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#2054092 - 03/25/13 03:51 PM My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I submitted Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 in the last ABF Recital, #29.

Following discussion on an unrelated thread, dire tonic has generously offered to post some criticism of my performance and I have bravely/foolishly agreed to accept it publically.

There are many on these forums that have a high regard for dire tonic's opinion and, despite some friction between us in the past, I am one of those. I felt it was too good an offer either to pass up or to squander solely on myself.

My hope is that this thread will serve to throw light on how we all might better learn our pieces, listen to and improve on our performances and increase our general musicianship.

I have as yet no clue as to what dire tonic intends other than to point out flaws in my performance. I wait in both apprehension and excitement.

As background I am a software developer with a long history of amateur interest in music, the guitar and the piano. I have a penchant for the mainstream tonal repertoire from Bach to Brahms and rock music from the fifties, through The Beatles, whose music I grew up to, and up to the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol of the present day.

Over to you, dire tonic.

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#2054099 - 03/25/13 04:03 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3684
Loc: Maine
Richard, this is generous and brave of you to offer yourself up for critique. And generous of dire tonic also to offer it. (I'm reminded of the scene in C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Aslan rips Eustace's dragon skin off him, layer by layer. Let's hope the process is less painful but equally glorious in results for you.)

Here is a link to the ABF recital page for your performance of the Grieg Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4. And here is a score (p. 14 in the score).
Elie Wiesel, 1928-2016.

#2054107 - 03/25/13 04:32 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2864
Loc: uk south
Lol! well please don't forget that on piano I am no more than an ex-pop plonker who's also struggling against all odds to knock himself into better shape.


So, there are a few things going on but where it’s just a matter of a wrong note it’s laid out as note as written followed by the note you've played (bracketed). Quite a few are harmonious so are less of a problem but I’ve listed them all anyway….those that I’ve noticed.

Bar 6: LH, 1st written note is B, you’re playing (A)
10: LH 1st note C (Ab)
13: Missing last RH melody note, F#. It’s a tricky one, having the 2 against 3 in one hand and that particular note being so close to the same note in the triplet accompaniment.
14: LH 1st interval G,Eb (A nat, Eb)
15: timing is off-track by the end of the bar. In the LH, the first triplet in each beat is absent either through a rest or tie. Perhaps playing the ‘absent’ quaver triplets would make an effective preparatory practice loop?
16: LH chord throughout is B,F,A – one of yours slips to B,E,A. (nice trill, I need to work on mine!)
21,22: 2nd LH quad. starts on F# (G#)
24: LH second quad. finishes on B (A)
44: LH 1st note F (Db)
47: similar problem to 13, final melody note. Not missing here but uneasily placed.
51: RH first two notes here, stem down, should both be Eb, you’ve not observed the accidental which applies to the second of those.
53: lower 3 notes of the second chord (rolled) should be a semitone lower.
59: LH, 1st note Ab (A nat).

That’s it for notes. Significantly, many of the errors in your Consolation 3 were also LH and mostly the pedal notes at the beginning of bars - so that's a trend, something you can easily alert yourself to.

There’s some sustain pedal smudging in the transition between 11 and 12 and in 12 where the harmony moves to the m7b5 on beat 3. Several other spots through the piece but they shouldn’t need listing.

I don’t hear enough dynamic range but then I don’t know how you’re recording the piano. Is it possible there’s some audio compression going on? If the recording is faithful then I think you need to drastically widen the gap between pp and ff. If you haven’t already done so, check to see if there’s an alternative velocity curve response on the piano which will give you the wider range. When practising, I try to resist the temptation to make it too easy to get the pianissimo but for performance it’s worth switching to the more flattering setting.

If you iron out some of those issues it should take shape quickly!

#2054185 - 03/25/13 07:05 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
First off, thanks a bunch for all the errors and going to the trouble of pointing out what they should have been. I've been through all of them and have made notes in the score where I think it's pertinent.

I'm glad that many of them were the result of snatching in an attempt not to slow down the piece which is still only recently learned.

I am not enamoured of my Consolation and know why much of it is flawed but thanks, again, for going to the trouble of digging them out. Yes, I might as well have been improvising the LH for all the accuracy I brought. I've set this piece up for a good review and intend to post an improvement in a piano bar after the Mendelssohn recital. I've picked out many errors myself from the recording so won't trouble you further on that front.

I'll go over the pedalling more closely too.

