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#2055097 - 03/27/13 01:27 PM Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
In my final post on the earlier Nocturne thread I thanked everyone for their constructive comments and indicated that I planned to re-record the Nocturne to, hopefully, take it up a notch.

Here's the new version.
http://youtu.be/Ydvmcsl4ePg

Although not perfect by any means, the newer version is, in my opinion, more satisfying and cohesive from a musical standpoint. Some here may feel that the middle section is taken a tad too fast.....but I think it still works.

Bottom line: There's always room for improvement - and it can sometimes take awhile for a piece to settle in.
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#2055561 - 03/28/13 10:05 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Tim Adrianson Offline
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Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1060
Hi, Carey! I listened to this recording, then immediately went back to your original submission. Briefly put, I agree with your assessment that this performance is more "satisfying and cohesive". The entire narrative is presented with more conviction, and I got an improved sense of "listening to the resonances", which I think is especially important in this Nocturne. It just feels -- well, more centered, and sure of what it wants to say (or sing).

Personally, I agree with you on the speed of the middle section, and also the changeless dynamics. Though this may seem obvious, I do think that Chopin meant to evoke a hymn played on an organ, without register or volume changes. Jast as a matter of taste, I prefer this entire section softer, but only because I think that evokes in addition an element of the "remembrance of things past", and I can't honestly say that Chopin intended to project this poetic effect.

Thanks for sharing this!

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#2055656 - 03/28/13 12:15 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 731
Phil:

A very nice second effort. However, in my first comment on this piece, I referred to the concepts of harmonic tension, and elasticity.

Instead of trying to further explain what that means, I suggest listening to one of the world's greatest pianists' recording of this work.

He had an innate sense of time, but nothing he ever played was metronomic. However, he always kept your ear interested in what was to come next, in essence taking you on a musical journey.

Hey, and remember, in the final analysis, we are all supposed to be here to learn and improve.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlOR-VkYXqY

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#2055749 - 03/28/13 03:23 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Tim and Louis -

Thank you for listening and sharing your perspectives.

At least we all agree that my most recent effort is better than my first. So, if nothing else, I'm making progress. ha

How far I ultimately will be able to take my interpretation to the next level is up for grabs at this point. I'm learning a tremendous amount from this dialog (and from analyzing my own recording in relation to others), and I truly appreciate your perspectives.

As "exhibit b" I'd like to share this recording by another of the world's greatest pianists......Pollini. Note that Pollini's performance clocks in at around 5:20 compared to Arrau's at 7:18. Both performances are effective. (Mine is around 5:45.)

http://youtu.be/6rWi9oDGaxo

My dilemma with Arrau's approach (and I've listened to this recording many times in the past) is that although the harmonic tension and elasticity are present, the slowness of the interpretation bothers me. (Although I like his rendition of the middle section.) I'm somewhat literal in my approach to music making - which, perhaps, is why I've always found playing much of Chopin's music to be so challenging. I have trouble feeling the score the way Arrau seems to feel it - and for me to attempt to play it in a similar manner might only come across as awkward and artificial. He could pull it off - because he truly was a great artist. (I had the pleasure of hearing him perform towards the end of his career one Sunday afternoon in Carnegie Hall in 1970).

I personally am more in sinc with Pollini's approach to the Nocturne - which still is infinitely more nuanced than my own - but at least seems to have some forward momentum. I guess my point is that here we have two great artists - approaching the same work differently - yet each performance (IMO) is valid.

As for me - yes, I will continue to work on this piece - and strive for a bit more nuance and elasticity throughout.

Thanks guys -
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#2055986 - 03/29/13 01:22 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Still looking for more sighing, yearning, panting.

I see the melody as a series of, well, what I just said. smile
Do you not?

If not, then of course forget what I said. ha
But if you do, then maybe play around with trying to get the utterances to be more like utterances -- really shaping the phrases-within-phrases, sometimes severely shaping them, like the opening figure (perhaps not that very first time it comes in, although I would, but at least thereafter), to make them sound like the desperate pantings that they perhaps are. You do it more than in the other performance, but not nearly how I see it.

