the tempo nuances in relation to the basic pulse.

Koczalski's explanation of rubato - although he himself mastered it to perfection - is unconvincing, which is why it is not quoted here.

Mikuli via Michałowski wrote:
How did Chopin understand rubato? Was it synonymous with complete freedom and arbitrariness of rhythm, or was it just the expression of a living undulation of tempo which avoided exact coincidence with the strict metric framework [...] Mikuli, on the basis of his personal reminiscences, answered as follows:

Chopin was far from being a partisan to metric rigor and frequently used rubato in his playing, accelerating or slowing down this or that theme. But Chopin's rubato possessed an unshakeable emotional logic. It always justified itself by a strengthening or weakening of the melodic line, by harmonic details, by the figurative structure. It was fluid, natural; it never degenerated into exaggeration or affectation.

Kleczyński wrote:
[...] rubato is never a defect in the time; the idea of rhythm, and consequently of the relative value of the notes, must never be lost, apparent changes and momentary incongruities notwithstanding. I shall now give the result of my own reflections on the rubato of Chopin:

1. Precise rules for it cannot be given, because a good execution of the rubato requires a certain musical intuition, that is to say, a certain particular talent.

2. Every rubato has for its foundation the following idea: each musical thought contains moments in which the voice should be raised or lowered, moments in which the tendency is to retardation or acceleration. The rubato is only the exaggeration or bringing into prominence [of] these different parts of the thought: the shadings of the voice make themselves more marked, the differences in the value of notes more apparent. Hence there arises in the mind an image of the musical thought more full of vitality and of poetry, but always in accordance with law and order [...] We in all cases borrow the time from notes of smaller importance for the purpose of giving it to the principal notes.

Liszt wrote:
In his playing the great artist [Chopin] rendered most exquisitely that kind of agitated trepidation, timid or breathless [...] He always made the melody undulate like a skiff borne on the breast of a powerful wave; or sometimes he made it hover like an airy apparition suddenly sprung up in this tangible and palpable world. In his writings, he at first indicated this way of playing - which gave such an individual stamp to his virtuosity - by the term 'tempo rubato': stolen, broken time - a rhythm simultaneously supple, abrupt and languid, vacillating like the flame under the breath that agitates it, like the corn in the field waving under the soft pressures of the warm air, like the tops of trees bent hither and thither by a strong breeze.

But as the term taught nothing to whoever already knew, and said nothing to those who did not know, understand, and feel, Chopin later ceased to add this explanation to his music,[99] persuaded that if one had the sense of the music, it would be impossible not also to divine this rule of irregularity. Also, all his compositions must be played with that kind of speech-like, accented lilt, that softness [morbidezza], the secret of which it was difficult to grasp if one had not often heard him play in person. He seemed to wish to teach this style of playing to his numerous pupils, especially his compatriots to whom, more than to any others, he wanted to communicate the breath of his inspiration.[100]
Liszt via Niecks wrote:
'Look at these trees!' [Liszt] said, 'the wind plays in the leaves, stirs up life among them, the tree remains the same, that is Chopinesque rubato.'
Note 99, Eigeldinger wrote:
Chopin ceases in effect to mark the word 'rubato' from op. 24 onwards. (This goes with a parallel progressive decrease in indications of mood or character and metronome markings, very frequent and diversified in his early works, but thereafter tending towards an increasing sobriety visible at all levels of Chopin's musical editing.) Liszt's explanation is convincing: doubtless Chopin realized that the word was insufficient to convey his intentions and could be misleading to his contemporaries - who did indeed criticize his attempts to notate 'to a certain extent' some aspects of 'his rubato' (see Le Pianiste, 1834-1835, pp. 78-9, on the subject of his op. 15).

But what meaning (or meanings) does this word have in the thirteen compositions in which it occurs? Does it refer to the Italian vocal tradition, as Kamieński maintains? - or, as Kreutz believes, to both the types described in note 98 above, according to the context? Or rather, as Jadwiga and Marian Sobiescy believe, does it emphasize the mobile agogic rhythm derived from Polish folk melodies? To attempt an answer to this thorny question we have to examine the musical contexts and genres in which this notation is used.

With the exception of the G# minor Polonaise [without op. no., c. 1823], where the term is used improperly in the final cadences of bars 12 and 27 to indicate an approaching senza rigore, the term 'rubato' occurs in two broad types of context:

1a - At the beginning of a piece (opp. 15/3; 24/1; 67/3 - in the last case according to the Fontana edition, the manuscript being lost).
1b - At the beginning of a new motif which is to direct the piece towards the final cadence (op. 9/2 bar 26).
2a - At the repetition of a phrase or half-phrase (op. 6/1 bar 9; op 6/2 bar 65; op. 7/1 bar 49; op. 7/3 bars 17 and 93; op. 21, finale, bar 173; op. 24/2 bar 29).
2b - In the second half - last four bars - of a phrase (op. 8, first movement, bars 22-4 and 159-61; op. 16 bar 132; op 21, finale, bar 157).

