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Topic: Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D  (Read 10976 times)

Offline rachfan

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Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D
on: June 25, 2006, 11:18:00 PM
This piece is unmistakeably of the Neo-Romantic era.

Update: I deleted the CD cut (62 downloads) and replaced it with the original tape recording which offers better fidelity.
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Offline jim_24601

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Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D
Reply #1 on: October 24, 2006, 10:11:49 PM
Hope you don't mind my commenting on an old recording. I saw in your f#m post that you'd made some other recordings and went looking for them.

I'm working on this piece right now, by which I mean I've got about 1/3rd of it memorised. Really, do; they're easier to memorise than they look; easier than the equivalent length of say Bach, by far. Again, I enjoyed the recording. You play Rachmaninoff with good sense and feeling. I would say that you could make a bit more of the dynamics, but I suspect that that's more down to the recording than your playing. I know it's difficult when you're recording at home and you have to get the microphone to pick you up.

Since you mentioned helping out with the rh in the other post, I'll just slip in as an aside that I take the first 2 bars lh alone, and my fingering is 553-135-251. (Which by an amazing coincidence, isn't my phone number :P)

Some of the polyrhythms sounded a bit off. In bars 5, 9 and 12, you need to be careful that the rh in the last beat doesn't sound like straight triplets. The 2 against 3 in the middle section slipped a bit towards 2+1 against 3, if you see what I mean, particularly in bb31-32 where the hands swap over. On the other hand, you did very well in bringing out the melody in that section (mine tends to get swamped in the triplet accompaniment :()

In b39 the rh arpeggio could be smoother; I think you can get away with a bit of a gap before the top A, but not quite so much. You could make more of the rit. e dim. in b42.

The climax in bb50-52 seemed a bit rushed. You could give it a bit of room, and make the bell-like quality of the rh sing out a bit more. You know what Rachmaninoff was like with bells ;)

Incidentally, my copy (B&H complete preludes) doesn't have the high D in b.70, but substitutes the D immediately above the main chord. Is this a variant reading?

One more teensy tiny thing; there's a staccato mark on the rh quaver at the end of the penultimate bar, so you could lift the pedal there and detach it from the last chord. Rachmaninoff rarely (going on never) puts explicit pedal markings, but he does drop fairly broad hints (which a lot of commercial recordings don't take; viz. the high rh chords over rests in the B major prelude, which nobody gets right).

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D
Reply #2 on: October 25, 2006, 12:22:33 AM
Hi jim

First, let me thank you for taking time to listen to these preludes and to comment.  I thought those pieces were going to languish back there on pages 6 and 7 forever!!  So I do appreciate it.  To be honest, I think I did an overall better job with Op. 32 than with Op. 23, probably because I studied them later and was more at home with the idiom.

I have to travel tomorrow, so need to go prepare for that.  But I'll be back tomorrow night to respond to your thoughts and suggestions in detail for sure.   

David
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D
Reply #3 on: October 26, 2006, 03:46:51 AM
Hello again, Jim

First, thanks for your compliment on my playing of this Prelude in D.  On range of dynamics, some of it could have been me.  Also, the cassette tape recorder was terrible!  And, part of it might have been me getting used to a new piano.  Before then, I played Steinway, but shifted to Baldwin.  These recordings were done with the Baldwin.  I recall that I was still trying to develop pianissimo on the Baldwin and hadn't quite perfected the required touch on a very different action.  The piano is much more broken in now.

At the start of the piece, I first used the same fingering you mention here.  I often employ that where there are leaps in the LH, as it can be a solid choice.  In fact, I'm using in now in Debussy's "Reflets dans l'eau."  But the more I experimented with the RH cross-over, the more I liked it.

In 32 I don't actually swap the hands over, although I do recognize the legato line, as the RH leaves off on the D and the LH takes over the line on the C.  It has to be seamless there at the transition between the hands.

The polyrhythms, yeah, I know!  A little ragged at times.  At the time I was doing a lot of new repertoire, so stayed with this piece for eight weeks or so.  I think had I lived with it longer, I would have been able to smooth those out more.

That big roll in 39 that you mention can definitely be unhurried.  I just listened to it and didn't feel that the"gap" getting to the top note was too much.  It provides a tiny interval anticipating the tenuto accent there.  Probably a matter of personal taste.

Beginning at 48, what I wanted to achieve was a continuous, nonstop buildup to the climax, which would be an untra-romatic surge.  So I agree, I didn't let it breathe very much there (although I took a breath  :) ).  I think my interpretation was to build tension and release.  I probably could have polished it more though, which might have made it less hurried. 

Hmmm... on that high D in 70: I used the G. Schirmer edition, although later I got the
B & H (A. Gutheil) edition.  The measure is identical in both editions.  The high D (dotted quarter) is definitely a separate note aligning between the D and A in the LH (another 2 againt 3).  The D is not clustered with the chord (C-D-A-C).  It looks the same as all the similar dotted quarter notes following chords or rolls starting back at measure 53.  I wonder if you have a printing abberation there?

