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 Post subject: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:36 pm 
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Sergei Rachmaninov first performed his Preludes Op. 23 c. 1900 for the Prison Concerts, a charity event, arranged by Princess Lieven at the Moscow Nobility Hall. Rachmaninov dedicated this volume to Alexander Siloti, his cousin and second piano teacher (Nicolai Zverev having been his first teacher).

The Prelude No. 1 in F#m is a very brooding and searching piece. The atmosphere seems to be a dreary, rainy day. This music has four levels of writing—the melody in the right hand, duets in the bass, background accompaniment, and cross-overs by the arms. The left hand mostly plays a basso ostinato which is generally subdued unless it is playing the melody.

I hope you’ll enjoy hearing this prelude.

Comments welcome.

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

Rachmaninov - Prelude in F# minor, Op. 23, No. 1 (2:48)

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Last edited by Rachfan on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:01 am, edited 15 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:51 pm 
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Hi David,

I had a listen to your recording of this Prelude by Rachmaninov. I think you play this very well, the tempo seems just right, and your phrasing fits the character of the piece IMO. Brooding, yes, is a word I would use to describe the character of this piece.

Interesting history that this was premiered at a prison concert? I can't imagine being locked up and listening to this. :roll: I suppose, on top of incarceration, it would add a reason to feel melancholy :lol:

The tags look correct. I'll try to upload this tonite.

Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:21 pm 
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Hi Riley,

Probably few people know of the Prison Concerts, but it's true. Good thing you weren't there as they might have thrown away the key! :lol:

Yes, this piece is marked largo, but Rachmaninoff added a metronome marking of MM = 58 to which I tried to adhere. I found the marking a bit odd as it might even be considered as a slow andante, but evidently that's what he wanted. If you listen to Richter and Ashkenazy, they play the piece slowly--too slowly--such that it sounds aimless in my opinion. I'm not known as a speed demon but I felt compelled to honor the composer's wishes with this, as it changes the whole character of the piece as contrasted with the slower renditions.

I'm glad you enjoyed hearing this recording. Thanks!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:17 pm 
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That was very nice, David. Sure is brooding, which is of course wonderful. I wonder though if it was a good idea to play at a prison. Were there inmates at these prison concerts? I think this would sort of music would put them into a bad mood....

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:31 pm 
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Hi Monica,

Glad you liked the piece and thanks for that compliment.

No, the concert wasn't actually held at the prison, but instead at the Moscow Nobility Hall. So only the ticket money went to the prison charity, not the concert goers. lol: Probably at the turn of the century conditions in Russian prisons were quite dire. Rachmaninoff played all 10 of the preludes in his Op. 23 there. I believe that today the hall is called the Pillar Hall which is reputed to have outstanding acoustics.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 6:00 pm 
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hi, David!

nice performance, though I'm used to a much slower version of it.
you must know what you're doing, since you're an ultra-romantic expert. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:33 pm 
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Hi Luis,

You're quite right, I did not fall into the ponderous tempo established by Richter and Ashkenazy, as examples. (I have both their recordings.) The score is marked largo, but Rachmaninoff's metronome marking to further clarify that was a quarter note = 58. Clearly he was specifying the high end of largo which overlaps with the bottom range for andante. So I decided to respect his vision. A couple of people who messaged me elsewhere lauded that choice, as they felt that it better brings out the long line of the music, giving it more coherency. I can tell you it also makes the prelude more difficult to play if one does not dawdle over it!

I'm happy that you enjoyed hearing it. Thanks for commenting!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:41 pm 
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David,

Great choice of repertoire, but I have to say I'm not really convinced by your performance here. It may be true that Rachmaninoff used those metronome markings; I have seen them in the Schirmer editions as well, but I've also found that Rachmaninoff himself often doesn't conform to them, as in the case of the G minor, op. 23, no. 5, which I believe was marked 108 for the quarter, a ridiculous tempo that would be almost impossible to play (so if he marked it that way, I'm not sure what he was thinking :) ).