As for the genre of compositions featuring this notation, a good three-quarters of these works are genres connected with Polish folk music. Concerning tempo, all the above-mentioned pieces are in a quick tempo with the exception of the Nocturnes op. 9/2 and 15/3 and Mazurkas op. 24/1 and 67/3. These last three pieces are marked rubato at the first bar; thus placed, the indication applies to the entire piece or at least to its first section. It therefore concerns agogic fluctuations, the second type of rubato described in note 98. As for op. 9/2, a perfect example of bel canto adapted to the piano, it arises out of the Italian tradition: even if the rubato here is applicable to various other points in the same piece, it belongs essentially to one particular phrase of a more pathétique character - to use Tosi's own words. This definition also applies logically to the above-mentioned passages of the Trio op. 8, the Rondo op. 16 and the Concerto op. 21, even though all of these are in a quick tempo: underneath the piano melody, the violin and 'cello parts, or the orchestral parts, bear no mention of rubato but keep the beat. At the same time, the passages marked rubato in op. 21 derive directly from the Mazur and so relate also to categories 2a and 2b, of pieces inspired by the mobile rhythm of Polish folk music. In each case Chopin took the trouble to notate a 'rhythmic rubato' in the melodic line; thus the term 'rubato' serves there merely to underline the precise flexibility required for these subtle nuances. This type of 'national' rubato, the third component of Chopinian rubato, is by no means incompatible with that derived from the Italian Baroque: the best Polish folk musicians, in monodic chants, employ the compensatory system (lengthening or shortening one note value to the detriment or gain of the next), while stamping a strict triple meter with the foot. This brings one final point: of the twelve compositions examined, nine are in triple time (op. 8 is in 4/4, op. 9/2 in 12/8 and op. 16 in 2/4); moreover, the nocturne op. 15/3 features many folkloric characteristics (see p. 153, note 187). This supports an argument in favor of this 'national' rubato having been instinctively applied by Chopin, harmoniously combined in his music with the other two types, each in its context.

If, then, Chopin's rubato may be seen to take diverse meanings, when he marks it explicitly it seems to be the 'national' element that takes precedence. As for the Italian tradition, it evidently applies to works with a broad cantilena, as much in slow tempi as in more restless fiery passages. It is easy to conclude from this that Chopin, after op. 24, renounced the use of a term which he would have had to employ constantly without the slightest assurance of his intentions being correctly understood.
Note 100, Eigeldinger wrote:
Altogether Liszt's poetic evocation alludes to the Italian vocal tradition adapted to the piano by Chopin. This is confirmed in an excerpt from Lachmund's diary (p. 62, on the subject of the sixth of Liszt's Consolations): 'On this occasion [Liszt gave us] an important insight into the Lisztian rubato, consisting of subtle variations of tempo and expression within a free declamation, entirely different from Chopin's give-and-take [Eilen und Zögern]. Liszt's rubato is more a sudden, light suspension of the rhythm on this or that significant note, so that the phrasing will above all be clearly and convincingly brought out. While playing, Liszt seemed barely preoccupied with keeping in time, and yet neither the aesthetic symmetry nor the rhythm was affected.'

Towards the end of his description Liszt singles out the Polish students to whom Chopin devoted the greatest care; this might also suggest that Liszt was equally aware of the mobile rhythm of Polish folk music as a component of Chopin's rubato. In fact Chopin readily affirmed that the purely national aspects of his playing and his music tended to escape foreigners: 'When one of his French pupils played his works to the approval of the listeners, Chopin would often remark that the performance had indeed been good but that the Polish element and the Polish inspiration were lacking' (Karasowski). This is corroborated by Marie Roubaud: 'He often said that French did not understand his Mazurkas, and that one had to be Polish to feel the subtleties of the national rhythm, and to render the proper local color' (Ganche). This is vividly illustrated, too, by Chopin's dispute with Meyerbeer, and by Hallé's and Moscheles's astonishment at the rhythm Chopin imparted to the Mazurkas.

Some references are omitted or truncated.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:25 am 
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Herculean (mouse wheels sigh at your posts :lol: )! And thank you for those snatches. So, since words cannot really give us back what Chopin really did at the piano, what are the closest aural documents to Chopin's pianism? Saint-Saens's?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:32 am 
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alf wrote:
Herculean (mouse wheels sigh at your posts :lol: )! And thank you for those snatches. So, since words cannot really give us back what Chopin really did at the piano, what are the closest aural documents to Chopin's pianism? Saint-Saens's?

Again, I'm not so sure that there is such a thing. We can only read what his students and contemporaries said about his playing, take the historical meaning of the term into consideration (which Eigeldinger has done quite well for us, I think), and make our own decisions. The same goes for any aspect of HIP where there is no audio documentation of the original source...and even when there is, such as in the cases of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich (whom we have discussed before, if I recall), we might choose another path. IMO, it's good to be informed regardless, which is what all that typing was for.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:20 am 
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This is a good quantity of reading matter; thank you for your trouble! I shall digest it, but I already have seen things I had arrived at already.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:28 am 
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Terez wrote:
alf wrote:
Herculean (mouse wheels sigh at your posts :lol: )! And thank you for those snatches. So, since words cannot really give us back what Chopin really did at the piano, what are the closest aural documents to Chopin's pianism? Saint-Saens's?

