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#2022234 - 01/27/13 02:51 PM Another piano reduction to fight with
Ganddalf Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 635
Loc: Norway
I have the pleasure of being the pianist of a small local chamber choir. They do a lot of a capella work where my services are not needed, but occasionally they perform larger works actually written for choir and orchestra. Due to budget limitations, however, they can't afford to rent an orchestra, and then it is my job to take the orchestra's place. In practice this means that I have to play the piano reduction of the orchestral score.

Generally such reductions are nightmare to play. Very seldomly they are pianistic in character. Often chords extend over more than two octaves, and middle voices are sometimes very important while almost impossible to play along with all the other notes.

My approach is always to make simplifications. I try always to get an idea what is more and what is less important. To do this it is also important to know what happens in the choir, and studying such a work before performance is always a lot of work.

My last greater work with this choir was Mendelssohn's 42nd Psalm. Two of the movements of this composition are pretty difficult, but I had a relatively good feeling after the performance. Last Thursday I got a new task - Requiem by Bob Chilcott to be performed late April. Today I started looking at the score, and as always I got the feeling of having said "yes" to something beyond my capabilities.

Am I the only one struggling with this kind of tasks? Have anyone else tried playing piano reductions?

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#2022258 - 01/27/13 03:58 PM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: Ganddalf]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1267
Loc: uk south
No, certainly nothing orchestral though from time to time, just for shock value and amusement, I might skim a couple of titles from a ‘song book’ – a collection of piano arrangements of the recordings of some illustrious pop band. Exactly the same sort of compromise you describe but on a much smaller scale. The arrangers, though good musicians, were not necessarily good pianists so they had scant respect for playability. In any case, it’s not easy to make a piano sound like 3 guitars and a drum kit.

I had a listen to some of your requiem on YT – it’s going to be quite an undertaking! I’d be fascinated to hear the result. Any chance of sneaking in an mp3 player to record a few excerpts?

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#2022288 - 01/27/13 05:21 PM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: dire tonic]
Ganddalf Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 635
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: dire tonic

I had a listen to some of your requiem on YT – it’s going to be quite an undertaking! I’d be fascinated to hear the result. Any chance of sneaking in an mp3 player to record a few excerpts?




Well, I plan to purchase equipment for recording both picture and sound, and I hope to be able to make some recordings both of my solo playing and what I do with this choir and other singers. Knowing, however, that the results will be on amateur level I'll mainly record for my own use. But, of course, I'm willing to share with my friends at this forum. smile

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#2022289 - 01/27/13 05:25 PM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: Ganddalf]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2356
Loc: UK
When can I, an adult beginner, expect to be able to do this? smile

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#2022586 - 01/28/13 02:33 AM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: spanishbuddha]
Ganddalf Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 635
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: spanishbuddha
When can I, an adult beginner, expect to be able to do this? smile


It depends very much about your interest and what kind of music you are playing. Maybe it was easier for me because I started very early accompanying people singing. It is probably an advantage both to be able to sight read and play by the ear. I have actually done both from the very beginning.

Maybe I should not have posted this under the adult amateur forum. But it seems to me that most people posting under the Pianist Corner are professionals while I'm only an amateur.

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#2022602 - 01/28/13 03:11 AM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: Ganddalf]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5313
Loc: Philadelphia
Yeah, depending on who scored the redux, you could have a nightmare on your hands. Fortunately, you're not performing a redux for solo piano, but to accompany a choir. That lends you some nice cheats that you may not be afforded when the piano is the primary focal instrument (or only instrument) playing.

It is critically important to voice the chords in a way that allows the choir to find pitches, and also important to keep time rhythmically if there is no conductor. (If there is, you will still have to do this, but may not have to artificially create a rhythmic device in your playing because the choir can follow the conductor instead.)

What I typically do under such duress is to virtually ignore the redux. I use it for chord changes only, play a very limited bass, and anytime there is a piano melody (usually when no one's singing), I practice that so it's right.

It's good to keep in mind that, when accompanying a choir, playing every note is less important than playing correctly voiced notes in time.

I hope this was helpful (and readable.. it's late here). smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2022625 - 01/28/13 04:27 AM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: Ganddalf]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3599
Loc: Northern England.
You`ll fall out with a few members of the choir, that`s for sure . . . when I did this simplification sort of ting, the tenor got the short straw . . .. best o` luck, man!
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2022643 - 01/28/13 05:54 AM Re: Another piano reduction to fight with [Re: Derulux]
Ganddalf Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 635
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Yeah, depending on who scored the redux, you could have a nightmare on your hands. Fortunately, you're not performing a redux for solo piano, but to accompany a choir. That lends you some nice cheats that you may not be afforded when the piano is the primary focal instrument (or only instrument) playing.

It is critically important to voice the chords in a way that allows the choir to find pitches, and also important to keep time rhythmically if there is no conductor. (If there is, you will still have to do this, but may not have to artificially create a rhythmic device in your playing because the choir can follow the conductor instead.)

What I typically do under such duress is to virtually ignore the redux. I use it for chord changes only, play a very limited bass, and anytime there is a piano melody (usually when no one's singing), I practice that so it's right.

It's good to keep in mind that, when accompanying a choir, playing every note is less important than playing correctly voiced notes in time.

I hope this was helpful (and readable.. it's late here). smile


Thanks Derulux,

Many good points here. In my case there is a conductor, and certainly the most important thing is to help the choir finding the right pitch.

Virtually ignoring the reduced score is a good point, and I have to admit I haven't always done that. But I have experienced better musicians than me making simplifications. I'm also a singer in a choir, and on one occasion we were accompanied by a very skilled organist. This was a composition of Mozart with lots of parallel triads to be played rapidly. This was a typical example of what could be called "unplayable" and the organist skipped the second voice and played single scale passages. There were some similar issues with Mendelssonh's 42nd Psalm. I played some of the parallel triads, but had to skip about half of them.

I have spent to little time with the Chilcott Requiem to yet know where the greatest issues are. However, already in the first movement I found places where simplification can be done (even when the piano plays alone) without sacrificing much of the musical content. I think that I'll really follow the advice of ignoring the redux here and expect that this will save me a lot of time. Nice to have a choir to hide behind. smile

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