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 Post subject: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:01 pm 
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link to the sheet music (several choices): http://imslp.org/wiki/18_Pieces,_Op.72_ ... sky,_Pyotr)

Recorded on Petrof baby grand, early 90's model (5' 10") with the lid down, H2 Zoom recorder.
I did not add reverb because of the amount of pedal in the piece. I *did* amplify it using Audacity.
The tags should be correct this time - turned out that my Audacity was 6 years out of date and did not do some of the tags the last time I uploaded a recording.

The very last note may seem odd; I tried to get the sound effect that the composer wanted, but it just would not show up on the recording. But I did not want to lift the lid because a lullaby should not be very percussive.

Comments and criticism are more than welcome, of course. I've never heard the piece other than my own rendition but figuring out a credible interpretation was not rocket science.


Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Op. 72 No. 2 (6:17)

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:54 am 
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Hello, Stu,

I listened to this yesterday without score and today folowing it (though it is not to be found where you placed the link). It is in ways a strange-sounding piece I had never heard before, with its whole A section harmony consisting (not in the melody, of course) of an A major chord and the thumb (I imagine) alternating c with b natural. However, I have come to expect that from Slavic, principally Russian composers, of which Tchaikovsky is an example, maybe not as extreme as Rimsky-Korsakov, but much more Russian than the average critic will admit.

Yesterday it seemed to me agitated, but today, after listening with fresh ears, it seemed much better and any agitation is to be laid at Tchaikovsky's door, because there is so much happening all at the same time. It is an attractive piece, though I cannot imagine any babies sleeping though the middle section (though mine used to nod off during Chopin's c minor Etude) and I can detect no listeneable flaws. At times the right hand seems to fast, but, as the left is doing its job very well, I can only imagine this is how it should be.

I cannot detect what your problem is with the last chord. It seems to die off very soon. Is that it? I like the way it is written, with breves at bthe extremes and with quavers in the middle followed by rests. How does one play that as written? I have met the same thing in another score, but through a miracle I managed to strech my finger to reach a thirteenth, but here It will not work!

All in all a good one, this one.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:41 am 
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richard66 wrote:
(though it is not to be found where you placed the link).
It is if you supply the closing bracket yourself, this was a pasting accident (Stu's, not yours: the closing bracket is outside the link delimiter instead of inside).
Quote:
... consisting ... of an A major chord ...
or even Ab major :wink:
Quote:
... any agitation is to be laid at Tchaikovsky's door, because there is so much happening all at the same time.
I agree, particularly those groups of arpeggiated chords which come hard on each other's heels, they just sound a bit "busy".
Quote:
I can detect no listeneable flaws. At times the right hand seems to fast, but, as the left is doing its job very well, I can only imagine this is how it should be.
I get the slight feeling that Stu allows the piu forte section midway through the piece to excite him into moving the tempo up a notch or two, a temptation which I suspect ought to be resisted. There is also a bit of unevenness (not too noticeable) in the section later on, where the right hand has those triplet chords against the left hand duplets, but it seems to sort itself out once it gets going after the first bar or two. But this is difficult; triplets against duplets are hard enough to navigate when you're allowed to articulate all the notes, but here the triplets are tied to make the downbeats silent (well, not strictly silent, just not articulated); the only reference points (articulated downbeats) you have are in the left hand, and Stu is doing a great job of not allowing himself to over-emphasize them.
Quote:
I cannot detect what your problem is with the last chord. It seems to die off very soon. Is that it? I like the way it is written, with breves at bthe extremes and with quavers in the middle followed by rests. How does one play that as written?
That's easy to answer, because "as written" also includes the pedal instructions, which indicate (at least in the version of the score I followed) that it is to be held for the entire length of the final two bars. That, in effect, makes the rests "impossible" and the final quaver equivalent to a semibreve. It reminds me of Eddy commenting on the impossibility of staccato in the piano's high undamped register. If there was a reason for writing it that way, perhaps it is that the articulation one uses to attack the last note would be a little different in the way one would choose to let one's fingers "land" on the them, between the two cases where the fingers would then stay put (as for a semibreve) or be soon lifted off again (for a quaver). I guess as written the effect would be to make the last quaver a touch more audible. It seems to me what is intended is that the final breves are to be held by pedal only, hands coming fully off during the first half of the second-last bar, you then play the last three octaves using both hands, and then most of the last bar is totally hands off.
Quote:
I have met the same thing in another score, but through a miracle I managed to strech my finger to reach a thirteenth, but here It will not work!
Why would it not work here? No stretching is required: You could do it like this: In the 3rd-last bar, left hand plays Ab Eb using 5 1. In the 2nd-last bar right hand plays Ab C using 4 5, and then, during the 1st and 2nd beats, the left hand surrenders the Eb to right thumb (the key stays pressed, of course, the Eb is not re-articulated), and the left thumb then moves (also silently) to the Ab. You can then play the octave Ab chords using left hand 1 5. There is the complication, of course, that the upper note of the octave coincides with the 3-bar-long held Ab.
Quote:
All in all a good one, this one.
Indeed. Nicely played. I think the recording is too quiet, though. It should not have been necessary to amplify in Audacity. Was the input gain on the recorder high enough? If not, perhaps the playing was a bit too quiet too. Everything is relative, and given that the dynamic goes down to pppp, which must still be audible, then pp (which most of the piece is) needs to be robustly louder than pppp.


