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Author Topic: Opus 23, No. 5 Prelude (Gm), Rachmaninov  (Read 4270 times)
gaer
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« on: November 13, 2005, 11:15:50 PM »

I recorded all the Opus 23 Preludes by Rachmaninov between 1995 and 2000. At that time, I had planned to post these files to a website, and had, in fact, started my own site. Then I was attacked by the Copyright Nazis. I was basically told:

"We don't care if you are a teacher. We don't care if you bought the music you are playing from us. We don't care if you are not charging money. We don't care if this is mainly to introduce fine music to many people who have not heard it. We only care about money. Pay us or we will sue you."

I thought, removed the files, and vowed never again to record, in fact never again to play. And from about 2000 until a couple months ago, I have only played for students in lessons. Now I'm trying to get back into full swing again.

So this and other Rachmaninov files I am uploading are as much as 10 years old. Some have parts I just did yesterday, some a month ago, some were done before year 2000. Because I'm still using the same electronic instrument, time does not matter, although often I completely start from scratch now because something from a few years ago no longer sounds at all right to me.

For this Prelude I studied carefully every recording I could get my hands on, but the performances of Rachmaninov himself are what I paid the most attention to, and certain things that may not sound "legal", such as a slight delay between the big succession of big chords, just before the descending octaves, are what Rachmaninov did. Also, the slight compression of the TAH, ta-ta TAH, where the "ta-ta" notes are actually played a bit to quickly, also comes from Rachmaninov's own style.

However, overall, I think this and many pieces like it are often played so fast, they sound glib, and somehow the power and intensity is lessened for me, as a listener. I realize these are personal views though. I wanted the middle section to completely contrast with the march-like quality of the outer sections, and I always had it in my mind to take a rather huge liberty, starting back very slowly after the central section and slowly accelerating into the speed and even more power than the beginning.

Again, comments would be welcome.

Gary

* Ra_Pr1-05_Gm-051113-01.mp3 (3842.76 KB - downloaded 891 times.)
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piano sheet music of Prelude
nicolaievich
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2005, 03:29:04 AM »

Standing ovation!!!!  Grin

Amazing performance! Really nice way to return to the I Tempo after the middle section, and I liked the distinction of voices there. Very good work Gary!!

Thanks for sharing your recordings... hope to get more of Rach's preludes. By the way, did you record Op.32 No.1 in C major? It's one of my favourites, and I am actually working on it  Roll Eyes
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Etude
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2005, 04:13:39 AM »

Quote
I recorded all the Opus 23 Preludes by Rachmaninov between 1995 and 2000. At that time, I had planned to post these files to a website, and had, in fact, started my own site. Then I was attacked by the Copyright Nazis. I was basically told:

"We don't care if you are a teacher. We don't care if you bought the music you are playing from us. We don't care if you are not charging money. We don't care if this is mainly to introduce fine music to many people who have not heard it. We only care about money. Pay us or we will sue you."

I feel quite sick after reading that.

Anyway, I really enjoyed your performance of the Prelude; excellently played, although I think you should try not be influenced by other recordings, even the composers;  I think it's important to find your own interpretation for a piece!  The only technical aspect I feel I need to address, is something that may be caused by the electronic piano you use, the way the chords sound as though they are "slightly arpeggiated" in the recording.  It's probably just the instrument, I remember it frustrating me a little bit, back at school, were there was a digital piano.  It actually, was the most decent piano at the school.  Sad, really.

Thanks very much for sharing this with us!




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gaer
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2005, 04:52:49 AM »

I feel quite sick after reading that.

Anyway, I really enjoyed your performance of the Prelude; excellently played, although I think you should try not be influenced by other recordings, even the composers;  I think it's important to find your own interpretation for a piece! 
I both agree with you and disagree. Normally I shape my own ideas first, and I try to play something without being influenced by other people before I listen, and this is what I did. But afterwards I thought that what Rachmaninov himself did is important. I can't agree that the performances of composers of their own works, especially when the composers are also monumental performers, should not be carefully considered. Smiley

By the way, I only used ideas I heard by Rachmaninov and others when they seemed especially convincing to me. I rejected many other ideas in favor of my own. But I do understand your point. Too much "copying" can easily stamp out individuality, and soon everyone begins to sound a bit too much like everyone else.

