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 Post subject: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:39 pm 
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Scriabin’s Prelude, Op.16, No. 1, (January 1894), falls within his early period influenced by Chopin’s style. Marked andante, the usual rhythmic pattern is triplets; however, the triplets are either aligned as polyrhythms or counterpoint. This presents a thin texture to the listener, yet it is more difficult to play than it sounds. I would characterize this piece as a reverie. Scriabin wanted the bar lines to be transparent—a manner of playing often found in Russian romantic music. This being a reverie, I surmise that Scriabin mitigated structure per se, as dreaming is more unstructured. Although a short work, it is not in ternary form. Instead Scriabin inserted an episode after the first appearance of the main theme, and a different one following the reprise of the theme. There are two climaxes, the first in the rubato section and a secondary one focusing on the highest note of the piece in the second episode prior to the coda. The coda itself is initially dissonant but resolves into tranquil beauty. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing this prelude.

David

Comments welcome.

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

Scriabin - Prelude in B major, Op. 16, No. 1 (2:45)

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:59 pm 
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That was nice. An interesting code indeed, much dissonant anguish resolving into peaceful bliss. Very well done.
And good to see we don't have to nag about the tags :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:27 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed my rendition. That piece is harder to play than it sounds. There are leaps there in the right hand that involve both a full stretch of the hand plus lateral movement of the arm. And with all the humidity in the air, there is constant guarding against ghost notes. When I'm in between composers, if I'm undecided about my next piece, I can always depend immediately on Scriabin or Rachmaninov to give me an inspiration.

I think I have the tags down now better than the music. :lol:

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:01 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
That piece is harder to play than it sounds.

Most pieces are.

Rachfan wrote:
I think I have the tags down now better than the music. :lol:

Haha.. at least you've learned something here then :P

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:56 pm 
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This one is on the site.

Rachfan wrote:
When I'm in between composers, if I'm undecided about my next piece,

Huh... I can't begin to imagine what that would be like.....

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:20 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for putting the piece up for me.

Yes, I know. I think the difference is that you often do arms-full of pieces at a time, while I apply more narrow criteria. For example, I now exclude Baroque, Rococo, Viennese Classical and Contemporary (with exceptions). Probably I should post a Bach piece here, which would provide amusement if nothing else, I'm sure. :lol: Basically I mostly search through the late romantic literature. Therein, I look for pieces that meet my personal aesthetic for ravishing beauty. If a piece leaves me cold, I won't touch it. Life is too short to play music that cannot move me. In another year and a half I'll be 70. So as the window of the lifespan narrows (the human condition), I think it important that I do what I do best and most enjoy. If I'm practicing a difficult but gorgeous piece, it will never discourage me. And when I can share the results with others, then that's my reward. I believe you're far more of an adventurer encountering a kaleidoscope of the piano literature. And that's great--there's much to to be said for it. In many cases involving obscure composers, had you not played some of that music, then who would have played it? There's no question that it has enriched the archive here and given many a forgotten composer a well deserved boost.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:32 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
If a piece leaves me cold, I won't touch it. Life is too short to play music that cannot move me.

Same here, and I guess that holds for everybody except maybe students and pros who HAVE to play certain things for exams, contests, concerts, etc...
My problem is that there's so much out there that moves me and I just HAVE to play it. In a way I envy those who can quietly and purposefully pursue their chosen and well-defined path through literature. And in another way definitely I don't :D

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:19 am 
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Hi Chris,

Yes, I can appreciate your viewpoint on that. I think a lot of it comes back to the personal objectives of the pianist. It plays a big role in matters of repertoire.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:53 am 
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Hi David,
that´s a wonderful piece and performance. Your interpretation is full of subtle nuances. It starts with the pp after the mf, which you bring out excellently, goes over some differentiations between mf, p and pp and an accellerando, which you worked out very convincingly, and ends with a very good ppp. For me your interpretation is an ideal of working out dynamic and tempo nuances. Bravo, that´s a high musical quality as we are used by you.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:37 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

I'm delighted that you enjoyed so much this prelude and my rendition. This piece offered some difficulties not apparent at first examination, especially the leaps. So I spent extra time to get it up to my personal standard. This is now one of my favorite Scriabin pieces. Thanks for listening and commenting. I appreciate it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:07 am 
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David,

