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 Post subject: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:23 am 
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Hello Pianosociety!
I've been gone from the world of internet forums for a while, but have time to be back now, and have a couple of recordings that I'd like to offer if you find them useful.

Debussy, Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest, from the Preludes book 1
Handel, Air and Variations from the Suite in B flat

cheers
Heather W. Reichgott

Debussy - Preludes book I - Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest (3:46)
Handel - HWV 434 - Suite in B flat major - Air and Variations (3:33)


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:32 am 
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Hi Heather,

I think you were here before, but it seems a long while ago and I don't remember in which context.

This is an excellent rendition of the Handel variations despite some minor slips. Nice drive, articulation and tempi. Some things that could be better IMO:
- The trills are nice and long but you often short-change the "nachslag". I'd try to enunciate these more clearly and take just a fraction more time for them.
- In the last variation your RH thumb is rather too loud on the repeating note, drowning the theme in the treble.
- The closing bar seems a bit strange (though maybe it is like written, I have not seen the score)
- There could be a bit more dynamic contrasts (terraced dynamics maybe)

The Debussy is quite convincing too. I do not much like the strong tempo contrasts, you seem to dawdle a bit in the quieter passages, losing the sense of momentum, but that is probably a matter of taste. The sound here is rather boxy and clangy compared to the Handel, but not too bad for the site. Good playing of this demanding piece and the few slips are excused.

If you have one more recording of the same quality we could add you to the site of you wish.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:27 pm 
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I think I was last here after I had the good fortune to make a small batch of studio recordings about a year ago. The forum didn't like those submissions -- one due to totally legitimate musical reasons, one because it was recorded on a digital piano, and one due to tempo decisions (see below).

The Handel here is from that studio batch actually, it just took me forever to go through and pick a take and convert it to mp3, so it hasn't been submitted here before.

I really appreciate your comments on the Handel. I think they're all spot on. I learned that piece back in high school and I still perform it regularly so I will be able to take your comments into consideration in future performances. The arpeggiation in the last measure was suggested by my teacher at the time as an ornament that players of the period might have added.

The Debussy was recorded a few weeks ago on a Mason & Hamlin grand located in a dance studio. Can you be more specific about "boxy/clangy" sound? (If you mean that it sounds like it was recorded in a large room with lots of hard surfaces, you're absolutely right.) I am not very experienced with recording so any suggestions would be welcome. Also, this is the highest quality piano to which I have free access for recording, so I'd love to be able to make it work well for future projects. Close lid on piano? Mic from further away? Post-production tricks? Bury piano or mic in pillows?

Here are a couple more recordings. The Rachmaninoff is one I submitted last year, the Prelude Op. 32 no. 11 in B major, recorded in the studio. There was a difference of opinion on this forum as to tempo, but I'm sticking to my guns on that one; also I played it at this tempo in an adjudication last spring and received good comments from a judge specifically about the tempo decision (and took first class honors in the adjudication)....

Then we have Haydn, sonata no. 34 in D major. I never liked the studio recording of it (was getting tired and heavy-handed at that point in the studio day) so I redid it on the Mason & Hamlin on the same day as the Debussy. Unfortunately there is a partially out-of-tune area in the treble that shows up unflatteringly esp. in the slow movement of Haydn, but it's your call if you want to use it or not. Too bad I don't control the tuning schedule there.


Rachmaninov - 13 Preludes, Op. 32 - Prelude no. 11 in B major (3:24)
Haydn - Sonata in D major Hob. XVI:33 - 1: Allegro (5:15)
Haydn - Sonata in D major Hob. XVI:33 - 2: Adagio, 3: Tempo di Menuetto (6:18)


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:02 pm 
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Ah yes I looked up that post and remember now. It was only the Chopin Scherzo that fell below the bar, as it were.

hreichgott wrote:
The Debussy was recorded a few weeks ago on a Mason & Hamlin grand located in a dance studio. Can you be more specific about "boxy/clangy" sound?
Not really. I had to grope for some words which I am not sure describe how I experienced sound. Maybe some of the sound experts here can put in their two cents.

hreichgott wrote:
(If you mean that it sounds like it was recorded in a large room with lots of hard surfaces, you're absolutely right.)