You are quite right about the "arpeggiating" behind a digital problem, and it comes from the fact that the sound is not produced until the keys hit the "keybed", which in this case means making contact with the strips underneath that measure velocity and duration. Quite obviously there is nothing like the wonderful sensitivity and responsiveness of a fine grand, but I have no real piano, no room for one and no privacty to practice it, so I have to make do with what I am able to use in a tiny apartment filled with too many people and thin walls separating me from neighbors. Smiley

Thank you for your response. Smiley

Gaer
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wzkit
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2005, 07:58:14 AM »

Magnificent! I love your rhythmic drive and well judged steady tempo. I have attempted this piece myself and find it extremely difficult to get all the notes right at the correct speed. Not to mention running out of stamina towards the end. And I liked your phrasing voicing and tempo in the slow central section, though personally I might keep the left hand even softer, and bring out more of the top notes of the right hand, all with the una-corda depressed. Just some thoughts. I felt it was a really good rendition though. Something I could aspire to perhaps. Time to get back to practicing this piece!
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wzkit
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 08:07:38 AM »

Actually I take my comments back about the voicing in the middle section. Listening to it for the second time, it just feels right now. I like the fact that you let your left hand breathe and phrase as well. I still think though, that your playing would benefit much from using a really good quality grand piano. Btw, one of my favourite recordings of this piece is by Horowitz (vulgar though it is). Richter, Gilels and Sokolov come close too.
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gaer
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2005, 08:52:32 AM »

Actually I take my comments back about the voicing in the middle section. Listening to it for the second time, it just feels right now. I like the fact that you let your left hand breathe and phrase as well. I still think though, that your playing would benefit much from using a really good quality grand piano. Btw, one of my favourite recordings of this piece is by Horowitz (vulgar though it is). Richter, Gilels and Sokolov come close too.
Ah, in a different life, a large house, time to practice without bothering other people, much more money to keep a great piano in first class condition. And full concentration for playing that is not taken away by teaching almost 50 people a week. Smiley

I have to laugh. A good piano would not even FIT where I live, and with a family, neighbors beside me and above me, separated only by thin walls, privacy is a dream, not a reality. In fact, I always wonder how all of the rest of you find the time and room and privacy to practice without being sued by other people for bothering their privacy. Sad

You know how much I miss the tone color of a good grand. But we have to work with what we have, and at least the sound of my piano is better than many others. Just remember that lots more could be done to make these electronic keyboards much more realistic sounding, but there is no demand for it, or very little, so it is not happening. The more recent Yamaha chips have actually been sampled WORSE, which is maddening. Sad

Gary
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gorbee natcase
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2005, 11:31:41 AM »

After hearing that I am going to break every copyright law I can think of and then get there attention and watch them bash there heads against the wall trying to sue me  Angry Shocked
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2005, 11:43:34 AM »

By the way wonderfull recording Wink
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2005, 12:32:59 PM »

Gary, what kind of digital piano are you using? I have the same problem with space and privacy as you, so I am willing to buy a digital piano, but with the requirement of a good quality and grand piano-like sound.  I will really appreciate your advices and take them into account.
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2005, 01:22:31 PM »

Brilliant recording. thanks a lot
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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2005, 01:28:23 PM »

btw is it op10 or op23? coz i couldn't find op10 preludes
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2005, 01:26:29 AM »

btw is it op10 or op23? coz i couldn't find op10 preludes
Thanks for catching that. Opus 23 is the first set by Rachmaninov, Opus 10 is the first set by Chopin. I changed the originally header. Unlike some musicians who scorn nicknames, I love them, because I can never remember opus numbers. I actually failed a test on the 32 Beethoven Sonatas, long ago, because I knew them all and their keys, but could not remember the numbers to save my life. Wink

Gary
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2005, 01:30:10 AM »

Very inspiring recording! I didn't even like this piece much before listening to your interpretation.
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2005, 02:53:35 AM »

Overall it sounds like you have a good grasp over the piece.  There were several times I got the feeling that you were being "careful" in your playing, and not giving the piece the amount of abandon it deserves.  It may just be the fact that you were playing on a digital piano and that's why the "zest" was not there.  The middle section was beautiful!  Perhaps in places I needed less LH and a better shape of the RH melody, but overall very well executed.  This is one of my favorites, even after playing as much Rachmaninoff as I've played, I still love this one.  Well done!