I listened to your interpretation of this Scriabin prelude, this is quite excellent. I have not heard it and it is like exploring something completely new for the first time, a one-of-a-kind feeling :) About your playing I am always glad to listen to your work. I see your point, the human condition has limiting factors. I agree with your assessment, it has the feeling of a dream, of floating on rather than standing in place. The ending reminds me of Albeniz's Evocation, also dissonant and tortuous, but finally giving way to a benign end.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:46 am 
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Hi Riley,

I'm so glad you enjoyed my rendition of this prelude of Scriabin. Prior to taking up this prelude, I had never noticed it before. It turned out to be a wonderful piece of music. With the catilena melodic line and the deemphasized bar lines, it almost feels like being in "free float". So you're right on! The dreaming is like floating. The whole piece is achingly beautiful including the coda. Those leaps in the right hand call for a fully extended hand and moving the arm as well. They were devilish for awhile when I was practicing, but finally yielded. Thanks for listening and commenting.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:14 pm 
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Hello, David,

All these recordings that come up... I save them on my computer and sometimes I manage to listen to one, in this case, yours. Do I take it your preference in Scriabin is the same as mine? I much prefer his earlier work, before he got religion or measels or whatever it was, seeing notes through rose-tinted spectacles and inventing Mystic Trumpet... I mean, chords (the Mystic Trumpeter is a song by Holst :oops: ).

Of course half-way through the little girl came along and sat at the piano and tried to accompany you, but still I did make it to the end and I must say I do like this prelude and you do play it with sensitivity, so a very pleasant addition to the site.

You are very focused in the latye XIX-early XX century repertoire and that is good for us, as it gives us many gems, but I must say I could never concentrate so much on any one given period. I play from Bach to Rautavaara, though this month I have not touched the piano since 2nd august. (I have just heard some ice-cream has been poured into it, so maybe now it will sound better! :D )

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:29 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
HI much prefer his earlier work, before he got religion or measels or whatever it was, seeing notes through rose-tinted spectacles and inventing Mystic Trumpet... I mean, chords (the Mystic Trumpeter is a song by Holst :oops: ).
Same here. I can't warm to late or even 'mature' Scriabin.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:54 pm 
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David,
I'll just add my 'thank you' for this wonderful recording. I had to listen 3 times to make sure that I had nothing to add, except that I agree with Riley that the end reminds me of Albeniz.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:29 pm 
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Hi Richard,

Yes, this Scriabin prelude is definitely from his early period. My favorites are in his middle period, items like the Fantasy, Op. 28, Tragic Poem, Op. 34, the Waltz, Op. 38, etc. Great pieces!! But there is a forbidding gateway I never approach--Op. 50 and beyond, which is the late mystical period. There is nothing I wish to play there. Once in awhile I listen to his symphonic Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54 (where the "Mystic Trumpet" you mention plays a prominent role). There are some things I like about that work, but I cannot warm up to the others there. Anyway, back to the prelude. I'm happy that you (and your young daughter too) liked this music. And thanks for the nice compliment on my playing too.

It's true that I really feel at home in the late romantic period. But I think I might have an idea, however, which might shock the members here. Should be fun. Stay tuned!

If the ice cream doesn't help the Geyer, then nothing will!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:32 pm 
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Hi Stu,

I'm pleased that you liked the recording and played it several times! Thanks for listening and commenting on it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:51 pm 
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Very nice. Imo you've achieved the rare feat of making a piece sound better than it actually is.

I think you may have been born in the wrong era. Most people don't play the piano like this now ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:36 am 
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Hi Andrew,

Thank you for those wonderful compliments! I really appreciate it.

You hit the nail on the head, Andrew. I guess I see myself as an Old School pianist. Today the emphasis is on correct notes which if anything has been deleterious to pianists. Entrants to piano competition can now be dismissed for a wrong note. The last three Van Cliburn Competitions have been parades of pianists who played the same plain vanilla. In short, they all sounded alike. Old School pianists always made a best effort to learn and play correct notes, but they went way farther than notes--they knew how to project their interpretations and put their renditions across to an audience. Often that meant taking big risks, but if they succeeded at the expense of a few notes being dropped under the piano, nobody cared. It was a detail, not the canvass. Listeners were inspired! So that performance brought the house down. Back then if an artist's recording was being broadcast and you turned it on already in progress, within a few moments you knew who was playing. There was a nobility in Rubinstein's playing; the glimmering sheen of Gieseking's playing of impressionistic music; the way Horowitz could make the impossible possible; the poetry of Cortot's playing of a Chopin Sonata; etc. Now, we have a focus on correct notes, and if everyone gets the notes right, they don't touch perfection, rather they have attained the state of accuracy where everyone's playing is sounding alike. To my way of thinking, that is mediocrity not excellence. Well, that's what I try to avoid. But, nor do I ever want my playing to sound idiosyncratic which is just as bad. I simply want to be in that zone in between where my expression and individualism are distinctive, but always in the service of the composers' music. If I can do that, then I will have attained my standard.