Yeah I might have meant that, or something like it :wink:

The Rach prelude is unusually slow. No problem with that, it is beautifully done. Just to have something else to nag, the chord at 1:50 is wrong. Half of it, anyway. Not a big deal.

The Haydn sounds quite different from the Debussy despite the same recording venue and instrument, perhaps because you use little pedal here. The out-of-tuneness is in fact quite charming here, making it sound like a fortepiano. The performance is not flawless (and perhaps some here will pick it apart) but I think if is a very nice rendition. Surely all this can go on the site if you want to be included as a pianist. In that case please provide a bio and photo.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:33 am 
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Thanks again for taking the time to comment and for featuring these recordings on pianosociety. I hope to be able to keep up participation in the forum, though if I do disappear for a few months once in a while it will be because a busy time at work has forced me to choose between family, practicing and internet forums...

Bio:

Heather W. Reichgott is a pianist located in western Massachusetts. She works as an accompanist, church musician, teacher and performer. Initially trained in the Suzuki method, Heather went on to study with several exceptional teachers including Peter Takacs at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Awards include the Award for Excellence in Concerto Performance at the Seattle Young Artists Music Festival, given by Seymour Bernstein. Heather plays music from the Baroque through the present day and especially enjoys Haydn, Mozart, ballet music, piano/orchestra repertoire and new music. In 2011 Heather released a CD of ballet class music, "A Musical Feast for Ballet Class," available on cdbaby.com.

Photo attached.


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:58 pm 
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Thanks, I will proceed to create your page. The photo will be cropped to the usual format (200x300 pixels).

However I need to be sure which Haydn sonata this is. I looked up no.34

http://imslp.org/wiki/Keyboard_Sonata_i ... dn,_Joseph)

but that's not this one. I believe it is this one, no.33 :

http://imslp.org/wiki/Keyboard_Sonata_i ... dn,_Joseph)

Please confirm, lest I get confused.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:56 pm 
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The "No." numbers and the Hoboken numbers are different for the sonatas. In this case the No. is 34 and the Hob. is XVI:33.
cheers, Heather


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:57 pm 
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Here is a table of both numbering systems
http://imslp.org/wiki/List_of_Compositi ... no_Sonatas


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:04 pm 
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Ok. We only use the Hob. numbers here, so 33 it is.
These are all on the site, as is your personal page. Please check if all is ok.

Should you provide more recodings in the future (which I hope, don't be one of those who submit a batch and are never to be seen again) please observe the naming and tagging rules as described in this sticky topic:
[url]http://pianosociety.com/new/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5115&p=51530

as well as use fixed-bitrate 128 Kbps encoding. This was a bit of a mess and normally I'd complain but I was already halfway processing when I noticed.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:29 pm 
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Hello Heather,
Welcome to PS ! I have listened your Handel with great pleasure. I know very well the theme, since Brahms composed a famous set of variations from it, that I used to play, but I did not know the original. Thank you for this. Also, I am presently practicing another set of Handel variations that I will probably submit in the coming weeks or months. Hence Handel is unique in keeping in many variations a high level of energy and joy - while other composers prefer to change the atmosphere from a variation to another. In the set I am studying, there are 62 variations (!), all joyful, all in major, and it works...
Regarding your rendition, I second the compliments made by Chris. Maybe I would have preferred some more legato in the first variations, but otherwise it is well done. Regards from France,

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:22 pm 
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Chris,

All looks good to me. Thanks for getting this set up and for dealing with the different file format. I will make sure to use those guidelines in future.

