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 Post subject: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:41 am 
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The piece de resistance of my current repertoire...

At just under 40 minutes, the Schubert D Major sonata (the late A and B-flat major sonatas are perhaps comparable length) is one of the longest and most difficult of Schubert's piano works (maybe second to the Wanderer-Fantasy in that regard). It is also IMHO one of his loftiest and most noble achievements, challenging the Unfinished and 9th Symphonies (though of course no piano piece could ever approach those). One thing that distinguishes this among Schubert's other sonatas is its consistently fast tempos and hairy passagework. The majority of Schubert's sonatas have more moderato markings, particularly for the first movement. The first and third movements of the D major sonata are allegro vivace, the last is an allegro moderato (though the underlying metrical pulse is quite fast for a moderato), and even the slow movement is a "con moto" -- interesting that Schubert doesn't mark it "andante con moto" as one might expect; my thought was that he may have intended it to be halfway in between an andante and an allegretto and couldn't decide :P One thing more I'd say about the con moto is that it's for reasons like the epic vastness of that movement that Schubert is my favorite composer.

I worked pretty damn hard on this, but of course time is always limited, so there are certainly a few fluffs or passages that could be further polished here and there. :( Unlike some other larger-scale pieces I have planned, this one is new for me (started learning it at the beginning of this year). It's one that I'll probably perform live for a few friends down the road. In terms of specific difficulties, I guess I'd just say that for me there are few passages as awkward as those double arpeggios in the first movement or as tiring as the dotted rhythms in double notes in the third movement (which I didn't always get as pointed as I would have liked).

I guess I was fairly happy with the result, though, since it's the biggest piece I have yet recorded and I tried to be pretty "no holds barred" about the music, taking the allegro vivaces at a pretty fast clip and trying to get the frenzy out of them. In most instances, I chose not to try to edit out little things that happened (movements 2-4, in fact, are unedited complete takes, with only one edit in the first movement), since I felt that might take away from the music's impetuousness, scope, and continuity, which has very few breaks. In any event, whether I ultimately succeeded or not, I just think this music is unbelievable. Schubert just has such a wide range of moods in his music, from raging fury to feminine waltzing daintiness to vast mountain landscapes to deep melancholy to heroism in battle to philosophical reflection to elfinness -- IMHO this piece has it all.

Anyway, thanks very much for listening, and I hope you will find this a good addition to the site (there are no other performances yet).

Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 - I: Allegro Vivace
Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 - II: Con Moto
Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 - III: Scherzo - Allegro Vivace
Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 - IV: Rondo - Allegro Moderato

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:15 pm 
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It is not my preferred Schubert but I am much impressed by your performance.
It is well recorded but because of the room or the microphones placement or inadequate (to my ears) post processing, it is much too bass heavy. I would have preferred some thing like the attached file.


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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:54 am 
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A veritable tour de force, to have done nearly every movement in just one take each.

This is pretty well played too, particularly in the way you bring out the variety of all those different moods which you mentioned.

I found the quality of some of the softer sections of the 3rd movement especially delightful, as they contrast in an almost over-the-top "effeminate" manner to the more assertive versions of the same material. I refer here to places like 0:55, 6:03, and especially 6:46 and 7:55.

What quibbles I have relate (perhaps predictably) to rhythm, where for my taste the liberties you take with rubato are excessive for Schubert. I'm not sure whether these liberties are fully intentional or "just happened" subconsciously. I'm talking about both the 3rd and 2nd movements.

Taking the 3rd movement first, are you deliberately introducing viennese-waltz-style asymmetry here by delaying beats? This happens in many places where pairs of bars (in 3/4) are linked together by having chords tied over the bar lines (thus in effect creating 3/2 bars - what a coincidence that these were just being discussed in the "Technique" forum). You are noticeably delaying the second beats of these "3/2 bars", but you only do it where the first beat is a pure half-note chord without anything else happening during that beat before the next chord. Although not quite apparent right at the beginning, it happens for example in the sections from 0:17 or 0:38. On the other hand, when something else does happen during the first beat half note, for example at 0:55, where the 3/2 pulse comes only in the right hand while the left hand has a steady stream of quarter-notes, then your rhythm remains straight.

You are taking similar liberties in the 2nd movement. This time it is apparent right at the beginning; in many of the first few bars which start with a dotted quarter-note chord, you hold this chord for nearly four eighths instead of three, occasionally even for five. This practice might be excusable if used sparingly, as if reading implied fermatas into the text, but I feel you're doing it too often.