Thanks for listening.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:29 pm 
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Good work as always. i did feel that the uppermost one-note-per-bar voice towards the end felt a bit one-dimensional, but that may probably be due to the composition. In general, the piece as others have said has kind of floaty, foreboding bliss, and you put that forward wonderfully.


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:45 pm 
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Hi Affinity,

I'm glad you have an affinity for Scriabin's music. :) It is a lovely piece. Thanks for you compliment on my playing, I appreciate it.

Regarding the single chords in first inversion position in the right hand that you mentioned in the coda: What I did, actually, was to voice the top D# top notes in the treble clef and the bottom B's in the bass clef. To the ear the two voices form a B major third which sounds very nice IMO prior to the playing of the soft, final contra B in the left hand which reinforces the tonic key. Overall I think it works well.

Thanks for listening!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:44 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Quote:
You hit the nail on the head, Andrew. I guess I see myself as an Old School pianist. Today the emphasis is on correct notes which if anything has been deleterious to pianists. Entrants to piano competition can now be dismissed for a wrong note. The last three Van Cliburn Competitions have been parades of pianists who played the same plain vanilla. In short, they all sounded alike. Old School pianists always made a best effort to learn and play correct notes, but they went way farther than notes--they knew how to project their interpretations and put their renditions across to an audience. Often that meant taking big risks, but if they succeeded at the expense of a few notes being dropped under the piano, nobody cared. It was a detail, not the canvass. Listeners were inspired! So that performance brought the house down. Back then if an artist's recording was being broadcast and you turned it on already in progress, within a few moments you knew who was playing. There was a nobility in Rubinstein's playing; the glimmering sheen of Gieseking's playing of impressionistic music; the way Horowitz could make the impossible possible; the poetry of Cortot's playing of a Chopin Sonata; etc. Now, we have a focus on correct notes, and if everyone gets the notes right, they don't touch perfection, rather they have attained the state of accuracy where everyone's playing is sounding alike. To my way of thinking, that is mediocrity not excellence. Well, that's what I try to avoid. But, nor do I ever want my playing to sound idiosyncratic which is just as bad. I simply want to be in that zone in between where my expression and individualism are distinctive, but always in the service of the composers' music. If I can do that, then I will have attained my standard.


I agree to that completely and that´s exactly also my attitude. Though I´m much younger than you (I think I´m about 30 years younger) I have that same attitude, but of course in my age (42) I have some difficulties to say I consider myself as an "old school pianist", though from my view it fits to me in a similar way as to you.

With best regards
Andreas

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:54 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

Back in the 1950s when I began to study piano with an excellent teacher, many of the older generation pianists were were still concertizing. So it was possible to go hear some of them. Also, one could still find the old 78 rpm records going back to Paderewski, for example. And on the older LPs you could hear the likes of Backhaus, for example, at his best. And the really good teachers of the era who were conservatory trained had studied with important artist-teachers who in turn could also speak about their own teachers and the wisdom they gained. I think a good deal of that has been lost now in the frantic chase for the correct notes. Having come along at the near end of the era, people like me are sort of dim shadows of the tradition. But fortunately, there are many superb books available where we can at least read about the Old School pianists, their thinking on pianism, and also find their playing preserved on CDs. It's inspiring.


David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:26 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Quote:
Back in the 1950s when I began to study piano with an excellent teacher, many of the older generation pianists were were still concertizing. So it was possible to go hear some of them. Also, one could still find the old 78 rpm records going back to of Paderewski, for example. And on the older LPs you could hear the likes of Backhaus, for example, at his best. And the really good teachers of the era who were conservatory trained had studied with important artist-teachers who in turn could also speak about their own teachers and the wisdom they gained. I think a good deal of that has been lost now in the frantic chase for the correct notes. Having come along at the near end of the era, people like me are sort of dim shadows of the trandition. But fortunately, there are many superb books available where we can at least read about the Old School pianists, their thinking on pianism, and also find their played preserved on CDs. It's inspiring.


