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 Post subject: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:38 pm 
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Sorry for submitting so much recently :!: :oops:
I had been working on a big chunk or repertoire during the last couple of months, and now my grand has been tuned, and still holding up, I'm making the most of it and recording it all. I'll quite understand if y'all are fed up with my submissions and don't feel like commenting. Doesn't matter ! I know these are good, and I also know they could be better. Business as usual :)

The delicious D'un Cahier d'Esquisses we did not have on the site yet. Of Children's Corner, we surprisingly had only one CS. It's not easy to compete with Tom Pascale's polished recordings, but I believe mine can hold their own in that company.

Debussy - D'un Cahier d'Esquisses (4:47)

Debussy - Children's Corner - 1: Doctor Gradus as Parnassum (2:46)
Debussy - Children's Corner - 2: Jimbo's Lullaby (3:39)
Debussy - Children's Corner - 3: Serenade of the Doll (3:07)
Debussy - Children's Corner - 4: The Snow is Dancing (3:04)
Debussy - Children's Corner - 5: The little Shepherd (2:26)
Debussy - Children's Corner - 6: Golliwogg's Cake-Walk (2:51)

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:47 pm 
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Very nice. My only quibble is the piano sound - it sounds more suited to conventional romanticism and when the music calls for a delicate, perhaps pointillist, sound I think that the tone is on the rich side.


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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:54 pm 
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Thanks Andrew !
Interesting thought - can piano sound ever be too rich ?
If it lacks in delicate, pointillistic features, that is probably due to my playing more than due to the instrument.

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:19 pm 
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techneut wrote:
If it lacks in delicate, pointillistic features, that is probably due to my playing more than due to the instrument.


I'm not so sure. I think your piano has quite a full, round sound and I suspect that the decay characteristics of its sound may make getting such effects in this repertoire quite challenging.


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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:40 am 
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andrew wrote:
I'm not so sure. I think your piano has quite a full, round sound

Ah yes, that is what I love about it, and why I don't want another one even when I bitch about its mechanical deficiencies.

andrew wrote:
and I suspect that the decay characteristics of its sound may make getting such effects in this repertoire quite challenging.

I'm sure some music would sound much better on a different instrument. Ideally one should be able to choose the ideal instrument for a given
piece, and mood, and occasion.... But we'll have to make do with what we have. Personally I do like the opulent sound it produces here. But I can understand that others would prefer it clearer and brighter.

Actually my piano tuner, who has a shop and runs an import service, has offered me the possibility to make recordings in his shop during the weekends, where I could choose from a number of good instruments (although he does not have the real high-end stuff, I think, no Bosendorfers and Faziolis etc). It is a tempting idea but somehow I don't like to have recordings on the site from different pianos. And I'd feel like being unfaithful to my venerable Gaveau :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:22 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Actually my piano tuner, who has a shop and runs an import service, has offered me the possibility to make recordings in his shop during the weekends, where I could choose from a number of good instruments (although he does not have the real high-end stuff, I think, no Bosendorfers and Faziolis etc). It is a tempting idea but somehow I don't like to have recordings on the site from different pianos. And I'd feel like being unfaithful to my venerable Gaveau :roll:


Also, it's my experience that your touch tends to evolve in tune with your regular piano, and adapting it to new instruments can be quite difficult.


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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:55 pm 
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To no. 1: nicely played, bar 7 following are just a bit too loud and in bar 69 you could emphasize more the b´ of the main melody in the RH.
No. 2 and 3 are very beautifully played, no. 4 also, but from bar 57 it´s really too loud (may be you could use left pedal, if you can´t produce a real pp respective ppp).
No. 5 and 6 are very good IMO.
So from my view you have done a real good interpretation here, Chris, just with a little lack of a real pp (ppp) here and there. Bravo!

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:08 pm 
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Thanks Andreas.
Dynamics are still difficult for me. Is why I like to play organ :)
I did use the UC pedal in bars 2 and 3 of the Cahier d'Esquisses, to realize the ppp. But I generally do not like the way it flattens the sound.

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:09 am 
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Hi Chris,

I took the liberty of listening to your Debussy recordings, they sound nice.

Listening to D'un Cahier d'Esquisses, I can see why you would call it delicious. The harmony is very lush and it in some ways reminds of Villa-Lobos in this respect.

For criticism I thought in some parts there could been a great forte compared to the piano. I don't have a score in front of me but the mannheim rocket at around 3 minutes.

The Childrens Corner pieces are fun to listen to and I imagine they influenced Bartok to write "For Children."

Nice to hear some more Debussy :P

~Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:03 pm 
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I listened to the first piece which is beautiful and sounded well-played. Also Golliwoggs was good too. You could bring out the melody a little more in the cross-over part, but that's all.

