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#2038658 - 02/24/13 07:53 PM Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?)
RachelEDNC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 81
This work was just published in 2011. As of today, I cannot find any recordings of the piece. Soooo I am claiming myself as the first. :-) Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIccC02NEvE

If you look at the score (I believe the first few pages are available to browse online), the first variation is marked at about twice as fast the speed that I played. I can play it pretty fast in the practice room (not that fast though!), but in performance it is another thing entirely. I opted for slow and steady over fast/crash/burn.

Anyways, let me know what you think of the piece!!! I really really loved working on this. It is incredibly challenging, but rewarding. I have performed it twice now, once being at a studio recital and the recording I posted and the other at my recital. The audiences seemed to like it at both places- however, doubtful if someone would tell me otherwise right after performing.


Edited by RachelEDNC (02/24/13 07:59 PM)

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#2038666 - 02/24/13 08:11 PM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19797
Loc: New York
Just listened to a bit of it....

I think the first variation doesn't really work at all at that speed. (I started listening to it before reading your whole post and hadn't gotten to where you said it was half-speed, and without seeing that I immediately felt this.) I have to say that it so much 'doesn't work' that I don't think I can begin to judge or appreciate anything else about it.

About the "theme": To me there's an issue about how you play the staccato repeated notes. I wonder, did you really mean them to come out as they did? It sounds to me like a thing where the player wants the notes to sound shorter but is misjudging the piano or the acoustics. The notes sound portamento, and I wouldn't think you intended that. Although, it is in keeping with the languorous way that the 1st variation begins, but, as you said, you're not playing that variation at the speed you're aiming for. So, putting it together, I'm wondering if the way you're playing the theme is being affected by the too-slow way of what you know will follow!

With the disclaimer (sorry for another one!) that I don't know the piece (but then again hardly anyone does!), I think this piece doesn't make nearly as good an impression as the Liszt, but if you start your auditions with something as good as the Liszt, probably nothing else will matter. smile

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#2038670 - 02/24/13 08:19 PM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
RachelEDNC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 81
The notes are marked tenuto and staccato. I think portamento is... while not what I was going for, more desired than staccato. Although, I would want separation between the notes. I listened to recordings of Heidenroslein, and the pianist in most of those is actually playing staccato, while the vocalist is singing more connected. I think I was going for something in the middle.
Thank you for your comments! The piece is definitely a work in progress. I never realized how much I depend on my own ear to play music before learning this. I did not have any preconceptions of how the piece should sound, so am still trying to figure out what I want and don't want.

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#2038675 - 02/24/13 08:28 PM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19797
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: RachelEDNC
The notes are marked tenuto and staccato....

I guess you mean Liebermann marked them tenuto, which I guess counts grin .....but for what it's worth, I don't think Schubert did.

Quote:
I think portamento is... while not what I was going for, more desired than staccato. Although, I would want separation between the notes. I listened to recordings of Heidenroslein, and the pianist in most of those is actually playing staccato, while the vocalist is singing more connected.

Again for what it's worth, I'm used to singers singing those notes very separated and quite short.

Quote:
I think I was going for something in the middle.

OK -- but to me, it sounds much more un-staccato than "in the middle."

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#2038767 - 02/25/13 01:08 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13796
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Schubert didn't mark the notes tenuto, staccato, or anything. (The manuscript is available on IMSLP.)

I'm not used to singers singing the notes short:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG-B8inb9YE
http://youtu.be/kLy_35bW5H8

There's a lot of variety.

I think the theme is well-played. I do take issue with the first variation - looking at the first page online, the first variation is marked "l'istesso tempo", so that will need to be addressed in the practice room (a slower tempo for the theme may help.) Listening to the rest of the recording, there's much to admire, and I rather like that Rachel is seeking out new music and building an interpretation from scratch. The Schubert song is wonderful, and Liebermann's writing is always clever. (And Rachel, as always, is an excellent pianist - I enjoyed hearing the Liszt ballade yesterday as well.)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2038812 - 02/25/13 03:40 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: Kreisler]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19797
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
....I rather like that Rachel is seeking out new music and building an interpretation from scratch....

+1
I was going to come back on here and add that -- should have said it in the first place.

She'll certainly get kudos for it.

About the "staccato" thing:

I didn't use the best vocabulary to express what I was talking about when I said "short," because that's not exactly it, but it's hard to find a word for what I meant. I wasn't talking about the duration of the sound as much as its character.