Again, I'm not so sure that there is such a thing. We can only read what his students and contemporaries said about his playing, take the historical meaning of the term into consideration (which Eigeldinger has done quite well for us, I think), and make our own decisions. The same goes for any aspect of HIP where there is no audio documentation of the original source...and even when there is, such as in the cases of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich (whom we have discussed before, if I recall), we might choose another path. IMO, it's good to be informed regardless, which is what all that typing was for.


Ha, that's always been my point. You're echoing some observations I've made myself in the past! Nevertheless, I believe that Saint-Saens's playing cannot be far from Chopin's. Too bad he didn't record anything by our Freddie.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:47 am 
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alf wrote:
Terez wrote:
alf wrote:
Herculean (mouse wheels sigh at your posts :lol: )! And thank you for those snatches. So, since words cannot really give us back what Chopin really did at the piano, what are the closest aural documents to Chopin's pianism? Saint-Saens's?

Again, I'm not so sure that there is such a thing. We can only read what his students and contemporaries said about his playing, take the historical meaning of the term into consideration (which Eigeldinger has done quite well for us, I think), and make our own decisions. The same goes for any aspect of HIP where there is no audio documentation of the original source...and even when there is, such as in the cases of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich (whom we have discussed before, if I recall), we might choose another path. IMO, it's good to be informed regardless, which is what all that typing was for.

Ha, that's always been my point. You're echoing some observations I've made myself in the past!

Am I? It's possible. I dug out the emails I had in mind, and what you said there (if you'll forgive me for quoting such a small innocuous bit) is 'I don't know if one should play Chopin in strict or loose tempo (ie: in an agogically more or less free way), and I believe nobody really knows.' I think we know, or at least that we know enough - we just don't necessarily have an accurate model for that type of performance in Mikuli's students (nor would we necessarily have an accurate model in Mikuli himself). To say that we don't know is IMO to take it one step too far; we do know something about it.

Alfie wrote:
Nevertheless, I believe that Saint-Saens's playing cannot be far from Chopin's. Too bad he didn't record anything by our Freddie.

You might be right. I don't believe I've ever heard him play; I'll have to find some recordings.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:40 pm 
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I listened to some Saint-Saëns recordings. He seems to favor toccata-like tempo fluctuations in his own music, sometimes at a schizophrenic pace, which is definitely not the type of rubato he described IMO (for example, Rhapsodie d'Auvergne). It's not that he can't keep a strict tempo - he does so for the most part in the Marche Francais, with the exception of a couple of sectional tempo changes and a few affective fluctuations. His hands always seem to move together.

It may be that Viardot imparted the 'secret' to him by having him accompany her. He kept the time, and she demonstrated the rubato. I think it's a little easier to pull off in this context because the singer doesn't have to execute the accompaniment - only keep up with it. It's worth mentioning that Viardot arranged some of Chopin's mazurkas for voice, and that he approved of them by all appearances.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:51 pm 
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I think the whole idea of this type of rubato pertains to, and originates from, singing. Chopin's loved Italian bel canto above all, and he just wanted to emulate it on the piano. Whether it was more wishful thinking than reality, I guess we'll never know. Even with half a ton of quotes we're nowhere nearer a definitive answer. For sure, what would feel natural to any singer (they all do it, from crooners to pop singers) requires almost
superhuman effort from a single player.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:19 pm 
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techneut wrote:
I think the whole idea of this type of rubato pertains to, and originates from, singing. Chopin's loved Italian bel canto above all, and he just wanted to emulate it on the piano. Whether it was more wishful thinking than reality, I guess we'll never know. Even with half a ton of quotes we're nowhere nearer a definitive answer.

I think we can definitely say it was reality for Chopin, if not for everyone or even most of us. The reason I say this is the matter of the vehemence on the part of Chopin's pupils and contemporaries in decrying misguided and even vulgar attempts to recreate what Chopin did effortlessly. The only prominent individuals who seem to disagree are Berlioz and perhaps Meyerbeer (Mendelssohn seems a bit wishy-washy to me on the subject) - it's not clear how much distinction should be drawn between the rhythmic irregularities in the mazurkas and the concept of 'stolen time', so it's difficult to say whether Meyerbeer had similar feelings about Chopin's playing in other contexts. Berlioz is easy to understand, mostly because he was primarily an orchestrator, and a conductor. In that context, only the soloist can have any freedom, and individual deviations from the tempo are usually associated with inferior ensembles. Aside from that, Berlioz seems to have been fonder of Chopin in the early days, perhaps before he became aware that Chopin wasn't very fond of him.

Chris wrote:
For sure, what would feel natural to any singer (they all do it, from crooners to pop singers) requires almost superhuman effort from a single player.