I'm not sure how much I can work on the dynamic range. I've tried all the touch settings and when it's on light it gets a feel like on old, light upright but doesn't get the pianissimo range and on the heaviest touch it won't make fortissimo so I keep it around normal though I have tried changing it to different levels for extra practise as you say, to make it harder to play soft.

I've done no deliberate compression.

When I record directly onto the USB stick I can barely hear the recording but if I go through Audacity it comes out louder. I think it may be too loud 'cause I think I heard distortion in the Consolation where I made the climax.

For anyone else following, I'm using a Kawai CA95. If anyone knows how this or a CA65 can widen the dynamic range I'd be grateful for further advice.

I like your comment on the trill! I'm of a contrary opinion. I'm working on slowing down at the end after hearing Alicia de Larrocha's performance of this piece.

Also I made a note with my submission that I was having to count the notes in RH going into triplets just before the trills (M15 & 18). I'm playing these much smoother now without counting so can go back to concentrating on the LH timing here.

As luck would have it, I'm still having trouble memorising the chromatic descent in the coda so revisiting the exact notes will be easy enough.

I have a wide back and a thick skin so feel free to wade in if anyone else wants to add anything negative - not to be negative but while I'm fixing problems I might as well know what they all are and I'm discounting any flattery as I don't need to work on any remaining good bits smile

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
If you iron out some of those issues it should take shape quickly!

I don't know how quickly it will take shape! I know how long it took me to get this far.

Thanks again for your input - it's helpful and I know it is well meant. I'm grateful and yet again impressed with your ear.

#2054386 - 03/26/13 04:23 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2864
Loc: uk south
…I’ve had a look at the online pdf for your piano. I’m sure you’ll have checked all these things out but briefly here’s what I picked up…(the page numbers may or may not correspond…)

touch curve (p77) – there’s a user 1/user 2 setting which might be worth fiddling with. Also, even though ‘heavy’ might need keybreaking force to get the fffs, it could perhaps be a setting more suiting the Notturno giving you easier pps with a small sacrifice at the ff end.

Voicing (79). …I may have got the wrong end of the stick here, ‘voicing’ isn’t the word I’d have used to describe the effect, but if it does what it says, I’d be tempted by ‘dynamic’ , helping to mellow the pps while the forte, being brighter, gives the impression of fortissimo . It would depend on the tonal curve.

Minimum touch (88) - this could be worth a tweak. Try the extreme and middle values to see what this does. I’d imagine at the over-sensitive end it would be like 0-60 with barely a millimetre of throttle travel but somewhere in the middle it could make pps easier while also making it trickier to keep notes from occasionally poking out.

It’s all pure guesswork and perhaps you’ve already done all this?

#2054402 - 03/26/13 05:52 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
It’s all pure guesswork and perhaps you’ve already done all this?

I spent a lot of time messing and investigating during the first week or two but I've settled for what is a comfortable sound and happy medium and am trying to focus on my playing technique rather than pleasant sounding results but you've hit on something I have only briefly considered and that is suiting the settings to the piece for a recording.

I'll look further at these things in a week or two when I start on the Mendelssohn. (The recording, not the learning).

Thanks for your investigation work on my behalf. I am doing all the receiving here and am a little embarrassed.

This may look like I've come in for a bit of a pasting but it isn't what it might seem at first. There's a lot going on here. For those with teachers this thread may simply be an excuse to listen to my playing and laugh at all my wrong notes - enjoy, you're welcome smile

For those that are self learning/teaching there are some valuable lessons to be learned here that I intend to cover through the thread.

I am not self taught, though I was for the first few years. I had lessons for about seven or eight years but they ceased in the mid eighties when I moved away with a company relocation. My playing has not come under scrutiny by a qualified third ear since.

One of the things that brought this criticism about - I'm not being picked on here - is that I've been listing my learning method and my recordings do not appear to be the natural result of that method and dire tonic was thus presented with something of a dichotomy.

I was 'quite good' when I stopped taking lessons but my learning rate reduced somewhat and in 1995 I decided that my personality, rather obsessive, was not geared to both fatherhood and piano and one had to go. It was an easy choice. Now that my boys are 18 and 16 I have been back at the piano for something over a year. Many of you may be in a similar position in returning after a long absence and some of you may be going it alone. This thread will, it is hoped, offer some worthwhile advice and/or cautions.