First of all, let me post a recording (Fischer-Dieskau) that does them 'shorter,' but still not "short" per se:



And let me try to express it better.
"Pointed" maybe is closer. To me, even the Fleming and Schreier are quite "pointed" -- sharp attack and sharp cutoff before the 'space.' The notes are sort of uttered rather than sung. What Rachel is playing is about as short in duration, but not nearly as pointed. Maybe the thing is that in order to give the same impression of "pointedness" on the piano as what a singer can do, the duration has to be shorter because of the built-in diminuendo on the note as you hold it, whereas a singer can sustain the volume until the cutoff (and all these singers do sustain most of the initial volume till the cutoff).

But no matter. The main thing is that you like what Rachel is doing, and I've got to believe that your impression is indicative of what the auditioners will think.

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#2038935 - 02/25/13 09:48 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1067
Rachel, I think the piece has a chance to be a good performance vehicle. Overall, I would agree with your own assessment that this is indeed a work in progress -- the "paint smells really fresh": you're being too dutifully correct right now, and the piece IMO needs more than that to pack an appropriate "wallop". Although I would agree with faster tempi in certain variations, it's more than that: I'm not hearing a sufficient "sense of theater" and appreciation of the ironic, humorous elements in several of the variations. But, thanks for sharing this -- it's certainly off to a good start!

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#2038951 - 02/25/13 10:51 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: Tim Adrianson]
RachelEDNC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 81
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I guess you mean Liebermann marked them tenuto,


Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Schubert didn't mark the notes tenuto, staccato, or anything. (The manuscript is available on IMSLP.)


I am sorry, I should of been specific. I did mean that Liebermann marked the notes tenuto and staccato, not Schubert.


Originally Posted By: Mark_C
"Pointed" maybe is closer. To me, even the Fleming and Schreier are quite "pointed" -- sharp attack and sharp cutoff before the 'space.' The notes are sort of uttered rather than sung. What Rachel is playing is about as short in duration, but not nearly as pointed. Maybe the thing is that in order to give the same impression of "pointedness" on the piano as what a singer can do, the duration has to be shorter because of the built-in diminuendo on the note as you hold it, whereas a singer can sustain the volume until the cutoff (and all these singers do sustain most of the initial volume till the cutoff).


I get what you're saying. I even realize the discussion arising from how the theme was played. Actually, this whole dialogue between yourself and Kreisler took place in my head months ago!!! :-) I can't play shorter without it being staccato. I can't play sharper without it sounding like I am striking the keys, or forcing tone. I sat in the practice room a long time trying to figure out what to do. I am definitely open to trying new ways of doing this, but I am not sure what to do without sacrificing another aspect. I think I just went for the more portamento effect because it seemed to me to evoke more of the vocal line that I sing very theatrically in my head before starting. :-)

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
the first variation is marked "l'istesso tempo", so that will need to be addressed in the practice room

I agree! I will repost in a few years... :-) The first variation is a very evil trick on Lieberman's part!


Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
Rachel, I think the piece has a chance to be a good performance vehicle.

I think so too!! It really seems (to me) to make dissonance more acceptable/pleasurable to the average audience.

Thank you for all the comments!


Edited by RachelEDNC (02/25/13 10:56 AM)

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#2038963 - 02/25/13 11:19 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
RachelEDNC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 81
Oh, also- as for seeking out new music, etc. I read a review of the work in American Music Teacher. I was curious and also needed a 20th century piece... so I went online and looked at the first few pages posted on the publishers website. It made me laugh, and seemed interesting.

More-so than the aspect of working on a new piece, I actually just wanted to be able to, as Kreisler said, "build an interpretation from scratch." There is so much pressure to do things a certain way b/c so and so did it that way, etc. This is true ESPECIALLY for popular works, such as Beethoven Sonatas, etc. (Yes, I meant all of them) You just have to play them a certain way or it is wrong. Maybe not wrong to everyone, but wrong to anyone in a position of authority over myself (professors).

Even the discussion of how the theme would be played. That doesn't really take place with a more popular piece. Most people have heard 10 different recordings and play it as close to whomever is considered the authority on performing that composers works. There is no discussion, just do as [insert big time pianist name] did.

Honestly, I had more fun working on this piece than anything I have ever played, and I felt (and still feel) more of a sense of freedom when performing than I do with other pieces. This is in no doubt due to the fact that I know nobody knows the work and I am not being compared to anyone. I will reevaluate this freedom in a decade once the work gets performed more!


Edited by RachelEDNC (02/25/13 11:21 AM)

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#2039157 - 02/25/13 04:52 PM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19797
Loc: New York
Great replies, Rachel!