I don't think it's necessarily superhuman, any more than being able to memorize music is superhuman. Some people will have a knack for it, and some won't. Like I said (and like Eigeldinger said), it's probably no coincidence that Chopin chose to be represented in the Fétis/Moscheles method by polyrhythmic etudes. Moscheles probably asked Chopin for something that would help players achieve the necessary independence of the hands, or perhaps it was something simply understood between them after their meeting and performance for the royals together (which Moscheles described in some detail - the above quote is an excerpt from that). Obsessing over where exactly each note falls between the other in polyrhythmic etudes will not achieve that independence of the hands, especially when rubato - passionate declamation - is required to make it convincing. Neither will unsteady renderings of either rhythmic figure be convincing. Yes, it's difficult, but whether or not we can execute it, we can conceive of it, and perhaps aspire to it if we are so inclined.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:30 pm 
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I don't think this has anything to do with polyrhythm. I believe polyrhythm is basically quite easy to learn for everyone.
But the kind of natural freedom between the hands (and maybe brain halfs ?) required for the 'Chopin rubato' seems to
be given to very few. I don't even hear that in jazz pianists.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:35 pm 
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techneut wrote:
I don't think this has anything to do with polyrhythm. I believe polyrhythm is basically quite easy to learn for everyone.

In the way that I described, by parsing it, it is. But there are two ways of approaching polyrhythm, and the other has very much to do with independence of the hands.

Quote:
But the kind of natural freedom between the hands (and maybe brain halfs ?) required for the 'Chopin rubato' seems to be given to very few. I don't even hear that in jazz pianists.

I think this is at least partly because the technique isn't cultivated. I think some can do it naturally, but more could do it with practice (which again should probably be focused on things like polyrhythmic etudes and playing rubato with a metronome).

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:53 pm 
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Terez wrote:
I think this is at least partly because the technique isn't cultivated. I think some can do it naturally, but more could do it with practice (which again should probably be focused on things like polyrhythmic etudes and playing rubato with a metronome).

I don't believe this is a 'technique', and if you have to learn it by painstaking practicing, it is probably not meant for you, and might sound terribly contrived. I feel that such a thing should come natural or not at all. Chopin obviously had this knack, I doubt if he had ever 'learnt' it.

Anyway that is just my thought. I'm not a Chopin buff but wanted to throw in my one little cent as well :D

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:59 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Terez wrote:
I think this is at least partly because the technique isn't cultivated. I think some can do it naturally, but more could do it with practice (which again should probably be focused on things like polyrhythmic etudes and playing rubato with a metronome).

I don't believe this is a 'technique', and if you have to learn it by painstaking practicing, it is probably not meant for you, and might sound terribly contrived.

I understand what you mean, but I think you take it too far. I think anyone who can conceive of it can learn it by learning independence of the hands. As you agreed, it's easier to pull off with a vocalist and piano accompaniment. If we can conceive of this independence of the melody, then we can probably play it, and the only thing standing between us and the execution of it is independence of the hands in the context of an inexorable pulse. Some few can do this naturally. Probably many more can do it with practice - it's not learning the art of expression (which is innate) but rather learning independence of the hands. Some probably can't do it at all, either because they lack expressive talent or because they can't achieve this independence.

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Last edited by Terez on Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:00 pm 
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Wow, Terez, that's a lot of great information! I probably have most of those books too, but it's been a long time since I've cracked one open, so it's nice to have a refresher course. Thank you for posting!

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:02 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Wow, Terez, that's a lot of great information! I probably have most of those books too, but it's been a long time since I've cracked one open, so it's nice to have a refresher course. Thank you for posting!

No problem. I have a lot of books that don't get cracked enough as well, and this was a refresher for me also, especially since I hadn't really dug into the footnotes beyond skimming a few of them.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:02 pm 
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Quote:
If we can conceive of this independence of the melody, then we can probably play it, and the only thing standing between us and the execution of it is independence of the hands in the context of an inexorable pulse. Some few can do this naturally. Probably many more can do it with practice - it's not learning the art of expression (which is innate) but rather learning independence of the hands. Some probably can't do it at all, either because they lack expressive talent or because they can't achieve this independence.


Well if this type of "Chopin rubato" exists, I certainly have yet to hear (notice?) it once, even in the many hundreds to thousands of Chopin recordings I've heard over the years, including in Cortot, IMHO the very best Chopin player in recorded history, whom many would agree had a very natural rubato. Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible. As someone mentioned earlier, I would question whether it's simply that Chopin gave the illusion that that's what he was doing, simply because he applied rubato so skillfully (and his right hand was so singing), and then his students badly interpreted it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that false information was propagated and became "common knowledge."

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:12 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
If we can conceive of this independence of the melody, then we can probably play it, and the only thing standing between us and the execution of it is independence of the hands in the context of an inexorable pulse. Some few can do this naturally. Probably many more can do it with practice - it's not learning the art of expression (which is innate) but rather learning independence of the hands. Some probably can't do it at all, either because they lack expressive talent or because they can't achieve this independence.


