Piano Society
Free Classical Keyboard Recordings
It is currently Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:54 pm

All times are UTC - 1 hour




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:45 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
Hi friends, I'm uploading my recording after a whole year... Today I played two pieces in a meeting, to which I'm invited to play every year, and just like the last year I made a recording during "the rehearsal at home". One piece was this Wagner-Liszt and the other was the C major P&F from Op.87 of Schostakowitsch.
Since I became a mom, I don't have an access to a decent accoustic piano any more. So I made some recordings on my digital since then. The pieces that I've recorded on the digital so far sounded not that awful, and I believed my recorder can record anything exactly like what I hear during my playing on a digital. This Wagner-Liszt piece sounds to me not that awful, either, when I hear myself playing through the headphone - well... except the climax section with repeated fff notes.

But all my belief was broken, as I listened to my recording from today. The bass sounds really awful and the ff-fff sections sound too flat - very different from what I heard during playing myself. I could have done something wrong, but cannot find what. Or it could be just this piece.

If you reject this recording because of this poor sound quality, I would accept it very willingly. If you do the same thing because of some deficiency on my playing, I would accept it, too, since I practiced this piece just less than three months, and now I think this piece is more complicated than I thought. I realised it requires more work than I already did. And we already have a very beautiful live recording of this piece by Andrew on the site, who recently released the studio recording of it on a commercial CD.

What I want most of all on this occasion is to share my thought about this piece and affection toward it through this recording, which have been grown up from learning it myself. I was not that interested in Wagner before, but studying this piece I discovered his genious to myself.
Let me say what was the most difficult to me. This transcription by Liszt is an adaptation of the orchestral score without considering the vocal part (Isolde's aria). The orchestral part is often played in a concert without the singer. It sounds very beautiful by itself, most of all due to all the coloring with various instruments playing those attractive harmonies. But on the single piano you must repeat many phrase just switching the keys and the possibility of varying the tone colors on the piano is very limited. It is nearly frustrating, when you compare the thin effect of your effort with the luxurious effect from an orchestra.
Besides I could not understand what Wagner wanted to say through this piece, as I look at just the Liszt's transcription or just the orchestra section.
After some painful time I finally realized (I know it is a basic knowledge about Wagner, but was for me personally a revelation :roll: ) that Wagner's orchestration is completely connected to the text which Wagner himself wrote. I paid attention to the text, word by word, listened a lot to Waltraud Meier's interpretations (she is the most beautiful and competent Isolde of our time who is fully able to unite the text with the music in a very organic way, I think). So I could understand the music. But concerning the pianistic points there certainly are many things to be improved, I suppose.

Any comments/criticism are very welcome, and I apologize for the poor sound again :oops:
(Or is there any suggestion to improve the sound quality? I'm very ignorant of the editing programs - I opened my one today and saw through all the menus, but I can hardly understand anything except the cut-paste fuction.)


Attachments:
wagner-liszt-liebestod-hjlee.mp3 [9.95 MiB]
Downloaded 177 times

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:47 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 12:11 am
Posts: 732
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Hi, I've listened to it once straight through. I quite like the general mood you get across; the limitations of the instrument are however apparent. There were some details I noticed, so, if you'll forgive me, I'll listen again and do some sort of running commentary!

The start: bar 4 the lh tremolando is much too loud (it's pp and perdendo in my score). Curiously, by playing it loud, you've drawn attention to its unevenness. The following tremolandi are better, but there is still a tendency towards pushing them into the foreground when they should really be a background harmonic shimmering. Not easy, of course.

1.31: I prefer to break the Ab/Bb in the lh here; it just helps with keeping the melodic line going in the lh.

page 2: being fussy here, and I was also guilty of this in my previous recording. The difference between your lh semiquavers and triplet semiquavers isn't really apparent (not to me at least).

2.12 and similar places later on: why be so literal? A singer would give the turn more space: it should be more expressive whereas playing it in strict time it just sounds glib.

2.57: I thought you made a pretty decent job of the soprano above the texture effect; however there is also counter-melodic material in the lh (quavers 2-5 of the third bar can be particularly expressive).

3.46 the quieter you can start here, the more you can make of the cresc.

4.10 and similar places: I do hope you weren't subconsciously influenced by what I think I was doing in my recording. The dim should be after this note, not on it. I was given a serious telling off by my teacher for this mannerism! From here to the climax, I have increasing problems with the sound of the instrument. Oddly, it's not been that deleterious up to now, but in the pre-climactic gesture (from the lone 2/4 bar) a curious lack of power is present.