Originally Posted By: RachelEDNC
....I had more fun working on this piece than anything I have ever played, and I felt (and still feel) more of a sense of freedom when performing than I do with other pieces. This is in no doubt due to the fact that I know nobody knows the work and I am not being compared to anyone....

I've had the same experience with works that aren't intimately known by so many people and especially which were relatively unknown to me. The very most was when I learned pieces by my old teacher, Seymour Bernstein, which I had never heard at all and which I learned (at first) independently of him since it was for a surprise party for him. The other was Scriabin's 9th Sonata, which I had heard many times but had never really listened. ha
In such situations there is a sense of freedom and of discovery which I don't think is possible with works that are already known to us.

Quote:
....the discussion of how the theme would be played.... Most people have heard 10 different recordings and play it as close to whomever is considered the authority on performing that composers works....

Is that what most people do? I mostly follow whichever I like the most, regardless of whether it's by the "authority"!

I felt lucky to find that someone like Fischer-Dieskau (which was the first other recording I checked out) did it pretty close to how I like it. grin

BTW, this whole discussion, especially Kreisler's post and what it forced me to think about, has made me realize how many different forms "staccato" (or whatever we want to call this kind of thing) can take, and particularly how many different interpretations there can be of Schubert's notation on those repeated notes, which I found especially noteworthy because really it's no notation at all. ha
But in that context, the "no notation," especially the lack of either staccato or legato, is a strong clue -- but for what? It can mean such a range of things. From having thought about it, I think Liebermann's added indications of (as you say) "tenuto and staccato" are his attempt to convey his interpretation of what Schubert's "non-notation" means -- and I think I agree with it! -- but I interpret it differently than you do. I think it means holding each tone for some length, but with a sharp cutoff -- which to me matches what most singers do. (And, I favor a not-very-long duration of each note, so maybe I would have said "poco tenuto" if there is such a thing.)

I never would have thought of any of this if not for this thread. In fact, I don't think I ever noticed exactly what Schubert's indication was, although I've done the song a fair amount (including sort of singing it). ha
I just had a concept from what I had heard, especially from singers I worked with.


Edited by Mark_C (02/25/13 08:15 PM)

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#2039223 - 02/25/13 06:57 PM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: Kreisler]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19797
Loc: New York
P.S. Upon further review.... grin

(of the recordings and the score)

I went back to the recordings to check something I noticed in the score, but before talking about the score....I started hearing something besides what I described before -- something I just missed. (Sorry folks.) cursing

Two of the singers (Fleming and Fischer-Dieskau) are doing something additional: they're viewing each two notes as a mini-group and sort of slurring them. And Schreier sort of slurs all four notes. I do still have the impression of "utterance," of the notes being "pointed," but the slurring makes it more complex. I can see that what Rachel is doing tries to bring all these qualities to it. (BTW, I'm liking it fine! -- but I do think there's a good chance that what Liebermann had in mind with the "tenuto and staccato" included a sharper cutoff.)

What I went back looking for in the recordings: As I looked at the score....

edit: Please ignore rest of post. ha

....I saw that the 4th measure (on the word "Hei-den") doesn't have any 'legato' or 'slur' either! I couldn't believe that! And it's not like the piece has no such indications at all; it does. The reason I mention this is that if there's no slur or legato there (and I think hardly anybody would think of singing or playing it without a slur -- Rachel sure does slur it), maybe there isn't much at all to be made of the lack of such indications on the repeated notes.

BTW, I ought to mention that the edition I'm looking at is a Schirmer, which doesn't even mention who the editor is, so who knows how authentic this is.
Let's see what's on IMSLP....

OK, here's the deal. smile

IMSLP has a MANUSCRIPT! And, there are no slurs at all, unlike that Schirmer edition. Forget it -- if slurs are added in some places but not in that 4th measure and similar places, not only are the presences and absences inauthentic, they're not real logical.


Edited by Mark_C (02/25/13 08:18 PM)

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#2039309 - 02/25/13 09:36 PM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13796
Loc: Iowa City, IA
A couple of interesting observations:

The only articulations marked in the manuscript are in the piano part - the last few measures, particularly the slurs from the 2nd to 3rd eighth notes in the second to last measure. Lieberman marks the exact opposite - slurs from the 1st to the 2nd eighth note and from the 3rd to the 4th eighth note.

The original is a strophic song - the exact same music put to different words. To a vocalist, interpretation always begins with the meaning and the sound of the words. The choice of articulation, tone, and inflection always comes from the words, and it may be different for every singer.