To me, this seems rather way too fast to give the line a chance to breathe and the melody to sing (keeping aside the largo marking and the metronome marking). What I hear is a great deal of pounding out of the accompaniment, which IMHO needs to be more misterioso and legato. As a listener, I don't particularly want to hear "Rachmaninoff's vision" (whatever that is); I want to hear your interpretation. And with the rather muddy pedaling and treble liine that's lost against the heavy-handed bass, I'm finding that difficult to hear. A couple of other details that seemed odd in context were the rolled chord (like the one right at the beginning), which, given your tempo, was not fluid and was so much slower than the surrounding texture; also the inner voices near the climax, which seem a bit jabbed out and should be smoother.

Sorry to be a bit critical on this. Just my opinion of course. Hopefully these comments are of some use to you.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:22 am 
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for your comments, but sorry you found nothing to like here.

FYI, Bossey & Hawkes carries the same tempo indications. To my ears the painfully slow renditions of Richter and Ashkenazy sound as if they get lost with the music in a dense thicket and were never seen again. It something to be avoided in my opinion.

I must say this is the first time I've ever been accused of "pounding"! There are crescendos present, and my sense is that the accompaniment must participate in them as long as the melody still soars above it. I believe I largely accomplished that, even at the climax. Recently the key dip on my piano was adjusted by the technician, and the action then seemed a bit heavier. I raised the hammers about 1/16" to lessen the hammer blow distance very slightly to counteract that, but it's still firm. So I might have been compensating for that to an extent (to make sure that the LH notes all sounded), but not to an extreme in my opinion. I tried to do it as artfully as I could.

The over pedaling you hear could well be the light reverberation that I added when processing the recording.

Like you, I used to play the appogiaturas (being "small notes") more quickly, but then there was criticism elsewhere that they didn't sound like true 8th notes--too fast. So I played them more leisurely here. Goes to show, you can't please all of them all of the time.

As for the coda chords, the objective there is not to emphasize bringing out the middle voices; rather it's to voice the tops of the RH chords with the 5th finger and the thumb for the tops of the LH chords. They were played with relaxed arm weight with no "jabbing" whatsoever. In fact, I thought I handled the diminuendo there effectively. Had I been jabbing, that would have been utterly impossible.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:15 pm 
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It's generally a good recording but not entirely convincing (which is not to say there's nothing to like !) I would not have used the word pounding, but I have to agree with Joe that the LH accompaniment is a bit laboured, and actually not very accurate in places. This prelude is more difficult than it sounds (I know it well, having once posted a recording on the site which I later withdrew). The tempo seems too fast to me also, but I have not heard Richter and Ashkenazy. I'm just listening to Lebenstedt's recording on the site and there are so many read errors that nowadays it would not have been allowed. As for this here recording, I think you should consider a re-recording, cleaning up the LH part and pedaling.

jlr43 wrote:
As a listener, I don't particularly want to hear "Rachmaninoff's vision" (whatever that is); I want to hear your interpretation.

This I find a dangerous statement. The performer's personal view is important, and should be heard, but it is IMO the composers' vision what counts most. I know that many people are primarily interested in comparing different interpretations of the same piece, as if the performer and performance are somehow more important than the music is itself. Of course this is a discussion that has raged many times here, and I guess opinions will be divided on it forever.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:05 pm 
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Quote:
This I find a dangerous statement. The performer's personal view is important, and should be heard, but it is IMO the composers' vision what counts most. I know that many people are primarily interested in comparing different interpretations of the same piece, as if the performer and performance are somehow more important than the music is itself. Of course this is a discussion that has raged many times here, and I guess opinions will be divided on it forever.


