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"Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit (Read 13619 times)

Offline fnork

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"Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
« on: March 14, 2007, 01:01:24 AM »
ondine

low quality file, because my connection is slow and it takes ages just to upload a file...


On Friday, I have an audition where I play Ravel's Ondine and some old pieces. I'm also sending these recordings to various summer academies and festivals, so suggestions for improvement are always welcome. Did anyone here play this piece?

piano sheet music of Prelude - Ondine


Offline fnork

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Re: ondine
«Reply #1 on: March 14, 2007, 11:28:16 PM »
The link didn't seem to work so I uploaded it here instead. I'll post a higher quality mp3 later.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #2 on: March 15, 2007, 01:13:04 AM »
never having played this - i could really hear the harmonies at this slower tempo.  just wondering - are there slight delays in the rhythms at the beginning.  i was thinking that it was supposed to be consistently even in the underlying figurations and more free flowing in the melody line.  it must be incredibly difficult to play - so nevermind if you are working these things already.  i'd like to hear the lh figurations at a dynamic or two less than the rh melodic stuff.  what does your teacher say?  some places seem kind of abrupt in dynamics - but maybe it's just me.  i'd like to hear more of a relaxing quality of 'the night.'  turn out the lights and tone it down a shade and you'll be perfect in my listening ears.

Offline fnork

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #3 on: March 15, 2007, 10:07:24 AM »
Hehe, I noticed that you said "at this slower tempo" - I agree that the melody should be more flowing (less metronomic, that's all) but I think the piece often gets played too fast. The accompanying arpeggios must also be heard, like a harp a with very even sound - they often sound too "blurred" for my taste. I play it faster than Pierre-Laurent Aimard btw  ;)
Yes, Im still working on it a lot - never started practicing it seriously until Januar, and some things are still beyond my capabilities. (the descending double-note figurations where I had to start over - extremely difficult! make sure to have good fingerings, that's all I can say) My teacher has helped me a lot with the technical difficulties, although I feel he's not exploring the musical aspect as much. My former teacher actually studied with Vlado Perlemuter, Ravels student, in Paris for sometime and played Gaspard, Le Tombeau, Valses nobles, Sonatine etc for him. Perlemuters fingerings are all over the place in my teachers scores - he thought that fingerings was a very important issue.

Anyway, thanks for the comments. Now I have to go and practice the thing for my audition tomorrow...

Offline rachfan

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #4 on: March 15, 2007, 09:01:06 PM »
Hi fnork,

I give you a lot of credit.  I've poked around in Gaspard over the years, but have never committed myself to attempting it.  It is a pinnacle of the repertoire.   

This is still a work in progress for you, but you have the notes down, have overcome most technical difficulties, and continue to work through a few remaining issues to smooth it out to your satisfaction.  Once you achieve that, I think your focus will turn more to expression and nuances.  I have no doubt that you'll bring this piece to recital pitch. 

By the way, you mention Perlemuter.  He was always one of my favorite artists.  If you're unaware, you can go to YouTube, enter his name in search, and down the list of his videos is the complete "Gaspard de la nuit".  If you haven't watched him play it yet, you owe it to yourself.  He was very elderly when he made the video (it's excellent in sound quality), probably in his high 80s.  He doesn't have quite the polish of a Lorti, for example, yet... when he plays this piece, you come to realize that he OWNS it!!!  He chews gum through the entire performance, and at the end of Scarbo bonks his head on purpose on the fallboard, ha-ha!  He must have been a real character, down to earth with a great sense of humor.  Most people don't know that he was blind in his left eye, but regardless, he does an exceptional job with all the downward leaps.  Despite a couple of slight memory lapses (you have to excuse that for someone that old), he puts the piece over solidly and convincingly to the listener.  I think it's wonderful that you're studying the piece with a teacher who studied with Perlemuter, who was coached personally by Ravel.  (I have his book summarizing his sessions with Ravel.)  You're getting the best of all insights handed down to you. 

Keep up the great work!

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

Offline soliloquy

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #5 on: March 15, 2007, 10:27:24 PM »
Randomly, why do you have Debussy's "Ondine" Prelude sheets up, as opposed to Ravel's "Ondine" from Gaspard de la Nuit?  XP

Offline thalberg

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #6 on: March 16, 2007, 02:43:00 AM »
Very solid work, fnork.

