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#2003261 - 12/22/12 10:12 PM Chopin Ballade No. 2
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
This is another new piece that I learned this semester:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3c5aOxgwVk

It is going to be one of the audition materials for summer camps and festivals. Thank you for your suggestions and comments.

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#2003531 - 12/23/12 02:38 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
I think the opening page sounds extremely unsteady with abrupt tempo changes and times when it almost sounds like an extra beat was added. The basic pulse is completely lost many times. I'd suggest re-recording this piece before submitting it as an audition tape.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/23/12 02:53 PM)

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#2003591 - 12/23/12 05:44 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
I agree.

Vermonter: You have great fingers!! -- and great poise. We can see that the technical challenges don't faze you at all. But looking at the musical side of things, what Plover said is true. It seems like you are feeling that you have to 'do something' with the melodies -- but it also seems like you don't quite know what to do, and that most of the things that you 'do' don't really work. Also, I think you would benefit greatly from developing your awareness and ability with the soft end of the dynamic range. To my ear, almost every moment of this piece could benefit from being softer, and from a greater sensitivity to degrees of softness -- especially (perhaps ironically) the fast/loud parts!

But this performance is a nice achievement. You clearly have the pianistic ability to handle the most challenging repertoire, which is quite a statement. And we can't let ourselves forget how young you are, which makes the achievement all the greater. smile

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#2003656 - 12/23/12 08:23 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
Hi Pianoloverus and Marc C,

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. It will be re-recorded.

My piano teacher, in fact, told me pretty much the same thing a few weeks ago. He said more straightforward rhythm works better for the opening slow section.

I now need to go back to work on it with my metronome.


Edited by ABC Vermonter (12/23/12 08:29 PM)

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#2003670 - 12/23/12 09:05 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Yes, a 'straightforward' rhythm would be better -- but that's not the full answer either. It's not that there shouldn't be flexibility; it's that the flexibility needs to make sense!

How do we know what "makes sense"?
That's the hard part. smile

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#2003857 - 12/24/12 09:57 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1123
ABC V -- Overall, I found this presentation very impressive -- and more specifically, in a musical sense as well as a technical sense. I regard the Ballade No 2 as especially difficult to control the shape and movement from beginning to end, and I thought you projected the overall line very convincingly, and with technical assurance throughout some brutally difficult sections.
Having said that, I wasn't as totally satisfied with the "emotional arc". I believe that Chopin penned a spectacularly gripping tragic ballad -- which ends tragically. The beautiful introductory song should IMO be presented as a dreamlike reverie of a past innocence, which is suddenly and brutally interrupted by an outright violent reality of the present (for whatever reason). As the "story" develops, there is an open desire of the dreamer to return to the innocent state, but the tension of grim reality is powerful, and eventually TOO powerful to withstand. The music inexorably churns toward an outright manic triumph of violence, and the last statement of the song is for me a posthumous epilogue.
In that context, then, your introductory statement is too contrived for my taste -- it needs to have more of a nostalgic sweet-sad longing -- much more dreamlike (sognando). The violent sections were more convincing, but I think there is more opportunity here as well to shape the melodic arch to create a maximum sense of terror. Same way in "the middle" -- I need more of a sinister, foreboding sense as the "sweet-sad" aspect is gradually ripped away.
But -- great start! And thanks for sharing!

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#2004059 - 12/24/12 05:19 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
Hi Tim,

Thanks a lot for your suggestions. I like your version of the story for the ballade. It is rich, and makes musical sense. Hopefully, I will be able to demonstrate some version of emotional arc next time.

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#2005288 - 12/28/12 02:15 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
As the Second Ballade is one of my warhorses, I listened to this performance with particular interest.

Good things first: I found the Presto con Fuoco (and its recapitulation beginning in D minor) technically almost preternatural, but since you are so able, I'm not going to go easy on you laugh You are able to play it at any speed, but when something is this fast, by taking time at the right moments it becomes more effective dramatically but also seems even faster. By keeping the phrasing more pliable, particularly in the left hand (swoopy dynamically rather than ASLOUDASPOSSIBLE), and careful integration of rubato a the tops and bottoms of phrases, you can give the impression of even greater speed through a telescoping effect - a car going really fast very close to you has a Doppler effect, while a car going even faster in the distance appears to be going less fast.