Well if this type of "Chopin rubato" exists, I certainly have yet to hear (notice?) it once, even in the many hundreds to thousands of Chopin recordings I've heard over the years, including in Cortot, IMHO the very best Chopin player in recorded history, whom many would agree had a very natural rubato. Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible. As someone mentioned earlier, I would question whether it's simply that Chopin gave the illusion that that's what he was doing, simply because he applied rubato so skillfully (and his right hand was so singing), and then his students badly interpreted it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that false information was propagated and became "common knowledge."

I will have to listen to some recordings to find examples of it later on (it's nearing bedtime for me, so I just don't feel like it at the moment). I agree the skill is a rarity, but I believe some people pull it off from time to time. And while it's true that sometimes stories are just urban legends, I don't think that's the case with Chopin because nearly every musician in his company agreed in their descriptions of his playing, and that he possessed a singular ability for this style of playing (though he apparently had some success with some of his students in cultivating the technique). I tend to think that it's a little too easy to dismiss these accounts as being inaccurate, or exaggerated, because the concept and execution of the technique is not easy to grasp, but the idea that this legendary and even definitive aspect of his playing was imagined or exaggerated stretches credulity IMO. Also, the words apparently came from his own mouth (according to many students), so the idea that his students interpreted his playing badly doesn't make any sense, either. (And add that to Mozart's description of the same exact thing, not to mention countless others through the 17th and 18th centuries, aside from the 19th).

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Last edited by Terez on Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:19 pm 
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Terez wrote:
alf wrote:
Terez wrote:
alf wrote:
Herculean (mouse wheels sigh at your posts :lol: )! And thank you for those snatches. So, since words cannot really give us back what Chopin really did at the piano, what are the closest aural documents to Chopin's pianism? Saint-Saens's?

Again, I'm not so sure that there is such a thing. We can only read what his students and contemporaries said about his playing, take the historical meaning of the term into consideration (which Eigeldinger has done quite well for us, I think), and make our own decisions. The same goes for any aspect of HIP where there is no audio documentation of the original source...and even when there is, such as in the cases of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich (whom we have discussed before, if I recall), we might choose another path. IMO, it's good to be informed regardless, which is what all that typing was for.

Ha, that's always been my point. You're echoing some observations I've made myself in the past!

Am I? It's possible. I dug out the emails I had in mind, and what you said there (if you'll forgive me for quoting such a small innocuous bit) is 'I don't know if one should play Chopin in strict or loose tempo (ie: in an agogically more or less free way), and I believe nobody really knows.'


I was referring to the obligation to get informed first and the right later to make our own decisions. Too often people don't bother to get properly informed since they already have a belief. I'm talking for instance about the endless debates about the need to get reliable editions as a starting point to speak of a composition.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:23 pm 
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Reliable editions are good, though making them seems to be problematic. That's part of why I got Eigeldinger, since he has most of the info on which these editions are based in his book. I also need to get Kallberg's dissertation on edition differences, but I've read a lot of what he's written on that subject. However, I don't think editions have much to do with this particular subject, aside from the fact that Mikuli's comments are taken from the preface to his edition. Eigeldinger's analysis of the usage of the term 'rubato' in the scores is more helpful than anything I've seen in urtext editions. Also, as Liszt said, Chopin stopped using the term in his music because he realized that the talented musician would sense this need for irregularity in his music. So there's something to be said for instinct in this case.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:32 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.


:?: :?: :?:

Out of sync in music is more the rule than the exception. I mean just the writing, the composition, not the performance of it.
It'd bore us to death otherwise. Really, rethink it a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:49 pm 
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Terez wrote:
Reliable editions are good, though making them seems to be problematic. That's part of why I got Eigeldinger, since he has most of the info on which these editions are based in his book. I also need to get Kallberg's dissertation on edition differences, but I've read a lot of what he's written on that subject. However, I don't think editions have much to do with this particular subject, aside from the fact that Mikuli's comments are taken from the preface to his edition. Eigeldinger's analysis of the usage of the term 'rubato' in the scores is more helpful than anything I've seen in urtext editions. Also, as Liszt said, Chopin stopped using the term in his music because he realized that the talented musician would sense this need for irregularity in his music. So there's something to be said for instinct in this case.


Yes, of course editions don't help discovering Chopin's rubato, how could they, but you keep evading my point that is about your method of doing things, which has changed considerably in time. A couple of years ago Mikuli was sort of a prophet, now he's just a witness of his times, and your sources are a tad more updated. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:56 pm 
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Quote:
Out of sync in music is more the rule than the exception. I mean just the writing, the composition, not the performance of it.
It'd bore us to death otherwise. Really, rethink it a bit.


Not sure what you mean here, or at least it seems contradictory to me. I'm only talking about performance, not composition or writing, and I only mean that when, e.g., an A-flat in the right hand is written against, e.g., an undulating nocturne bass and that A-flat goes with a D-flat in the bass it should be compressed along with that D-flat (unless of course there's hand breaking, there are different views on that), regardless of what rubato is being applied. That is, the hands apply rubato together, not asynchronously.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:11 pm 
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Quote:
I tend to think that it's a little too easy to dismiss these accounts as being inaccurate, or exaggerated, because the concept and execution of the technique is not easy to grasp, but the idea that this legendary and even definitive aspect of his playing was imagined or exaggerated stretches credulity IMO. Also, the words apparently came from his own mouth (according to many students), so the idea that his students interpreted his playing badly doesn't make any sense, either. (And add that to Mozart's description of the same exact thing, not to mention countless others through the 17th and 18th centuries, aside from the 19th).


