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 Post subject: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:44 am 
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I was going to video-record the Gershwin no. 2 Prelude tonight but decided not to. Some of you know that I've recorded (and video-recorded) nos. 1 and 3 already and so I figured I should also do no. 2, right? However, I would first very much appreciate if I could get some opinions on how I play the piece before I video-record it, put it up on Youtube, and then learn afterward that it's wrong or not that good, like what's happened to me before. So I made just an audio-only recording tonight in hopes to get some feedback. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:10 am 
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
Monica,
Do you know Porgy and Bess (a la Summertime)? This prelude is an aria with accompaniment if there ever was one. I don't get the sensation that you are singing this aria to me. If it helps to put on black face, try it ... but don't video like that. :lol: With all seriousness, do not approach this like a white composer, but rather like a soulful black singer. It's just my opinion, but I think an effective interpretation of this piece transports me away from the piano and plops me right down in the 5th row orchestra seating, with the lights down low and a singer in the spot light. Take me there! I know you can :wink:

Just trying to help if I can.
Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:42 am 
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Thank you, Eddy. :)

But do you mean that you think my tempo is too slow? Many people don't know this, but this piece is not supposed to be played slowly. Gershwin himself plays it a lot faster and it's marked
a quarter note = 88, which is even faster than how I play it. I do know Summertime very well - I love it! But I don't think this no. 2 Prelude is supposed to copy it - rather it should walk along on its own accord. I can play the prelude slower and make it more sultry, but I'm not sure if I should. But also, I was wondering how the piece sounds because I have to jump those wide LH stretches - I can't reach them.

(white face/black face would not have helped me tonight because I was having a bad hair day... :lol: )

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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:21 am 
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
pianolady wrote:
But do you mean that you think my tempo is too slow? Many people don't know this, but this piece is not supposed to be played slowly. Gershwin himself plays it a lot faster and it's marked a quarter note = 88, which is even faster than how I play it.
No. I don't think it's too slow; more like too straight. Hmm. I guess this will have to be a personal call you make: IMO the question is whether to follow the indicated tempo of the score (boo), or follow the embedded tempo in the music (yeh). I'm sure this is highly subjective, but for me the music is way too troubled and painful to go as fast as the score indicates. I would play it slower and dripping with pain, sadness, longing, but with an unbendable inner determination. Maybe I'm trying to make it into a soulful, introspective aria of personal resolve and resilience. ... but that's what I would do and "Damn the Tempedoes!"

Regarding your reach issue ... that's a tough one. I guess you do the best you can. I have no problem with a pianist taking the first four bars using the RH too (and I can reach it), and I would DEFINITLEY take the B# below middle-C# in the measure 10 bars before the end with my RH.

You need more opinions than mine. I'm sure they'll be forthcoming. :wink:

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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: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:05 am 
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Sounds real classy ! I agree with Eddy thought in that it could be a little more soulful, especially the middle section which is a bit dry and po-faced. Just a touch more freedom and you're there.

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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:53 am 
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Location: Germany
Hi Monica,
you play the right notes and I think, there are no read errors. But all sounds a bit too "correct" respective metronomically. The prescription "e poco rubato" should be taken seriously, and for me that would include also a bit more "swing". Gershwins pieces represent the conjunction of classic and jazzy style, which make them playable also for people with european blood. (I personally still have played a four hands and two hands version of the "Rhapsody in Blue", though I think, I donĀ“t can feel the swing like a real black man.) So you should try to find a right combination of "correctness" and jazzy atmosphere of sound. Like this it sounds a bit too stiff and the tempo is much too slow. You should try to play it like it is prescribed by Gershwin: quarter=88.

I hope I could give you some useful help, which is my only intention, of course.

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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:14 pm 
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Thank you all for the comments/advice. I'll try to make it better. It's just that there are literally a hundred different kinds of styles/interpretations that I've heard of this piece, and I think I should just play it like Gershwin plays it which is pretty straight forward and fast. Then again, I like it a bit more jazzy too. Ohhh...I dunno how I should play it... :? :?

Eddy - good tip about that 10th bar from the end - taking the b# with my RH. I did not consider that before.

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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:17 pm 
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Location: Illinois
Hey Monica, here a few things to think about.

First, take an evening dinner cruise on Lake Michigan and look at the Chi-town skyline while "listening" to this melody. Listen for the street corner sax player under the EL playing this tune. Imagine him back in the 20s or early thirty's. Listen hard enough and you will hear him or her. I don't care what anyone says, Chicago has the best skyline for that mood (even over NYC). 8)

The tempo is fine, much faster and it is too much. Gershwin was known to play everything fast.

The instruction does say "poco rubato" this is either a mistake in Italian and he meant "un poco rubato" (a little rubato) or it is an advisory against tooo much rubato. Either way, it recognizes the need for rubato. At the risk of starting a new discussion on that topic, if anything calls for the "Chopinesque rubato" this is it.

Think of the eight notes in the melody as "flexible" -- they can range from purely even, straigth eigths toward a more lilting un-equal "blues" eigths (though, to me they shouldn't be as strong as an eight triplet with the first two tied -- that is more for the middle section with the dotted eigth, 16th pattern, which can be a little lazy). But you might try a little bit of the melody with the strong "blues" eigths just to get the feel and then bring them back toward straight eigths.

Notice in measure 7 the tenuto lines over the C#s. That is an invitation to hold them a tad longer and then shorten the following 8ths appropriately.

Be careful on the quarter note triplet in measure 8. There is again a tenuto line over the last quarter -- don't rush it.

One other thing about the melody. The grace notes that occur from time to time to me represent that saxophone's slide into pitch. They can sometimes be a little longer.

I see the left hand part as containing 2 parts, the bass player and a middle counter melody. There are 2 ways to look at this. First, the bass line is C#G# F# G#... and the counter-melody is E E# C# E#. The second way is that the bass player is playing C# G# C# G# (crossing over the counter-melody), and the counter-melody is E E# F# E#... Either way, the hi C# needs to connect with which ever line you see it as a part of. It sort of sticks out from time to time.

The other issue is, of course, the 10ths. There are 3 physical sizes of 10ths on the piano (as opposed to musical sizes) the small 10th is white to black or black to white m10 (the first 10th in the piece). The medium one is white to white or black to black major or minor 10th (C - E, D - F are physically the same size). The large one is Black to white or white to black Major 10th (D - F# or Bb - D). Personally, I do ok with the first 2 but I can't do the large one. In your case, your issue begins with the small one so there needs to be a work around.

When you have to break them, I would suggest being a little more rhythmically decisive than just trying to get the 2 notes in as fast as possible. What I mean is to make one of the 2 notes a definite anticipation of the beat and the other directly on the beat (the first might be about the last 16th of the previous measure). Also, when breaking things like this, there is no rule that says the bottom note must be first. Experiment with a downward break (E - C#). Try mixing it up -- sometimes upward, sometimes downward. Another possibility is that after the pattern is established, leaving one or the other notes out, just to get away from the constant "ba-dum" might be an option. The idea being that once the listener has heard the pattern enough, they will sub-consciously fill in the blank.

Because of the need to break the initial m10 of the pattern, I, as other's have suggested would use both hands to play the walking 10ths in measure 10 together (even though that has an indication allowing a break).

I hope this gives you some ideas. Since this is Gershwin and based on jazz and blues, IMHO it gives you a little more flexibility to alter things from the written page.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Gershwin - Prelude 2 test
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:44 pm 
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Thank you, Scott. You and everybody else have given me much to think about. I will try out these suggestions tonight.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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