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 Post subject: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:31 pm 
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Rachmaninov composed his Prelude, Op. 32, No. 9 in A on August 26, 1910. It is in ternary form. To say that this is a thick-textured piece would be an understatement. The melody often exists in a snippet motif, so much be recognized and emphasized. But there are actually three levels of writing: the right hand melody, the left hand octaves (which sometimes are melodic and enter the foreground), and filler notes to make the structure more robust, which must be deemphasized except for occasional melodic purposes. Rachmaninov, probably believing that pianists can never get enough double notes, very generously provided them throughout this piece raising constant voicing challenges. Dynamics not noted by the composer most often follow the lines of the musical contours. I believe that the program for this piece is a large ship laboring through heavy waves. The middle section suggests a romance between the ship and the sea. Nearing the end of the voyage, the ship safely makes port with the town church bells pealing. This piece can be studied for a lifetime. I’ve already studied it twice. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing it.

Comments welcome.

David

Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid fully open.
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Mics: Matched pair of Earthworks TC-20 small diaphragm, omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

Rachmaninov - Prelude in A major, Op. 32, No. 9

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:50 pm 
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This is gorgeous. I love the rolling rhythm and I think your imagery of ship/sea works very well.

If I were impersonating my current teacher (who is satisfied only with the best and hears articulations in great detail) I might wonder if you could be more aware of your range of articulation -- sometimes you over-use the sharper or harsher edges of articulation and you might get a richer sound if you went for more weight/rounder tone (more arm less finger) in general and saved the sharper/harsher stuff for moments that should be accented.

But by no means does that detract from the enjoyability of this recording. (I loved this recording.) It's more of a thought for you to consider in future performances, especially in thickly textured music.


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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:21 pm 
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Hi Hreichgott,

I'm glad you enjoyed this rendition so much. My first teacher was of the Matthay school, and ordinarily I think I rely on arm weight most of all in my playing with fingers close to the keys. This particular piece with it's thick textures poses a constant challenge as to what must be heard in all the clutter. So yes, there I times when I etched it with articulation to ensure it would be heard. But I very often backed off of it too to allow for turns of phrase and nuances.

Thanks for listening and for your suggestions too.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:44 am 
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Sounded very nice, David. It's on the site now.

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:20 am 
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Hi Monica,

Thanks! I'm happy that your liked the recording. It always makes me feel good if I can contribute something new to the archive. :)

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:09 am 
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Having sharply criticised your piano recently, this is a vast improvement! It sounds deep and sonorous and this is a most enjoyable performance.


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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:36 am 
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Hi Andrew,

Thanks so much for listening and your compliment on my playing! The Baldwin was tuned the day before the recording. In the Maine climate, winters are cold and brutal while summers are humid. So the humidity, as expected, has pushed all of the pianos sharp ha-ha! About 7 cents or so for my piano despite air conditioning. So for this tuning we elected to tune it in place rather than lower the pitch. So at the moment it sounds like concert pitch, being a bit higher than A440. It's a good strategy, because come fall, the pianos will all slide flat. This is what keeps the tuners in business. The Baldwin does sound good in this recording.

You've probably noticed, as have I, that many people always tune into Rachmaninov's Prelude Op. 3, No. 2 in C#m and Prelude, Op. 23, No. 5 in Gm. Beyond that, they don't seem familiar with or drawn to the other 22 preludes in Opp. 23 and 32. As you know, these volumes hold many treasures. Yet fewer people will click on them to hear this extraordinary music. I consider this 32-9 in A to be a minor masterpiece. Hopefully this trend will change over time.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:40 am 
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This is probably my favourite of all the Rach preludes. You play it gorgeously. It's a bit on the slow side but that fits well with the large ship image.
The 3-against-5 section sounds a bit awkward and lumbering, you slow down to suddenly and obviously here. When the tempo picks up afterward
(a sudden welcome breeze a la Meeresstille und gluckliche Fahrt ?) things are fine again. Indeed your Baldwin sounds better than usual, partly
because this is a pretty low-lying piece. A job well done.

I'll now definitely have to go and play this one tonight :D

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 Post subject: Re: Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32, No. 9 in A
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:30 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for listening and your comments. Ah yes, the tempo. It's marked andante moderato. After some experimentation, I decided on a tempo around MM = 94, which falls within the lower range of both markings and best comports with my "program". But it's definitely not Ashkenazy's or Richter's tempos! I found that when I tried their tempos, way too many inaccuracies crept into my playing all because of the frenzied tempo. So I backed away from that. In my old "historical" :lol: recording, I did choose a faster tempo, but there was too much "slam bang" trying to grab notes in time. So, where I'm definitely far from being a Richter, I'm content with my choice.

The thing that most startled me was that I expected relearning this piece to be a cakewalk. It was not!!! I put as much or more sweat into this as with the first time I played the piece. Goes to confirm yet again that "Rachmaninoff never wrote anything easy". I was so glued to this piece that I didn't post anything new for a couple of months or so.

Those pesky 3 against 5 polyrhythms are tricky to play, I must admit. The only coinciding notes are the first note for each, then the rest are scattered in between one another. Of course, Rachmaninoff had to pepper this piece with frequent double notes too. I think this composition is truly more of an etude than a prelude.

I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. It's my favorite of Op. 32 as well. That's the only thing that kept me going in the relearning process.

David

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