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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:00 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
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Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote:
It is not my preferred Schubert but I am much impressed by your performance.
It is well recorded but because of the room or the microphones placement or inadequate (to my ears) post processing, it is much too bass heavy. I would have preferred some thing like the attached file.


Thanks, Didier. Your version does sound better. What EQ settings and program did you use? I of course know beans about post-processing, though I am quite happy with the overall performance of my new mics (The AKG 414s). I know I should experiment more with EQ, I'm just not very tech-savvy :)

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:26 am 
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Hello, rainer. Where have you been anyway? This is (ahem) my fourth post of late. :lol:

Quote:
This is pretty well played too, particularly in the way you bring out the variety of all those different moods which you mentioned.

I found the quality of some of the softer sections of the 3rd movement especially delightful, as they contrast in an almost over-the-top "effeminate" manner to the more assertive versions of the same material. I refer here to places like 0:55, 6:03, and especially 6:46 and 7:55.


Thanks for noticing that, that was actually one of the spots I had in mind when writing my above purple prose :P

Quote:
What quibbles I have relate (perhaps predictably) to rhythm, where for my taste the liberties you take with rubato are excessive for Schubert. I'm not sure whether these liberties are fully intentional or "just happened" subconsciously. I'm talking about both the 3rd and 2nd movements.


I do respectfully disagree with your comment about rubato and Schubert. Well really with any composer, for that matter. I don't think rubato is a no-no in Schubert any more than it is in Bach, Haydn, etc. In fact, if anything Schubert, being the archetypal romantic, should be quite free, especially in the slower movements. Of course one must, as Callas said, "straightjacket" and know the rhythms in the beginning, playing them exactly in time when one is learning a piece, but after that it must be free and spontaneous. I'm probably being cheeky here, but I say you should live a little :D Music might be derived from mathematical proportions, but it isn't math. If it were, it would be deadly boring.

Quote:
Taking the 3rd movement first, are you deliberately introducing viennese-waltz-style asymmetry here by delaying beats?


Yes, I am indeed. This is, in fact, the gesture I believe Schubert is going for here. The piece is a quick, tongue-in-cheek Viennese Waltz of sorts (of course being a scherzo in 3/4 time helps with that). That intentional lilt especially becomes obvious about 10 bars into the second section in the pp section with that more characteristically 1-2-3 bass.

Thanks for listening. Even if we may not always agree, I appreciate your consistently taking the time to listen to my playing. Takes almost as much courage to listen to this beast of a piece as it does to play it :D :wink:

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:04 am 
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
for my taste the liberties you take with rubato are excessive for Schubert.
I don't think rubato is a no-no in Schubert any more than it is in Bach, Haydn, etc. In fact, if anything Schubert, being the archetypal romantic, should be quite free, especially in the slower movements.
On second thought, I should perhaps have omitted the words "for Schubert". I quite agree that rubato is entirely appropriate here, and only meant to indicate that I simply felt you used too much of it.
Quote:
Music might be derived from mathematical proportions, but it isn't math. If it were, it would be deadly boring.
Far be it from me to suggest that this music should be played metronomically. That would lend a sameness to it which can indeed get boring, so we must have flexibility. But we must also be flexible in our application of that flexibility, otherwise it is in danger of acquiring a sameness of its own. I would beware of emphasizing a feature every time it occurs.
Quote:
Quote:
are you deliberately introducing viennese-waltz-style asymmetry here by delaying beats?
Yes, I am indeed.
Good. I should have known it wasn't down to carelessness. Sorry I even asked. :)
Quote:
Takes almost as much courage to listen to this beast of a piece as it does to play it
The listening's fine, it's the commenting that takes the courage!


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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:06 pm 
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Location: France
Hi Joe,

the 414 is an excellent microphone. Here attached a photo of the settings of the EQ performed in Wavelab with Waves plugins. On could get get the same by means of Audacity, which is free.


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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Hi again, Joe. I don't know this sonata, but I too am impressed with your playing and the amount of work it must have been to get the whole piece learned and recorded!

I processed your files the other day and put the links here but forgot to tell you. I've got some things going on today, but will put the recordings on the main site tomorrow for sure.