Let's begin with the advice of getting a third ear. I've been blessed here with two sources, dire tonic and Gary D., and the advice is solid. Many of the notes listed above, and elsewhere, I can hear myself, some of which I already knew about and some I didn't. But there are also some howlers that I had simply overlooked. Most importantly, there are some that I couldn't even hear on one or two listens even while following the score. I have been quite taken aback.

I'm now not sure that I've found all the errors in my Consolation and will present a list in the near future to check so if either of you, dire tonic and Gary D., have kept a note, please keep it to hand for a week or two.

But let's learn from this. Getting a qualified third ear is an excellent policy. Many of us are nervous about presenting our week's work to our teachers but this is self-defeating. Our teachers know whether we're good or bad not from one hearing and they're not looking for flaws to point them out but to fix them. The worse our playing and the more our mistakes in front of our teachers, the more we can get fixed up.

Submitting a recording to a willing and qualified (or even just honest) volunteer is sound advice.

Lesson number one, then, get a third ear.

More to follow...

#2054520 - 03/26/13 11:38 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 5104
Loc: South Florida
One quick point about a general setting for "touch" on many DPs. I don't know yours.

I had a Clavinova for years, and NOTHING would get it right. The problem was this:

1) The so called "light" touch was so explosive that I could not control it. It was totally unreal. Potentially there was a range of ppp to fff, but it just did not work. NOTHING like a real piano. Made me crazy.

2) "Medium". I usually set it on that and cursed. It still was not quite controllable, and dynamic extremes got clipped.

3) "Heavy". All this did was to compress the dynamics (velocity numbers). There was no way you could get anywhere near the top (127 or 128 as I remember), so getting a really huge sound was impossible. But with that setting I could control very well ppp to around mf, if I darn near broke my fingers to get a good f. VERY unsatisfactory and horrible for the hands. This would ruin any serious piano student developing a good feel for a real piano.

Since then DPs have gotten better. Some amount of wonky adjustment still needs to take place. NONE of them play like a good grand, and I'm not talking about sound quality. But the best, IMO, are more responsive than the typical piece of fire wood that most students have to play on, unregulated, out of tune, no real una corda pedal (true of ALL uprights), and short strings that do not give the kind of full, clear bass that we are used to on great grands. And also many false beats in the treble, not fixable by any tech on this planet.

I checked through roughly one half of your recording for wrong notes, just to double check to see if I was hearing the same thing as DT. I agree about bass notes - that is where you seem to make most errors. There is NOTHING re wrong notes that could not be fixed in almost zero time. Biggest problem would be muscle memory of wrong notes. That is the very devil for me to correct. A wrong note once learned gets into my mind and my muscular memory. It means I have heard something wrong, so I have to replace both the memory of the sound and the incorrect muscular response. That is why fine pianists go to such great lengths never to learn wrong notes. They get in the mind the way a computer virus gets into our computers.

I don't think your performance or your conception is at all bad. And I won't nit-pick anything that has to do with interpretive choices.

You do have a tendency now and then to forget to change the pedal. For instance, in M12 you hold the pedal down from M11 all the way to the beginning of M13. This is not a consistent mistake. If you listen for this, it should stick out.

More important: when using so-called syncopated pedal, which I simply call legato pedal, many times you lift the pedal just a wee bit before the new note or chord or tonality takes place, and this causes a slight "burp". This will be very hard to retrain. It means listening for the EXACT moment when the new sound begins. You lift your toe at precisely this point, then redepressing is a matter of timing and sound. The pedal has to be lifted for a small amount of time to give the old sounds time to clear.

It's all feel.

The two against three is mostly done very well. Easing up on the dynamic range of the accompanying LH chords will create a much more "liquid" effect. There are two recordings online of "name" players, perhaps more, Gilels and de Larrocha. Both have impeccable timing on pedal (of course), and both subdue the accompanying chords so that they are just barely there. In general melody must be brought out strongly, especially in quiet places, bass must be prominent but less so that melody, then chords are mostly quite light and only emphasized more at stress points, where there are crescendos and a natural need to accentuate everything, for dramatic effect.

There is a whole lot more to it, but getting those three elements into balance is huge by itself.

I also think your trills are quite good. You have made an interpretive decision to start your trills on the upper auxiliary. That is rather unusual for Grieg but can be defended with the idea that the Romantics had not totally abandoned the ornamental norms of JSB, Mozart and so on. There is great controversy about how Chopin started his trills. In this case, since the little 'bird call" motive always ends on the principle note of the trill, starting on the upper auxiliary makes a very nice effect. Just make sure you are 100% consistent in carrying out your interpretive choice.