Thank you for your apreciated thoughts, David. My appreciated former teacher, Franz-Josef Streuff, who was also a member of this site and has died two years ago - you remember him - also studied in the 1950th. His first professor was Wilhelm Kempff, who teached at the "Musikhochschule" of Cologne at this time. So he learned also in the tradition of Old School Pianists. And when he was in England he made himself a 78 rpm record, which he played to me, when I was a pupil. (It was a Beethoven Sonata.) He always feeled obliged to the tradition and mind of 19th century. One can realize that also in his "Late Intermezzi" f.ex., which were his last compositions. (I have played them all for this site and Chris has played also some of them.) I´m proud and lucky to have been a pupil of Franz, so I could learn a lot from the Old School Pianist tradition. We also visited some concerts together, f.ex. one of the 86 years old Claudio Arrau, who played in the "Tonhalle" of Düsseldorf, which is nearby the place I lived in former times.
I have a huge collection of DVD´s and CD´s and books about the Old School Pianists and I know them all quite well. I also have a very old film-recording of Francis Planté, playing the first Chopin etude at the end of 19th century. I think, it´s one of the oldest recording existing, but I also have Paderewsky playing the 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody in the 20th on film and much much more. (I think, I have them nearly all.)
Concerning the "frantic chase for the correct notes" I agree to you. I think, especially in the romantic music of 19th century it isn´t adequate to the mind of the music. The wholeness of the sound is the most important. If the composer f.ex. has thought of an c-major-arpeggio it´s not so important, which notes exactly you play of this arpeggio, the main thing is you play some notes of a c-major-arpeggio f.ex. With baroque, especially with Bachs music, it´s a bit different. I think, here every note is quite important, at least sometimes an accidental or natural can be very important for a modulation f.ex., it not always has to be very important.
Of course, I think, it´s important, that we always try to play the correct notes, but the wholeness of the piece and the mind of the composer should be considered of a higher value.
There is a nice anekdote told about Edwin Fischer, btw. Do you know it?
Edwin Fischer made a journey in a train and listened to two women sitting behind him. They talked about Edwin Fischer and the many wrong notes he used to play. When the train stopped, the two women recognized Edwin Fischer, who was also in the train, and they asked him, if they could carry his suitcase for him. Edwin Fischer said something like "Yes, it´s nice. Here is the suitcase with all the wrong notes I play." I think, they had become red, shouldn´t they?
I think, Edwin Fischer is a good example to show, that the genius and mind is the most important. No one would doubt, that he was one of the greatest pianists of twentieth century.
You see, I´m also influenced very much by the "Old School Pianists" and their thoughts about pianism and appreciate it as much as you do. But especially in Bachs music I try to be as exact as possible and I try also to be very severe with myself, but also here I think, the mind and wholeness of expression is the most important. In Bachs music it´s so important to play with soul and expression and to have a certain concept of interpretation. This is much more important than a singular wrong note, which is played by accident! Just the opposite, a singular wrong notes played by accident doesn´t minor the worth of a recording, if the piece is played with soul and expression respective if it has a certain concept of interpretation.
Thank you once more for this valuable exchange of thoughts, David.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:47 pm 
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Hi Andreas,

In the brief period when Mr. Streuff was participating here (and his health was fragile by then), I could tell he was a great composer, musician and teacher. You were very fortunate to have studied in your young years with him. And imagine, he was a student of Kempff no less. I enjoyed his pieces that you you and Chris recorded. And you and Mr. Streuff went to an Arrau recital! Who other than Arrau could produce so many tonal colors in his playing? His teacher had been Martin Krause who also taught Edwin Fischer. Krause had studied with Liszt. So Mr. Streuff's own training was the best of the Old School. It's wonderful that you got to study with him.

I too have many books by or about the old school pianists. I reread them too, always finding something new there.

Regarding Plante, I once saw that performance of Chopin's first etude. I think I once read that Plante, born in the 1830s had attended recitals given by Chopin! Yet he lived long enough to be filmed. I believe I have the Plante recording in a CD from The Art of Piano book.