When making a statement, I'm not concerned about whether it is "dangerous," only about whether it is true or false. The falsehood of the phrase composer's "vision" or "intentions," which has been bandied about for some time now without people stopping to question what it really means, is, I believe, twofold. First, it is a concept that we can know nothing about. We cannot see into the composer's mind at the time he wrote the work to know what he really meant or intended. We have the score, sure, but that only consists of the composer's external markings that still have to be interpreted by the performer (e.g., two different performers might have different conceptions of what a staccato or a fortissimo is in the context of the piece). And even then, many markings may have been omitted or be left up to the performer (e.g., what is the right touch in Bach, what does one do when Rachmaninoff neglects to tell us about what to do dynamically). This leads me to the second mistake with using the phrase in the crontext of music. That is, that it ignores the role of the musical performer as one who is re-creating the work as if it was being heard for the first time. That is, unlike a painting, a musical work needs, and indeed requires, a personal voice to interpret it. Therefore, only the performer's "intentions" can really be discussed. If one has a good and convincing argument for why one does something, there shouldn't be a problem with deviating from the score. The historical evidence indicates that performers as diverse as Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff all did so themselves and, once they release their scores to the world, they would be hypocrites if they were to say that others couldn't do so too.

In terms of Rachmaninoff, he was quite accepting of others' interpretations and, in fact, thought Horowitz played the Rachmaninoff second sonata and third concerto better than he. Their performances of the third concerto couldn't be more different. I love both performances, find them both deeply original, and would be hard-pressed to pick the better one. Why anyone would want to listen to Rubinstein's bland and boring playing after this is beyond me.

Chris, I remember your once saying that one of your goals is to let the music breathe or speak for itself. I didn't respond to that at the time, but now my retort would be that if we did that, we wouldn't need interpreters. :P

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:06 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Chris, I remember your once saying that one of your goals is to let the music breathe or speak for itself. I didn't respond to that at the time, but now my retort would be that if we did that, we wouldn't need interpreters. :P

Hm, who's to say what we need and what we don't. Do we need thousands of interpretations of the WTC, all promoting their own unique vision ? I'm not sure. Do we need my interpretations ? Certainly not, but alas that does not deter me. Do we need your interpretations ? You tell me. Should we amateurs actually bother to record music that generations of pianists have played better and more uniquely than we ever could ? The question does not bear thinking about. This is why I enjoy presenting unknown fluff.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:12 pm 
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Quote:
Do we need thousands of interpretations of the WTC, all promoting their own unique vision ? I'm not sure.


Ideally, yes. That's what makes listening to musical performance interesting, when people approach it without being terrified about being "correct" (as if anyone really knew what that was beyond, say, correct notes and rhythm and, to a limited extent, score markings). And with a genius as deep as Bach's, there really are practically an infinite number of things to say.

Quote:
Do we need my interpretations ? Certainly not, but alas that does not deter me.


Sure! And I enjoy listening to them despite my lengthy technical nitpicking :P

Quote:
Do we need your interpretations ? You tell me.


God knows. :) I like to think so. :wink: I interpret Bach in a more solid, serious manner as you have often noted, sometimes a bit derisively, in your comments. That may differ markedly from your conception and that's fine. It also doesn't mean that I haven't often used your comments to improve, expand, or temper my own take on the music.

Quote:
Should we amateurs actually bother to record music that generations of pianists have played better and more uniquely than we ever could ? The question does not bear thinking about. This is why I enjoy presenting unknown fluff.


I don't believe this is true. First of all, the line between amateur and professional is not black and white in a qualitative sense. There may be a general level of evenness and accuracy that is expected of professionals, but I've heard what is, to my ears, mediocre professional playing in both such regards before (professional only meaning what one is paid to do, so I admit I was wrong to ever bring that word up in the past). I've also heard what is, to my ears, fantastic amateur playing in most respects. Second, there is no such thing as "more unique." Unique means one of a kind and therefore does not admit of qualification. That is, to me, part of what makes listening to others so interesting. I may have my preference and could argue why, in my limited opinion, one performance is better than another, but that particular issue would just be my argument and would attempt to be without reference to what any other performer did. As for playing works by lesser-known composers, I would say that's fine as long as you're doing it for the right reasons. If you honestly think it's original music that's worthy of a listen or has been neglected, then all the power to you, but if it's to hide from criticism or because you think everything's been said about, say, Bach, Chopin, or Schubert, then I would beg to differ. About Marc Andre-Hamelin's music (and playing), I can only say yuck. :evil: :P