However, you are paying so much attention to the effect of the trills, again very nice, that you lose the rhythm in your LH. You can fix that by playing the trill passages with no trill counting the LH very strictly until you nail the rhythm. Then you can use as much tempo rubato there as you judge tasteful.

The "double notes" are a bear for anyone who does not have a really solid advanced technique. You struggle with them a bit. Both Larrocha and Gilels start the middle section very quickly, and that is also defensible.

But you might try an interpretive alternate that is musical and also easier to pull off. At measure 20, as the sound almost completely dies away, you can get along with a considerable "rallentando" effect, and then it is not necessary to start the next section strictly in metronomic accordance with the previous section. You can start it slower. The 16th notes do not have to be exactly double the speed of the previous 8ths. It is a new section, you can sneak into it, then do a kind of "poco a poco accelerando e crescendo building up to M 29. Sometimes you will see the word "stringendo" used to indicate the urgency and drama. Just think of the famous Chopin E Minor Prelude. The same word appears there at the point you reach the big B7b9 chord.

I have more ideas, but this is getting long, and I have to teach many students today.

Most of my students are not great players. Most do not play as well as you. There is absolutely NOTHING in the way of your eventually playing a number of things at a very high level, so please do not take my comments as destructive or know-it-all.

For the record:

Two of the most common weakness that I hear in the playing of amateur pianists is insufficient mastery of the sustain pedal and not enough contrast between melody and accompaniment. If you listen to the greatest players carefully you will continually be amazed at how much they subdue everything but the really important things, melody, counter-melody, bass line.

Oh, be sure to experiment as much as possible with your soft pedal. Find out if it is too "heavy", meaning that the change in sound is not subtle enough. I have used a Yamaha that has an adjustment from 1 to 10. 10 is absurd. The default setting is 5. MUCH too drastic, impossible to hide the fact that it is being "applied". I set it at 3. Most DPs do not have the setting. Yours will probably just clip the treble a bit and may cut the velocity numbers a wee bit. That's totally different from what a true una corda does, but the effect is not bad and quite effective. I do not get to play on very high end DPs. Some may have a separate set of samples for each note played with and without the una corda.

Helpful? I loathe destructive teaching, and I also loathe vague comments. So I have tried to be both clear and specific enough, but I'm not about to mention everything I hear. Nor would I want that kind of feedback myself.
Piano Teacher

#2054548 - 03/26/13 01:02 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Are you kidding? I could barely keep from smiling through your whole post! I'm eager to get home now and get to the piano.

The Grieg piece is quite new to me, other than up to the Piú mosso. The Consolation was one of my first pieces after starting lessons. It has been abused terribly over the years.

I think one of my main problems in both pieces is the desire to finish (the learning) as quickly as possible and fix problems later. I suspect many are the same. It takes a good deal of discipline for a self-learner to get everything right before moving on.

Most of the bass notes require a good look a beat or two beforehand and I normally practise when to look during the learning process but once the piece is familiar I get carried away with the melody and have to snatch at the bass at the last moment.

Often I will hit the wrong note and know it's wrong but not see it as a problem as I know what note it should have been. But still it keeps happening.

This is Lesson Number Two. Look BEFORE you leap. I make the same mistake with changing fingers on one note in Bach. I learn the piece with changes done at the next quaver/semiq but once I need less concentration to play I lose that precision.

So Lesson Number Three. Don't let mistakes creep in from overconfidence in the piece. Fix them before they become ingrained.

I have to go away and practise these pieces in short fragments again and get back into the habit of preparing the bass.

I dare say my pedal work has deteriorated since I've been using an old DP for so long. I do hear blurred harmony on this new machine but am not yet in the habit of correcting it, especially when I have more important concerns in the hands. I must again go back to playing without pedal and re-introduce it deliberately at specific on and off points.

I struggle with double notes a LOT, Gary. I can hear myself mentally preparing them in the recording but it may not be objective listening. I'm surprised at how well I did.