You may very well be right. However, arguing this point from the standpoint of what Chopin's students thought or interpreted, or even what the Master himself thought, runs the risk of commiting a logical fallacy, the argumentum ad verecundiam. I think what we (or at least I) want to know is (1) the observation of this in others' playing and (2) the explanation, based on that observation, of how or why this is the case (e.g., how it is working or why it's acceptable) I've explained why I think it's impossible, now IMO you (i.e., argue for yourself) should explain why it's possible in connection with your examples, which I look forward to.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:51 pm 
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Terez wrote:
I listened to some Saint-Saëns recordings. He seems to favor toccata-like tempo fluctuations in his own music, sometimes at a schizophrenic pace, which is definitely not the type of rubato he described IMO (for example, Rhapsodie d'Auvergne). It's not that he can't keep a strict tempo - he does so for the most part in the Marche Francais, with the exception of a couple of sectional tempo changes and a few affective fluctuations. His hands always seem to move together.

It may be that Viardot imparted the 'secret' to him by having him accompany her. He kept the time, and she demonstrated the rubato. I think it's a little easier to pull off in this context because the singer doesn't have to execute the accompaniment - only keep up with it. It's worth mentioning that Viardot arranged some of Chopin's mazurkas for voice, and that he approved of them by all appearances.


These clearly are not the best examples you could find (I understand they are probably the only ones available to you, though). There are slower pieces and more 'chopinesque' (I'm using that word very loosely), like an inner section of Mazurka Op.21 and IMO spectacularly the Valse nonchalante, where you can really assess this kind of features. What I hear is a blend of agogical devices among which you can also tell a very subtle rubato technique that might resemble Chopin's rubato (e.g. bars 10-12 and in the second exposition, end of page 2 on, just to point you to something concrete)

http://www.mediafire.com/?fvkc14ebaic4x0t
http://216.129.110.22/files/imglnks/usi ... piano_.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:01 pm 
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Tempo Rubato as described by C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, and Chopin.

To test its possibility and viability, we can start with a simple example that would fit into the idea of robbing and then giving back time in one part while keeping the other part in strict time.

Let's take a regular half-note pulse that is unvarying and on top of that place 8 - 16th notes. While these could of course be played evenly as 16th notes, would it not be possible to say begin with a slight accelerando on the first few notes to allow for a slight ritardando on the last two or three and still end in sync on the next half note without it necessarily sounding "out of sync"? Would this not be an example of the "Two Layered Rubato Thingy?"

One could argue that the composer could write a 16th note quintuplet followed by a 16th note triplet, but if followed to the letter that would create a break in the flow, the quints moving faster than the triplets with a definite change in rate, not a smooth flow.

Just a thought.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:02 pm 
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Terez,
That was A LOT of work on your part, and made for fascinating reading! Thank you for the investigation. I maintain, as Joe does, that I have not ever heard this "2-layered rubato thingy" by a concert pianist, whether live or recorded. But for me (and my household) I'll play any melody, polyrhythm or fioritura he writes, and will do so in time with rubato to the whole as artistically indicated. Thanks again for your work!

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:05 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
Out of sync in music is more the rule than the exception. I mean just the writing, the composition, not the performance of it.
It'd bore us to death otherwise. Really, rethink it a bit.


Not sure what you mean here, or at least it seems contradictory to me. I'm only talking about performance, not composition or writing, and I only mean that when, e.g., an A-flat in the right hand is written against, e.g., an undulating nocturne bass and that A-flat goes with a D-flat in the bass it should be compressed along with that D-flat (unless of course there's hand breaking, there are different views on that), regardless of what rubato is being applied. That is, the hands apply rubato together, not asynchronously.


Problem is that any performance starts from the score. Don't you have out of syncs at any suspension, anticipated bass, off-beat syncopation and all kind of rhythmic gimmicks a composer can devise to elude a listener's expectations? The Andante from Bach's Italian Concerto is an effective example of rubato embedded in the score. The LH keeps going and the RH does all kind of out of sync stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:18 pm 
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Quote:
The Andante from Bach's Italian Concerto is an effective example of rubato embedded in the score.


How so? If rubato refers to the individual performer's robbing of tempo in certain places, and catching it up in other places, to suit his or her musical intentions, then it seems to me that by definition it isn't part of the score but something that the individual performer adds. I think the Bach Andante from the Italian Concerto could be played exactly in time just like any other work in the entire musical literature could be (subject to human error for not having metronomes in our heads :P ), but I agree that that would be terribly boring.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:50 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
The Andante from Bach's Italian Concerto is an effective example of rubato embedded in the score.


How so? If rubato refers to the individual performer's robbing of tempo in certain places, and catching it up in other places, to suit his or her musical intentions, then it seems to me that by definition it isn't part of the score but something that the individual performer adds. I think the Bach Andante from the Italian Concerto could be played exactly in time just like any other work in the entire musical literature could be (subject to human error for not having metronomes in our heads :P ), but I agree that that would be terribly boring.