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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:01 pm 
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Thanks Richard and Rainer.
Sorry about the link. Let me try it again:

http://imslp.org/wiki/18_Pieces,_Op.72_(Tchaikovsky,_Pyotr)

Now that you have pointed out the agitation in the mid-section, I can imagine an interpretation without it. I'll try it in the future. I have a tendency to regard everything like a concert hall piece, and think that the audience needs a little "zip" now and then.

The way I think of getting the sound effect at the end is by re-depressing the keys without sounding and then releasing the pedal (contrary to the composer's marking). It's directed this way by Ravel when he wants that effect. (I think that's somewhere in in the Tombeau de Couperin.) For some reason it simply would not record, even though one can hear it "live" in my living room. Probably lifting the lid would help, but my piano sorely needs voicing and I did not want the percussive effect in a lullaby.

The tied triplets!! I recently dispensed advice to someone else on this board about that very thing and then failed to execute it at the beginning.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:48 pm 
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StuKautsch wrote:
The way I think of getting the sound effect at the end is by re-depressing the keys without sounding and then releasing the pedal (contrary to the composer's marking).
Hehe. Re-depressing keys without sounding them is a pretty cool trick, but in this instance there really is no need to resort to it because there is a much easier way to get the effect I think you're seeking. It involves using the sostenuto pedal, assuming your piano has one.

Do we know whether the pedal marking is the composer's or an editor's?

If it is the composer's, then we ought probably to presume that even though he wrote the rests, he did not intend them to imply silencing those notes. Actually it should be "that note" singular, not "those notes" plural, because only the lowest Ab can be silenced, as the other one coincides with one of the held notes.

On the other hand, if he did intend that note to be silenced, then perhaps the pedal marking in the last two bars should be re-interpreted as follows: When your left hand plays the Eb Ab in the 3rd-last bar, keep the fingers down until after the right hand has started its Ab C at the beginning of the 2nd-last bar. Then put down the sostenuto pedal (and possibly the normal sustain pedal too if you want a little more general resonance, or if you want to sustain sound inbetween re-articulations of the three octave Ab chords) and then take all fingers off. Then you can play the octave chords with ease, releasing the normal pedal (if used) as you play the third one, but keeping the sost ped down. The low Ab will then stop as soon as you lift the finger off it, and the other four notes will ring on. You may or may not then wish to re-press the normal pedal (if you were using it before) for a little more resonance than the sost ped will give on its own.

The problem, though, or perhaps it's the desired effect, is that the lowest of the four held notes will have the advantage over the other three of having been more recently refreshed.


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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:14 pm 
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But, Rainer, you seem to be reviewing my review! :D

A flat, as you say. I printed this out this morning and tried playing it (and notice other silly things I wrote about fingering :oops: ). Even easy to go though, after the Ismagilov prelude I am now practising! Mine is a Peters Edition and there is no medal marking, except for saying it must be used. It laso says the left hand must be pp, thought it seemed to me the accompaniment is divided between both hands, but let us not quibble.

