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 Post subject: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:46 pm 
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The Scriabin “Etude” Op. 42, No. 4 in F# is drawn from his Eight Studies published in 1903 during his middle period. Another pianist recently asked me why Scriabin wrote this piece as an etude at all. My thought is that in its own way, the etude is not unlike Chopin’s “Etude” Op. 10, No. 6 in E flat or Liszt’s “Paysage” in his Etudes d'execution Transcendante. That is, these composers believed that learning to play lyrical music was a necessary part of the pianist’s training along with fast and brilliant bravura playing. Scriabin’s Etude 42/4 focuses mainly on playing a cantilena line, including the voicing of chords that might occur within the line. However, unlike Chopin who took a more narrow view of imparting technique through a study of thirds, or arpeggios, etc., Scriabin took a broader view of an etude in my opinion. Thus, in this piece he inserts other challenges too such as playing portato touch quietly and managing a contrapuntal bass line written in triplets. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing it.

Comments welcome.

Scriabin - Etude in F# major, Op. 42, No. 4(2:12)


Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid fully open
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Microphones: Earthworks TC-20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:38 pm 
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I don't know this etude well enough to comment with any level of authority on interpretative issues, though first instincts are that I would prefer a more languid approach (cf Sofronitsky). I guess such things come down to how a person conceives the music. Your performance seems more restless in nature; of course there is no reason to not have variety in interpretation!

You do well in preserving a sense of melodic line and forward progression; without a score to hand I can't be sure but some of the writing sounds like it contains deceptive difficulties. As always, well worth listening to!


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:57 pm 
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Very expressive rendition of this Etude. I agree with you that just because it is not a bravura piece it should not be an Etiude. As you say, one of Chopin's was written exactly for that: for work on lyrical aspects.

There is no way of not recognising your piano's unique sound, is there? A good thing!

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:42 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

Sofronitsky is always the best choice for Scriabin recordings. I seldom listen to Scriabin's own recordings--too idiosyncratic in my opinion. Sofronitsky is far more objective in observing the scores. As it turns out, I didn't listen to any recordings at all, as I knew how the piece goes. It's true that my interpretation is more driven. Scriabin's metronome marking was 60. Given that the left hand is all triplets, I at first thought it might sound rushed. But as I eased off the tempo down to 56 or so, it seemed that the cantilena was not quite as cohesive, so I boosted the speed up to 60 again. What I aimed for there was a more Wagnerian vocal line. My rendition is perhaps more extroverted, but it shows another possibility for interpreting this wonderful music. I agree with you on the variety of interpretations in general. Sometimes I think that playing a piece slightly different from performance practices can be refreshing. Yes, there are some deceptive difficulties! Scriabin has more than just one test in store.

Thanks for listening!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:53 pm 
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Hi Richard,

I believe that the concept of lyrical etude hit me back in the 80s when I was playing many of the Rachmaninoff Preludes, Op. 23 and 32. In the process it dawned on me that his preludes were actually smaller etudes. Since then, I've greatly broadened my concept of etude to this: Whenever we play difficult music, it stretches our abilities and adds to our techniques. Thus, any time that I find myself isolating a passage for intensive practice, I know that I'm playing an etude. And to expand on that thought, nearly every piece we undertake has some challenge to it, so the reality is that every piece we encounter can be thought of as an etude.

Here in the U.S. for decades when it came to grands, most performances and recordings were given with Steinway or Baldwin pianos. So here. at least, most musicians can differentiate the two distinctive timbres fairly easily.

Thanks for listening.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:27 am 
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Beautiful performance. I particularly liked the subtle feeling of disquiet at 1:05, crescendoing into the luscious hush at 1:26, thereby illuminating that section. All I had heard up till now in this set was the fifth etude with all its infamous difficulties, so this was a real treat!