You know the finger and the moon thing... Rubato is performance related, of course, but the premise of rubato (out of sync RH to LH, to put it simple) are in countless examples in the music writing. If you play the Andante from the Italian Concerto "in time" (like a MIDI sequencer, to make it clear), you have plenty of "out of sync" moments. All the music is like that, most of the times. So it's simply not true that "things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.", because they are most of the times. Now, rubato is just the same thing, only with smaller values and undeterminable with accuracy, and that the composer can't put into writing without making the score look a mess. I'm oversimplifying but you're smart and I'm sure you got the point.

The fact that most of you seem not to manage to conceive such a possibility is probably because that kind of rubato is extinct. In a post of mine above there's a link to Saint-Saens playing is Valse nonchalante and where I pointed to a couple of moments of Saint-Saens's rubato. I don't know if Chopin's rubato was similar to SS's, but for sure today we don't have any kind of rubato anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:35 pm 
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alf wrote:
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
Out of sync in music is more the rule than the exception. I mean just the writing, the composition, not the performance of it.
It'd bore us to death otherwise. Really, rethink it a bit.


Not sure what you mean here, or at least it seems contradictory to me. I'm only talking about performance, not composition or writing, and I only mean that when, e.g., an A-flat in the right hand is written against, e.g., an undulating nocturne bass and that A-flat goes with a D-flat in the bass it should be compressed along with that D-flat (unless of course there's hand breaking, there are different views on that), regardless of what rubato is being applied. That is, the hands apply rubato together, not asynchronously.


Problem is that any performance starts from the score. Don't you have out of syncs at any suspension, anticipated bass, off-beat syncopation and all kind of rhythmic gimmicks a composer can devise to elude a listener's expectations? The Andante from Bach's Italian Concerto is an effective example of rubato embedded in the score. The LH keeps going and the RH does all kind of out of sync stuff.

Alfonzo,
With all due respect, you're changing the subject, which is fine to do if you like but the former arguments do not segue. The discussion (or the controversy anyway) on rubato cares nothing about a rhythm indicated in a score. It not about composition, its about performing in a manner not indicated in (contrary to) the score. If the score shows a treble-dominated texture with melody accompanied by simple patterns (Alberti bass for example), the question is, "Is it valid/tasteful/authentic to play the melody not simultaneously with the note(s) indicated in the score that are indicated simultaneously?" (E.g., in Mozart's Sonata facile in C major) We aren't exploring the history of rhythmic development in art music. That would be a fascinating discussion but is seperate and appart. Any reference to a score (anybody's) to argue about the "2-layered (contextually-dissociated) rubato" misses the point/issue entirely.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:01 pm 
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Quote:
With all due respect, you're changing the subject, which is fine to do if you like but the former arguments do not segue. The discussion (or the controversy anyway) on rubato cares nothing about a rhythm indicated in a score.


Exactly. I think this is a better explanation of what I was trying to say myself in response. I don't see how the score per se relates to this discussion, but maybe I'm just confused...

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:50 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
With all due respect, you're changing the subject, which is fine to do if you like but the former arguments do not segue. The discussion (or the controversy anyway) on rubato cares nothing about a rhythm indicated in a score.


Exactly. I think this is a better explanation of what I was trying to say myself in response. I don't see how the score per se relates to this discussion, but maybe I'm just confused...


In fact it doesn't relate per se to the discussion but to the following your statement "Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.", which is clearly false, since in piano music you have tons of examples of asynchronicity where, to make it simple, the hands don't go together. What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale? The fact that you have never heard that kind of rubato before it doesn't mean that it wasn't practiced by Chopin or others. Have you listened to the Valse nonchalante I posted above?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:08 pm 
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Quote:
In fact it doesn't relate per se to the discussion but to the following your statement "Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.", which is clearly false, since in piano music you have tons of examples of asynchronicity where, to make it simple, the hands don't go together. What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?


But again, we're talking about two different things here. When I said "he applies it" I was referring to the performer, not the composer. The score just is what it is, a document that's there and unalterable. The only thing that's at issue here is what the performer does while interpreting the score.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:22 pm 
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alf wrote:
What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?

Whata c omposerd oesa llt he tim ewritingi td own ,whyt hep erformerc ouldn'td oo nprincipleo na smaller scale?

To me the is exactly what were talking about. Who in there right mind would say such is acceptable? Alfonzo, you're still missing the critical point: a shift from the defined relationship per the score. :|

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:40 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
In fact it doesn't relate per se to the discussion but to the following your statement "Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.", which is clearly false, since in piano music you have tons of examples of asynchronicity where, to make it simple, the hands don't go together. What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?


But again, we're talking about two different things here. When I said "he applies it" I was referring to the performer, not the composer. The score just is what it is, a document that's there and unalterable. The only thing that's at issue here is what the performer does while interpreting the score.