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:53 pm 
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Joe,
Great job and great recording.
I'm not familiar with the work and wanted to have something intelligent to say, so I followed the fourth movement with the score.
Again, very good. Allow me one picky note:
7 measures before the last return to tempo, there is an A7 chord on a whole note in the right hand that I think needs a little more emphasis. This chord has been played as an 8th note a couple of times and the phrase needs the emphasis to be really rounded. (Same thing for the same chord two measures before that, as a half note.)
That late in the movement it might be just "one of those things that happens", but it's the only contribution I could make.
Congratulations.

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:06 pm 
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Congratulaitions on setting down such a vast piece !

The Gasteiner is, IMO, how a piano sonata by Bruckner might have sounded - although I am no great fan of Bruckner, and find Schubert the more resourceful composer. I had not played this sonata for many years and upon returning to it yesterday evening it seemed longer than ever :) Yes it is both more expansive and more challenging than the more famous "big late three". It needs a very special combination of virtuosity, serenity and stamina. You need to be in the precisely right mind frame to pull this one off. Whether you are altogether successful here, I am not sure, even though it is some achievement to record this huge piece. I find it all rather hurried and hard-driven. Your high tempi make for more road kill than would be necessary. You seem to do best in the more lyrical passages (though I find your take on the trio of the Rondo just a bit schmaltzy). To record vast stretches like in one take without editing is very risky, and I am not sure the result is better for it. I'd like to see you get back to this sonata in the future, at the moment there seems to be too much 'angry young man' in the performance. Despite all the virtuosity and brisk tempi, this is very much a lyrical and classical sonata, I feel. Or else I'm getting old :lol:

Some assorted nits;
- Your occasional (half-)arpeggios seem out of style.
- I could not make sense of your rhythm in the 2nd movement. If this was meant as rubato (which I'm not against perse) it has gone too far.
- Your dotted figures in the 3rd mvt are sloppy. Yes, it's tiring there, but then take it a bit slower. This entire movement sounds rather blustery.
- There are numerous rushes throughout the place, like in the final bars of the 4th mvt.

While the original recording was rather too bass heavy, Didier's version sounds rather to thin (though maybe more authentic). The truth would be somewhere in the middle.

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 488
Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote:
Hi again, Joe. I don't know this sonata, but I too am impressed with your playing and the amount of work it must have been to get the whole piece learned and recorded!

I processed your files the other day and put the links here but forgot to tell you. I've got some things going on today, but will put the recordings on the main site tomorrow for sure.


Thanks for listening, Monica! I know long sonata movements are not your cup of tea :)

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 488
Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote:
Joe,
Great job and great recording.
I'm not familiar with the work and wanted to have something intelligent to say, so I followed the fourth movement with the score.
Again, very good. Allow me one picky note:
7 measures before the last return to tempo, there is an A7 chord on a whole note in the right hand that I think needs a little more emphasis. This chord has been played as an 8th note a couple of times and the phrase needs the emphasis to be really rounded. (Same thing for the same chord two measures before that, as a half note.)
That late in the movement it might be just "one of those things that happens", but it's the only contribution I could make.
Congratulations.


Thanks, Stu. Interesting point about the A7 chord. I'll check that out for the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:05 pm 
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Quote:
Congratulaitions on setting down such a vast piece !


Thanks, Chris. And good points as usual. I'm not sure I'm in agreement on a couple of them, but they are certainly good talking points.

Quote:
To record vast stretches like in one take without editing is very risky, and I am not sure the result is better for it.


True, though I like to live dangerously :D One minor point of clarification: I didn't mean to imply these were done in one take, only that movements 2-4 were complete takes that were unedited. I did, as usual, about 4 or 5 takes of each movement, but then since I had complete ones, chose to use those despite the imperfections rather than sit at my computer and start fussing over it. The complete takes still sound more spontaneous to my ears.

I would maintain my position I've argued before that there's just too much editing going on in performances these days. Risk-taking is part of the fun of music making, even if it doesn't always come out the way we want, and I believe performances should sound spontaneous and edgy even if they aren't totally polished. So many professional discs these days sound, to my ears, sterile, cautious, and disjointed, and I think it's because longer pieces are sometimes joined together from 30 or so takes so that it no longer even sounds like the artist any more. Ah well, it seems only David agrees with me about this :roll: :P

Quote:
Despite all the virtuosity and brisk tempi, this is very much a lyrical and classical sonata, I feel


Lyrical in places, yes, though I'm not sure I agree it's very "classical" (the E-flat Major I did a couple of years ago is more like that). The Gasteiner is, I think, principally swashbuckling and proto-romantic. Just my opinion of course.