I'm playing his Second Concerto (second movement) with orchestra in one week! I played the whole concerto for my college's concerto competition last month and nearly won (but didn't).  I will post a soundclip of next week's performance hopefully soon after.
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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2005, 04:27:47 AM »

Overall it sounds like you have a good grasp over the piece.  There were several times I got the feeling that you were being "careful" in your playing, and not giving the piece the amount of abandon it deserves.  It may just be the fact that you were playing on a digital piano and that's why the "zest" was not there.  The middle section was beautiful!  Perhaps in places I needed less LH and a better shape of the RH melody, but overall very well executed.  This is one of my favorites, even after playing as much Rachmaninoff as I've played, I still love this one.  Well done!
Thank you. I know this piece pretty intimately, so I'm afraid I can't be any less careful without leaving wrong notes all over the place. Is it possible that you are used to a faster tempo? I know many people play it faster, but I don't like it that way. Perhaps I am looking for a heavier, more driving sound with less pace. As for playing it live, on a good piano, those days are long gone. Too much teaching, barely enough time to do anything except prepare for the next day's students.

Good luck with the Rach 2nd. I've always loved this concerto!

Gary

I'm playing his Second Concerto (second movement) with orchestra in one week! I played the whole concerto for my college's concerto competition last month and nearly won (but didn't).  I will post a soundclip of next week's performance hopefully soon after.
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2005, 12:47:31 AM »

It was really well played. I really had hoped for a little more BITE in the accented chords especially chord ending the phrases or a group of repeated chords or the lowest most notes, but that is probably the pianos fault. The strength of the accent has to be really sharp with the repeated notes. I find when the pedal effects it and makes it sound more legato than sharp we are not striking the note effectively enough.

The entry of the middle voice in the Un Poco Meno Mosso (especially Bar 8 onwards) MILK IT FOR ALL ITS WORTH! This is something neglected a lot of the time in scriabin works especially and its small short part in this section has to be fully appreciated so I would draw it out more. The listener is hinted of the middle voice in Bar 2-3 of the section which you really drew out nicely but Bar 8 onwards there is more intricate ideas needed to be highlighted.
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2005, 01:28:35 AM »

It was really well played. I really had hoped for a little more BITE in the accented chords especially chord ending the phrases or a group of repeated chords or the lowest most notes, but that is probably the pianos fault.
Actually, it is, but not for the reason you think. On other electronic instruments I can get that bit, but his old Clavinova is a bear. How can I explain? The action is not just heavy, it is sluggish, and the touch sensitivity is not quite right. At all times I am forced to adjust. The good news is that moving from it to a real piano is effortless, since all those problems disappear, if it is a good one.

This was an older recording. I knew less about how to get the most out of such an instrument almost 10 years ago, and I think your comment is totally valid. I need to check, but I suspet that I was pedaing through the tah-tah TAH, rather than leaving the pedal off until the final chord, which would be cleaner and more abrupt, in a good way.

Here is what discourages me from re-recording though. The last time I did it, when I posted the Opus 10 No 4 Chopin Etude (hope I have the number right this time), I re-recorded it based on suggestions from people and other ideas I got, and I never got a single bit of feedback regarding the second recording, which I think is vastly superior.

But yes, I agree with what you are saying.
Quote
The strength of the accent has to be really sharp with the repeated notes. I find when the pedal effects it and makes it sound more legato than sharp we are not striking the note effectively enough.
I agree.
Quote
The entry of the middle voice in the Un Poco Meno Mosso (especially Bar 8 onwards) MILK IT FOR ALL ITS WORTH! This is something neglected a lot of the time in scriabin works especially and its small short part in this section has to be fully appreciated so I would draw it out more. The listener is hinted of the middle voice in Bar 2-3 of the section which you really drew out nicely but Bar 8 onwards there is more intricate ideas needed to be highlighted.
I also was not pleased. Normally I am much better at bringing out counter-melodies. I think I will seriously attempt to redo this not too far in the future, and I hope you will be around to let me know if it seems more effective. I still feel I can make it all happen at the tempo I chose, since ultimately the feeling of speed and wildness often has much more to do with accents, evenness and "punch". So often something does not sound loud enough, or powerful enough, because in fact to much is loud, and there is not enough contrast.

I was also undecided about how much to clip the final chords. Even those may be too long.

Thank you for your suggestions. They are very much on target!

All the best,

Gary
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2005, 12:00:26 AM »

Actually, it is, but not for the reason you think. On other electronic instruments I can get that bit, but his old Clavinova is a bear....
I know exactly what a Clav is like! I was stuck practicing with one for 4 years and was always annoyed how qualities of notes are just not as effective as what can be produced on a real piano, no matter how well you play or try to counter act it.

I think it is dangerous to practice for long periods with a digital piano because if you play a piece over and over again, sometimes hearing an ineffective sound coming from your instrument can make you consider that same sound when playing on Stienway. I know for instance that my pedaling suffered when practicing on an electric for so many years and then shifting back to a real piano.