The starting note for trills was not an "interpretive decision" but an overload of Bach and an automatic and teacherless response. I usually make a firm run through without ornaments when I start a new piece but I started this one, on my own, years ago so "decision" is a bit strong. Yet another thing to walk away with.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I have more ideas...There is absolutely NOTHING in the way of your eventually playing a number of things at a very high level, so please do not take my comments as destructive...
I am overwhelmed. I sense not an iota of negativity here but professional advice at giveaway prices. I am indebted to you.

I think I should work on both these pieces with what I have here and consolidate my work so far but I am making final preparations before recording the Mendelssohn pieces so I may not respond with the alacrity that both your comments and dire tonic's deserve.

#2055490 - 03/28/13 05:54 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014

Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 1431
Loc: Italy
What a great thread! Richard, please, keep submitting your recordings to these great critics, there's a lot to learn even for beginners like myself!

As an aside, I wonder why double notes can be so hard. I struggle with them terribly and I thought it was just my problem. Usually I try to memorize the interval pattern. Oh, and I just found this: http://practisingthepiano.com/?p=625
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

#2055796 - 03/28/13 05:29 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: sinophilia
Richard, please, keep submitting your recordings...
Thanks, Diana. And in that spirit...

This is a quick and dirty recording of M1-20 of the Grieg. I'd planned to add the first page of the Liszt as well but that may have to wait for the weekend. There's just too much for me to concentrate on while I'm re-learning the piece.

It's not important that anyone listens to or comments on this but it's important for me to get it out there. I'll have a better effort later. I think I've got the notes right but the timing has suffered in places and the pedalling still isn't done. I can't hear it well either in this recording. I may try again at the weekend.

I've changed the touch setting to heavy (from normal) and the voicing to dynamic (from normal). I've increased the string and damper resonance while I'm trying to focus on my pedalling - it's not working yet as I'm still too busy getting the right notes and counting laugh

The recording has been done directly onto the USB stick but the volume is very low so I've amplified it a little in Audacity (which adds noise). I'm disappointed but it saves me moving the computer to the piano to record directly into Audacity (a weekend operation).

Following a post in the DP forum (which as yet has not been responded to) I have recorded using a variety of touch settings and they all play back differently when the piano is set to normal so the MIDI data is changed between the input at the keyboard and the output in the file. That means that it's not worth making a standard MIDI file to test the various touches so I'm restricted to using my subjective and unreliable hearing to determine what setting is best.

This is a work in progress, currently more work than progress, but there is light at the end of the tunnel smile

Grieg Notturno M1-20

#2056660 - 03/30/13 03:46 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2864
Loc: uk south
Just a quickie...

In the opening, the bass line sounds a little too frail. I hear it as a third voice lighter than the melody but with more presence than the triplet chords.

Top note bar 5 LH is E (you’ve got D). All notes good otherwise.

Timing on 15,18 huge improvement.

Pedalling still needs work but overall good progress for a couple of days!

#2056674 - 03/30/13 04:56 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
casinitaly Online   blank

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 6343
Loc: Italy
Richard, this is indeed an interesting thread - and what I see happening in the feedback from Dire Tonic and Gary D. is very much the sort of thing my teacher says during the lessons. Pointing out wrong notes I haven't noticed- correcting me on timing that I either don't understand or don't get right (not to imply you don't understand it!).

One of the things that struck me in a reply from you was this

Originally Posted By: richard
I think one of my main problems in both pieces is the desire to finish (the learning) as quickly as possible and fix problems later. I suspect many are the same. It takes a good deal of discipline for a self-learner to get everything right before moving on.

This desire to rush ahead and "finish" the first phase of getting to know the notes is common to all I believe - and yet it is something that leads us to making very small errors that come back to plague us later. It takes patience that we aren't always fully prepared to give, in our longing to actually start playing the piece! The big difference between the independent learner and those with teachers is that we've got someone to nip it in the bud before we get too far!

I've found in my latest piece, which has some very odd combinations, that looking at the piece away from the piano has been useful - I realized I'd been playing 2 notes in a 4-bar span incorrectly!

I enjoyed your piece when you performed it in the recital, I'll be very curious to hear it again after you consolidate the suggestions and corrections mentioned in this discussion.

Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard. BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90
Another thing you learn along the way is that the music will still be there when you are ready for it.There's no reason to rush.JimF

#2056959 - 03/30/13 04:22 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
...the bass line sounds a little too frail...
The bass line? I'm having difficulty with all my dynamics as I get used to the heavy touch setting. It's a bit like playing an unfamiliar piano but without the visual cue.