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:20 pm 
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Sorry David for hijacking your thread ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:34 pm 
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I should apologize too. I probably went over the top for the time and place as usual (though perchance Chris instigated it :wink: ). And David, I would like to point out that I have very much enjoyed many of your performances. I was trying to be helpful in my critique, but the fact that I wasn't convinced by this one may not necessarily be worth a hill of turds, especially considering it's been so long since I played this particular prelude.

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:54 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Don't worry about the highjacking.

But I want to comment on this:

Quote:
This is why I enjoy presenting unknown fluff.


What you've presented, and also played well, is lesser known music of high merit. If there was some "fluff" there, it wasn't a significant amount. But that aside, it resonates with me. As you know I've presented a large amount of music composed by under-appreciated late romantic composers. It's often been an honor to do so--but a burden too in a way. But it always excites me to know that I've produced an interpretation that will join the company of a handful of pianists or less.

One thing that I've said before--adamantly--is that I have no interest whatsoever in playing the 2,476,351st rendition of Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu" or any other conservatory anvil! There is positively nothing new that I could conceivably say about it in my interpretation. To me it would be an awful waste of time. As you know, I do like Rachmaninoff's music a lot. In the mid-1980s I recorded 10 of his preludes Opp. 23 and 32. I believe that some of them are quite good, while others are not so good. But they are in analog sound and I thought that it would be great to make new digital recordings. It would be an arduous undertaking, of course. But now I believe I should leave well enough alone there, and return to lesser known music. I might attempt another go at this F#m prelude, but let the rest go. I'm thinking that maybe I don't have the same inspiration, agility and determination that I had in my younger days needed to replay this music now. The Rachmaninoff preludes are actually less complex etudes than his Etudes Opp. 33 and 39. They're difficult to play well.

I'm reminded of Wilhelm Backhaus' remark and I paraphrase slightly: You need not make a bouquet of mighty oak trees when so many flowers abound.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:00 am 
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Hi Joe,

No apology necessary. I know you were trying to be helpful. And yes, you certainly have been enthusiastic about some of my other recordings. I greatly value and appreciate that. In fact today I happened to review the thread on my Scriabin Etude 42/4 and noticed that back in September you had posted a very complimentary message there which somehow I missed at the time. So a belated thank you for that!

The last time I recorded this Rachmaninoff Prelude 23/1 was around 1985. I was thinking that I could blow the dust off it and make a new digital recording. Maybe I'll give it one more try as Chris suggests, but if it doesn't meet standard, then maybe I should leave it retired. I'm generally one who does not go full circle, which is why I've always sought out new repertoire while avoiding relearning old ones. I broke my own rule here! :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:49 am 
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Quote:
I'm reminded of Wilhelm Backhaus' remark and I paraphrase slightly: You need not make a bouquet of mighty oak trees when so many flowers abound.


Great quote! Ah, Backhaus, one of my very favorite pianists. IMHO his Beethoven sonatas interpretations are unsurpassed. Also I love his Brahms 2nd and consider his recording with the Wiener even more massive and heroic than Richter's.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:06 pm 
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Hi Joe,

Yes, Backhaus reigned supreme when it came to the Beethoven sonatas. I have some of his old recordings (LPs). He was an extraordinary artist.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:30 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
As for playing works by lesser-known composers, I would say that's fine as long as you're doing it for the right reasons. If you honestly think it's original music that's worthy of a listen or has been neglected, then all the power to you,


Yes, I honestly think that. Mostly I record piece because I love them and want to communicate some of that feeling. Idealistic, eh....

jlr43 wrote:
but if it's to hide from criticism or because you think everything's been said about, say, Bach, Chopin, or Schubert, then I would beg to differ.

