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 Post subject: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:21 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 499
Location: Connecticut, USA
Hello all,

My first post in a few months. (No doubt Chris and company are glad this is post-Haydn :P) The fourth Bach French Suite is pretty well-known, particularly the Allemande, so it probably needs little introduction. One thing to note is that there are variations between manuscripts in the French Suites, so a couple of notes here and there may be edition differences (for instance, there is an A natural in measure 12 of the Sarabande that's often an A-flat). Not that there might very well be legitimate misreadings too, so feel free to comment on whatever you hear. For those who are curious, my edition is the Alfred (I like how they work out how to play the ornaments for you.)

One more general thing to note is that these are the first recordings made on my new AKG 414 XLS microphones (my Christmas gift). Thus far, I'm very happy with them -- a more detailed, well-balanced sound. I use them in the omnidirectional pattern, which seems to help for balance and treble. Hopefully, they will sound good to you too.

Thanks for listening and I will try to comment on some other members' recordings this week.

Joe

Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: I, Allemande (2:10)
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: II, Courante (1:48)
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: III, Sarabande (2:43)
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: IV, Gavotte (1:22)
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: V, Minuet (0:52)
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: VI, Aria (2:06)
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: VII, Gigue (2:23)


P.S. I recently started a couple of blogs where I review movies and classical music (links are in my signature below) that I haven't publicized much yet, so please feel free to stop by if you're interested:)

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
Joe,
This was a total pleasure to listen to. I think this is the most enjoyable submission of yours that I have heard. You have an excellent approach to Bach! Bravo, congratulations and thank you for this beautiful music.

Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:28 am
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
One more thing
Quote:
this is post-Haydn

I think not. :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: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:45 pm
Posts: 383
Location: New Jersey, USA
Joe,
Fine job. It really "sounds like" Bach - very crisp. Accurate *and* exciting, and you move the pieces forward very well. As far as style - I don't remember enough from music school 30 years ago to take a stab at it.

Those mikes are great! That really might be about as good as an MP3 of the piano can sound. BTW, as the Suite progressed, I thought the sound (and performance) got better. Maybe it was an illusion.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9581
Location: Netherlands
jlr43 wrote:
My first post in a few months. (No doubt Chris and company are glad this is post-Haydn :P)

Praise be, I'm glad you are getting a bit more adventurous in your choice of repertoire :mrgreen:

Very good playing indeed. Not much to desire except maybe a somewhat lighter approach. Your agogics, terraced dynamics and ornamentation are generally fine yet it all sounds a little serious.

I had expected a lighter, clearer sound from your shiny new mics, somehow it sounds a bit muffled and distant to me. But this could just be your instrument which IIRC is an older one not unlike mine.

We will put these on the site tonight.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9581
Location: Netherlands
These are now on the site. Do check if all is ok.

The tags were not right. The title of a piece should not be

Code:
Bach French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: I, Allemande

but

Code:
Bach - BWV 815 - French Suite No. 4, E-flat Major: I, Allemande


and so forth. Also, use only the last name in the Composer field. See the sticky topic we wrote on this.
I've fixed them this time but can you please do it right for your next submissions.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 499
Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote:
Joe,
This was a total pleasure to listen to. I think this is the most enjoyable submission of yours that I have heard. You have an excellent approach to Bach! Bravo, congratulations and thank you for this beautiful music.


Thanks very much for listening, Eddy, and for your kind words.

Quote:
One more thing
Quote:
this is post-Haydn

I think not.


Lol...Well of course Vol. 3 is in the works, probably a couple of years down the road. Sometimes it's best to let things simmer :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:23 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 499
Location: Connecticut, USA
Stu,

Thanks much for listening and commenting.

Quote:
BTW, as the Suite progressed, I thought the sound (and performance) got better. Maybe it was an illusion.


That's probably true, I was happier with it from the Sarabande on. On listening back later, the Courante and Allemande seemed a bit stiff, maybe since they were the first to be recorded.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:35 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 499
Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote:
These are now on the site. Do check if all is ok.


Thanks, Chris. The only thing I spotted is that there is a capital "V" before the word "Gigue" on the site.

Quote:
The tags were not right.


Sorry about that. I'll try not to be such a dumbass next time :mrgreen:

Quote:
I had expected a lighter, clearer sound from your shiny new mics, somehow it sounds a bit muffled and distant to me.


Yeah, it's not perfect, that's for sure, though I would chalk it up more to the small, boxy room with bad acoustics than to the piano or the mikes. Having tried as many things as I have, I'm not sure I can get the sound too much better, and I find this vastly improved over the Audio Technica cardioids I was using before.

Thanks very much for listening and commenting as always.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:29 pm
Posts: 161
Location: Brazil
Hi, Joe!

This is a nice and precise performance!

For the future, if you're interested, I'd suggest you to take a look at baroque articulation. There are several possibilities for articulation according to historical treatises (Couperin's, Quantz's, CPE Bach's...), but they are based on some "rules", like:
1) shorter intervals are played legato, while longer intervals are played detached
2) the good notes (strong beats) are played dettached from the last bad note (weak beats). This applies also to 'levares' and 'figura corta' (like the C-B-C from the Cm fugue of the WTC1). This is the only way to accentuate the good notes on a harpsichord. On the piano, we can can accentuate them by the dynamics, but that doesn't mean we should apply this articulation, which was typical in the Baroque era, besides it was also used when playing on a clavichord, which does have dynamics.