You mention Paderewski. When I was young, I wanted to learn the Chopin Revolutionary Etude. At home I had a fragile 78 record with Paderewski playing that etude. So his playing served as the model for me back then. I think I pretty well wore out the record, but I also played the etude well. :)

[quote]Of course, I think, it´s important, that we all always try to play the correct notes, but the wholeness of the piece and the mind of the composer should be considered of a higher value.[quote]

Yes, I very much agree. We all try to be very conscientious in playing the right notes. But an overemphasis on that aspect per se will not put a piece over to an audience. It's only one component in creating a holistic rendition that will be persuasive or compelling. But I concede that in Bach there needs to be more precision. I think the reason is that Bach's polyphony and counterpoint very often yield a thin texture of sound. Given that, a lost or wrong note will stand out more so than in a thick texture such as often found in Rachmaninoff.

I had heard long ago that anecdote about Fischer but had since forgotten it. It is very funny! :lol: The two women must have been blushing and cringing at the same time! I agree with you that his genius and how he imparted that to his artistry is far more important than a wrong note or other minor fluff during a performance. You know, Michelangeli, of the old school, was probably the most meticulous pianist of our time, and a wrong note was a rarity for him. Yet, he disliked his own playing--not because of a missed note, but because he felt he hadn't attained his own overall personal standard and expectations when performing. Yet, any audience came away believing that they had never heard playing so close to perfection. Clearly, he was not fretting about a note. Rather, he was focused on his projection of the wholeness of the music for the listener. In his mind, as successful as the playing was, it could have been still better. This perspective is not dissimilar for Bach no doubt, which always requires accuracy and expressiveness too.

Thanks for your thoughts on this matter.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:52 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Quote:
In the brief period when Mr. Streuff was participating here (and his health was fragile by then), I could tell he was a great composer, musician and teacher. You were very fortunate to have studied in your young years with him. And imagine, he was a student of Kempff no less. I enjoyed his pieces that you you and Chris recorded. And you and Mr. Streuff went to an Arrau recital! Who other than Arrau could produce so many tonal colors in his playing? His teacher had been Martin Krause who also taught Edwin Fischer. Krause had studied with Liszt. So Mr. Streuff's own training was the best of the Old School. It's wonderful that you got to study with him.


Thank you for the praise of Franz-Josef Streuff! I agree to it completely. Yes, it´s wonderful I had the opportunity to study with him and he brought me truely something of the romantic tradition and pianism.

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Regarding Plante, I once saw that performance of Chopin's first etude. I think I once read that Plante, born in the 1830s had attended recitals given by Chopin! Yet he lived long enough to be filmed. I believe I have the Plante recording in a CD from The Art of Piano book.


Yes, I think, I have the same DVD, called "The Art of piano", but I have also many other material, so I don´t remember exactly, where I have seen it. I believe, Planté has won a Chopin-competition in the 1850th and when he was filmed, he really was an old man, but his playing was so alive and full of energy. It was absolutely amazing!

Quote:
You mention Paderewski. When I was young, I wanted to learn the Chopin Revolutionary Etude. At home I had a fragile 78 record with Paderewski playing that etude. So his playing served as the model for me back then. I think I pretty well wore out the record, but I also played the etude well. :)


I have heard Richter playing that etude and from there on I thought, that my playing of this piece was quite imperfect. :roll: But I have played that piece and most of all the Chopin-etudes when I was between 14 and 18 years old.

Quote:
I think the reason is that Bach's polyphony and counterpoint very often yield a thin texture of sound. Given that, a lost or wrong note will stand out more so than in a thick texture such as often found in Rachmaninoff.


Yes, I agree to that.

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Yet, he disliked his own playing--not because of a missed note, but because he felt he hadn't attained his own overall personal standard and expectations when performing.


Yes, that´s an interesting phenomenon, maybe the more perfect one tries to play the more difficult it is to reach the personal interpretation you want to build. Somehow perfection (concerning accuracy) and the freedom of soul you need to connect with the mind of that piece often seem to be an antilogy. But on the other hand, if you are well into a piece, that means if you are connected with the mind of that piece, perfection in the mentioned sense comes from itself, you nearly nothing have to do something for it. For me until today that´s still like a miracle. And indeed, it depends on the shape of the day. There are days you come better into a piece than on others. Maybe not all pianists depend so much on the "shape of the day" like Michellangeli obviously did, but I personally have to admit, I do up to a certain degree.

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This perspective is not dissimilar for Bach no doubt, which always requires accuracy and expressiveness too.