On the second to the last measure, the staccato note is not actually to be played staccato.  I forget the source, but found it in a pedagogical account somewhere and marked it in the score.  Perhaps it's because it would be out of character in a quiet diminuendo approaching the end of the cadence, i.e., too interruptive.  I do it a bit more portato.  The voice leading there is the high F# in the first beat of 76, down to the E at the top of the chord, then the two D's, the first (the staccato one) not as significant as the second.   I recently found a similar situation in Debussy's "Reflets dans l'eau".  In the first line there are tenuto markings over the melodic notes of the LH, which we pianists would do as we normally do.  Debussy himself said he didn't want that-- rather, he wanted those notes played like "bells" using arm weight (before Matthay came up with the arm weight), and to not sustain the notes with the fingers!  So there was a whole different intention despite the actual notation used by the composer.  So in this codetta of Rachmaninoff, I believe a little portato works better there. 

The pedaling I chose in 76 was to take the tenuto chord in a single pedal, lift, then catch the staccato D eight note in a pedal, hold it down and play the last chord in that same pedal, the tonality being the same, thus reinforcing it.   

Once again, thanks for sharing your ideas!   :)

David 

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Offline totallyclassics

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Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D
Reply #4 on: July 02, 2008, 08:40:51 AM
 ;D    I found it!!    I searched our old emails, and found it!   The name of the artist you told me was Bacha.....I also found YOUR recording!!   I listened to it again!   LOVE your interepretation!! 

Just thought I would let you know!

Also, forgot to tell you!     Dr. Pawlas let me in on a little secret yesterday!   Okay, EVERY lesson, I will play the pieces I've been working on to tempo......MY tempo, albeit with a couple of mistakes here and there......inevitably, he will ALWAYS, regardless, work on some sort of technique, and then have me slow down the entire piece by about 10 beats, sometimes slower even.....it's VERY un-nerving!    I absolutely CANNOT do it........Well, yesterday I found out WHY, and I found out the importance of practicing at different tempos.......Yesterday, when he slowed me down, when I came to the part I like, I automatically sped up.......He kept yelling, "No, SAME TEMPO, SAME TEMPO,"   So, we tried it again, from the beginning...........and again.....the same thing happened!!   This is when he said, "Ah, do you see what is happening?   YOU are not in control, your fingers are!   Your fingers remember the tempo you set for it, but now that circumstances call for you to reset the tempo, YOU, your internal conductor, must take control, and NOT allow your FINGERS to dictate the tempo, but YOU"        I totally got it!  I had to pay attention to the rhythm, and fall into a different mode!    I did it!   Once I realized, (after he told me!), that I was having problems because my fingers were the ones dicatating the next move instead of my brain and the pulse from ME.........I could now pay attention to ME, and not get swayed by what my fingers had in  mind!    I am SO kinesthetic, with is also why this exercise is next to impossible for me!!    However, it has helped tremendously!     Also, we have been practicing various technical exercises with scales for independence of hands, and then switching hands......It was easier for me to play the scale slowly in the left, and work doubles and triplets with the right, but difficult to turn it the other way around!    We have been doing lots of work!   I LOVE it, even though it is hard for me now!   I am amazed at what happens with Bach after I work on these exercises!    If I don't master a technique with Bach, rather than work it over and over, missing the technique with Bach, he will move to scales and practice similar technique, even the SAME technique required for Bach using the scales/arpeggios ........then after I master the technique for independent hands, we go back to Bach.......it's amazing!   My brain is not threatened because there is no book to look at, nothing hard, just the scales that I am familiar with, and yet I'm not trying to "fix" anything or "prepare" a recital piece with the scales!   No harm done if I screw up! It really takes the pressure off "taking the stress away from the piece I am trying to learn rather than repeatedly missing the notes from the piece!"      I was missing one part, requiring repeated 6th intervals in a Scarlatti piece.......Well, we went all up and down the piano with the SAME pattern until I had it!   Then we went to the correct notes on the piece, and I got it!     

Well, gotta run!   Just wanted to tell you more, and also tell you I found what I was looking for!

later!! ;D

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4 in D
Reply #5 on: July 02, 2008, 04:23:33 PM
Hi totally,

I really appreciate your kind words about my interpretation of this Rachmaninoff prelude.  Thanks!  This is truly a beautiful piece and I think almost everyone loves it.  It's not as famous as No. 5 in Gm, of course, but still, it always gets a very favorable response.  This is quite an old recording of mine.  Listening, I still like it, but if I were to play it today, I think I might do some things a little differently. 

Dr. Pawlas is an excellent artist-teacher.  It sounds like he's really putting you through the paces and technical drills there too.  Stick with it and it'll pay off as you play repertoire pieces! 

Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.
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