5.24: tempo doesn't seem to match what preceded; plus the inadvertent accent on the second quaver of the bar is disconcerting and confusing.

5.59: I suggest that breaking this chord is much more effective and natural.

6.32: these two bars are very difficult imo. Your tremolandi are too loud. Plus one of my teachers told me the lower G# - A natural - A# - B - C# - D# line is the oboe; it is motivic and should be brought out. I didn't get it quite right even in the studio recording, but certainly I feel that line should take precedence over the harmonic filler, whether it be the rh chords or the lh tremolandi.

Anyway, thanks for this upload; it's difficult for me to be completely neutral and objective in my comments when I've spent so long on the piece. Despite the above comments, I actually quite liked the overall effect, and I take a violent dislike to quite a lot of interpretations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:14 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
Andrew, thank you a lot for the detailed comments. Exactly that I needed. Your criticism is mostly based on the score, so very objective and neutral. I think I have to spend more time with this piece and to make a recording in another way. During the short time of practicing I could work just on the overall effect as you said.
Cause I don't have a headphone now, I'll find the spots you noticed later and come back, if I have something more to say.
Thanks again your efforts!

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:31 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:07 pm
Posts: 686
Location: Carbondale, IL
Hye-Jin,

I listened to and much enjoyed your recording. The performance had a lot of ebb and flow, a lot of emotion, your phrasing has a strong effect. I did notice clipping in the climax, but overall it did not hurt the performance. I only wish I was there in the room when you were recording, nice that we humans don't experience clipping, its just audio recorders :) I also noticed that you would play the little crescendos on a pair of ascending runs, the highest note in the melody getting the loudest dynamic. And also at sharp chromatic turns. I don't have the score but if this wasn't in the score I think it was a great decision, the performance succeeds for it. And if you were just following the score, I give credit to Liszt! :wink:

I also agree Andrew's recording is very good. Picked up his CD on cdbaby, got to love operatic transcription music :)

Thanks again for sharing this :)

_________________
"I don't know what music is, but I know it when I hear it." - Alan Schuyler
Riley Tucker


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:48 pm
Posts: 2000
Location: U.S.A.
Hi Hye-Jin,

I just listened to your "Liebestod". I enjoyed your interpretation throughout. You play with much artistic intent and execute that intent brilliantly, beautifully, and convincingly. Despite any shortcomings of the instrument, your playing is most sensuous here. You put this music across to the listener very effectively indeed.

If I had to make one general suggestion it would be this: Because this is a transcription of orchestral music, Liszt had the usual dilemma of prolonging sound on the piano which is a percussive instrument with short tone decay. To overcome it, he used extensively devices like tremolos, filigree, repeated chords, etc. Just mastering all that is enough of a challenge, because in fact the piece takes on attributes of being a lyrical etude. This raises an issue for the artist--carefully separating foreground from background in order to keep only the singer in the limelight at all times (even if she's present only in spirit). As it now stands, (and I should have the score open but don't), there are just a few places where the background accompaniment could be more subdued in my opinion. In romantic music there are some places where the accompaniment fleetingly becomes the focus of interest, or a crescendo can only be expressed through a rise in the accompaniment while the treble is a tie or suspension. So those exceptions have to be carefully "orchestrated" so that they are momentary. Otherwise the accompaniment will want to compete with the cantilena. The only way to manage it is not to raise the level of the vocal line (which prompts a commensurate rise in the accompaniment) but instead to lower the level of the accompaniment. I don't want to overemphasize this point however, as you play so beautifully. And it's obvious that you listen to yourself as you play every note. Just something for you to consider. Great work on this piece!

David

_________________
"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:12 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9563
Location: Netherlands
I listened earlier but forgot to reply. A very accomplished performance, which is obviously the result of long and very careful preparation (as we expect from you !). I don't know either the piece or the style enough to comment in detail, but it seems very well played. Whether a digital instrument is at all suitable for this kind of music is another matter. Personally I think it isn't, the sound (not your playing !) is dry and anemic where it should be full-blooded and opulent. I would really wish for you to have a real instrument one fine day, or at least have the opportunity to practice and/or record on one. Your playing deserves it.