You don't get my point. Composer and performer live in the same acoustic world (and in Chopin they were one person). How can be that the out-of-sync by the composer is good and the out-of-sync by the performer "sounds terrible"? The acoustic principles on which they're based a pretty the same. And what's more, "logically" so?

You see, I simply don't agree on your explanation of why that kind of rubato could not be possible and was badly interpreted by students and commentators. That kind of rubato is possible and, as some recordings from the past prove, it was practiced by some pianists, like Saint-Saens.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:48 pm 
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Quote:
Quote:
You see, I simply don't agree on your explanation of why that kind of rubato could not be possible and was badly interpreted by students and commentators. That kind of rubato is possible and, as some recordings from the past prove, it was practiced by some pianists, like Saint-Saens.


I didn't say it wasn't possible. I only said I have yet to hear it on recordings. I also didn't say that it was necessarily badly interpreted by students and commentators, only that that's a possibility. I will listen to the Saint-Saens recordings later to see whether I can spot it.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:48 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
alf wrote:
What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?

Whata c omposerd oesa llt he tim ewritingi td own ,whyt hep erformerc ouldn'td oo nprincipleo na smaller scale?

To me the is exactly what were talking about. Who in there right mind would say such is acceptable? Alfonzo, you're still missing the critical point: a shift from the defined relationship per the score. :|


I'll be blunt with you Eddie. How can take you seriously if you keep spelling my name wrong?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:57 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
You see, I simply don't agree on your explanation of why that kind of rubato could not be possible and was badly interpreted by students and commentators. That kind of rubato is possible and, as some recordings from the past prove, it was practiced by some pianists, like Saint-Saens.


I didn't say it wasn't possible. I only said I have yet to hear it on recordings. I also didn't say that it was necessarily badly interpreted by students and commentators, only that that's a possibility. I will listen to the Saint-Saens recordings later to see whether I can spot it.


OK, as they say a recording is worth a thousand words. Let's see if we agree at least on the presence of that kind of rubato.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:58 pm 
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alf wrote:
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
In fact it doesn't relate per se to the discussion but to the following your statement "Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.", which is clearly false, since in piano music you have tons of examples of asynchronicity where, to make it simple, the hands don't go together. What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?


But again, we're talking about two different things here. When I said "he applies it" I was referring to the performer, not the composer. The score just is what it is, a document that's there and unalterable. The only thing that's at issue here is what the performer does while interpreting the score.


You don't get my point. Composer and performer live in the same acoustic world (and in Chopin they were one person). How can be that the out-of-sync by the composer is good and the out-of-sync by the performer "sounds terrible"? The acoustic principles on which they're based a pretty the same. And what's more, "logically" so?

You see, I simply don't agree on your explanation of why that kind of rubato could not be possible and was badly interpreted by students and commentators. That kind of rubato is possible and, as some recordings from the past prove, it was practiced by some pianists, like Saint-Saens.

Very simple: If a composer writes syncopation and you play straight, the performance is wrong. If he writes syncopation and you correctly play syncopation, the performance is correct. If he writes straight and you play syncopation, the performance is wrong. If he writes straight and you play straight, you play correctly. If you want to recite Shakespear, Dante or the Bible, if you say what's written, then you do good, if you say other than written in a recitaion then you fail. It's so simple that every child learns this in elementary music lessons. If you want to improvise on a Chopin Nocturne, by all means do so, but don't call it Chopin. In fact, if we have the freedom to change the melodic rhythm as we desire, then why not the other elements? Why not change the melody itself? Or the harmony? Perhaps the score is just a mild suggestion. :) Again, show me the money! I want to HEAR a famous pianist doing this, otherwise it is nothing more that arcane myth. Perhaps you could do some for us with the Mozart sonata I alluded to earlier. Right now I also have the Beethoven Appasionata under hand; consider this simple example: Imagine that a pianist doesn't make the distinction of the 16th note value of the second note of the piece, instead playing it as the 3rd note of a triplet, and does so manytimes throughout the piece while saying, "I'm doing rubato!" He/she will not pass his board exam and everyone will know he doesn't know rhythm!

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Last edited by musical-md on Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:01 pm 
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alf wrote:
musical-md wrote:
alf wrote:
What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?

Whata c omposerd oesa llt he tim ewritingi td own ,whyt hep erformerc ouldn'td oo nprincipleo na smaller scale?

To me the is exactly what were talking about. Who in there right mind would say such is acceptable? Alfonzo, you're still missing the critical point: a shift from the defined relationship per the score. :|


I'll be blunt with you Eddie. How can take you seriously if you keep spelling my name wrong?

:oops: Sorry Alfonso. I'm sorry. Many people will also spell my name incorrectly as Eddie. I will try to write your name correctly so that you can take me serioso. :)

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Last edited by musical-md on Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:04 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
Many people will also spell my name incorrectly as Eddie.


I know, it hurts a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:14 pm 
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Quote:
I'll be blunt with you Eddie. How can take you seriously if you keep spelling my name wrong?


Oops! :oops: I'll be honest that I've been spelling it wrong too (exactly as Eddy did). It's only fair that you get to call me Jo or Joeseph in response :P

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