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Top note bar 5 LH is E (you’ve got D). All notes good otherwise.
I forgot to drop to Ab in M6. At least I'm consistent - consistently hit and miss!

The pedalling could be a while but I'm spending ten minutes each day concentrating on it - and not just in this piece but globally. Gary said I lift BEFORE a change in harmony and press ON it but I have to learn to lift ON it and press AFTER it. It's not just this piece and I don't know if it's since I returned to the piano just over year ago or if I regressed from the years on a digital. The gaps in sound, or 'burps' as Gary called them, are not familiar to me but have been common this last year. Again, I put it down to bad timing and left it to get worse instead of fixing it on the spot.

Incidentally, I've isolated the trill section a few times since the recital so it's not just a couple of days!

Cheryl, what I think the self learners can get from this is seeing that it's the same things all the time. The notes, the touch, the pedals, the dynamics and the phrasing. Every aspect of every piece has to go through the same phases and every part of the technique has to be looked at or checked each time.

As we progress the teacher can show us how to lift the wrists to roll off a phrase or when and how to use martellato action and subtle details of phrasing and touch but it's always the same thing in general terms. Once we've had sufficient training to do many of these things ourselves we still need the objectivity and the iron discipline to actually do them without a teacher.

One of my biggest weaknesses is telling myself that I can fix everything later, let's get on with something more interesting right now. For making long term progress that's probably the WORST thing to do.

Here are my latest efforts.

Grieg V3 M1-33

Liszt V2 M1-27

The Grieg is, well, better than V2 but not there yet. I've slowed down as I'm concentrating too much on the pedals. It's in two parts, M1-20 and the piu mosso, recorded separately but put together in Audacity for convenience. I can't concentrate enough to put the parts together yet so I'm keeping them separate until they're all fixed up.

I've been working on the Liszt as M1-15 and M15-27 but they both went together as I did the recording. Fluke. Unfortunately, I shifted the computer back here from the piano before I realised I hadn't brought out the melody. frown

Ah, me! I may try again tomorrow, so, or I may leave it until after Easter.

This is going to be a long drawn out process especially as I'm trying to restrict my time on these pieces while the Mendelssohn songs are still coming together. I'm also keeping my next ABF recital piece current while the memory is assimilating.


ETA: Just heard an error in the Liszt, RH, M26, Eb instead of Db. At least I'm beginning to listen to my own playing!

Edited by zrtf90 (03/30/13 05:38 PM)
Edit Reason: Heard (!) an error

#2057254 - 03/31/13 08:45 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
warlock214 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/12
Posts: 105
Loc: Tennessee
Pretty good! Continue to work at it. Don't make it a habit to go on when you're consistently making mistakes. Practice and correct them! It will rear it's ugly face long term if you don't! That's with everything, not just piano...Andy Griffin moment there! Good Luck!!

Casio Privia PX-150
Started Playing: November 2012
Completed Unit 6, Faber's Adult Piano Adventures Book 1

#2060286 - 04/06/13 10:19 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I'm not neglecting this thread but I've been away this week for an unscheduled stay with in-laws during the school's Easter holidays. I've been without a piano but not without practise. I've pored over the scores and done some mental play.

I worked on the ends of both pieces during the week and am hoping to show benefits when I try them on piano over the weekend though I have my regular technical and repertoire work to maintain first and must prepare to start recording my Mendelssohn pieces.

Before I left I had been able to play M48-54 of the Grieg from memory at the end of each practise day but not at the start of the next. This is a good sign that complete memorisation is close. This patch has been excruciating to memorise and it's so simple that I can't understand why.

#2060317 - 04/06/13 11:37 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
LarryShone Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 1250
Loc: England
Beautifully played!
If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.

My Piano Group

#2066066 - 04/17/13 03:33 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Well I got to the end of both pieces and am posting up the lastest versions, 5 in each case. The last I put up were v3 of the Grieg and v2 of the Liszt but I've been busy since with interim versions that haven't been posted but still occupy the desktop of my PC. The curséd red-dot and a 24 hour cooling off period are the reasons the interim versions haven't been posted.

So, what have we learnt? Well the 24 hour cooling off period is one thing. When I first finish a recording for an ABF recital it sounds fine to me - largely because I only listen to the melody - but a day later when the ears are fresher and more objective little flaws begin to rear their ugly heads. And the trouble with a recording is that no matter how many times you listen, they just don't go away. smile

I've had these done for a couple of days and have since finished the Mendelssohn recital pieces and these still sound reasonable. They're not perfect yet but they're reasonable. I think, considering the recording process, that I'm not going to improve them much in a short period.