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:00 am 
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David,

A wonderful etude that I've not yet heard. (Like the previous poster, I'm only really acquainted with the fifth one from this opus.) IMHO you play it very well -- good crisp polyrhythms. In my personal estimation, Scriabin even in many of his slow pieces can be a bit agitated and in a bit faster of a tempo compared with other composers such as Chopin or Rachmaninoff, so your general approach seems fine to me. My only suggestion is that it could have a bit more freedom and rubato in places -- more personal expressive touches; it sometimes seems just a bit straight-laced to me. Certainly no easy task though, as from looking at the score with those left hand stretches matched against some quirky righthand rhythms, this piece definitely seems much harder than it looks.

Excellent work anyway to make the technique so smooth and legato, and a pleasure to hear this piece.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:25 am 
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Hi Affinity,

Thank you for the compliment on my playing! Yes, observing dynamic changes is important in this etude. The main theme reprises a few times, so the dynamics can help provide some variation. In that vein I treated one of the changes to p as subito, even though Scriabin didn't write the direction into the score. There again, my purpose was differentiation. I'm happy that you enjoyed this rendition so much. Thanks!

I hear you on the Etude 42/5, as it's one of my favorites too, a ferocious piece! And it's hyper-romantic too. I love Horowitz's rendition. But I believe that the most difficult Scriabin etude--and the truly ultra-romantic one--is No. 6 in D flat. Very few pianists dare to ever venture forward to play this piece. I made an attempt on it about 5 years ago and was soundly defeated. It was very frustrating. Someday I plan to revisit it and see if I can at least fight Scriabin to a draw. It's incredibly hard to play! When you listen to the piece, it sounds like the right hand is dawdling with the melody--it's not! The right hand has not only the melodic line, but is handling a thicket of arpeggios accompaniment too. Here is a link to Richter playing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaQyJFCOX-o

You have to turn the volume up, as the poster did not check it carefully.

A more modern, clearer digital recording by Alexander Paley is worth hearing, as the detail in all its glory is easier to discern. Link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hhuo1BYkwU

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:43 am 
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Very good again David. This is very much your music. I did not know the piece and have not listened with score, but I have nothing to nitpick on it,
except that maybe your pedaling is a bit over-generous in places (I could be wrong but this is what it sounds like to me).
The ID3 tags are fine now. If only you had named the file properly too (scriabin-42-4-april.mp3) this would be the perfect submission :D

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:43 pm 
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Hi Chris,

I'm glad you enjoyed this etude. At times I did use a bit more pedal to keep the cantilena cohesive throughout. Gives that line a Wagnerian touch too.

You know, I entered the file name as you have it, except I omitted the .mp3 because the software always adds that suffix automatically. So I don't know what happened there, as it looked fine including the exact spacing. I triple checked it! Oh well.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:50 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
You know, I entered the file name as you have it, except I omitted the .mp3 because the software always adds that automatically.

Must be that your software does something else, too... because when you download the attachment, the name is

Scriabin%2C Etude 42%2C 4.mp3

where %2C is the web encoding for a comma sign. Ah well, don't worry about it. Renaming is easier than tagging.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:07 pm 
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This one is on the site too.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:16 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for putting this etude in the archive.

I believe this very same file name oddity happened in the last Scriabin piece I posted as well. The Korg recorder assigns a WAV file number, but I've always erased that and then used the Rename feature to write in what I wanted--no problem. Next, I visit AVS Audio Editor to add the slight reverb effect. The last step is AVS Audio Converter to change the file to mp3. But as I say, what I visually see is what is supposed to be there. One of the AVS programs seems to be the culprit putting in those symbols. When I have time, I'll have to do some experimenting.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:04 pm 
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Hi, David!

One more ultra romantic piece of music to your repertoire! \o/
=D

Nice playing.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin, Etude Op. 42, No. 4 in F#
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:24 pm 
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Hi David, Sorry I'm late here; I was on vacation and now I'm trying to catch up.
This sounded very nice. Beautiful ending! Thank you. :)

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