Here is what discourages me from re-recording though. The last time I did it, when I posted the Opus 10 No 4 Chopin Etude (hope I have the number right this time), I re-recorded it based on suggestions from people and other ideas I got, and I never got a single bit of feedback regarding the second recording, which I think is vastly superior.
I've never let people decide what I do. If you re-record it and post it up I'll comment, I'm sure a lot of other people will as well because you have had such positve feedback and 600+ downloads from your first recording.
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« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2005, 01:13:58 AM »

Dear Gary,

Your Rachmaninoff is FABULOUS!  Loved it. 

I would love to learn this, but don't know if I have the ability.  I don't have the score for the Op 23 preludes, but this one sounds a lot more challenging than Op 32 no 12, which I have played.  Would you agree? 

Anyway, I would love to hear your recording of all the preludes. 
Teresa
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« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2005, 08:01:45 PM »

Dear Gary,

Your Rachmaninoff is FABULOUS! Loved it.

I would love to learn this, but don't know if I have the ability. I don't have the score for the Op 23 preludes, but this one sounds a lot more challenging than Op 32 no 12, which I have played. Would you agree?

Anyway, I would love to hear your recording of all the preludes.
Teresa


Hi Gary, I'm bringing this back up so maybe more people will listen (I loved it, as I said), and to repeat my question to you about the relative difficulty of learning this one.  I'd like to try it.

Thanks!  Teresa
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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2005, 06:35:26 PM »

It was really well played. I really had hoped for a little more BITE in the accented chords especially chord ending the phrases or a group of repeated chords or the lowest most notes, but that is probably the pianos fault. The strength of the accent has to be really sharp with the repeated notes. I find when the pedal effects it and makes it sound more legato than sharp we are not striking the note effectively enough.

I think this is more of what I was referring to in my other post.  It doesn't need to be faster, but I was looking more for a bite in the chords and ending phrases.  This is probably the piano's fault.  Again I say wonderful job...  If you could get this particular performance out of a Clav, then think of how you'd sound on an acoustic!!
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« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2005, 09:42:34 PM »

You sound great!
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« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2005, 10:49:30 PM »

wow, you did an amazing job with that piece.  after hearing this recording i'm going to browse this forum more frequently
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« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2005, 02:22:23 AM »

So, for all of you who have played this piece, I need some advice.  I'm started to think ahead, and pick some pieces for my performance diploma in a couple years, so my 2 questions are:

1. Is this too overplayed, for that kind of an exam?

2. Those arpeggio like figurations in the left hand middle part -- do you play them totally finger legato, or move your whole hand up and down, and cover with pedal?  I'm wondering because I don't want to pick a piece that I can't technically master, and my girly hands aren't as big as a guy's Angry
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« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2005, 03:55:47 PM »

However, overall, I think this and many pieces like it are often played so fast, they sound glib, and somehow the power and intensity is lessened for me, as a listener. I realize these are personal views though. I wanted the middle section to completely contrast with the march-like quality of the outer sections, and I always had it in my mind to take a rather huge liberty, starting back very slowly after the central section and slowly accelerating into the speed and even more power than the beginning.

I personally think that the first theme, the march is a little to choppy.  You emphasis on the staccato notes are a tad too strong.  That's the only slightly negative thing I can say about it.  Other than that I have no other criticisms.  To me, the speed is just right - not too fast - as most would play it.  I agree with you how these pieces are usually played so fast and it reduces the power and intensity due to the speed.  The second theme sounds lovely Smiley I am impressed with your interpretation of this G minor prelude altogether and really appreciate you uploading this song up on this forum despite what happened in the past.
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« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2005, 04:56:19 PM »

dear gaer,

i'm no rach expert, but i liked the russian sound of the 'ta-ta's' close together and i didn't care if the accents were not as pronounced on the digital piano.  my reasoning is that i'd rather hear it the way you played it than hear them over-accented.  i tend to love the grand bass - but, as with singing, if the bass is overdone - it just sounds like a big sound with no tone (and a lot of buzz).  i don't hear that buzz.  you are careful with your bass and you seem to bring it out so well. 

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« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2005, 05:54:12 PM »

Hi gary, you play this prelude very well, however the staccato passages sound like they are playd in out of space , hence no air, therefore creating a dead sound.
I have playd this prelude on a 9 foot Bluthner grand piano,the staccato passages need to continue and sound organic.Also the second section must have a more singing quality, i will use the word romantic in style. Also need more agression.
I might be wrong.All the best.
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