But let's not lose sight of the bigger picture. I said that the other performance was very good. This one is too. thumb
I just can't help giving my ideas when it comes to Chopin....

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#2056019 - 03/29/13 03:05 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Mark - Perhaps the disconnect here is that I tend to think of the melodic line of this Nocturne in terms of LONG multi-measure phrases - rather than exaggerated utterances within phrases. I'm trying to interpret the piece as if I were singing it. Within that context, of course, I realize there still is room for a bit more subtlety, flexibility, nuance, etc. I'll get there eventually.......Thanks !!

P.S. I'm fine with the sighing and yearning......but I'm not quite so sure about the panting !! grin


Edited by carey (03/29/13 03:06 AM)
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#2056021 - 03/29/13 03:07 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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If I were singing it, I'd absolutely sing it the way I said I'd play it -- if anything, more so, because it's not possible to do it as much on a keyboard as with the voice! Your post makes it seem like you consider singing to be ONLY long lines....

A couple of show-tune examples:

Maria (West Side Story)
Hey There (Pajama Game)

And something from other than show tunes:

Jesum von Nazareth (Bach, St. John Passion)

One more:

"My Way" sung by Sinatra; in fact, maybe just about anything Sinatra smile

O maybe most of all, look at the marked phrasing of the piece! I think you're playing it as though the phrasing were totally different, and as though many of the rests didn't exist.

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#2056138 - 03/29/13 10:24 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C

O maybe most of all, look at the marked phrasing of the piece! I think you're playing it as though the phrasing were totally different, and as though many of the rests didn't exist.


Even when Chopin notates rests in the RH, in the majority of instances the LH carries through.......

Just curious - what do you think about this performance??? smile

http://youtu.be/mxNUrtFyosc
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#2056188 - 03/29/13 11:38 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
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Much more like what I'm talking about. (Some of it seems to get a bit 'big' for my taste, but that could be a function of what youtube does to dynamics.) And notice, BTW, the l.h. does carry through 'despite' the sub-phrasing of the melody. (What you said about that doesn't at all counter what I said.)

Who is it?

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#2056205 - 03/29/13 11:57 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 731
Phil:

First, I would describe this melody as "haunting." It seems to call out to one in pain.

In my Henle score, it pretty much breaks the melody into two one measure phrases followed by a finishing two measure phrase. The left hand seems to me to be a multi-measure harmonic response, as in call and response.

Neverthess, when I play through this, my ear tells me to milk it for all it is worth.

There is an extremely bad You Tube version of this out there that does this, but what the pianist fails to do is to keep it moving through the response action of the left hand.

In short, I would play it phrase marking by phrase marking, and when in doubt, ham it up like a hungarian folk tune.

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#2056251 - 03/29/13 01:28 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Much more like what I'm talking about. (Some of it seems to get a bit 'big' for my taste, but that could be a function of what youtube does to dynamics.) And notice, BTW, the l.h. does carry through 'despite' the sub-phrasing of the melody. (What you said about that doesn't at all counter what I said.)

Who is it?


Pollini.

OK - so back to the "rests." Trying to understand. Are you saying that the RH melody line should temporarily be "silent" when a rest is indicated?. In reality, I lift my finger off the key for the rest - but sometimes the tone sustains because I'm using the pedal.


Edited by carey (03/29/13 01:50 PM)
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#2056253 - 03/29/13 01:34 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Louis Podesta]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Louis Podesta
Phil:

First, I would describe this melody as "haunting." It seems to call out to one in pain.

In my Henle score, it pretty much breaks the melody into two one measure phrases followed by a finishing two measure phrase. The left hand seems to me to be a multi-measure harmonic response, as in call and response.

Neverthess, when I play through this, my ear tells me to milk it for all it is worth.

There is an extremely bad You Tube version of this out there that does this, but what the pianist fails to do is to keep it moving through the response action of the left hand.

In short, I would play it phrase marking by phrase marking, and when in doubt, ham it up like a hungarian folk tune.