Yes, that´s right.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:49 pm 
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If I may put my oar in, I would say that getting the right notes is important, if you consider a lot of mediocre musicians hide behind that, saying that interpretation is more important than technique and therefore implying that making a muddle of it is valid as long as one can "interpret" the music. When I was still learning the piano (and, since we are all boasting of our pianistic ancestry, I believe, though I am not sure, that my teacher studied with Corot - at least she seemed to have known him.) and I was considered to be profficient enough in any one piece an error would be glossed over. Many errors would bring the piece to a stop, as it was obviously not practised enough, while the same error twice in the same piece would also be reason for concern. Would it not be the same for any one great pianist of the past? I bet the Geyer that Edwin Fischer never dropped the same notes when playing the same piece again.

Some months ago I listened to the same Bortkiewicz prelude (the last one you recorded), played by Coombs. As you say, all the right notes, but to my ears it could have been a MIDI file for all the expressiveness he imparted to it.

I was reading the other day that some teachers do not allow their students to play music in the first years, but only playing exercises and, that in the end, when they are given the real stuff, they play it just as they would have played their excercises.

Was it not Artur Rubinstein who said that one could write a sonata with the notes he dropped?

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:51 pm 
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Hi David,

Beautiful pacing, outline, dynamics, tone and character. Just lovely.

Thank you,
Kaila

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:41 pm 
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Hi Kaila,

Thanks so much for your comments! The attributes you mention are exactly what I was striving for in my playing. It pleases me that I succeeded in putting them across to you, and hopefully others too.

David

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 Post subject: Duplicate
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:54 pm 
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Last edited by Rachfan on Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:27 pm 
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Hi Richard,

I believe that every pianist has an obligation to conscientiously read and learn the correct notes. That's a prerequisite. Having said that, it dismays me that note accuracy has seemingly become the "end all" of performance these days. (Like your Coombs example.) It's why we hear so much colorless piano playing devoid of expression and character. I call that sterile brand of playing "plain vanilla". The fingers are there to play the notes, but performance has to come from the score, the intent of the composer, the characterization, and the pianist's mind, heart and soul. It what separates mechanical playing from artistry.

I would agree with you that there is a difference from an accidental clinker and a repeated error due to a misread. We all dread the latter.

You have a point there that too many finger exercises for a young student might make the transition to playing pieces difficult in terms of expression. Thinking back to my first teacher, I recall that she'd assign a Hanon exercise from Parts I and II. So it was one at a time, while I was concurrently learning pieces too. Obversely, to consign a young student only to finger exercises is the wrong approach IMO. I would think it would kill the spirit or at least cause the student to dislike the piano. One thing I believe is essential though is that all serious students over years learn ALL scales in parallel motion for four octaves ascending and descending, major and relative minor. Same with arpeggios. The teacher should be able at that point to call out any key signature whereby the pianist immediately plays the proper scale. The reason is a very practical one--there are so many pieces that have scalar passages in them; therefore, if the student already knows the scale fingerings, it can often be a real advantage and time saver.

Up until Arthur Rubinstein was in his 40s, he was a sloppy pianist. He would be the first to admit that, and actually did so in his autobiography. His wake-up call was the advent of Horowitz on the concert stage. Prudently, Rubinstein left the lime lights for a period of time where he worked feverishly on technique and getting his recital and concerto readings up to a higher standard of performance. The rest was history. So in his much later years he was a better artist than in middle age, making appearance into his late 80s and a bit beyond. Even at that he could still make mistakes, as he was human, of course. But he had a worldwide loyal audience. He was a phenomenon, always in high demand.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:20 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Richard,

(...)

Up until Arthur Rubinstein was in his 40s, he was a sloppy pianist. He would be the first to admit that, and actually did so in his autobiography. His wake-up call was the advent of Horowitz on the concert stage. Prudently, Rubinstein left the lime lights for a period of time where he worked feverishly on technique and getting his recital and concerto readings up to a higher standard of performance. The rest was history. So in his much later years he was a better artist than in middle age, making appearance into his late 80s and a bit beyond. Even at that he could still make mistakes, as he was human, of course. But he had a worldwide loyal audience. He was a phenomenon, always in high demand.

David

This incidentally provws one point: that an adult can make the transition from a passable to a great pianist. So many people say that unless one starts one's career while still in nappies there is no hope.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:47 pm 
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Hi Richard,

Yes, there have been cases where one has arrived at the piano as a late teenager instead of being a 7-year old, and have succeeded in making a performance career. The problem is that the older the person is, it gets markedly and progressively more difficult to train the hands. I've seen a few people in their mid-30s taking up piano seriously, but as high as the motivation may be and as much as they try to play artistically, there is a certain stiffness or lack of suppleness and dexterity that causes stilted playing that is readily obvious to the listener. So I agree with your premise, but recognizing those parameters too.