And a final thought - Rachel, you are not years away from being able to handle the l'istesso tempo, it's a mental block + 4 days away. Listening to your Liszt Ballade, you absolutely 100% have the technique to play the 32nd notes at tempo. Much of the passagework in the Liszt is faster and more intricate! The mental block is twofold - the notes sound funny and there are quintuplets. But at a really basic level, the 32nd notes are nothing more than some rather comfortable and tonal Chopin-esque patterns. It sounds like you're trying to fit the RH into the LH, but the opposite would be far easier. Get the RH down first, then add the LH in. Adding something easy to something hard is better than trying to add something hard to something easy.

Do this:

Day 1 - RH alone with metronome. Start at 8th=72. Your goal is comfortable and legato. Don't worry about speed or dynamics. (It might actually help to play with a more relaxed mezzo-forte, pianissimo can be a recipe for tension.) Gradually move the tempo up. Lather, rinse, repeat. spend 45 minutes on it early in the day. Come back and do it again later.

Day 2 - Same thing, but add the LH on the downbeats of each measure.

Day 3 - Same thing, but add the LH on beats 1 and 2.

Day 4 - Add in the rest of the LH.

Four days, six hours. Step by step.

laugh
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2039381 - 02/26/13 12:38 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: Kreisler]
RachelEDNC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 81
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Is that what most people do? I mostly follow whichever I like the most, regardless of whether it's by the "authority"!


But you probably took whatever you liked from a recording, or maybe had the chance to listen to several different recordings that influenced your opinion. I think most people probably do whatever is done most widely...or what their teachers tell them. :-)

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
you are not years away from being able to handle the l'istesso tempo, it's a mental block + 4 days away.


I agree with the mental block...(maybe not the 4 days, yikes!) I actually was at first playing this in studio much faster, but every time- I would just have some huge issue and have to start from a starting place. I could never make it to the end. The recorded performance was the day after attempting unsuccessfully to perform it faster, and just having some sort of train wreck. I can play it perfectly by myself at a much much faster tempo. I just can't perform it. I opted for the slower tempo because it was a performance and well... I hadn't once played it in studio at a faster speed without issues.

I am actually not sure how to know when I can perform this at a certain tempo. This seems to have been my year of discovering that a lot of my memory issues are from losing control with the tempo and not memory. Most things I perform, I try to be able to play in the practice room a little faster. That way when I perform, I have control because I am not at top speed. However, this variation kind of eludes me. I think the difference in tempo between practice and performance is very far from what I have experienced with other pieces. I have just since been performing slowly because of auditions, and I felt that wasn't the time to be trying out new tempos.

Basically, the question after all that is- If you can play something well at one tempo in practice, how do you know you can play it well enough at that tempo in performance?

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#2039388 - 02/26/13 12:48 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19797
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: RachelEDNC
Basically, the question after all that is- If you can play something well at one tempo in practice, how do you know you can play it well enough at that tempo in performance?

By trying it. grin

Preferably in somewhat of a graded way -- first for a friend or two, maybe when they don't even know you're playing for them, like when they're just passing through. Then, when they're not passing through but staying. Then, maybe for the janitor, while he's cleaning the practice room you're in. Then maybe for four grad students that you drag in to listen. Then for a houseful of people....

Of course that's kidding. It doesn't have to be that gradual or systematic. But that's the general idea, and I imagine you know that drill -- but I'm not sure why you didn't include anything like it in what you said. It's a simple and common principle, and a good one. If you find that you can't quite do it when you advance to a certain step, it means you're not quite ready with whatever you're doing. If you keep nailing it pretty well, then you are. And it doesn't pertain only to the speed of the playing (which you're emphasizing), but to all aspects.

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#2039395 - 02/26/13 01:19 AM Re: Liebermann-Variations on a Theme of Schubert(1st recording?) [Re: RachelEDNC]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13796
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Yep. You just have to perform it a lot.

Also...record your practice. Do the practice thing I suggested, and record the whole excruciating 6 hours of it. Then go back and listen.

And here's the most important part:

Give yourself credit for the good stuff. Listen to the good stuff over and over again. (And if you do 6 hours of it, you'll eventually get some good stuff!)

Pianists have a bad habit of doing the opposite - ruminating over the bad stuff, thinking that the key to improving is constantly analyzing and fixing the bad stuff, but that's not how it works. Sports psychologists get this - you have to visualize your successes and build on them. Focus on the failures, and you're doomed.

So practice, then grab a friend and pull them into the practice room. Play it for them and really nail it. Then remember that moment. Remember what it felt like, what it sounded like. Visualize it and bring that moment back for future performances.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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