Hiding from criticism does not come into it. But I believe it's nice when people talk about the [b]music [/b] rather than the playing. No, I don't think everything has been said about e.g. the WTC. But even of that were so, I'd still want to record it.

jlr43 wrote:
About Marc Andre-Hamelin's music (and playing), I can only say yuck. :evil: :P
Power to you. And beg to differ :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:49 pm 
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I took time to comment on this mainly because I wanted to listen to the other versions mentioned. As far as speed goes the order is Ashkenazy, Richter, David. What is my conclusion? In the Askenazy I find the accompaniement is the right speed but I did lose the melody now and then, while in David's I find the melody sings freely, but the accompaniement is too busy. Is this not something that is to be laid at Rachmaninoff's door rather than saying it is the interpreters fault? Did Rachmaninoff record this one?

The open lid makes for a much better sound: a good choice, David!

As for rerecoeding, why not? You have evolved since you did the last ones and you have new ideas: why not continue?

I do find, however, that for a site that caters for non-concert pianists, there are too many comparisons been made between site members and the great. David is held up to Richter and Ashkenazy and I have been compared (not to my merit and may they never hear of it in the Pianism Fields) to Haskil and Gilels. Of course David chose not to follow a career while I was too late even to contemplate one, but that is neither here nor there. I also feel that any of these concert names benefit from sound engeneering and piano quality none of us here can hope for.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:11 pm 
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Hi Richard,

Thanks for all those comments. I pretty much agree.

For the sake of getting my recording into the PS archive, I've submitted a replacement recording that is played at about MM = 54 rather than the MM = 58 prescribed by Rachmaninov. Those few notches make more difference than you would believe. Do I like this new tempo? No. I believe Rachmaninov was right. This slower tempo seems too plodding such that the melody is still heard, but loses some cogency and cohesiveness in my opinion. I also was very conservative with the pedaling and tried as best I could to deemphasize the accompaniment.

So here goes! Thanks again.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor REPLACEMENT
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:33 pm 
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I actually listened to the first recording, but didn't have time to comment. Not sure where it is now on my computer, so it's difficult to conduct a precise comparison! I thought the first recording was really quite interesting; whether it was right or not, I don't know the piece well enough to know - and that makes the presumption that there are "right" and "wrong" interpretations. It left me with a prevailing impression of intense restlessness. The Richter recording I found on youtube, on the other hand, left me with a sense of utter desolation. Despite being taken considerably slower, I didn't find my attention lagging and, if "enjoy" is the right word, I really enjoyed his recording. I've felt for many years that one of the things the truly great pianists are able to do which ordinary mortals can't, almost paradoxically in regard of their incredible technique, is make slow playing effective. It's something to do with control of dynamics, independent lines, ultimately even force of musical personality. In that sense - on pragmatic grounds - it's reasonable to keep it at a brisker tempo and in the other sense - that you clearly believe in the faster tempo - I think you should play it the way you feel correct.

Richard's of course right in saying it's unfair to compare forum members' recordings to the likes of Richter et al, but on the other hand we should aim for the highest standards we as individuals are capable of, not say "oh well, we're only amateurs". If discussing recordings in the context of such pianists helps push someone to the next level, then I'm all for it. Joe's also right - there are some lousy professional recordings and there is no reason at all why we can't do better.


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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor REPLACEMENT
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:43 am 
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Hi Andrew,

I agree with your viewpoint: We ought not be directly compared to the great masters of the keyboard. But if they inspire us, then we should work to attain their standards as closely as we can. Your sense that I was aiming to create a mood of intense restlessness is right on. You can't get that playing at MM = 54.

Interpretations should be different and it's alright for a pianist to slightly imbue it with their own personality. I suppose though that there are certain boundaries. The interpretation has to be guided by the composer's score which becomes the basis for justifying all choices made. An interpretation overall must serve the composer well. Furthermore, it cannot be a radical change from prevailing performance practices. And most important it can never be idiosyncratic.

