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#2109933 - 06/28/13 10:09 PM Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Just feel free to talk about them. I learned them a couple years ago, but really want to come back to them sometime. Have any of you played them, or played any of them? I've also been listening to a lot of recordings lately. Who are your favorites? What do you like about these pieces? What do you not like?

I'll start with a few things. For starters, I learned all four of them. My favorite is No. 4, although I think 1 and 2 can work as a set if you don't have time/ability to program all four (like, if around 10 minutes of music is needed for a certain slot).

Recordings/live performances I've listened to: Michelangeli (multiple recordings), Rubinstein, Gilels, Zimerman, Sokolov, Kempff, Arrau, Peter Rösel, Valery Afanassiev, and Martin Canin (first two only... Third and fourth aren't on the cassette tape I have) frown

Who else do you like/recommend for the Op. 10 Ballades?

Also, how interesting is it that he wrote these pieces when he was only 21? Or maybe 20, or 22, I forget exactly... But I think it's somewhere in that range. They're very inward looking and introverted for someone so young. That only foreshadows how deep his later piano works are, right? laugh

So, what have you, Piano World? smile


Edited by Orange Soda King (06/28/13 10:11 PM)

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#2109965 - 06/28/13 11:04 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19589
Loc: New York City
Since I have listening to piano music for quite a while I am pretty familiar with most of the standard literature. But every once in a while I hear a piece I am totally unfamiliar with that I fall in love with it immediately, and I can often remember some of the details about that first hearing.

About ten years ago I heard the Op.10 Ballade No.4 for the first time in an IKIF master class with Irina Morozova teaching a young and very senastional pianist(he won the IKIF competition one year) by the name of Christopher Devine. This was an amazing experience because I found the work so incredibly beautiful.

http://www.christopherdevine.com/

A few other pieces where the first time hearing it was so overwhelming that I can still remember the experience today: Schumann Piano Sonata No.1 played by Anton Kuerti at Columbia College, Beethoven Fantasy Op. 77 played at an IKIF master class, Messiaen Regard No.10 played by a young Russian named Denys Zhdanov at a IKIF master class given by Eduard Zilberkant.

http://www.deniszhdanov.com/


Edited by pianoloverus (06/28/13 11:10 PM)

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#2109973 - 06/28/13 11:29 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Way to go, OSK!

I love the Brahms Ballades, as I love most 'early' Brahms (this must include the Op 21/1 Variations which I played). It is music which so fired my imagination as a teen, and it was around the same time I was discovering Wagner. Two antipodal composers mesmerizing me at once!

Perhaps the 4th Ballade is my favourite, yet I hope I will be forgiven for carnal associations as 17 measures after 'Tempo 1', Brahms seems about to break into 'Sunrise, Sunset' from Fiddler on the Roof.
_________________________
Jason

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#2110076 - 06/29/13 06:28 AM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7978
I heard Brendel give a performance of them late in his career that sticks with me as one of the great performances of anything by anybody I've ever heard, in decades of concert-going. There's not much to say about an experience like that, except maybe to say it transported me very very far from normal reality.

It did surprise me that it was that particular music that could be turned into such a performance, because it never had seemed all that special to me before then. It was interesting and intriguing music, for sure, but didn't seem all that "deep". And it had always seemed like when I heard people playing solo piano Brahms that I liked, it was usually later stuff. After hearing that Brendel performance, I listened to a recording of Michelangeli playing them that was pretty amazing, too, and I realized that what Brendel found in them wasn't some anomaly.

I wonder if there's any background story about how and why Brahms wrote them, or how he felt about them.

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#2110164 - 06/29/13 12:14 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: wr]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18227
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: wr
[...]
I wonder if there's any background story about how and why Brahms wrote them, or how he felt about them.


Malcolm MacDonald [1] devotes several pages to the analyses of the four Ballades but makes no mention of how Brahms felt about them nor the conditions under which he wrote them.

[1] MacDonald, Malcolm. Brahms. Oxford University Press, 1990, 2001. (Master Musicians series, edited by Stanley Sadie.)

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2110634 - 06/30/13 01:57 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Scordatura Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/12
Posts: 129
Loc: Suffolk, UK
I've come to love these pieces more and more over recent years - along with all his piano works up to (and including) the D major Hungarian Song Variations . They all in different ways convey a uninhibitedly phantastic, visionary kind of inspiration, a directness of expression and expressive means, and sensitive exploitation of piano colourings, that I feel to have become tamed in the (more polished?) works from the Handel Variations on, and increasingly obscured by rhetorical complexity. The D major Variations on an Original Theme, for me, is the culminating, most elaborate and profoundest representation of his early style, but the Ballades are equally precious as regards what they have to say.

Admittedly I get flashes of this early imaginative vision in some later works (e.g., in certain passages of the Second Concerto, especially in the 2nd and 3rd movements; in the g minor Rhapsody, and in some of the more emotive late pieces (opp 116/2 to /5, opp 117/1 and /3, opp 118/5 and /6, opp 119/1 and /4)), but never in the constantly sustained way of the early works.

Do others here share my own impressions?

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#2111361 - 07/02/13 04:59 AM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King

I'll start with a few things. For starters, I learned all four of them. My favorite is No. 4, although I think 1 and 2 can work as a set if you don't have time/ability to program all four (like, if around 10 minutes of music is needed for a certain slot).