Francois,

Thank you for the kind comments. Yes, I love the Brahms variations. I recently heard Alissa Leiser perform them in a recital here in western Massachusetts and they were just wonderful. Now that set of variations does indeed have a lot of "variation" in it.

cheers, Heather


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:14 pm 
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Hello Heather,
I just listened to your Debussy. Sounded very well-played.
Welcome to Piano Society, and we hope you will participate often. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:04 pm 
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Heather,
welcome to Piano Society.
First, I really enjoyed the Rachmaninoff! True, it was slower than I'd heard it before, but the elegance of the piece was fully delivered. The second slowest I've heard it is the way I play it for myself at home, and I now think I'll ease the tempo even more.
The link provided for the Rach implies the length of the piece is 10 minutes, when it's really about 4. That would be **slow**!! I almost did not download it for that reason, but was pleasantly surprised.
I followed the Haydn with score for the 2nd and 3rd movements. The tuning is noticeable but passable; it's also noticeable in the first movement, by the way. I did not hear any reading errors, just a few slipups. In the edition I was reading, on the last page there are repeated D's, the third of which has a "turn" indicated. This is not what you played, but it's probably just a matter of the editor.
The Debussy was powerful and great to listen to. I did not mind the "shrillness" in the upper register at all. However, the space you're recording in might require a few more pedal lifts? Of course, it's Debussy, etc. What I would suggest is simply to listen to it yourself keeping in mind that a couple of other listeners said this and see what you think. Or compare it to other recordings, maybe.
I have an aversion to Handel (dating from bad piano lesson experiences in childhood) and could not listen to that. Sorry.
Again, welcome to the society.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:52 pm 
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Monica,

Thank you for the kind comment and the welcome!

Stu,

Wow, 10 minutes would be slow. My version actually clocks in at 3:24. I'm not sure when and how the durations are added to those links (they are not part of the titles I gave the files) but maybe it is related to the encoding problem Chris mentioned.

Thanks for your careful attention to the Haydn. I am very grateful for how seriously this forum takes listening to performances and I hope to do the same for others' submissions. Could you help me find the 3 D's you're talking about? I thought you meant the last statement of the main Minuet theme, where my score also has a turn on the third D, but I went back and listened and the turns do appear in my recording. Maybe could you give either a measure number or minutes:seconds in my recording?

I hadn't considered the effect of the space on pedalling choices. That is a very good point (re Debussy) and that room definitely "moistens" the tone quite a bit. The effect is greater from the microphone's perspective than from where my ears are located while playing.

And sorry about the bad Handel experience. Hope that teacher has learned from his/her mistakes!

cheers, Heather


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:33 pm 
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hreichgott wrote:
Wow, 10 minutes would be slow. My version actually clocks in at 3:24. I'm not sure when and how the durations are added to those links (they are not part of the titles I gave the files) but maybe it is related to the encoding problem Chris mentioned.

Yes indeed. Durations are calculated by a script but this one is VBR (Variable Bit rate) so that fails. I need to correct it manually. You see why it is important to submit everything just right, i.e. name, ID3 tags, encoding.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:56 am 
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Hello Chris,
Yes indeed. Sorry to cause the extra trouble and thanks for coping with my newbie mistakes.
Heather


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:51 pm 
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That's ok. But unfortunately we're not there yet -a new surprise came up. Look at the attached screenshot of 3 windows. Your files contained V2.4 ID3 tags, which I have not come across before. They're recognized by iTunes, which I use for tagging (see top window) but not by Windows (middle window) and not by the scripts on the server (bottom window). In the bottom window, also not the wrongly calculated duration for the Rach track, because it.s encoded with VBR. What software do you use for creating and tagging your mp3's ? You see, these days a pianist must also be a computer expert to get their stuff right.....
Attachment:
tags.jpg [152.88 KiB]
Not downloaded yet

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:27 am 
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@ Heather

I had a listen to your Debussy and Handel recordings. As some others noted there are things to improve, but I found the total effect of both performances enjoyable and with more to praise than to criticize.

Welcome to the site!

And about these tags, I realize it is a trouble, but the upside is once you perfect the format, it shouldn't change at all and the next recordings you submit you can use the same tag template and you won't have to redo anything :)

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:06 am 
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Riley,

Thank you for listening and for the kind welcome!

Chris,

I have no idea. How about I just try the mp3 export again, properly this time, and see how it comes through on your end? I just use Audacity and export in mp3 format.


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:41 am 
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Let's see if these work.
Audacity doesn't offer "fixed rate" as an option for bitrate but there were preset, variable, average and constant, so I chose constant. Hope that provides the right result. It is 128 kbps.
I didn't see any option for a version number of ID3 tags. (I actually didn't know there were different versions.)
I can also modify audio metadata directly through the operating system but it is Ubuntu Linux and I would think that'd be less likely than Audacity to be compatible with windows. Can try it that way if you like though.


