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#379736 - 12/20/07 05:12 AM Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Robert Kenessy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
I am pondering how to interpret and play the first two bars of Bartók's piano sonata from 1926; direct link to image
First few bars of Bartók Sonata . In the first two bars there are eight note (group)s, I mean eight separate moments when one or more keys are hit.

For me it is a problem that six out of eight have some form of emphasis. That's too much. So I have to make a ranking. Here is a brief discussion per note(group) why I think it gets emphasis:

BAR 1
1 (g#): first note of piece, down beat, forte sign
2 (a-a#): part of crescendo slur
3 (b): peak of crescendo slur, dominant of E
(4 (b): no emphasis)

BAR 2
5 (e g# b ): down beat of measure, establishment of E major tonality
6 (b): accent
(7 (d a# b): no emphasis)
8 (b): accent

My main question is on bar 2: should the first 8th note (no 5 in list above) have more or less emphasis than the second and fourth (6&8) which have accents?

How would you overall rank the emphasis of the eight note (group)s?
I think I go for - in decreasing emphasis: 5; 3; 6&8; 1; 2; 7; 4. one goal I want to reach is a decent eastablishment of the 2/4 pulse.

Other factors to take into account and differentiate by, is the type of touch and density of a note group.

I plan to play this movement next year in an amateur competition. (in the first round which is max 5 minutes; second round: repeat piece from 1st round, 15 minutes total: I add Beethoven's 32 variations in c minor- what about that for a programme?).

PS how can I attach a picture directly to a post, not only a link to it?
_________________________
Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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#379737 - 12/20/07 05:54 AM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5279
Loc: Europe
I somehow get a feeling that you are overanalysing the 2 bars... Especially bar 1 is just a small... pattern or slur if you will to lead you at the main accent point for the following bars which is the B.

As you can see, the whole first system (don't have the score so don't know for the rest, nor I know the piece, I'm embarrased to admit), is based on those accents on the off bet, on 2 and 4.

In Eastern Europian culture and the Balkans as well (I'm Greek) it's fairly common to accent the 2nd and 4th beat in a 4/4 or 4/8, or whatever in 4!

Now on your question on No.5 if you should accent the very first E maj establishment in bar 2, my vote is that, yes, you should accent it. It is the "resolution" of the previous small pattern. And the 3 times repeatition of the B before hand in bar 1 is exactly to bring a bit more tention to the small pattern. At least that's my take to it.

Program seems good, depends on the competition of course. So other people might give better advice to that.

Nikolas

PS. in other forums (don't know if in this one it works) you can add "tags" like this: [ img ] your link to the pic [/ img ] without the spaces of course... there should be a FAQ somewhere to answer this question. \:\)
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#379738 - 12/20/07 11:02 AM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Gabe Racz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 119
Loc: Denver, Colorado, USA
I agree on the overanalysis a bit. Also I disagree that 6 out of 8 of the notes have some form of emphasis. Sure, the fact that the first note is the downbeat of the piece gives it emphasis, but to me the fact that it is the first note in a crescendo de-emphasizes it. The second beat of the first measure, at the end of the crescendo, gets some emphasis. The notes with accents should receive a different type of emphasis (articulation, volume, and color). Rhythmically, this movement (if I remember right) is all about the up-beats and syncopations.

One more thing about this movement, I remember playing this for a master class taught by Andrzej Jasinski, and he told me not to play too percussively, to think about orchestral colors. That would imply that you shouldn't get too caught up in the Bartok quote in your signature. Of course that's just one way of thinking about this piece. (Incidentally I played this piece auditioning for that master class, too, and it was the first time I ever played a Bosendorfer with the "extra" keys. Those low Bs suddenly became hard to find.)
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Schimmel 190E EP 103330

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#379739 - 12/20/07 02:21 PM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I agree with the above posters.

It seems like you're trying to micromanage a Chopinesque interpretation. Bartok's markings don't necessarily imply a classical line or phrase. In this case, it implies a very specific character. (Which, even with the markings, is pretty much impossible to capture if you're not familiar with his folk-inspired works and what the original folk music sounded like.)
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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#379740 - 12/21/07 11:59 AM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Robert Kenessy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
Thank you all for your replies. Although I am not sure what your opinions are on my main question: "should the first 8th note in bar 2 (no 5 in list above) have more or less emphasis than the second and fourth (6&8)?"

Yes, I may be overanalysing it. I discovered yesterday that Bartók added the first bar at a late phase in composing this. Not a very important bar constructively. Also, bar 2 is just a beat esthablishing intro, before any serious motivic or other material comes along.

I am thinking about orchestral colours, mostly from bar 44 onwards (bridge and 2nd theme). This sonata was in June 1926 largely a warm up for his first concerto which he finished in the autumn. But the first theme of the sonata seems mostly piano+percussion section, if speaking in orchestral terms.

I am partly Hungarian and sing some Hungarian folksongs with my children, but meter and idiom stay very hard for me.

Kreisler, just curious how you see me "trying to micromanage a Chopinesque interpretation". What's Chopinesque about my first post?
_________________________
Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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#379741 - 12/21/07 01:24 PM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18076
Loc: Victoria, BC
Robert :

Not being able to see the opening measures since the link to the score does not work, my guess is that Kreisler's reference is not that your first post was Chopinesque but that the opening figures of the Sonata are Chopinesque.

Regards,
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BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#379742 - 12/21/07 02:15 PM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Robert Kenessy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
I am very sorry that the link doesn't work.

you can probably access the via this link.

http://www.savefile.com/projects/808581612

Actually, on second thought,... overanalysing ? .... reactions show I am touching on an important aspect of interpretation...
_________________________
Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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#379743 - 12/21/07 02:41 PM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Gabe Racz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 119
Loc: Denver, Colorado, USA
I think of the first theme as low strings + timpani, just a matter of opinion. Also, I believe the opening bars are motivically related to the 1st theme.

I can't answer your question directly . . . my opinion is that the downbeat gets a different type of emphasis than the accented upbeats. I think about string bowings (down-bow on the upbeats) and timpani blows on the up-beats. You might think about which beats get the bass drum and which are piano solo without the percussion.

PS I don't think there's anything Chopinesque about either the posts in this thread or the piece. Certainly not the piece . . .
_________________________
Schimmel 190E EP 103330

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#379744 - 12/27/07 08:59 AM Re: Interpretation of bars 1 and 2 of Bartók Sonata
Robert Kenessy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
I read in a book by Somfai Laszlo hat the first note G# is important in setting up a very bartokian harmonic progression: g# e b e-flat. I can't evaluate this as I am not very expert on this.

A -for me- more interesting thing was that the right hand theme on page 2 in sixteenth is entirely divided in 3/16 measure! This makes perfect sense musically. 3/16 stresses the notes which get stress naturally, and shows for groups of sixteeenths where there is no obvious natural stress, which ones should get the stress. (e.g. the running octaves b c d c d e flat d c). The 3/16 measure carries on in itnerjections in the second theme, the development sextion, the repetition and the coda. Actually, every sixteenth note in the piece make more sense in 3/16 than in the bass 2/4 time.

Quite a discovery for me !
_________________________
Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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