I just looked at YouTube and found a tempo very similar to the one I initially used--Berezovsky. You should hear that one. Outstanding! My guess is that he saw the MM = 58 and respected it as did I. It's reaffirming and validating.

My MM = 54 compromise might satisfy others here, and I'm glad to resubmit it in hopes it might be accepted, but personally I don't like it. I would never have played it this way though. I don't think Rachmaninoff intended this slow paced approach.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:49 am 
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Yes, we should all be inspired by the great and this ispiration should help us all to play better, but we should not be dammed if we fail to reach our goal. The great certainly inspire me, principally after a rousing live performance, where there has been no messing about with the sound. Other times I am let to say, "Come on: I can do better than that!", so Joe is also right. WHat I say is that we must realise our limitations, which might not be artistic or or to do with technique (we all choose what we can play) but technical. We do not have concert halls furnished with Fasolis and the best of recording equipment and a team of fisrt-class sound technicians to operate it (not counting piano tuners) at our beck and call.

As for Andrew's remark on only the great playing slowly I am reminded of my teacher, who always told me that that was the most difficult. After all, at fast speed all goes unnoticed, but slow... Not a note can be misplaced nor a dynamic missed.

I also heard the story of a great pianist who played one of Rachmaninoff's concerti at a speed so slow no one had ever attempted the like and it turned out to be a superb performance. The bassoonist then approached the pianist to complement him, saying he had never heard the concerto played so slowly but that is was the best performance he had ever heard. How could it be? The pianist's answer was, "well, you see, while you would not dare to play it like that, I can allow myself!"

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Hi Richard,

I quite agree that playing lyrical music is the greatest challenge.

There can be no perfection in a performance. We strive for excellence, but never reach perfection. Horowitz said that if just once in a lifetime a pianist drew close enough to almost touch perfection but not quite close enough, that pianist would be one of the luckiest of all.

Artur Rubinstein recorded the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto with Alfred Wallenstein conducting in the 1960s, and the tempo is noticeably slower than the norm. Today it still stands as one of the greatest performances of the concerto ever. It's still my favorite too.

The only point you missed was professionals making studio recordings. They also have the finest recording engineers who through their wizardry can transform nothingness into greatness.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor REPLACEMENT
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:17 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
I just looked at YouTube and found a tempo very similar to the one I initially used--Berezovsky. You should hear that one. Outstanding! My guess is that he saw the MM = 58 and respected it as did I. It's reaffirming and validating.


Yes, I had already listened to that but just stuck to commenting on the Richter version already mentioned in the thread. I liked it also, but I do wonder if it was a conscious tempo choice or just Berezovsky playing fast as usual. (I listened to the next prelude in his video also - but had to stop. The figurations seemed garbled due to the high tempo).


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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:49 pm 
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But, David, I have downloaded the later version but it seems to be the same one that you posted before and I did empty the computer's cache memory, though this is not normally a problem with Windows 7 as it can be with XP.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:37 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
But, David, I have downloaded the later version but it seems to be the same one that you posted before and I did empty the computer's cache memory, though this is not normally a problem with Windows 7 as it can be with XP.
Richard, if you looked under the same filename as before, you'll find the same file as before. David's latest version uses a non-standard filename: not "rachmaninov-23-1-april.mp3" but "Rachmaninoff, Prelude, 23, 1 (2).mp3". See whether anything like that has appeared on your computer.


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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:59 am 
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Hi Richard and rainer,

I deleted the original and second recordings and replaced them with a new recording which is up to my standard. It is titled with the suffix "NEW RENDITION" Sorry for the confusion. Hope you'll enjoy hearing it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Is this the one to go on the site now ? I'm getting confused by all these...