Offline fnork

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #7 on: March 17, 2007, 04:54:48 PM »
Randomly, why do you have Debussy's "Ondine" Prelude sheets up, as opposed to Ravel's "Ondine" from Gaspard de la Nuit?  XP
Oh, it's not my fault - this forum seems to do that automatically when you mention a piece in the thread, it's just that I didn't mention the composer at first and Debussy is shown instead of Ravel. Wierd  ;)

Uploaded a higher quality file but kept the old one, in case someone has slow connection and wants to download a smaller file.


Rachfan,
I LOVE Perlemuters playing. It is just as he probably was as a person - very down to earth piano playing, refreshingly uncomplicated and "honest" somehow. His recordings of the Chopin preludes are wonderful.
As I've understood it from my former teacher, he was always very honest about what he thought about the students playing. When my teacher would play something that Perlemuter though was ugly, he shouted out "ooooohhh, that was veeery ugly!" with his french accent. In his practice room he had two grand pianos - a modern steinway which he NEVER touched, and a very old, small Pleyel grand. He always practiced on the Pleyel and when my teacher played for him, he told him that, "uhh, hrm, you need a more SINGING tone" which is not so easy on an old Pleyel! At least, that's what my teacher said.
The youtube videos are fantastic indeed. Didn't he record Gaspard when he was younger too? Haven't heard that recording yet.

Offline rachfan

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #8 on: March 17, 2007, 06:36:40 PM »
Hi fnork,

Perlemuter did a spendid job with the Chopin Nocturnes as well.  He had a pallet of colors that lent his performances a unique sound.  That story of the Pleyel is amusing.  I'm sure that when he was coming up as an artist, the main choices of pianos in France were Pleyel, Erard, and Gaveau.  I remember reading once that Paderewski claimed that he was one of the few who could make the Erard sing.  I also recall that if Rubinstein was faced with a choice of those three pianos, he went with Gaveau.  So when Perlemuter remarked about having to bring out a singing tone on that Pleyel, he probably knew it all too well.

I believe that Perlemuter must surely have recorded Gaspard earlier in his career, but I have never encountered it either.  I imagine it might have shown a more secure technique, but maybe not the range of understanding and insight he brought to the piece in his very senior years.  I do know that Geiseking recorded Gaspard twice.  The version that is most often heard is the later one, but earlier one is far superior in both accuracy and expressiveness.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Youtube videos.  I knew you would.

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

Offline fnork

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #9 on: March 20, 2007, 10:16:04 AM »
Just a few questions for anyone who listened to answer:

Do you find my tempo too slow? I know that a lot of pianists play it faster, but I personally like the clarity you achieve when playing at this tempo. My idea is that the accompanying figures are not supposed to be blurry as they become when pianists speed up the tempo, but that every note should be heard, almost as in a Mozart sonata. Angela Hewitt who recorded all of Ravels solo repertoire said that to play Ravel is difficult because it requires "the clarity of Mozart AND the virtuosity of Liszt". Many pianists play it with great virtousity, but with little clarity, I think.

Next thing I wanted to ask about is THE MELODY. I play it very simply, not trying to overcomplicate things, but I've often been told by teachers that I have to phrase more, that if a singer would sing that melody, they would "do something" with it, not just sing note after note. They would, for instance, do much more of a decrescendo - cresc in the opening ( D# B, G# B C# D#), but on the other hand, I think doing too much makes you loose the "whole" somehow, dividing things into a lot of small phrases instead of one LONG phrase.

Please share your thoughts if you have any.

Offline rachfan

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #10 on: March 20, 2007, 06:05:45 PM »
Hi fnork,

A couple of quick comments:

On the tempo, you're not the first to take "Ondine" at a slightly slower tempo.  The tempo, after all, is marked lent (lento) which is "slow", a step up from largo.  A fine recording that comes to mind in this regard is that of the late Monique Haas.  I think her rendition is entirely successful.  So I wouldn't be concerned if you wish to bring out the details, as you say.

On the melodic line, I do believe that you have to think in terms of voice--literally--and take your cue from Aloysius Bertrand, the poet whose three poems written in 1908 inspired Ravel to write this music.  Therein, Ondine, the lovely water nymph, spashes water drops on the poet's window to attract his attention, then tells of the many beauties of her watery domain.  She is so sensuous and seductive.  She wants Bertrand to put her ring on his finger and to accompany her back to her palace where he can be king.  When the poet explains that he is already in love with a mortal woman, tears run down Ondine's cheeks, but she ends the encounter with light laughter and disappears into a burst of raindrops that stream down the poet's window, leaving him with his thoughts. 

