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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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He is doing his best."
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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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He is doing his best."
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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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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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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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