There are several bad youtube versions of this out there.... grin

Appreciate your perspective on the phrasing. Thanks.
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#2056260 - 03/29/13 01:57 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: carey
....back to the "rests." Trying to understand. Are you saying that the RH melody line should temporarily be "silent" when a rest is indicated?....

Not necessarily. Many would say "yes," and I would make sure there's at least an instant of silence, but no, not necessarily. The rests are indications that there is SOME kind of 'break,' whether it's a silence, or a falling away of the sound (which is further emphasized by the indicated phrasing), or a combination. To me, the main thing is, just what I said before: The subphrase is a "sigh." And, you know how to sigh, right? grin
I would do a 'combination': a dying away of the sound, and at least an instant of silence.

At least the sound needs to die down, as though you're out of breath. If you can do that without any silence, great. But IMO you've got to do something like that, or else you're missing the extraordinary thing about this piece and the extraordinary pains Chopin took to indicate the expressiveness. I know that you think you're doing something that corresponds to the score, but IMO if Chopin meant what you're doing, he wouldn't have indicated short phrases as he did, and he wouldn't have put in such pronounced rests.

BTW I'm hearing Pollini next month in NY, and looking forward to it greatly, especially since someone did a post last year announcing his supposed passing.

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#2056263 - 03/29/13 02:01 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 731
Phil:

Bingo! Listen to the man.

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#2056264 - 03/29/13 02:02 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Louis Podesta]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Louis Podesta
Phil:

Bingo! Listen to the man.

Thanks -- and I agreed with your post too. smile

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#2056333 - 03/29/13 04:03 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C

At least the sound needs to die down, as though you're out of breath. If you can do that without any silence, great. But IMO you've got to do something like that, or else you're missing the extraordinary thing about this piece and the extraordinary pains Chopin took to indicate the expressiveness. I know that you think you're doing something that corresponds to the score, but IMO if Chopin meant what you're doing, he wouldn't have indicated short phrases as he did, and he wouldn't have put in such pronounced rests.


Now that you put it THIS WAY - it makes sense. grin I'll give it a try...although I must admit I really really need to take a break from this Nocturne for awhile.

Enjoy Pollini !!


Edited by carey (03/29/13 04:05 PM)
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#2056364 - 03/29/13 05:04 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: carey
....I really really need to take a break from this Nocturne for awhile.

We do too. ha

Just kidding.
I can't get enough of it.

Quote:
Enjoy Pollini !!

The main thing I'm looking forward to getting from it is satisfying an intense curiosity I've had for a long time. Y'know, he has this 'reputation' in many circles, a somewhat disdainful one, and I'm dying to know how accurate it is. What I suspect is that the popular criticisms are exaggerated but fairly true. And BTW I didn't love his recording of this nocturne that you posted; it sounded to me like someone who knows what are the right things to do and is doing them impressively well, but not completely consistently, and who doesn't put forth a great overall concept of the piece and its proportions. Don't get me wrong -- I'd kill (metaphorically speaking) ha to have an ounce of his fingers and musicianship.

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#2056411 - 03/29/13 06:24 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2612
carey, great playing! I enjoyed listening to it.
This is a better performance compared to your first recording.

Here are a few thoughts:

Would you give it a try playing the grace notes in the first bar and the few bars following, ON the beat ?

The choral part is a bit fast. Would you consider a slower, darker mood, like a hymn for that part?

IMO, since there are so many possibilities, this is a nocturne that is difficult to play in a way that could please all of the listeners.

That said, your version is as good as any other version in its own terms.
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#2056477 - 03/29/13 08:24 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Hakki]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Hakki

Would you give it a try playing the grace notes in the first bar and the few bars following, ON the beat ?


Hakki - I realize that's an option, and have heard it done in some recordings. I'm just wondering.......is there some specific 19th century performance practice that would justify doing this - or do you think it is a matter of personal preference ???

Quote:
The choral part is a bit fast. Would you consider a slower, darker mood, like a hymn for that part?


I've tried it so many different ways now. Yes - I do feel it really should be a bit slower and softer. It's all a matter of control.

Quote:
IMO, since there are so many possibilities, this is a nocturne that is difficult to play in a way that could please all of the listeners.


