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#1993556 - 12/02/12 08:32 AM Good Enough for College Pre-screening?
arpan70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 102
Loc: Mumbai, India

I am applying to the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University for piano performance. The pre-screening requirements are a sonata-allegro movement from a classical sonata and a romantic work.

I have given a recording of Beethoven's Tempest Sonata( 1st Mov) and Schubert's Impromptu Op.142 No.3. I don't know what standard of playing is required at the pre-screening level, so could you listen to my recordings of the works and tell me whether they're good enough to pass me at pre-screening. I am asking this because I have a lot of college application work, so I don't want to invest too much time into the final audition if I most probably won't pass the pre-sccreening.



Edited by arpan70 (12/02/12 10:58 AM)
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.7, Op.10 No.3
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor
Scriabin: Prelude, Op.11 No.11

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#1993613 - 12/02/12 10:59 AM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: arpan70]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 787
Loc: South Carolina
I can't vouch for what the faculty at Northwestern might think - but there are some really nice things in these recordings.

If you were my student, I would offer this advice (...and please run this by your teacher if you get the urge to follow it): Before recording these again, practice the more demanding passages for mastery at a slightly faster speed - maybe with a metronome. Concentrate on releasing the tension in your forearms as you practice.

This does not mean that you will perform at the faster speed for recording: The purpose is to make some of these passages sound more confident and/or relaxed while playing at your preferred tempo.

Enjoy the work!

Edited by Gerard12 (12/02/12 11:02 AM)
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

#1993630 - 12/02/12 12:07 PM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: Gerard12]
arpan70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 102
Loc: Mumbai, India
Thanks for listening, any specific places where I should do that? I'm guessing the tremolos in the development section.

Also, do you think it pass pre-screening(not the final audition)?

And does anyone know what kind of evaluation takes place in pre-screening? Is it just to see that the person can play to a level so as to not waste time listening to someone who can't play, or are they evaluated as done in the final audition?
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.7, Op.10 No.3
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor
Scriabin: Prelude, Op.11 No.11

#1993641 - 12/02/12 12:55 PM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: arpan70]
BruceD Online   content

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 19643
Loc: Victoria, BC
I don't know what the requirements are for pre-screening at Northwestern, but I think, in general, that this quite acceptable playing. What I did notice in the first movement of the Beethoven is a slight change in tempo when the writing changes from eighth-notes to eighth-note triplets and back again (meas. 20 to 21; 41 to 42, for example). It might be a good idea to check these with your metronome to make sure that you have a strong sense of the beat whatever the writing. Although the changes in tempo aren't significant, they are enough to be noticeable.

For my taste, the Schubert Impromptu is too slow. It is, after all, written in "cut" time, so it should feel, I believe, more like two-in-a-bar rather than four. Your tempo makes it sound just a little heavy and ponderous; it doesn't move forward enough.

Variation I is quite sensitively played but would be even better if the tempo were increased to match the suggested increase in the Thema. Please note that it starts pp. Check measure 25 for a wrong note, according to my scores. In the second group in the right hand, the last sixteenth note is a C; you play a D, I think. You play it again in the repeat.

Variation II : You speed up the tempo considerably at measure 45 and then return to tempo at measure 49. That needs to be corrected.

Variation III : Again, because of the tempo, a little ponderous, change of mood to the minor notwithstanding. In a couple of instances - last note of the right hand in measure 71 the sixteenth-note, for example, is played as though it were an eighth-note. I think it's critical in this variation to be very clear in your distinction between eighth-notes and sixteenth-notes.

Variation IV : You need to tidy up considerably measures 89, 90, 91. The note on beat 3 of measure 95 is an Eb; I think I heard a Db.

Variation V : In some way, this may be more challenging than some of the other variations; the problem being that every single note in these scale passages needs to sound as though it were a part of a seamless string of notes - the old-fashioned "string of pearls" analogy applies here. Some of the notes don't sound and some are a little louder than they should be. Be extremely careful with the use of pedal in this variation; none of the scale passages should be blurred. A very steady tempo - except for rubato at cadences will keep your listener aware of the syncopation of the left hand; don't lose sight of that rhythmic feature.

For my taste your Lento coda is too slow; but that's a choice that you have to make. Whatever, make sure that the half-note tied to the following eighth-note in measure 126 is held for its full value.

Throughout this piece, there is no indication of a change of tempo from one variation to the next. I think that that means that you have to decide on your original tempo at the outset and make sure that each variation is played at the same tempo as the Thema which, I remind you, is in cut time.

Overall, I think this is quite good playing for someone at the high school (I'm guessing) level. Whether or not it is up to the standards of a piano performance audition might be open to question. I think that you need to work on refining some of the details as I suggest. Remember, also, that all of the above is just one person's opinion to be considered to whatever degree you think it's worth.

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#1994051 - 12/03/12 09:54 AM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: BruceD]
arpan70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 102
Loc: Mumbai, India
Thank you for the taking the time to give such a detailed feedback for the Schubert Impromptu(that too with the score in hand). I'll consider all of them.

For the fifth variation, I wanted to give a Viennese rhythm to it by holding the first not of each beat a bit longer( as recommended to me at a masterclass). Is that not coming out?

Also, I'm planning on playing this program for the final audition:

Bach: Prelude and Fugue no.4 in C# minor
Beethoven: First mvt. of tempest
Schubert: Impromptu, Op.142 No.3
Debussy: Prelude no.2, Book I, "Voiles"

Is this programme fine or should I choose something more challenging for the impressionist/ contemporary piece?

Edited by arpan70 (12/03/12 09:55 AM)
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.7, Op.10 No.3
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor
Scriabin: Prelude, Op.11 No.11

#1994086 - 12/03/12 11:18 AM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: arpan70]
BruceD Online   content

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 19643
Loc: Victoria, BC
arpan :

Not knowing the details of the programme nor the specific requirements for the screening audition, I do believe that your final audition programme is fine for what I presume is an undergraduate admission.

The key is not necessarily how challenging a work is but, rather, how well and how convincingly you can play it.

I wish you good results in your audition(s).

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#1994133 - 12/03/12 12:40 PM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: arpan70]
pianoanne Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 650
Loc: Pacific NW
The main issues I see have to do with tempo. The slow tempos you are taking are making the playing sound static. In general your playing just needs more flow. I think if you practice slow to fast with metronome along with quick groups (ex. put the metronome on a faster tempo than you plan to play the piece and practice just one beat at a time trying to beat the next tick of the metronome) that will solve some of the issues. The metronome practice will also fix the tempo fluxuations as well. Also in general the closer you can stay to the key while playing the more control you will have. I personally wouldn't submit these videos for college. Do you have time to work on the pieces a little more and rerecord?

#1994843 - 12/05/12 02:13 AM Re: Good Enough for Pre-screening? [Re: pianoanne]
arpan70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 102
Loc: Mumbai, India
The submission deadline for the pre-screening has already elapsed, as it was the 1st of Dec. I will however continue refining the pieces for my final audition( if I pass pre-screening). I don't know if I should increase the tempo of the Schubert because in the two master-classes that I've had, none of the pianists had problems with my tempo choice for the Schubert. I actually like the slow tempo, so that makes the decision tricky( for performances with around my tempo, see Uchida and Arrau. They do play it better than me, of course). As for the other comments on my Schubert deliberately made by BruceD, I will use them in my playing. Thanks for taking the time to listen.

And yes, I am applying for an undergraduate degree. Even if I don't get in, I'm not too worried as I am applying to other universities( not for music though), and I might do a double once I am there.
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.7, Op.10 No.3
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor
Scriabin: Prelude, Op.11 No.11


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