For your future Bach recordings, I'd also suggest you to consider playing allemandes more slowly. In the beginning of the Baroque, in Frech, allemandes were played much faster. But then, by the end of the Baroque, in Bach's time, in Germany, the allemandes are very slow dances, though not as slow as a sarabande.
On the other hand, you have a good tempo for the Aria. Most pianists play this Aria extremely fast, not considering that an "aria" is supposed to be sang. If you try to sing this aria, you'll see there is a limit for the tempo: it's not possible to sing it too fast.

Nice job anyway!

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:35 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 499
Location: Connecticut, USA
Felipe,

Thanks for listening and for your kind words.

Quote:
For the future, if you're interested, I'd suggest you to take a look at baroque articulation. There are several possibilities for articulation according to historical treatises (Couperin's, Quantz's, CPE Bach's...), but they are based on some "rules", like:
1) shorter intervals are played legato, while longer intervals are played detached
2) the good notes (strong beats) are played dettached from the last bad note (weak beats). This applies also to 'levares' and 'figura corta' (like the C-B-C from the Cm fugue of the WTC1). This is the only way to accentuate the good notes on a harpsichord. On the piano, we can can accentuate them by the dynamics, but that doesn't mean we should apply this articulation, which was typical in the Baroque era, besides it was also used when playing on a clavichord, which does have dynamics.


While I think the subject of touch in Bach can sometimes get a bit overly academic, it definitely is something I would like to look into further at some point, so thanks for the detailed remarks. I tried to follow the marks in my Alfred edition, though sometimes the slurs and accents there seemed strange, such as in the Gavotte. I haven't heard of Quantz, though I like the name. :P

Quote:
For your future Bach recordings, I'd also suggest you to consider playing allemandes more slowly. In the beginning of the Baroque, in Frech, allemandes were played much faster. But then, by the end of the Baroque, in Bach's time, in Germany, the allemandes are very slow dances, though not as slow as a sarabande.
On the other hand, you have a good tempo for the Aria. Most pianists play this Aria extremely fast, not considering that an "aria" is supposed to be sang. If you try to sing this aria, you'll see there is a limit for the tempo: it's not possible to sing it too fast.


Good points about tempo. Thanks for the info distinguishing between the French and German conceptions of the Allemande, which I wasn't aware of. I actually wavered back and forth in deciding on the tempo for the Allemande. In the end, I thought a somewhat faster tempo would aid in bringing out the voices better, though I also very much like slower, more lyrical readings of this piece.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:45 am 
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Posts: 1040
Quote:
While I think the subject of touch in Bach can sometimes get a bit overly academic, it definitely is something I would like to look into further at some point, so thanks for the detailed remarks. I tried to follow the marks in my Alfred edition, though sometimes the slurs and accents there seemed strange, such as in the Gavotte. I haven't heard of Quantz, though I like the name. :P


Interesting that, because Quantz was not a harpsichordist as far as I know, but a flautist. He wrote over 400 flute concerti for Frederick the Great, in whose employment he was.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach French Suite No. 4
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:29 pm
Posts: 161
Location: Brazil
richard66 wrote:
Interesting that, because Quantz was not a harpsichordist as far as I know, but a flautist. He wrote over 400 flute concerti for Frederick the Great, in whose employment he was.

Sure. Quantz wrote a treatise about how to play the flute. Though there can be differences in articulation according to each instrument, thery are all very similar: the differences are more of how much "gap" you leave within each note (for example... in a harpsichord, you should leave almost no gap, otherwise that instrument can't ressonate. In an organ, you can leave much more gap, for the articulation to be clearer).

jlr43 wrote:
Felipe,

Thanks for listening and for your kind words.

Quote:
While I think the subject of touch in Bach can sometimes get a bit overly academic, it definitely is something I would like to look into further at some point, so thanks for the detailed remarks. I tried to follow the marks in my Alfred edition, though sometimes the slurs and accents there seemed strange, such as in the Gavotte. I haven't heard of Quantz, though I like the name. :P

hm... this is the Alfred edition, that one with interpretative indications based on Baroque? it's an interesting edition. I have bought Preludes and Fughettas by Alfred. The thing I noticed is that it seems to be an old-fashioned vision of Baroque... for example, in the WTC edition, it says that the trills must ALWAYS begin in the upper note. Nowadays, it's quite common sense that in a lot of several cases you can (or even should!) begin the trill in the main note. It totally depends on the musical context.
Alfred's slurs are different from what I have just told you about leaving the good notes "alone" (not link them to the previous bad note). Alfred links them all the time. I really don't know why... someday I'll ask my teachers if this is another possible interpretation for Baroque articulation. may it is. there are lots of studies which lead to ambiguous interpreation directions. and it is very good we'll never solve all the problems: so there's space for different concepts and interpretations. =D

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