Apparently so....... ha

Quote:
That said, your version is as good as any other version in its own terms.


I needed that. Thanks !!

In 2002, I started practicing again after having done very little playing for 25 years. I set a goal of trying to learn and record works of "medium" difficulty to the best of my ability....hoping that over time I might be able to work back up to more challenging repertoire. I've been enjoying the journey - but who would've guessed that this seemingly simple little Nocturne would be so challenging from an interpretive standpoint!!
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#2056645 - 03/30/13 02:38 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2612
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Hakki

Would you give it a try playing the grace notes in the first bar and the few bars following, ON the beat ?


Hakki - I realize that's an option, and have heard it done in some recordings. I'm just wondering.......is there some specific 19th century performance practice that would justify doing this - or do you think it is a matter of personal preference ???



No, it is not a personal preference.
In fact I used to play it like you, until I saw the clear remark on the recent Polish National Edition that says, in bars 1,5 and 6 (and analog) they should be played on the beat.

After giving it a try, I liked it much more and will definitely play it like that from now on.
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#2056763 - 03/30/13 10:00 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 731
Phil:

A request was made for a recorded 19th century version of this piece. Well, I do have some familiarity with that style of performance.

Here is Leopold Godowsky's 1928 recording, where he plays the grace notes on the beat. It is, like your recording, a very literal rendering. Also, if you listen carefully, he asynchronizes the bass note throughout.

A surprise for all you "meticulous attention to the score" folks is that measures #24 thru #40 are not played. This tells me that this piece may have been originally written with repeats and subsequently re-edited to show this section as part of the whole.

More importantly, if you listen to his other Chopin recordings, and then factor in his students and admirers, such as Busoni and Rubinstein, you may now have your answer as to how America came to embrace the block chord method of playing. The reason he played that way was that he was completely self-taught absent a few lessons as a young child. And, for all practical purposes, he was the most famous piano teacher in America in the late 19th century.

Pull up his 1913 recording of the G Minor Ballade and it is all block chords, and for those who lectured me on such, it is a piano roll recording. I guarantee you that neither Cortot or Carreno played it that way, who were both students of Chopin's teaching assistants.

Louis are you saying that all of the chords in the left hand of this Nocturne should be very softly arpeggiated? That is exactly what I am saying because that is the way those who studied with a Chopin pedigreed teacher played Chopin.

You play it in the right hand like it is phrased and in a very rhapsodic style, and then you keep it moving with a slightly/softly arpeggiated left hand. The result is a stunningly beautiful piece of music, in my opinion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op9DfxNSGdI

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#2056795 - 03/30/13 11:08 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Louis Podesta]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Louis Podesta

A surprise for all you "meticulous attention to the score" folks is that measures #24 thru #40 are not played. This tells me that this piece may have been originally written with repeats and subsequently re-edited to show this section as part of the whole.


Louis - I'll write more later today....but just wanted to comment on this statement. While it is indeed possible that Chopin might have originally written the Nocturne with repeats (the slight changes in ornamentation notwithstanding), I'm more inclined to think that the pianist "edited" the piece so his performance would fit into the restrictive time limitations of the 78 rpm recordings back then. One side of a 10" disc held no more than 3 minutes of music, and one side of a 12" disc held between 4-5 minutes. That might also account for the somewhat brisk tempo.

Back when I was an undergrad in college in the mid-1960s I was given a 78 rpm recording of the Bach B Minor Mass (RCA - Robert Shaw) which had been sitting in our school music library since the mid 1940s. I can't recall how many separate discs there were in the recording - but I remember that listening to the entire Mass was truly an interactive experience - as the discs had to be flipped every four minutes or so !! The option of purchasing a 33 rpm LP of the Mass was completely out of the question back then (I literally was a starving student) so I was grateful to get what I could get. grin
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#2057045 - 03/30/13 07:18 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 731
Phil:

As a so-called afficianado of 19th century performance practice, I have had my (major) share of exposure to early 20th century recording techniques. And yes, I know what a "78" is.