The pedal is still like a new feature for me and I find myself having to concentrate very hard to get it spot on in every performance which makes these pieces, both around four minutes, very demanding. I'm not there yet.

Grieg Notturno V5

Liszt Consolation V5

The trills are better in the Notturno and I've used the soft pedal at the end of the piece to reduce them even further there. Thanks for that idea, Gary. I always resisted that trick on an upright because it felt like cheating but in a recording the end product is more important.

The double notes are a bit better but not done yet. I drop my hand on 3-5, roll onto 2-4, to 3-1 and roll back to 2-4, lifting off and dropping again onto 3-5. The third section, all black keys, is a nasty bit to get right and the final forte section is trying. I wince when I hear this four stroke sequence - I don't know how audible it is to third parties - but it's better on some days than others, regrettably not in the recording. Ah, me.

I have finally got the chromatic descent, M48-54, in memory. Nearly six months for six measures, what a palaver!

The Consolation is no consolation at the moment. While it's much better and still making progress there are some infuriating acclerandos in there that are resistant to metronome and foot banging alike as soon as the timekeeper is silent. None of the wrong notes worked their way into finger memory, or the correct notes returned in short order, which is a huge relief, and they're all intact in individual sections but for the whole piece there are many intermittent lapses that stretch the concentration ability for a recording. Each day has been twice through each section then two recordings of the piece in toto and that's it for the day. I'm finished after that and have to move on to another piece.

I have learnt more about my piano and the Virtual Technician that resides in it. This has been beneficial for my Mendelssohn (and all subsequent recordings in the future).

I can't see me doing much more with these pieces (worth recording) until after the ABF recital in mid May.

I have now to do battle with the Windows Movie Maker and create a YouTube account for the Mendelssohn recital. For a software developer I am awfully inept with technology!

#2066099 - 04/17/13 04:39 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
JimF Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 2266
Loc: south florida

I thought the Consolation was much better than your written description. I assume this is on your digital, is it not? I would love to hear it on a good acoustic where the natural decay rate, particularly on some of the upper register work, would be longer. Anyway, I thought it was a well done sensitive interpretation of one of my favorite short works.
Sonatine, No.2 Menuet - MRavel
Invention No.13 A-minor - JSBach
Consolation no.3- FLiszt

Estonia L190 #7284

#2066148 - 04/17/13 06:02 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Thank you, Jim. It sounds much better in situ where the soundboard overcomes much of the rapid delay of a digital - and you're welcome round if you're in the vicinity of the Wicklow Hills smile

When you're aiming at an ideal vision of a piece during practise, either you note where improvements need to be made and mark them out or you relax satisfied with the piece as it stands. One way leads to progress, the other to regress. My performance does not match the ideal I've got in my head (nor can it) so my own notes must perforce be critical.

I wouldn't have posted it if I didn't think it was a worthy improvement but that has to be taken as read. The purpose of the thread, really, is to pick holes, find the solution and implement it.

I still practise this, as most of my pieces, in sections and I can do the sections reasonably well but it's a struggle to play the whole piece well because of the effort of concentration - I do think I've done a good job on the whole - but there are passages where the pedal leaves a break in the legato, cancels out the sustained bass notes, or blurs the harmony of two different measures.

I know what I'm aiming for and I'm concentrating on the pedalling. It's clearer to me than it might be to a more casual listener or someone listening with a less involved agenda because I'm listening for that very thing. Hear the sound go away at 1:31, 1:36 and the following few measures, for example.

You've probably experienced yourself a passage where you play just a little bit quicker because you're not quite sure of it or it's easier to get through it using finger memory than concentrating on what the notes are. There are some tricky little passages where it's more fluid trusting to luck and playing as I've always done rather than concentrating on getting the notes just right. Listen to the left hand racing away at 3:30 to 3:40 as a more obvious timing problem. It can sound to someone else like an interpretive decision but to me it's a failure to maintain tempo/concentration.

But thanks for the kind words! smile

#2066989 - 04/19/13 09:15 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2864
Loc: uk south
The Grieg (I'm assuming you're still asking for comment!)

You’ve sorted out all the early note errors.
The 2 against 3s sound good.

