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Topic Options
#2000504 - 12/16/12 11:49 PM Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Rachmaninoff’s Prelude No. 10 in G flat is a lesser known prelude from Op. 23. The piece is a tearful one built on a sigh motif that often erases the bar lines for the listener. For these preludes most pianists try to guess Rachmaninoff’s programs. (Moisewitch once discussed with Rachmaninoff the program for Op. 32, No. 10 in Bm, so we know they exist.) For me this piece at hand is a sorrowful, parting farewell. Perhaps it is in a time of war when a young soldier is about to depart on a train headed for the front. His distraught fiancée is inconsolable. In the run up to the coda, the couple shares a too fleeting moment of splendor before the soldier boards the train. The music ends in a G flat cadence played forte suggesting a bright ray of hope. For me, this is a piece to be played from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Although it’s a short piece, it cannot be underestimated. Much of the singing melody is in the left hand. But there are intricate duets present too. So the pianist must continuously distinguish foreground from background. Also the piece requires much attention to voice leading and melodic voicing of chords which contribute to the long line. This prelude has two climaxes, or “crucial points” as Rachmaninoff called them, contrary to conventional advice given to young composers at the conservatories. Personally I don’t believe that this weakens the structure at all. In fact, Op. 23, No. 6 likewise has two climaxes and seemingly to good overall effect.

The most difficult technical challenge comes in the last quarter of the piece nearing the coda. The ecstatic rolls in the right hand are huge and difficult to execute at tempo even with forearm rotation. For anyone who would play this piece, I urge caution while practicing this particular section.

I hope you’ll enjoy hearing this piece.

LINK: http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=49184.0

Comments welcome.

David

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

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#2000576 - 12/17/12 05:53 AM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 687
Wow, Earthworks TC-20 shocked Call me jealous.

I have trouble telling what's going on, it doesn't sound coherent, and I have to try to really hard to pick out the melodic line. Try to soften those chords, they are drowning everything out!

I don't know the piece at all, so that's about all I can say.


Edited by trigalg693 (12/17/12 05:54 AM)

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#2000663 - 12/17/12 11:41 AM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi trigalg,

I'm a bit surprised by your take on the performance. When I listen, I can always hear the melodic line soaring over the accompaniment. The other thing you need to consider is that there are several duets in the piece with two interacting voices. I'm not surprised that you don't know the piece. What I often find, especially with the younger pianists, is that they believe that Rachmaninoff wrote only two preludes: Op. 3 No. 2 in C#m and Op. 23, No. 5 in Gm. Those are the two they know, play and listen to. It seems that all of the others are a black box to them. The fact is that Rachmaninoff wrote two volumes of preludes, Opp. 23 and 32! To me, the music has a fine flow to it. Probably part of the problem is that the piece is unknown to you. I think with a few listenings, it'll make far more sense.

David


Edited by RachFan (12/17/12 11:51 AM)

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#2000693 - 12/17/12 01:25 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1127
RachFan, I listened to the piece twice, and with the score in front of me -- since, like trigalg, I have never heard the piece before. And, to some extent I agree with trigalg's assessment -- although your fidelity to the score directives are by and large accurate, I'm not sufficiently getting the sense of the "singing line", which in this case SHOULD just predominate, IMO. To be more precise, I hear this piece as a male-female duet (just as you indicate in your program notes), and the gestures and phrasing are in my mind far more gentle than what you are projecting in this performance. I'm not persuaded that this is a miking "problem", I'm more inclined to say that you need to make yourself "both singers", so to speak, and then fit in that admitted exxtensive and elegant accompaniment in the background. I agree with your allusion to No 6 (and I will add NO 4 as well) -- they all IMO should be approached the same way.

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#2000705 - 12/17/12 01:56 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: Tim Adrianson]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi Tim,

Thanks for your comments and perspective. I'm not a stranger to this piece. My first recording was an analog recording from 1989, so I've lived with this piece twice. I've never referred to miking here, only saying which mics I use for all my recordings. Insofar as gentleness is concerned, I do fear that the recording input level might have been a bit high. But listening to the recording just now, I can follow the legato vocal lines very well. The dynamics and shadings are well contrasted within the prescribed limits, and I believe there are some very nice nuances present as well. Most of all, given the nature of the piece and its repetitive motif, I paid special attention to voice leading and the melodic element of voicing in chords. So it seems that our views on the performance are very different indeed. If it turns out that most of the listeners are unhappy with the piece (even though they've not heard it previously), then I'll see if I can remove the post, as I don't feel the necessity of doing another recording.

Thanks again for your comments.

David


Edited by RachFan (12/17/12 01:59 PM)

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#2000708 - 12/17/12 02:10 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19646
Loc: New York City
I have heard this piece countless times. I think the balance between the parts needs improvement. For example, in the opening 5-6 measures the melody is clearly in the tenor but on the recording the right hand chords are not soft enough. Those chords probably also need to be voiced better to bring out the secondary melody in the lowest note in each chord but keeping the chord soft enough so it doesn't overpower the tenor melody.

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#2000723 - 12/17/12 02:38 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2779
David, sorry to say this, but I too agree with other posters.

This piece definitely needs improvement on voicing.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

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#2000724 - 12/17/12 02:42 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi pianoloverus,

I paid close attention to the tenuto bottom notes of the RH chords, as the are the only variable notes (melodic) within the chords. It's very odd that I can hear them standing out, but you can't. I don't know how to explain that. One thing about Baldwin actions is that they are not stiff, but firm nonetheless. It's harder to get quieter shades of piano. At least I find that. It's easier on the 7' and 9' models as the key levers are longer. Sorry that I can't make it better.