Rubinstein's case was different. He started piano young enough and had excellent training from Dr. Barth in Berlin, but he lacked self-discipline in his earlier touring days. He would neglect practicing and be indifferent about the errors he made on stage. Once he got down to brass tacks, he became a renowned artist.

The other very common condition that has existed over the generations is what is sometimes called "low advanced block". That is to say, there are many pianists who reach lower advanced repertoire and play it very well. But they cannot, even with the best teachers, transition into upper advanced (virtuoso) playing. The syndrome has never been well understood. There might be several different causes--a psychological block, inability to cope with the demands of denser scores, lack of desire to invest the necessary time, or whatever else may be involved. But it is a cold reality.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:48 pm 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Richard,

Yes, there have been cases where one has arrived at the piano as a late teenager instead of being a 7-year old, and have succeeded in making a performance career. The problem is that the older the person is, it gets markedly and progressively more difficult to train the hands. I've seen a few people in their mid-30s taking up piano seriously, but as high as the motivation may be and as much as they try to play artistically, there is a certain stiffness or lack of suppleness and dexterity that causes stilted playing that is readily obvious to the listener. So I agree with your premise, but recognizing those parameters too.

Rubinstein's case was different. He started piano young enough and had excellent training from Dr. Barth in Berlin, but he lacked self-discipline in his earlier touring days. He would neglect practicing and be indifferent about the errors he made on stage. Once he got down to brass tacks, he became a renowned artist.

The other very common condition that has existed over the generations is what is sometimes called "low advanced block". That is to say, there are many pianists who reach lower advanced repertoire and play it very well. But they cannot, even with the best teachers, transition into upper advanced (virtuoso) playing. The syndrome has never been well understood. There might be several different causes--a psychological block, inability to cope with the demands of denser scores, lack of desire to invest the necessary time, or whatever else may be involved. But it is a cold reality.

David

I would say it is self-confidence and mental stamina rather than suppleness. a child can walk on a tightrope because it does not realise it can fall, while an adult will be kept from trying just by the mere thought he might.

What I mean by mental stamina is the power to concentrate long enough on a piece so that no self-doubt creeps up. This is the case with me, at least: my hands never get tired and the arms hardly ever become tense, but it is the mind that falters and then I stumble. If this goes for others, I do not know.

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:33 pm 
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Hi Richard,

I would agree that total concentration while practicing, including listening to every note, goes a long way in maximizing the benefits of practicing. Once spurious thoughts start interrupting the thought process, concentration is broken. It's time to stop practicing, as little more can be accomplished. In fact, persisting in practicing will only lead to more errors and frustration. It's far more productive to wait for the next practice session when total concentration can be reestablished anew.

Self confidence is also important as you point out. That seems to be the case, for example, in watching a 10 year old prodigy play the concert etudes of Liszt--nobody told him the music was difficult!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:30 pm 
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Just to chip in that I loved your performance of this. Pacing it with concentration and bringing out the voices is no mean feat here, and filling it with deep emotion as it deserves. Simply wonderful.

On the discussion on perfection in modern pianists I agree to a large extent. The now living pianist that I enjoy most is Sokolov. He does miss a note sometimes but it never matters.


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 Post subject: Re: Scriabin Prelude, Op. 16, No. 1 in B
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:05 pm 
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Hi troglodyte,

Thanks for listening to my recording (as usual, a single take without edits). Emotional content is often a huge component of interpretation, especially if it can match the emotion that the composer felt or had in mind. Scriabin wrote a great number of preludes as you know. Whenever I've selected some of them to bring to Piano Society, I've always looked for ravishing beauty in the music. If I can empathize with the composer, then the sweep, climaxes and nuances will bring the score to life. Thanks for your nice compliments on my playing! I greatly appreciate them.

Sokolov studied at the then Lenningrad Conservatory, so undoubtedly received the heritage of the Russian Old School, I'm sure. When he plays in the grand manner, a wrong or dropped note is insignificant.

I think too of the late Claudio Arrau. When he was elderly, he did not have quite the dexterity that he possessed as a younger man. But who else could create a world of color like his? In the scheme of things, a missed note was nothing.

David

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