There are sustain pedal probs in transitions from:-
11 to 12, also moving from beat 2 to 3 of 12 onto the A half dim.
12 to 13 is good (IIRC that wasn’t working before).
14 to 15. You should listen closely here to the open RH ‘D’ of 15 to note that there is sound underneath it from the previous bar which shouldn’t be there.
17 to 18 is good.
I won’t highlight further than this, you know what to aim for. I wonder if there are sustain exercises? I might be worth googling for that, or perhaps someone on PW has a lead?

Your 15 and 18 are reasonably solid but maybe too mechanical – there’s perhaps a danger that beats 2 and 3 come across as a dry duplet/triplet exercise. What I hear a lot is 15 and 18 starting quite slow with a fast accelerando throughout the bar so that by the time you hit 16 (19) you might be 50% faster. That makes more sense of 16,17(19,20) where the repeated LH chord risks growing monotonous without a tempo change. Check Larrocha who does this beautifully, in particular notice the drastic tempo change between end of 17 and start of 18.

After 24, 25 needs to start with a whisper.

Two wrong notes, first 2 beats of 46 – LH.

There are still several notational errors from the end of 51 through the chromatic descent to 54.

Starting at 51 there’s a repeated sequence (although the pace varies somewhat because there’s some decoration in 51, 52 which is absent in 53, 54 going instead to straight chords – hence faster descent).

Eb13, D7 (C top note both chords)
Db13, C7 (Bb top note)
B13, Bb7 (G# (Ab) top note)
A13, Ab7 (F# (Gb) top note)

Each line drops down a tone so if you were to add another 2 lines to this you'd complete a cycle back to Eb13.

I don’t know if this helps?

#2067056 - 04/19/13 11:09 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I marvel, dire tonic, that you can make the time and the effort for this, hear the faults, make a report and suggest improvements. This helps tremendously.

The pedalling is an ongoing challenge at present. The trills have moved from a let's just get to the end approach to a softening of the tail end through greater accuracy in the left hand. It's Alicia's trills that I've been trying to emulate but I've been going about it by using more notes to slow down with instead of using less notes. I just don't have the control. It's really great to have the benefit of your ear to analyse what's going on. I will definitely be working on this.

That chromatic passage is still in the hit and miss stage. Like you say it's an easy pattern to recognise but it just ain't going in at the keyboard.

The PPP in M25 was better in the original, I think - though I'm not going back to check - I think this was a once off but I'm fighting very hard to keep the double notes synchronised at this stage and other things are suffering.

All of these areas are slightly longer term fixes than the initial wrong notes so I'm just thanking you for the input lest you feel I'm neglecting it.

I'm about to start recording my ABF recital piece, Mozart's K. 397, in sections and work them up individually then, when I think I've got them passable, I'll start the final recordings in toto. I'm still going to be working on this Notturno and the Consolation in the meantime and am making salient notes in my journal but it may be a little while before I can make an updated recording (with fixes). Please excuse any tardiness.

#2067438 - 04/20/13 03:09 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2864
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
...All of these areas are slightly longer term fixes than the initial wrong notes so I'm just thanking you for the input lest you feel I'm neglecting it...

- no problem.

In fact you could clear something up for me.

In bar 16 my trill is marked 2313, does that mean repeat the group of 4, i.e. 23132313.... (weird but practiseable) or 23131313....?

#2067503 - 04/20/13 08:24 AM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 3137
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
M15 ends on 3 1 so my guess is that 2313 is just to kick start the 31 trill. I can't trill with the thumb anymore because of arthritis so my fingering for M15 is 3131... and the trill for me, beginning on the E is 4242 throughout.

I start the trill on the E, never really thought about it, as M15 ends on D so it avoids repeating a note. Gary mentioned that Romantics had started beginning trills on the principal note - after Hummel's Complete Theoretical and Practical Course, 1815 - but I go my own way.

I follow Tovey's codification of Bach's ornamentation that a) they begin on the beat (not so with later composers), b) they run from the top downwards, and c) they never repeat the preceding note.

When I was younger Bach's Invention 1, M1 beat 4, was played with Czerny's mordent. These days they advocate a trill beginning with C but that breaks Tovey's third rule. Gary might offer better insight into this stuff. And I think I've gone a little off topic smile

#2067711 - 04/20/13 05:10 PM Re: My Performance of Grieg's Notturno, Op. 54 No. 4 [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2864
Loc: uk south
- ok, thanks for that...


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