You are absolutely correct to question the time frame of this Godowsky recording. However, if you listen to the entire You Tube recordings of his other works, I find it implausible that he "jazzed them all up," in order to fit into a particular time frame.

How do I know this? I know this because my Welte-Mignon recording engineer consultant, Kenneth Caswell, has re-recorded (with accuarate tension markings on the piano) many of these rolls and the playing is true to form, regardless of the time frame.

You cannot get any longer than Paderewski's recording of the A Flat Major Ballade. And, Godowsky's recording was made in 1928, which was practically towards the end of the piano roll recording phase.

That means that when you listen to his 1913 "block chord" rendering of the G Minor Ballade, that is the way he actually played it (reading literally "from the score").

Absolutely no offense, but to suggest that he "juiced," in its entirety, his recording of your Nocturne does not hold sense. Please remember, that this may have been the very first recording of this work.

Nevertheless, it was not the way the rest of the world played Chopin in the latter half of the 19th century and also almost to the mid 20th century.

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#2057078 - 03/30/13 08:42 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Louis -

I figured you knew about 78s - I assumed you grew up with them - just as I did.

Point of clarification: Are you saying that this 1928 recording (one of several "electrical recordings" he made with English Columbia from 1928 to 1930) was from a piano roll? I can't imagine that would be the case.

The fact remains that Godowsky was forced to make cuts to many of his recordings so they would fit onto one side of a 78 rpm disc. I assume that his longer recordings from that period were divided between two sides.

I was just joking about the "motivation" for the speed of his playing - but I was somewhat surprised about the pace of his rendition. I've heard that some of Godowsky's recordings seem to get better upon repeated hearings. That certainly was my experience with this one. The first time through it left me a bit cold - but my impression changed with the second and third listenings.

By the way - thanks for referring to this work as my Nocturne. grin
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#2057163 - 03/31/13 01:30 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Hakki]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Hakki

Would you give it a try playing the grace notes in the first bar and the few bars following, ON the beat ?

Hakki - I realize that's an option, and have heard it done in some recordings. I'm just wondering.......is there some specific 19th century performance practice that would justify doing this - or do you think it is a matter of personal preference ???

No, it is not a personal preference.
In fact I used to play it like you, until I saw the clear remark on the recent Polish National Edition that says, in bars 1,5 and 6 (and analog) they should be played on the beat.
After giving it a try, I liked it much more and will definitely play it like that from now on.

Thanks for the clarification !! Very helpful !!
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#2057425 - 03/31/13 03:31 PM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: Hakki]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6357
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Hakki

The choral part is a bit fast. Would you consider a slower, darker mood, like a hymn for that part?


I definitely consider the middle section to be a hymn.

I experimented with a slightly faster tempo here due, in part, to a statement I read by James Huneker in the preface to my volume of Chopin Nocturnes (i.e., Chopin's pupil and copyist, Adolph Gutmann (1819-1882) said "the chorale.......is taken too slowly, its composer having forgotten to mark the increased tempo.")






Edited by carey (03/31/13 03:31 PM)
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#2058166 - 04/02/13 06:32 AM Re: Chopin - Nocturne Opus 37 No. 1 - REVISITED [Re: carey]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7864
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Hakki

The choral part is a bit fast. Would you consider a slower, darker mood, like a hymn for that part?


I definitely consider the middle section to be a hymn.

I experimented with a slightly faster tempo here due, in part, to a statement I read by James Huneker in the preface to my volume of Chopin Nocturnes (i.e., Chopin's pupil and copyist, Adolph Gutmann (1819-1882) said "the chorale.......is taken too slowly, its composer having forgotten to mark the increased tempo.")



I don't buy that comment from Gutmann, since Chopin had more than one opportunity to make corrections to the French edition, and it's hard to believe he wouldn't correct something that important if he had merely forgot it when he first sent it to the publisher.

Anyway, I always enjoy your playing, and this is no exception. The straightforward manner is refreshing, and a nice break from the usual kind of Chopin playing.

The only areas of improvement I'd suggest may be projections of my own concerns about my own playing - try to work on playing more at the soft end of the dynamic range, and don't be afraid of adding Luftpausen.

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