So Ondine's seductive pleadings and the enchanting spell they weave need to guide the melodic line always.  She almost ensnared Bertrand, so the audience in hearing this piece similarly needs to sense the water nymph's poignant entreaties in order to be drawn as well into the imagery and intensity of the music.  They need to feel torn, as did Bertrand.  From a practical performance standpoint, that's where previous experience in accompanying sopranos becomes the sine qua non, as you have learned from their phrasings, and also how to breathe with them every moment and at every turn as they sing.  The voice and piano become totally intertwined.  But here, in a solo piano piece, you alone must create the illusions with, alas, a basically percussive instrument.

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

Offline fnork

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 11:10:21 PM »
Hi Rachfan,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was just listening to Perlemuters version (just the beginning) and I'm still amazed about how naturally he makes the melody sing - it's so pure and beautiful. The first time I heard it I felt that the sound was rather harsch and that he was overprojecting the melody, but already at the 2nd listen I really stopped hearing a percussive instrument - I was hearing someone singing wonderfully. Having recorded the piece and played it on audition, I felt I needed to take a break with it - move on and learn other stuff, maybe the rest of Gaspard - but I feel that I know what I want to work with when I take it up again. First, I have to do some technical work though - perfecting the execution of the double note passage, practice lots of arpeggios, and master the opening accompaniement figure, etc...

It will be so great to start working on Le Gibet, such a unique piece - plus, there are fewer notes to play! Still difficult, though..

Offline fnork

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #12 on: March 22, 2007, 05:28:31 PM »
Not that I'm the absolute expert of this piece, but I've learned some things from my teacher and others which helped me a great deal in learning it and I thought I'd share these tips:


Devote a lot of time to really master the opening RH figuration, which also occur later in the piece. Don't begin with trying to play it ppp - start at maybe mf or piano, slowly, and after sometime, you'll be able to play it very softly. Make sure your right hand is ABSOLUTELY relaxed - if it tenses up in performance, you are in serious trouble. Gieseking had a good advice about dividing the opening figure in 3 + 3 + 2, making a small lift with the hand between those divisions where the repeated chords occur. At first you can exaggerate this lift - in performance tempo it is hardly noticable but helps making you more relaxed in the hand. I often practice this way and it has been helpful in improving speed without becoming tense. I still feel that the opening is the most difficult part of the whole piece... it's almost never good enough.

For the double-note passages, I found it useful to alternate between two ways of practicing - one is where the FINGERS do most of the job, the arm following them. The other way is to REDUCE fingerwork to a minimum and play the double-notes with wrist-staccato.
For the black-key glissando after the climax, my experience is that it usually is better to finger it, even on a good instrument with light action. It will sound exactly as a glissando and you'll have total control over what you're doing.

Offline rachfan

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #13 on: March 23, 2007, 01:15:35 AM »
fnork, thanks so much for sharing those technical approaches to solving problems in this very difficult piece!  Pedagogical tips are always welcome, helpful and useful.  For years I have been telling myself to study Gaspard.  But I've always been totally put off by the opening of "Ondine".  It's always seemed somehow like a "No Trespassing" sign.  With these tips, I'll have to take another look.  Thanks!

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

Offline fnork

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #14 on: March 25, 2007, 10:10:57 AM »
Rachfan, good luck with Ondine - I hope you'll find it somewhat easier to play now. Another way of practicing the opening which I forgot to mention is simply "air-piano-playing", if you know what I mean - doing this right hand figuration at the piano WITHOUT SOUNDING the notes, so that you only hear this rhythm of the hand "hitting" the keys without sounding them. Then gradually lower the hand, sounding the keys more. This helps in keeping an absolutely even rhythm.

Offline rachfan

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Re: "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit
«Reply #15 on: March 25, 2007, 10:40:16 PM »
Hi fnork,

Yes, "air-piano-playing" or "silent practicing" can be very beneficial.  There have been occasions when I've practiced an entire piece effectively using that technique.  (Also, my wife is not fond of either piano or serious music; so silent practicing can solve that issue as well.  ;D )
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.