_________________
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:00 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 12:11 am
Posts: 732
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Rachfan wrote:
Because this is a transcription of orchestral music, Liszt had the usual dilemma of prolonging sound on the piano which is a percussive instrument with short tone decay. To overcome it, he used extensively devices like tremolos, filigree, repeated chords, etc. Just mastering all that is enough of a challenge, because in fact the piece takes on attributes of being a lyrical etude. This raises an issue for the artist--carefully separating foreground from background in order to keep only the singer in the limelight at all times (even if she's present only in spirit). As it now stands, (and I should have the score open but don't), there are just a few places where the background accompaniment could be more subdued in my opinion. In romantic music there are some places where the accompaniment fleetingly becomes the focus of interest, or a crescendo can only be expressed through a rise in the accompaniment while the treble is a tie or suspension. So those exceptions have to be carefully "orchestrated" so that they are momentary. Otherwise the accompaniment will want to compete with the cantilena. The only way to manage it is not to raise the level of the vocal line (which prompts a commensurate rise in the accompaniment) but instead to lower the level of the accompaniment.


Very good and pertinent post.

techneut wrote:
Whether a digital instrument is at all suitable for this kind of music is another matter. Personally I think it isn't, the sound (not your playing !) is dry and anemic where it should be full-blooded and opulent. I would really wish for you to have a real instrument one fine day, or at least have the opportunity to practice and/or record on one. Your playing deserves it.


Agreed, and my sympathies regarding the instrument. Before I bought a decent piano, I practiced this exact piece on a digital piano, and I'm convinced that in this sort of piece - where the pianist is attempting to simulate orchestral sound - the loss of a superior pedalling capacity and sonority is particularly punishing to the overall effect. I had to rethink a lot of things when I moved to a proper piano.

Despite my concerns and the rather picky details I raised in my first post, I think this has the making of a very nice interpretation. Actually I think the person who has been hardest on the performance is Hye-Jin herself!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:19 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:45 am
Posts: 9563
Location: Netherlands
andrew wrote:
Actually I think the person who has been hardest on the performance is Hye-Jin herself!

As usual ! Maybe more than necessary, but I believe one should be their own worst critic.

_________________
Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:34 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
Hi friends, my heartfelt thanks for listening to this imperfect interpretation with a terrible recording quality and the kind words!

@Andrew:
I should have made my response (after following your comments with score and my recording) much earlier. Sorry for that. Having realised that my work on this piece was not enough at all, I could not do that promptly, because it called for sort of courage... :oops:
I finally listened to my recording following your comments and found again how important and useful advises you gave me! Some of them were what I noticed myself, but didn't correct from a bad habbit or the deficiency of technique/artistic imagination. The others are new to me. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge about this piece. I really appreciate it!

@Riley:
Thank you Riley for your kind comment! Even though I know the limitation of my performance, I'm really glad that you liked it!
Quote:
I also noticed that you would play the little crescendos on a pair of ascending runs, the highest note in the melody getting the loudest dynamic. And also at sharp chromatic turns. I don't have the score but if this wasn't in the score I think it was a great decision, the performance succeeds for it. And if you were just following the score, I give credit to Liszt! :wink:

I'm not sure which runs you mean :oops: (Wagner made use of chromatic progresses everywhere and it would be sometimes effective to utilize it for shaping phrasings :roll: )

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:54 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
@David:
Thank you for sharing your precious insights, David! Actually I spent most of the time to present myself the general image of this piece and seen to have overlooked the details which deserve much more efforts. They include the balance between the fore- and the background as you so properly pointed out! I was not that concious of it before.
However, apart from that, I'm still not completly sure, if a pianist playing this transcription really should take care of the singer and subdue his music just for her sake. I was thinking over that many times and my interim conclusion was: As there is a difference between the orchestral performance with the singer and without her (the former should be more withheld), we could treat this Liszt-transcription like a original solo-piece finding its own "vocal"-line. Or not?? But at any rate I admit my ears to this piece are not that refined yet as yours, David.
Maybe I should listen to this performace by Barenboim and W.Meier again at the Scala and more focus on the balancing between them to refine my ears :wink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03fIyARNtpY I was so impressed by just watching this scene that I'm going to buy a DVD of this... What an astonishing actress and singer is Waltraud Meier! I wish I could see her in this role live... (She's still singing and going to sing Isolde in March in Munich!) what did I do for the long time I spent in Germany... BTW in that performance at the Scala Barenboim's conducting was praised a lot for his beautiful orchestra with its successful supporting role for the singers. I think this last scene ("Isoldes Liebestod", but actually Wagner named this scene "Isoldes Verklärung (eg. transfiguration)") shows that, too.

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:01 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
Andrew wrote:
techneut wrote:
Whether a digital instrument is at all suitable for this kind of music is another matter. Personally I think it isn't, the sound (not your playing !) is dry and anemic where it should be full-blooded and opulent. I would really wish for you to have a real instrument one fine day, or at least have the opportunity to practice and/or record on one. Your playing deserves it.