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:35 am 
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Hi Chris,

Yes, this is the one to go up. A couple of days ago I had deleted the original recording and put up another recording. But although I had listened to it few times, when I posted it here and listened, a couple of things jumped out at me that I didn't like, so I deleted it and restored the original for a couple of days. The one here now (NEW RENDITION) is the third and final. I'm quite pleased with it actually. I believe that the LH is subdued, improving the balancing of the hands. Also the pedaling was mostly on every 8th value, so no blurs now! (That's a tough way to pedal though.) On that same subject, I now believe that some of the wash effect was the "light reverb" that I had put onto that recording. For this rendition, there is no reverb. Nor do I think that it's now too dry--not at all. Following this experience, I'm going to give some thought to forgetting the light reverb. As for wrong notes, I always play this piece with the score. I did pick up one on the last page that wasn't an accident, but that was it. I first learned this piece around 1986 with my second teacher who had a very good ear. I remember too back then listening to Ashkenazy and being jarred by a couple of wrong notes. Thinking it was me, I got the score and examined them. It was Ashkenazy who had either misread the score or slipped onto the wrong notes! That LH ostinato with its subtle harmonic changes within chords (very much like Chopin's Prelude Op. 28, No. 4) is known to be very treacherous. So I've always been extra careful with it.

Anyway, I hope you liked this one better than the original.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:47 am 
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Hi David,
I just had a listen and think that this is a much more cohesive performance than your earlier attempt. I think you've done a fine job with a piece that is difficult to perform in a convincing manner (like the Chopin that you reference).

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:00 pm 
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Hi Eddy,

Thanks for that compliment. Where you've recorded some of these pieces and read through others, you can appreciate the difficulties. And they only get worse over in Op. 32. This F#m score looks inviting enough--until one goes to play it at tempo. I hadn't played this number since the 1980s. This recording exceeds what I achieved in my old analog recording, and you're right, this performance is definitely cohesive now. I can truly say that this version is up to my standard. I'm glad I revisited it.

Thanks again!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:35 pm 
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This is on the site now. Do check if it's the right one !
It seems more stable to me now, though still rather breathless.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:13 pm 
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Hello, David.

I cannot say I detect too much difference, exept that maybe it is a tad faster, but it is just as enjoyable.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:56 am 
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Hi Chris,

Yes, this is the correct recording. The links work. I believe that this music has to sound very restless, and I think I achieved that effect. Thanks for your help. I've removed the "NEW RENDITION TAG", so don't be concerned that I've put up another recording. It's still the same one. :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor NEW RENDITION
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:00 am 
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Hi Richard,

Glad you liked this rendition. For me the differences were muting the LH more, pedaling more for clarity, and ensuring there were no wrong notes. But I did not compromise on the tempo. It's still about MM = 58 as prescribed by the composer. It gives the piece more cohesiveness in my opinion. The slow versions I've heard seem to become very bogged down. I wanted to avoid that. Thanks for listening again.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:16 pm 
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I suppose I was listening to tempo more than to anything else. As I said before, the left hand is very busy and that is possibly why so many pianists play it slower.

It does a power of good now and then to speed up: keeps one's technique up to scratch, as long as no errors creep in!

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Hi Richard,

I was glad that I could make that tempo work as intended, rather than taking the easy way out by slowing it. I've heard that approach before, sounding as if someone is slogging through a swamp.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:35 am 
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Hi David,

Your playing had a wonderful sense of tension and "going somewhere" throughout and then towards the end of "being there".
This was well done.

Thank you,
Kaila

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 23, No. 1 in F# minor
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:33 am 
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Hi Kaila,

Thank you so much for your perceptive comments on my rendition. I wanted this prelude to be cohesive and coherent which included that sense of tension and direction. I attribute success in that regard to the faster tempo largo. The other day I was looking through the recordings on YouTube. (I have the old LPs of Richter and Ashkenazy playing it--slowly!) I found that Berezovsky had the exact same idea as I in the matter of the tempo. So now I don't feel quite so isolated. I just wish I could play as well as him! :)

I'm glad you enjoyed my recording.

David

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