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 Post subject: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:11 pm 
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Hi!

Since I got interested in historically informed Baroque practices, I radically changed my way of playing Bach, so here is a new version of my previously uploaded French suite.

I have also made a video of this recording (same audio):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uwgdH9zKKw&feature=plcp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ1Xl42LD_8&feature=plcp

These two weeks I'm quite excited because I'm having classes with Judy Tarling, and within 15 days I'll play to her Bach Chaconne in D minor transcribed by Brahms (yet, she's an early music expert, but she's quite open minded! she said it would be interesting. =D)

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:12 pm 
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Dawn!

I can't upload MP3 from work. :|
I'll upload the MP3s when I get home, much later...

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:37 am 
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Here they are.


Attachments:
bach-bwv815-7-sarro.mp3 [3.75 MiB]
Downloaded 191 times
bach-bwv815-6-sarro.mp3 [2.81 MiB]
Downloaded 175 times
bach-bwv815-5-sarro.mp3 [1.54 MiB]
Downloaded 203 times
bach-bwv815-4-sarro.mp3 [2.68 MiB]
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bach-bwv815-3-sarro.mp3 [5.43 MiB]
Downloaded 196 times
bach-bwv815-2-sarro.mp3 [2.78 MiB]
Downloaded 196 times
bach-bwv815-1-sarro.mp3 [6.07 MiB]
Downloaded 192 times

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:44 am 
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This will make interesting comparison with Joe's version! Did you meant in this way or is that just one of those unbelieveable coincidences, that both of you were in the dark of the night preparing the same suite?

I have heard so far the Allemande and the Courrente, so will offer comments later, if you do not mind.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:13 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
This will make interesting comparison with Joe's version! Did you meant in this way or is that just one of those unbelieveable coincidences, that both of you were in the dark of the night preparing the same suite?

I have heard so far the Allemande and the Courrente, so will offer comments later, if you do not mind.


its just a coincidence. the only suites I play are this one and Partita no. 6. I tried to record this one a month ago, but my piano was out of tune.
and itll take months for me to re-record the partita, since Ive been very busy in college tryingo to do lots of things I dont even have time to. =p

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:27 am 
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Felipe,

I listened to the Allemande, the Courante, and the Gigue.

Normally I would consider it in poor taste to comment on someone's performance who had just submitted the same piece as me, but are you sure you wanted to submit this like this?

Don't get me wrong; I very much enjoy listening to interpretations that are wildly different from my own, and rubato can be applied in Bach in many different interpretive ways. But this strays into the territory of the undeniably incorrect. In the Allemande, for example, you're pausing in almost every measure as if the downbeat isn't a quarter note but a dotted half. I know that as you say, there are historically informed practices, but surely these couldn't be advocating rhythms that are wrong? Not to mention that there are many passages that don't sound worked out and are very noticeably uneven. In the Gigue, you don't play the notes in many of the trills, and there are some strange pauses again. Those lefthand sixteenths at the conclusion sound noticeably smushed together. The Courante is the best, but even there there are pauses that completely alter the rhythm and wild tempo changes abound. I don't think Bach is any different than any other music in that it requires at least some degree of adherence to the rules of music before an interpreter can exercise individual freedom.

Sorry to be blunt (as I generally am). Just my limited opinion of course. It just puzzles me because you clearly have fingers and I've heard you play very well before.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:45 am 
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hi, Joe!
I enjoyed your comment because it was this same suprising effect that stroke me when I heard a harpsichordist playing Rameau at 12. It impressed me in a very bad way. And until 1 year ago, I would never enjoy it.

it's also funny because in your commentary you practically detailed every Baroque practice I have applied here, including UNEVENNESS (in French, inégalité).
=D

I dont expect everyone to enjoy this, even so because this may sound as weird practice for pianists (as it sounded to me until last year). Its just a try to include the Baroque musicianship on modern piano playing, mixing the old with the "new" (piano), since mathematical performance is really not Baroque practice.

It was this same reaction (in the beginning, it sounded disgusting) that made me got interested in studying it. And I got amazed that almost everything I had learned about Bach and Baroque performance was wrong. Its so revolting that great pianists (who are our "models") refuse to study it! =\

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:39 pm 
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I need to be blunt here too.... IMO you've gone way over the top with playing "HIP rubato" here. No two notes are of equal length, making for a nauseous listening experience. At least in the Allemande, which I really could not finish listening. Some of the other items fare a bit better, in particular the Gigue which is not as distorted rhythmically as the other items.
Technically there is nothing wrong here, but to me these interpretations seem a bit perverse, and I hesitate to put them up. Perhaps this approach would work to some extent on a harpsichord, but not on piano. I sorely miss Bach's rhythmic drive and vitality here. Just my personal opinion of course !