About the last bar I have been taught that there is a difference between holding a note with the finger and holding the note with the pedal, releasing the finger. This must be the reasoning behind the way it is written, though if you can do it otherwise, so much the better!

Tell me, Stu, On bar 4, 3rd beat and a half, right hand, what fingering do you use from d flat/g/b flat to c/a flat?

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:19 pm 
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Quote:
richard66 wrote
Tell me, Stu, On bar 4, 3rd beat and a half, right hand, what fingering do you use from d flat/g/b flat to c/a flat?


Usually 4-2-1 to 3-1. The reason it works is that I strike the third beat with 4-2 but then substitute 5 for the 4. After that going to 4-2-1 can still be legato. (I believe this is usually notated by using "5-4" over the 2.)

As far as that last chord goes, no matter what I did the treble notes did not show up in the recording - completely drowned out by the bass. Too bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:12 pm 
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Why do you not simply slide your fingers from the black keys on to the white ones? You get an even better legato using less movement, diminushing any sensation of haste. Changing fingers at that speed can be tricky, adding to any tention already present. I instinctively did this and the passage comes out calmer.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:19 pm 
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Quote:
richard66 wrote
Why do you not simply slide your fingers from the black keys on to the white ones?


Are we still talking about the second half of the fourth measure? The only black-to-white sliding available is the thumb in the right hand, and of course I did that.

Just a sanity check: This piece is in A-flat Major. An earlier comment that you made seemed like you were looking at a transposition in A.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm 
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Interesting piece and sympathetically played. No way would I have guessed Tchaikovsky! In fact, the maj/min alternation in the opening section sounded very like a precursor to Busoni's All'italia (no. 2 of his Seven Elegies).


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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:27 pm 
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StuKautsch wrote:
Quote:
richard66 wrote
Why do you not simply slide your fingers from the black keys on to the white ones?


Are we still talking about the second half of the fourth measure? The only black-to-white sliding available is the thumb in the right hand, and of course I did that.

Just a sanity check: This piece is in A-flat Major. An earlier comment that you made seemed like you were looking at a transposition in A.


I said A because I did not say A flat. Mine is just the same as yours.

I do not know about you, but fingering solutions after a time become so automatic it is hard to say which ones are involved unless one looks very carefully and has the piano at hand one is apt to say silly things. Of course you are right and it must have been what I had come up with too. You must excuse me, but not having had many teachers and that long time ago, I really do not know what is standard technique, what is a trick that only some know and which is my own technique.

I came across a recording of this on YouTube. Have you heard it (that is, after posting this?)

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:00 am 
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Quote:
richard66 wrote
I came across a recording of this on YouTube. Have you heard it (that is, after posting this?)


Thanks! For some reason it did not occur to me to look at YouTube for this. I still don't know who the artist is though, since I don't read Cyrillic. Then I notice that there are more - I'll have to listen to all when I have a chance.

There's also a recording of the entire opus 72 ("18 pieces") - unfortunately all in one mp3 file. I use youtube a lot for other things and just forget that it's there for classical.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:55 am 
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I found one by an Italian pianist.

I think it may be for the best not to listen beforehand. That way one can ensure a new approach. If one listens before, one tends to model ones's performance on what has been heard (even if it is bad), wheareasd hearing after may help improve one's interpretation.

I use YouTube solely for classics. They have whole operas online, so I can watch and decide if I want to purchase.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:39 pm 
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Very well done Stu, and an interesting repertoire choice. Op.72 is a large set containing great riches and some fiendishly difficult piano writing. This one is a beautiful piece (though, as often with Tchaikovsky, a little repetitive). You handle it with great respect and care. I find little to nag about except that some of the bars marked pp are too loud, the triplet chords in the reprise are a little choppy, and the ending is not as quiet as it could be. But it's not an easy piece to hold together. Your arpeggios are very good in general, I am guessing you have fairly large hands. I'll put this on the site shortly.
If you'd care to write some text about the Op.72 set I would be grateful (I might add some lines of my own to it because I know this set well).

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:50 pm 
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This one is up ! Do post more of this great opus.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Thanks, Chris.

Actually, I do intend on doing more of opus 72 - as soon as I have 2 or 3 I'll get the instrument tuned and do some recording.