Quote:
Your occasional (half-)arpeggios seem out of style.


Hmm, interesting, but I'm not sure where you're looking here. Do you mean the arpeggios in the first movement? Out of style how?

Quote:
I could not make sense of your rhythm in the 2nd movement. If this was meant as rubato (which I'm not against perse) it has gone too far.


True, maybe I did go over the top here. I was less satisfied with my first page than when the music got going.

Quote:
- Your dotted figures in the 3rd mvt are sloppy. Yes, it's tiring there, but then take it a bit slower. This entire movement sounds rather blustery.


I do think this is the right tempo, though a hair slower could be in order too. While I'm not sure I agree they were "sloppy," some of them could be more precise, no question. Do I want it to sound blustery? Not sure. :P I think "impetuous" is more how I would see it.

Quote:
- There are numerous rushes throughout the place, like in the final bars of the 4th mvt.


In the final bars of the fourth movement, I intended an accelerando, though I may have gone over the top on this one too. I wanted to get a sort of spritely effect here (used the soft pedal and took it briskly), though maybe it didn't quite work and was too much.

Well anyway, you do make some excellent points, particularly on the details. While I stand behind my principal conception of the work, there's certainly much room for polish in places. While ideally it will take a matter of years probably to fuilly sink in, I may record another version very soon (since practicing it the other day, already I think it is sinking into my reflexes better), so I may be annoying you with a replacement soon. :oops: :)

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:24 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
I would maintain my position I've argued before that there's just too much editing going on in performances these days. Risk-taking is part of the fun of music making, even if it doesn't always come out the way we want, and I believe performances should sound spontaneous and edgy even if they aren't totally polished. So many professional discs these days sound, to my ears, sterile, cautious, and disjointed, and I think it's because longer pieces are sometimes joined together from 30 or so takes so that it no longer even sounds like the artist any more. Ah well, it seems only David agrees with me about this :roll: :P

Rather than using multiple takes, I like to correct a stupid little slip on the spot and then cut out the (small) wrong part. I do not think this impacts the quality. But let's not go there again - life is too short :)

jlr43 wrote:
Lyrical in places, yes, though I'm not sure I agree it's very "classical" (the E-flat Major I did a couple of years ago is more like that). The Gasteiner is, I think, principally swashbuckling and proto-romantic. Just my opinion of course.

Maybe so ! Still, no call for Lisztian barnstorming - just my opinion of course :P .

jlr43 wrote:
Hmm, interesting, but I'm not sure where you're looking here. Do you mean the arpeggios in the first movement? Out of style how?

On several occasions you roll chords. There's one almost at the beginning, and several later on. It may be something you do spontaneously. I call it out of style because it's not written and I have never heard it (but that doesn't say much).

jlr43 wrote:
I do think this is the right tempo, though a hair slower could be in order too. While I'm not sure I agree they were "sloppy," some of them could be more precise, no question. Do I want it to sound blustery? Not sure. :P I think "impetuous" is more how I would see it.

It would be the right tempo, if only you were not making it too difficult on yourself, sacrificing clarity and crispness to impetus. And of course, anything less than precise is sloppy (what's in a name ? you would tell me exactly the same, I'm sure :lol: ).

Quote:
- There are numerous rushes throughout the place, like in the final bars of the 4th mvt.


jlr43 wrote:
While ideally it will take a matter of years probably to fuilly sink in, I may record another version very soon (since practicing it the other day, already I think it is sinking into my reflexes better), so I may be annoying you with a replacement soon. :oops: :)

I believe you're never ready to record a piece until you've recorded it. And even then :roll:

Wow, used 4 different smilies in one post. I'm real proud of that.

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 Post subject: Re: Schubert - Sonata in D Major, D. 850 ("Gasteiner")
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Quote:
And of course, anything less than precise is sloppy


:lol: Hmm, well, as one who works with words for a living, I might take issue with your usage there, or at least clarify... Wouldn't it be "Anything less than precise is imperfect?" There are degrees of precision, after all. Sloppy seems like a pretty low degree, but maybe that's what mine was. :)

Quote:
I believe you're never ready to record a piece until you've recorded it. And even then


Excellent point, I couldn't agree more. I think it's partly because recording now has to substitute for a real teacher, and it's especially true on big pieces like this. Many of the points you mentioned my former teacher would have rapped my knuckles for, I'm sure -- and maybe dropped a few expletives in French:P

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