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:37 pm 
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Thanks Riley and Monica. Yes it is always nice to hear some more Debussy. And fun to play, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:39 pm 
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Chris,

I listened to the Children's Corner suite. Sorry to be a naysayer here, but I think you've quite a bit more work to do on these yet if you want them to be presentable. It goes without saying that this is my limited opinion, but to my ears, these come across as rather soggy, uneven, and unclear, exacerbated by a heavy overuse of pedal (especially Gradus, Jimbo, and Snow). The cardinal rules for pedal IMO is that it should be evenly applied, when necessary, to the harmonic transitions or to substitute for legato that the fingers can't achieve. In your playing of these, it seems rather more of a crutch to hide uneven finger technique (especially in Gradus and Snow). Some notes on specific pieces:

Gradus: This one is IMO the only one of the set that presents any real difficulty for finger dexterity (and starting in C Major doesn't help matters any).It's of course marked sans secheresse but also egal, and that second notion seems quite lacking here. I note that at least in my edition there is no marking for pedal at all, and I would be sparing in that department, getting what legato is needed to avoid dryness from the fingers themselves. The opening is so frequently modulating that much pedal usage is bound to make it sound sodden. I've also heard quite dry interpretations by French pianists, and I think that's fine too despite the marking. In any event, it's really a piece parodying technique as you know, which is why many pianists play it like the wind (e.g., Rachmaninoff's absolutely hair-raising version). It could work at the more leisuirely tempo you've chosen perhaps, but that's one thing that makes the unevennesses, dropped notes, and smudges/blurrings all the more apparent. Your ending finally seems to get off the ground a bit, but it seems rather out of proportion in relation to the opening strugglings.

Jimbo: I'd prefer to hear this played more simply. Yours seems to meander and suffers from a lack of rhythmic precision and an over lushness of pedal. It should sound like a lullaby for an elephant, not a young Babar playing in a mud puddle.

Serenade: The accompaniments seem too loud to my ears. Often I can't hear the melody. I'd check to make sure that your overall tempo is consistent, often it seems to gush inappropriately. This could be because your overall tempo is too slow in relation to the tempo you have in mind for specific gestures, and I'm not sure that's really acceptable. A few rather jarring accents too to my ears. IMO more delicacy and grace is required. It's a dance for a doll after all.

Snow: Far and away my favorite of the set. This one IMO just needs to sparkle and glisten more. It reminds me of Milstein's comment about Richter that often the latter's water pieces sounded like frozen icicles rather than flowing water (of course this is snow, but snow generally falls gracefully and fluidly). I personally think the tempo is too slow, and often again I'm losing the molodic lines in the staccato freefall. There are also some rather ugly accents (to my ears) and aysynchronous rhythms in shifting between the hands. Overall lighter and more ethereal playing would be in order here.

Shepherd: This one is ok overall, but the dotted rhythms sound imprecise. I'd check some of your rhythms with metronome if you haven't already. There were some nice dynamic contrasts though and a nice trailing ending.

Golliwog's: The best IMO of the set, you seem to have some good verve here. I do miss a bit of the rhythmic retention and jazz swing but that's of course a matter of taste.

Sorry to be blunt here. As you may know, as a listener, I'm pretty forgiving about a few unnevennesses, slips, blurs, whether it's from a professional or otherwise, just as I am about differences of interpretation, just as long as it's clear what someone wants to do and that interpretation is not hindered by technical struggles. But I also think there's a big difference between a few slips of hand and playing that is generally uneven, unclear, and blurred. That said, I think you can definitely get there, and I've heard you vastly improve certain things, but IMHO I would say that you need to listen back to this recording a bit more self-critically to discern the realities from what you think you're hearing.

P.S. To try to avoid coming across as as high-handed, I would like to add that maybe about 95% of the time after I first record something (especially something I haven't recorded before), I listen back to it and cringe in horror.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:17 am 
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I was fully expecting you to pick these apart Joe. While I don't agree with everything you write (not presentable, pshaw...) you make some valid points. I had some doubts about Gradus and Snow while listening back and was already contemplating having another go at some of these at least. I don't believe there are any dropped notes, I have a sharp ear and treat these as errors now. As for the wonky tempi in Jimbo, that was fully intentional, to try and realize the un peu gauche. I do envisage this little elephant meandering rather than strutting around rhythmically.

It is probably true that I have underestimated these pieces and recorded them too soon. I have played them for many decades but did not spend as much time polishing them as I do some other recent projects - seems to be a danger with pieces that you know so well. Thanks for subtly pointing that out :)

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:21 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Other members so far went mostly to the Childrens' Corner Suite, so I'd like to say a few words instead about "D'Un Cahier d'Equisses". First, I do believe that you play it quite well. Some musicologists believe that this work was never intended as a piece per se, but rather merely a sketch for "La Mer" (although I've never quite been able to make the direct connection between the two, but maybe my ears are remiss). Be that as it may, I believe this to be one of Debussy's finer pieces. It's a transitional work straddling his Late Romantic and Impressionistic styles, so can be played as a mix of both. (Perhaps that quality is what makes it so wonderful--lush, atmospheric and ethereal at the same time.) Again, I think you capture the essence of the piece quite well. I've looked at the score a couple of times, but have yet to play it, although I intend to. It's unfortunate that it's seldom played. Many pianists are missing out on a real gem in my opinion.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:14 am 
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Thank you David. It is a wonderful piece indeed. I find the arpeggios towards the end rather difficult as they must fit in with the rocking LH accompaniment. I think there is some signs of strain there, but they came of quite well.

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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:38 pm 
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I love these pieces. You've done a fine job here, Chris.
I would prefer a lighter style in the Cake-Walk as for example you do on the Snow. Excellent and clean phrasing overall although it takes away some of the drama and makes everything too literal. Your sound is really nice.


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 Post subject: Re: Some more Debussy. Yet again :)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:11 pm 
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Thanks Pantelis. I'll need to re-record Children's Corner and will take your comments into consideration.

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