Edit: The thing MarkC said about the softer side being applicable to the fast parts as well as slow is a big part of what I mean by telescoping.

I would love to know how you got the diminished 7th figuration in the second measure of the Presto so electric. That measure bogs me down a bit for some reason (probably to do with the subtle crossrhythm and syncopation) even though more difficult stuff like the coda no longer gives me much trouble. That brings me to my second point: overall I found your coda satisfying, but it could do with more telescoping/contrast for greater effect. The most egregious technical issue is that you have this awkwardness in the climactic chord-arpeggios: you "wait" for the hand repositioning. It's definitely not easy, but if you work on it as diligently and intelligently as you did the rest of the notey bits, I'm sure you can get it. That figuration is hellishly difficult, and if you can manage it masterfully, pianists who know will absolutely notice.

I won't address the Andantino or middle section now - too much to say, except that the other posters are right on: it needs to be almost metronomical in regularity. This seems counterintuitive, but it's a flowing, rocking lullaby, not an operatic aria or nocturne. Create contrast through dynamics, variety of phrasings in the repeated material, and color changes rather than big rubati. There are a couple of spots where noticeable rubati are effective, but only a couple. The rest should be very, very slight and linked mostly with harmony changes rather with than the melody.

You're off to a very good start, and I think you could play it brilliantly with just a few changes! Best of luck with it!


Edited by AldenH (12/28/12 02:18 AM)

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#2005293 - 12/28/12 02:31 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
The first theme seemed a little uneven. Also, you may want to try listening to Ivo Pogorelich's recording at the Chopin Competition. You might agree with his tempo. (I sure do..)

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#2006993 - 12/31/12 10:45 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: AldenH]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
Originally Posted By: AldenH



I would love to know how you got the diminished 7th figuration in the second measure of the Presto so electric. That measure bogs me down a bit for some reason (probably to do with the subtle crossrhythm and syncopation) even though more difficult stuff like the coda no longer gives me much trouble.


I agree, that measure is quite difficult, and it took me some time to get a handle of it. But what I found useful is to pay more attention on the notes that my thumb and index finger and bring them out, as the notes on the pinkie were the hard part. Once I got that, the pinkie slowly gets easier, and I got full control of the passage. What I like on that measure that I didn't fully execute on the video was the dramatic change in dynamic from fortissimo to around piano. Chopin even wrote down a diminuendo. I hope I answered your question.


Edited by ABC Vermonter (12/31/12 11:51 AM)

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#2006995 - 12/31/12 10:49 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: JoelW]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
The first theme seemed a little uneven. Also, you may want to try listening to Ivo Pogorelich's recording at the Chopin Competition. You might agree with his tempo. (I sure do..)


Hah! Pogo can be a genius. But at that tempo? If I play it at that tempo at a camp, I will be dead meat. smile

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#2007020 - 12/31/12 11:32 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
AldenH,

Forgot to thank you for your suggestions and perspectives.

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#2007260 - 12/31/12 10:27 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
I am very jealous of your fingers and musicality!! You are doing much better than I was when I was 14. Keep up the good work!!

A small hint which I've found to be useful - play with a steady, almost metronomic tempo to establish the basic pulse and flow of a section, and try to continue and shape the long line. Try voicing the top voice much louder over the rest of the texture, and maintain a long line, again, at a steady tempo. Once you've established the basic tempo, start adding slight nuances - change the tempo in certain sections to highlight musical details - start to use the tempo rubato.

In short - start with a strict tempo, and start to add rubato in the parts that need it. It'll help you develop a good sense of the long line. Don't forget that the pulse should stay the constant - we need to hear the rocking 6/8 time, which can have its beats stretched or shrunken, but it must remain in 6/8.

In terms of tone, try to get a good "conception" of how you want to sound in terms of textures - bright? more thick? dark? Balance the chords accordingly - bring out the top if you want to be brighter, and make things more even if you want to have a more thick sound. You need to have a good idea of how you're sounding, which requires a good idea of what you want, and constant listening to your own playing.

I didn't listen to the whole thing, but knowing how you were easily getting through the technical parts, you should be okay. Though you seem to be quite the talented musician, good luck with the rest of your studies!
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2007864 - 01/02/13 09:08 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 [Re: ABC Vermonter]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 238
Hi Kuanpiano,

Thanks a lot for your comments and suggestions.

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