David

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#2000733 - 12/17/12 03:08 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19646
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: RachFan
Hi pianoloverus,

I paid close attention to the tenuto bottom notes of the RH chords, as the are the only variable notes (melodic) within the chords. It's very odd that I can hear them standing out, but you can't. I don't know how to explain that. One thing about Baldwin actions is that they are not stiff, but firm nonetheless. It's harder to get quieter shades of piano. At least I find that. It's easier on the 7' and 9' models as the key levers are longer. Sorry that I can't make it better.

David

I probably didn't phrase my critique clearly. I can certainly hear the bottom note in each right hand chord clearly. What I meant was that the chords are too loud and that this means that the non melodic notes in the right hand chords need to be much softer and the melodic notes in the right hand chords probably softer also but still louder than the rest of the chords.

Is your difficulty playing softly on your piano a question of playing ghost notes(ones that don't sound at all) when you try to play softly?

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#2000735 - 12/17/12 03:14 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19875
Loc: New York
RachFan: I agree with you that it's hard to understand that people are complaining about not being able to hear the melodic line.

But only if we take it totally literally and only literally. smile

I have no trouble hearing the line -- actually lines. But for most of the piece, stuff gets in the way of my ears hearing it and my brain integrating it; there's too much interference. (It's somewhat less of a problem toward the end, maybe because you're doing it a little differently, or maybe because I've gotten used to what you're doing.)

The main thing to me is that the chords are too forceful, too plodding, and so even though I can hear the melodic lines, it's like there's this other stuff in the background that occupies too much of my ears and brain. It's as though those chords are marked pesante. Are they?? I wouldn't think so. Also there's an agitated feel to the whole thing (less so toward the end), related to the "pesante" but I think going beyond it somehow -- that adds to the issue.

(I looked at the score. Yes, each chord has an accent, but notice those hairpins. There can be all kinds of debates about what those mean, but I think it's pretty straightforward to say that they weigh against a pesante-type approach where all the chords get such significant weight.)

So -- I agree with the gist of the other comments although I'm qualifying it a bit. I have no trouble hearing the melodic lines, but stuff gets in the way of feeling like I'm hearing them.


edit: I see that while I was posting, Plover was posting sort of similarly.


Edited by Mark_C (12/17/12 03:18 PM)

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#2000823 - 12/17/12 06:36 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: pianoloverus]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi pianoloverus,

Yes, I abhor ghost notes. Coupled with that is the fact that when I record, I do full takes only, deleting those with errors including ghost notes. The reason for full takes is that they are for real (I'm old school). I disagree with all editing with the possible exception of eliminating page turns. So my recording sessions are long and grueling to be sure. The good news is that what the listener hears is the real thing, not digital reconstructions.

Quote:
What I meant was that the chords are too loud and that this means that the non melodic notes in the right hand chords need to be much softer and the melodic notes in the right hand chords probably softer also but still louder than the rest of the chords.


Ideally, I agree with that.

David

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#2000828 - 12/17/12 06:47 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: Mark_C]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi Mark,

I understand where you're coming from. At least you can hear the melodic line. I was beginning to think it was my imagination. I'm not sure I'd agree that the chords are plodding, but we need to understand that they're not light hearted either. After all, the mood is heavy as in a lament. Maybe that's where the disconnect is occurring.

I tried to perform to the small hairpin markings, where the rise and fall is over only five chords at times.

David

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#2000830 - 12/17/12 06:48 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi Hakki,

Thanks for chiming in.

David

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#2000831 - 12/17/12 06:52 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
To Everyone above:

I've heard the negatives, but evidently there was nothing to praise either. I believe I'll be deleting this post as my aim is not to displease my audience. I might do a replacement recording. Haven't decided yet. Thanks again for all your input.

David

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#2000832 - 12/17/12 06:56 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19875
Loc: New York
RachFan,
Please don't take it that "there was nothing to praise." People wouldn't have listened as they did and taken the time to comment as they did if they didn't feel your performance was worthy. What we're doing is criticizing your playing at a high level. Isn't that what you want? smile

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#2000839 - 12/17/12 07:05 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi Mark,

When you put it that way, I do get it now and appreciate the feedback. So yes, I wouldn't expect any less. Thanks for the clarification. Given that, I might well undertake another, hopefully improved, rendition.

David :-)

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#2000841 - 12/17/12 07:08 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19875
Loc: New York
....and I know where you were coming from. I had lessons where the teacher would jump right in with criticisms, and pretty soon I'd be like, was there anything I did right? shocked

And sometimes there wasn't. ha
But usually it was just that he was trying to take me to the next level.

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#2000847 - 12/17/12 07:19 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 in G flat [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi Mark,

That sounds familiar. My second teacher was a perfectionist to say the least. He was very demanding, but I learned a great deal from him over the years.

David


Edited by RachFan (12/17/12 07:20 PM)

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#2009695 - 01/05/13 08:35 PM Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23, No. 10 NEW RECORDING [Re: RachFan]
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1347
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Hi,

In response to the critiques above, I've made a new recording better distinguishing foreground from background for better clarity of line. LINK:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=49184.msg535413#msg535413

Simply click on the second (lower) music file to hear it. Thanks.

David

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