I'll try to find something to say about this opus. Currently, I know nothing despite having made a little effort. I found the collection simply because it has a piece titled "Berceuse" and I enjoy finding and learning new lullabies. Until the past couple of days I knew very little about Tchaikovsky.

BTW: If a PS member has a submission in the way of a composer biography or notes about an opus, on which board do we post it? I should probably already know the answer to this, but I don't.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:10 pm 
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Chris,
In case the answer to my previous question is "just post it here in the Audition Room", here is something to get us started on Opus 72. It's a paraphrase of material from the web site http://www.tchaikovky-research.net, to which I give credit in the third paragraph:

First published in September 1893 by Petr Jurgenson, the opus 72 was mostly written in 1893 (making this a very late work - immediately after the 6th Symphony), although musicologists feel confident that some of the material was from earlier sketches.

Each of the 18 has a separate dedication (thus fulfilling numerous dedication pledges to people), but the pieces were composed at the same time, written to "earn some money", as Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother Modest in February of that year. He also told his brother a few months later that he had written the 18 pieces in 15 days!

This work has also been catalogued as number 151 in "The Tchaikovsky Handbook, vol. 1 (2002)", by Alexander Poznansky & Brett Langston. That catalog ("TH" for short) is the main system of numbering used on the site http://www.tchaikovsky-research.net, which is the main source for these notes.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:14 pm 
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Hi, Stu!

I didn't know this piece before (Rachmaninov wrote a Tchaikovsky transcription for one of his lullabies, but I think it was another one), but the playing here is nice!

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:27 pm 
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Thanks Luis.
There is a somewhat more famous lullaby (or "cradle song" - Berceuse) in Opus 16. I've heard that it was originally for voice and piano. There's recording on youtube of that one for Theremin and piano! (Clara Rockmore on the theremin.)

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:16 pm 
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Sorry, I'm late here, Stu. I was on vacation
I just started working on this piece too, right before I left. Your playing is nice and pretty much the same tempo as I like to play it. The only little critique I have, and it's more of personal preference, is that short-ish middle part - it sounds a bit too detached and heavy-handed to me. I like a little more delicate touch there, but that's just me. And maybe I don't even know what I'm talking about because I don't remember the markings at that spot (I've only read through the piece a couple times). Another thing, I wish you wouldn't breathe so much..... :lol: Seriously though, the sound of people breathing heavily while playing really bothers me, and right there at the end was the worse time to do it. I know that's got nothing to with your ability to play piano, but to me it ruins the recording. Sorry, it's just IMO.... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:30 pm 
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I'm glad I'm half deaf and did not hear that breathing :D I do agree on the middle section, it is a bit brusque and out of character.

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:19 am 
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Stu,

Good to hear some Tchaikovsky on the piano. His piano music probably is underrated since it's rarely played and probably should have more of a following, though IMHO I've always thought Tchaikovsky was a somewhat weaker composer than other Russians like Rachmaninov, Scriabin, or Mussorgsky. This particular piece seems to run out of thematic material and get a bit repetitive after a while.

As for your performance, I don't know this piece, but this seems very well played to me -- nicely and sensitively phrased. You seem more comfortable with this than with the Chopin prelude. Also, is it just me, or did you get your piano tuned between the two recordings? It sounds good here.

I don't hear any breathing but I didn't listen with headphones :P To my ears, your middle section seems fine too. I like that you play this lullabye simply yet musically and don't moon over it.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Tchaikovsky - Berceuse, Opus 72 number 2
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:48 am 
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Joe,
Thanks for listening.
I have to agree with you on the comparison between Tchaikovsky and some other Russians. It's just that he wrote a half-dozen really incredible works and they did not.
Also, that he was not the greatest keyboard composer of his age! But I'm having fun exploring his stuff because I knew *nothing* about it until recently.
This piece grew on me quite a bit while practicing it, and yes, the middle section confused me musically and I was not sure what to do with it. I'll come back to the piece someday.
Actually, the instrument was tuned just before the Chopin, but might have fallen out a little while doing the 25 'takes'. It's so much more chromatic than the Tchaikovsky that the tuning shortcomings are easier to detect.

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