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:17 am 
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I join Joe and Chris in bluntness. Believe it or not, it makes no difference if you play Bach on a piano, a harphsichord, a cello, a harp, a guitar, with a string quartet, a brass choir or an orchestra. Rhythm is rhythm, meter is meter, tempo is tempo and rubato is rubato. The same interpretation is possible (within mechanical capability) with all of them. I'm afraid you have gone over to the dark side and have become intoxicated with your notions. You will have a VERY small set of appreciating auditors given the extremes you are practicing - It is just too odd for folks with predictable heartbeats and rhythm-of-gait to appreciate. Your new-styled performances would not be acceptable for admission to any serious music school. In the course of music history, each of the elements of music have gone through a process of change, extension, and increasing complexity. Melodies have changed their character; rhythm and meter became more complex, displaced and fragmented. Harmonies went from the very simple to the complex, to the cluster, to the indeterminate. Compositions have gone from those defined and created by the composer, to the extremely mathematical, to the null set of abandoned art with stochastic, chance and ambient-noise "music." But through it all, temporal proportions have remained true to their referent. As I argued elsewhere, the practice of notes inégales practiced sometimes in the French Baroque, never gives permision to distort the very fabric of time with pliable/oscillating meter or to re-write [melodic] rhythms as you desire. You are putting mustaches and goatees on great musical works of art a la Duchamps' Readymades. Perhaps you should take up chess even as he did. I think it would be helpful for you to approach music more as a composer, and think of others taking the liberties with your compositions. If you were like Bach, detailed in the defining of the meter, every pitch and every rhythm, you might be outraged at the distortion produced ... or might feel that the performer had a poor internal clock. Hopefully, this is just some phase that you will work through (the Prodigal Son in "a far country") and in the end your pendulum will be more properly aligned. Having said all this, I will add that I found your Gigue very acceptable - but then it offers you the least potential for modification.
Application of notes inégales to contemporary performance of music not written in France, for example the music of J.S. Bach, is extremely controversial, and indeed resulted in one of the most heated debates in 20th-century musicology.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:14 am 
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musical-md wrote:
Application of notes inégales to contemporary performance of music not written in France, for example the music of J.S. Bach, is extremely controversial, and indeed resulted in one of the most heated debates in 20th-century musicology.


The article you point out is actually not as straightforward as the quotation above seems to imply.

I am not taking sides here, but I do note four things:

I have noticed over time that recordings of Bach on the harpsichord and on the piano sound very different and I note this recording is closer in style, to my ears at least, to one played of a harpsichord. It might be interesting to pick the recordings of, say Gustav Leonhardt, and listening to them critically. I might prove wrong and the difference is due to ornamentation or some other factor.

I am not aware that Bach ever used words such as "precision", "unchanging tempo", "squareness" or the like. He always emphasises "a singing style". This is the lesson behind the Inventions and Sinfonias.

Bach never even bothered, most times, to give any tempo indications, leading to many theores that tempo was implied, following a convention now forgotten, in the time signature and notation, but that is only a theory. There are examples of it in action on YouTube.

I have listened to Bach performances from the 1940s onwards. Would we nowadays accept the b minor mass played by a large orchestra with a choir of 300 voices that sounds more like Bruckner? Would we accept the 1970s Bach, which was supposed to be played as written: no ornaments, no dynamics, no expression, because such was Bach's intention, or else he would have written it. What would the 1940s public make of the 1970s performers? Which of them would be right? What do we say about them? What will people say about Joe's and Luis' versions in 50 years time and again, who will be right?

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:38 am 
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I sense a learned and lofty discussion in the making :D

It's impossible to know what Bach 'wanted', or what is right or wrong. But it seems fair, at least to me, to assume he would NOT have wanted his music to be pushed and pulled this way, so that almost every bar is being distorted rhythmically. Even if some harpsichordists feel they must play it this way.
In the end, the important question is whether this is nice to listen to, rather than if is according to what someone wrote in a book. To my uninformed
ears it is not. Other may feel different of course.

Sorry Luis :cry: I'd recommend everybody to play Bach - especially a die-hard Romantic like you - but not like this.

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:28 pm 
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techneut wrote:
I sense a learned and lofty discussion in the making :D

Let us just hope it will not end up with a free for all with each of us calling the other names! :D

Luis posted one of the sinfonias some weeks ago, which Monica enjoyed a lot (viewtopic.php?f=20&t=5391), which just shows you how this matter might really escalate till it rivals the Querelle des Bouffons.

Even if we look at pianists in general, there will be those you worship znd the man (or woman, for that matter) next door abhors. Look at Martha Argerich and Arau and Pogorelich. I have heard very strong opinions about their musicality or lack and here we are on less controvertial ground!

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:56 pm 
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This isn't really my area of repertoire, but I have listened to a couple of them and, if I'm being honest, it was profoundly musically disorientating. In the Allemande I could barely establish where the beats lay. Nice touch, and quite elegant, but it was like an elegant, beautifully-coiffured drunk staggering down the road, sorry.

Speaking semi-rhetorically (and potentially making a fool of myself :lol: ):

Is it really the case that HIP is reasonable on a piano? Surely it should be applied strictly to period instruments. I assume part of the rationale behind certain rhythmic distortions and other HIP manifestations is that a harpsichordist would have done them to draw attention to certain structurally important or otherwise facets of the music.. and presumably because the harpsichord is much more limited in its power to draw attention through expressive methods like dynamics. If the second part of my sentence is correct, then why use HIP on the piano at all when HIP only arises out of a now obsolete weakness of the instrument?


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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:11 pm 
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Good point. I understand why on a harpsichord you need to lean a little on a note to make it stand out. Although there's no need for that on a piano,
it gives a nice authentic feeling if you do it a little bit, in addition to using dynamics. But both devices should be used discreetly and sparingly IMO, or else
it will become a caricature. The playing here reminded me of our former member Sandro Bisotti whose playing tended to be very eccentric (albeit for
different reasons).

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 Post subject: Re: Bach - French Suite no. 4 BWV 815
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:16 pm 
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techneut wrote:
But both devices should be used discreetly and sparingly IMO, or else it will become a caricature.


Exactly my feeling. Plus, if you're using it to bring out places of structural importance, save it for when it matters - it's not like every bar contains such fundamental aspects.


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