Attachments:
rachmaninov-32-11-reichgott.mp3 [3.12 MiB]
Downloaded 109 times
haydn-hobxvi-33-2-3-reichgott.mp3 [5.77 MiB]
Downloaded 119 times
haydn-hobxvi-33-1-reichgott.mp3 [4.8 MiB]
Downloaded 116 times
handel-hwv434-airvariations-reichgott.mp3 [3.24 MiB]
Downloaded 120 times
debussy-preludes1-7-reichgott.mp3 [3.45 MiB]
Downloaded 119 times
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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:12 am 
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Thanks Heather, these now have the right tags and encoding. The only problem is the tags are V2.4, which is probably Audacity's default. My scripts on the server can not handle this, because of the old version of the id3lib I use (theres wasn't a newer last time I checked). My Windows Vista does not want to see these tags either. Maybe Windows 8 can - can anybody confirm this ? iTunes has no problem of course, but also not an option to convert them to v2.2. Isn't it great to have so many versions of everything...

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:05 am 
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Quote:
Could you help me find the 3 D's you're talking about? I thought you meant the last statement of the main Minuet theme, where my score also has a turn on the third D, but I went back and listened and the turns do appear in my recording. Maybe could you give either a measure number or minutes:seconds in my recording?


Heather - sorry this took so long. Yes, it's where the key changes from d minor back to D Major. You're right that you're doing an ornament; it's different from what we were taught back in the day for a turn (usually 4 notes instead of 2 or 3). I'm not a big stickler on ornaments myself - I think composers were just telling the performer to "ornament" the note (else why would they not just write out the notes themselves)? It was not worth mentioning, and I was probably just curious about differences in editions.

Also, I listen to these through speakers and not headphones, and occasionally do not hear as many notes as some listeners. But many of our downloading public also listen to the music this way, so there's value in doing so.

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:10 am 
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Stu,

Ah, okay, I see what you mean. I intended to play a 4-note turn (E-D-C#-D) but came down too lightly on the C# so it didn't really sound. Oops. Some of the 4-note groups of 16ths have that problem on the 3rd or 4th note too, in case anyone cares to go hunting :)

Chris,

I do not mean to ignore the tagging compatibility issue; I simply don't know how to fix the problem. I am pretty sure none of my software will generate the proper tags. Please let me know if there is something I can do on this end.


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:31 am 
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Hi Heather,

Welcome back to Piano Society.

Although I've not played "What the West Wind Saw", I know it to be a very technically demanding, difficult and draining piece to play. While there might be a nitpick here or there, in the main it's a fine, convincing rendition. You put it over well to the listener. I was impressed by your artistry. Thanks for sharing it here.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:51 am 
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Hello David,

Thank you for listening and for the kind comments.
Yes, it is a demanding and tiring piece. There was a limit to the number of possible takes!

Heather


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:41 pm 
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Hi, just had a listen to those recordings.

It was my first time listening to this particular Rach prelude, and your playing was very charming and lyrical, with the hesitances coloured very nicely. I never felt that it was too slow as well. The sound here was crystal clear. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Handel sounded really fun, but the thing about Handel is that he tends to keep his harmonies more or less the same throughout every variation. You do the piece justice here though, but I've to agree with Chris that the ending sounds somewhat weird. Does it lead into other pieces in the suite?

I felt that the Debussy was a bit labored, with the sound strangely muffled, though it could just be Debussy. Despite those, your bring off the piece and all of its ferocity very well. Makes me want to explore a few more of Debussy's preludes.

Will listen to your Hadyn some other time, but for now, welcome back to pianosociety! I'll look forward to your next recordings.


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 Post subject: Re: Debussy and Handel
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:31 am 
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Hi Affinity,

Thank you for listening! I appreciated your comments and continue to be impressed with how carefully people on this site listen and evaluate music.

You aren't the first to find that set of Handel variations a bit repetitive. For me I think the variety of rhythm and line more than makes up for the similarities in harmony. I'm sure I am not bringing out as much variety as one could.


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