Agreed, and my sympathies regarding the instrument. Before I bought a decent piano, I practiced this exact piece on a digital piano, and I'm convinced that in this sort of piece - where the pianist is attempting to simulate orchestral sound - the loss of a superior pedalling capacity and sonority is particularly punishing to the overall effect. I had to rethink a lot of things when I moved to a proper piano.


Thank you both of you for your warm sympathies, Chris and Andrew. I can use some old grands if I try (hard?), but all of them are in frustratingly horrible states (including a Yamaha grand on which I performed this piece). I need not just a real instrument, but a good and real instrument :lol: :lol: And, what is more, a teacher, too! I'm planning to finish my dissertation in this year and to move to Korea back where I wish I can find both of them.

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Last edited by hyenal on Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:06 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
techneut wrote:
andrew wrote:
Actually I think the person who has been hardest on the performance is Hye-Jin herself!

As usual ! Maybe more than necessary, but I believe one should be their own worst critic.

I may have been a severe critic of myself so far, but about this piece I was too ignorant to be that :(

But equipped with many useful advises, inspirations and couraging words I think I can restart this piece again which seemed to be impossible just a few days ago :D Thank you all!

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:38 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 12:11 am
Posts: 732
Location: Edinburgh, UK
hyenal wrote:
... I'm still not completly sure, if a pianist playing this transcription really should take care of the singer and subdue his music just for her sake.


Sometimes Liszt is fairly clear about this, sometimes he isn't! For example, in his Rienzi and Rigoletto paraphrases, he has the melodic notes normal size, but the filigree ornamentation smaller. I'd suggest that here, you note how the music is expressed in parts: in the rh, the soprano is written stem up and the orchestra stem down. Now I will concede that it's much more readable expressed in this way (therefore in theory that could be the reason for it being written in such a way), but the moment music is written in parts, I think that implies that you should give consideration to the voicing of each part. Although the edition I use doesn't have the words of the aria printed in it, I have seen one which does. So - and I am biased, because I've played so many transcriptions - but I would contend that really you must give the vocal line prominence.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:29 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 6:50 pm
Posts: 243
Location: Missouri
actually sounds really good, especially from a keyboard. I have not heard this piece before.

_________________
Painting is just an advanced form of coloring. :D


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Wagner-Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:48 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:14 pm
Posts: 844
Location: Germany
andrew wrote:
hyenal wrote:
... I'm still not completly sure, if a pianist playing this transcription really should take care of the singer and subdue his music just for her sake.


Sometimes Liszt is fairly clear about this, sometimes he isn't! For example, in his Rienzi and Rigoletto paraphrases, he has the melodic notes normal size, but the filigree ornamentation smaller. I'd suggest that here, you note how the music is expressed in parts: in the rh, the soprano is written stem up and the orchestra stem down. Now I will concede that it's much more readable expressed in this way (therefore in theory that could be the reason for it being written in such a way), but the moment music is written in parts, I think that implies that you should give consideration to the voicing of each part. Although the edition I use doesn't have the words of the aria printed in it, I have seen one which does. So - and I am biased, because I've played so many transcriptions - but I would contend that really you must give the vocal line prominence.


Thank you Andrew (And sorry for this much delayed responce - I needed the time to think about this subject :) ). You observed the score very exactly. I agree to you that one should be careful about the voicing between the various voices throughout the whole piece. But I still don't figure, why one must give a currently absent vocalist the priority, as Liszt completly has left the vocal line out in his transcription and this piece is very often played by an orchestra without a singer. Imagine a conductor performs this piece with a singer at one time and without her at another time. He/she would conduct the orchestra differently. And I think you can play the Liszt-transcription on both ways.
Besides when you admit that you cannot play some parts of this piece on the piano not so promptly as with an orchestra, you must find your own phrasing/dynamics/agogics on the piano. And thereby the considerations about the vocal line would be dropped. I cannot easily imagine a soprano who sings this piece with a pianist.

Quote:
Although the edition I use doesn't have the words of the aria printed in it, I have seen one which does.

I wrote the German words by Wagner into my score myself. I already said on my initial post to this thread that I understand this music on the base of the closeness between the text and the (orchetral) music. I need the German words in order to know what is the current bars all about. But it doesn't mean necessarily that I must watch out for the vocal line itself. I believe in this piece the orchestral part stands more close to the text than the vocal line does.

BTW I have a question to you, Andrew, since you have many experiences with opera transcriptions. Is this piece the only opera-transcription for the piano where the arranger left the vocal line out?

_________________
Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 1 hour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group