Recordings/live performances I've listened to: Michelangeli (multiple recordings), Rubinstein, Gilels, Zimerman, Sokolov, Kempff, Arrau, Peter Rösel, Valery Afanassiev, and Martin Canin (first two only... Third and fourth aren't on the cassette tape I have) frown

Who else do you like/recommend for the Op. 10 Ballades?


I've only learned the third one and dabbled with the first, but I like all four. I would recommend Julius Katchen's and Michelangeli's recordings. I wouldn't bother with Gould or Kempff. Love Rubinstein's recording too, but you have that.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2111486 - 07/02/13 10:37 AM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I plan on avoiding Gould, but why not Kempff? Kempff was a great pianist.

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#2111539 - 07/02/13 12:03 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Just my own personal preference. By all means, listen at least to the Kempff, but I can't imagine anyone liking Gould's Brahms.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2111544 - 07/02/13 12:07 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Here is Katchen with all four.

_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2111599 - 07/02/13 01:34 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Thanks to savetube.com, I have been adding lots of music to my iTunes, including Katchens, which are fantastic. Thanks for posting.

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#2111647 - 07/02/13 03:02 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5423
For my money, Zimerman's Op.10 is best I've ever heard. His control of tone and touch between pp and ppp in No.4 is just extraordinary.

I count my lucky stars that I bought his 2-CD set (which also includes the three sonatas and Op.4 Scherzo) before he pulled the plug.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2111746 - 07/02/13 05:52 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: bennevis]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: bennevis
For my money, Zimerman's Op.10 is best I've ever heard. His control of tone and touch between pp and ppp in No.4 is just extraordinary.

I count my lucky stars that I bought his 2-CD set (which also includes the three sonatas and Op.4 Scherzo) before he pulled the plug.


Someone posted it on youtube, albeit ripped from a cassette. I still prefer Katchen.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2111753 - 07/02/13 06:13 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: St. Louis area
The poem that inspired the first Ballade.


Why does your sword so drip with blood,
Edward, Edward?
Why does your sword so drip with blood?
And why so sad walk you, O?
O, I have killed my hawk so good,
Mother, mother,
O, I have killed my hawk so good,
And I had none but he, O.

Your hawk’s blood was never so red,
Edward, Edward,
Your hawk’s blood was never so red,
My dear son I tell you, O.
O, I have killed my red horse,
Mother, mother,
O, I have killed my red horse,
That formerly was so fair and free, O.

Your horse was old, and you have got mare,
Edward, Edward,
Your horse was old, and you have got mare,
Some other dule you drive, O.
O, I have killed my father dear,
Mother, mother,
O, I have killed my father dear,
Alas, and woe is me, O.

And what kind of penance will you drive for that,
Edward, Edward?
And what kind of penance will you drive for that?
My dear son, now tell me, O.
I’ll set my feet in yonder boat,
Mother, mother,
Il set my feet in yonder boat,
And I’ll fare over the sea, O.

And what will you do with your towers and your hall,
Edward, Edward?
And what will you do with your towers and your hall,
That were so fair to see, O?
I’ll let them stand until they don’t fall,
Mother, mother,
I’ll let them stand until they don’t fall,
For here never mare must I be, O.

And when will you leave to your children and your wife,
Edward, Edward?
And when will you leave to your children and your wife,
When you walk over the sea, O?
The World’s Large, let them beg through life,
Mother, mother,
The World’s Large, let them beg through life,
For them never mare will I see, O.

And when will you leave to your own mother dear,
Edward, Edward?
And when will you leave to your own mother dear?
My dear son, now tell me, O.
The curse of heck from me shall you bear,
Mother, mother,
The curse of heck from me shall you bear,
Such advices you gave to me, O.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2111786 - 07/02/13 07:17 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
ec Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 79
Loc: Long Beach, CA
All four pieces are amazing (though I've only learned the first and last). Op.10 no.4 is one of my all time favorite pieces to perform (although I've never found a convincing interpretation of the first page of the return to Tempo I on page 5 of the piece in most editions)- following the very dark "Piu lento", it always seems much too "chipper" frown The four make a terrific set, but it will take awhile for me get on top of the many arpeggiated chords in No. 2 and the scurrying frenzy of No.3. I believe the artist who really gets to the heart of these is Gilels, whose best performances (IMHO) are the Dec. 27, 1977 Moscow videos on Youtube.


Edited by ec (07/02/13 07:46 PM)
_________________________
ec
Long Beach, CA
*********************

Chopin - Nocturne, Op.62, No. 2
Mazurka, Op. 41, No. 1 (C# minor)
Etude, Op. 25, No. 9
Polonaise, Op. 40, No. 2, C minor

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#2111805 - 07/02/13 08:01 PM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I think it's cool how people here all have different preferences for recordings of the Ballades. smile Mine is Michelangeli, but I've found mastery in all the performances you all have listed.

Another interesting set to add is Egon Petri. He may take the quickest tempos out of all the pianists named here so far.


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#2111974 - 07/03/13 03:55 AM Re: Brahms Ballades Op. 10, Discussion [Re: Orange Soda King]
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 861
Loc: Scotland
"The curse of heck from me shall you bear,"


I can see why it was done, but I can't begin to properly express how much this offends me.


John
_________________________
Vasa inania multum strepunt.

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