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Scarbo! (Read 8419 times)

Offline fnork

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Scarbo!
« on: July 20, 2007, 03:46:19 PM »
After hearing a fantastic 'scarbo' at a student concert at a course I recently went to, I was inspired and felt that I should learn it myself too, finally. Besides, the pianist who played it told me that "you should've started with scarbo, not ondine..." 

So lets talk about this piece! What are your favourite recordings of it? Who has played it?

I recently came across Pierre-Laurent Aimards recording of Gaspard - I don't know any other recording that follows the composers text that well - he does EXACTLY what's in the score and adds nothing. His tempos are very slow comparing to other recordings and while it works quite well in both 'Ondine' and 'Le gibet' (probably the best 'gibet' I've heard), his 'Scarbo' hardly sounds scary or nightmarish to me..

As I'm learning the piece, I just noticed that there are a few hand rearrangements that you can do - for instance, in bar 281-284 and 295-298 I find it easier to take the top note in the right hand with the left hand instead (for example in bar 281, take the D with the left hand, in the next bar, take the F with the left hand etc). I find that it faciliates the performance of the repeated notes.

After hearing some more recordings, I've noticed that some pianists choose a faster tempo than they are able to handle in some passages. Thibaudet sort of messes up some repeated note passages because of his fast tempo. Around what tempo do you think it should be? Another problem with the fast tempo that many choose is that some of the rhytmic elements of the piece get destroyed - from bar 121 and onwards for example, the sixteenth notes of this rhytmic motif often sound like upbeats, and it's not clear where the beat is. At a slower tempo, it's easier to understand that. Same goes for bar 65-69. What do you think?

I've also noticed that many pianists make a "a tempo" at bar 372 (six bars after the first climax - un peu retenu, before the three-note motif that opens the piece reappears) - should it be like that?

piano sheet music of Scarbo


Offline soliloquy

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #1 on: July 20, 2007, 04:31:59 PM »
Do whatever you want.  Not what you think your teacher will want.  Scarbo is probably the only piece in the common repertoire that you could say may still not be played to its full potential.  Maybe you will be the one?  Why let some pretences about the piece stifle you?  And on the tempo, isn't the correct tempo always the one you're most comfortable with in these sort of situations?

Offline rallestar

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #2 on: July 20, 2007, 04:45:58 PM »
In the case of Ravel, the correct tempo is always the one indicated in the score  :P As you will probably know, Ravel was incredibly meticulous about his scores. If you trust your edition, I wouldn't do the "a tempo". I have Ravels piano work by Edition Peters, urtext edition by Roger Nichols, and I'm very happy about it - It doesn't have the "a tempo" there, and even though it is has a very substantial preface and critical commentary, there is no mention of it - It seems if there was such a dispute, it would have been mentioned here, and thus my inclination is not to go back to "a tempo" here, but at the place Ravel noted in the score a few measures later.

Offline franzliszt2

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #3 on: July 20, 2007, 05:50:32 PM »
I'm currently preparing Gaspard for a concert and Scarbo is doing my head in!!!!! It takes a lot of time and energy. Any lazy practice and you're screwed.

I've found, the way to play it fast, is to take it slower and let every note breathe. If you can hear every single note, it will sound so fast.

I was never advised to start with any of the 3 first. I did ondine last year, and just now I've started with scarbo and gibet. But I have all 3 pieces to learn  :( and it's getting hard with all the other repertoire I have. I advise learnign gaspard when there is no time pressure

Offline fnork

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #4 on: July 21, 2007, 07:48:07 PM »
In the case of Ravel, the correct tempo is always the one indicated in the score  :P As you will probably know, Ravel was incredibly meticulous about his scores. If you trust your edition, I wouldn't do the "a tempo". I have Ravels piano work by Edition Peters, urtext edition by Roger Nichols, and I'm very happy about it - It doesn't have the "a tempo" there, and even though it is has a very substantial preface and critical commentary, there is no mention of it - It seems if there was such a dispute, it would have been mentioned here, and thus my inclination is not to go back to "a tempo" here, but at the place Ravel noted in the score a few measures later.
There's no "a tempo" a few bars later either, the only tempo indication is about 15-20 measures later (where the three-note motif from the beginning of the piece returns) where Ravel indicates that the tempo should be slowed down to "a third" of the preceeding tempo (a dotted quarter-note becomes an eightnote). The pianists who make an atempo after the "un peu retenu" probably thought this way: if you would take down the tempo to a third of the "un peu retenu"-tempo, this tempo is going to be significantly slower than the moderato (eightnote=88) tempo in the beginning of the piece. Did Ravel want that? I'm quite sure he wanted it to have the same tempo as the beginning. One of few pianists who play this passage slower than in the beginning is Jean-yves Thibaudet, and he also avoids using any pedal this time. He does what the composer wrote but it doesn't sound convincing to me at least.
So the option that remains is to make an "a tempo" (or at least SOMEWHAT faster) somewhere after "un peu retenu". Six measues after the tempo change seems logical because here the left hand gets a driving sixteenthnote octave figure which occurs in many places of the piece which are in the "vif" tempo (from bar 168 an onwards for instance). This suggests a faster tempo for me.

Offline jinfiesto

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #5 on: July 22, 2007, 07:08:05 PM »
The argerich recording of this is fabulous. So is perlemuters... He took lessons from Ravel himself... If there is any definitive recording, it is perlemuters.

Offline elevateme_returns

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #6 on: July 22, 2007, 07:20:55 PM »
each to his own, my friend. each to his own.


for me.... jean-phillipe collard & sergio tiempo.


but if you want one that is exactly how ravel would have wanted it, yes perlemuters.

I myself really dislike his recording even though ravel obviously liked the way he plays it, however i guess taste has changed over the last century.
elevateme's joke of the week:
If John Terry was a Spartan, the movie 300 would have been called "1."

Offline franzliszt2

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #7 on: July 22, 2007, 07:31:37 PM »
Why are we all asuming perlmuters is the best? I listened and didn't like it as much as collards. My teacher and I discussed this in depth, and my teacher said he was not at his best at all when he recorded this. He was under pressure to record all Ravel's works becasue he was a student, and obviously the whole world could benefit from this.

Plus...does your teacher like the way you play things? Perlemuter was a great artist himself, I doubt he did everythign Ravel said litterally. Times were very differert back then,a nd a lot of those artists HATED  recordings. I don't think this recording i of any use as a "difinitive" recording. It is fantastic though!! Don't get me wrong, I do think it is a very interesting recording, and everyone studying Ravel should listen to it. As he is a great pianist and has a lot more to say about the music than most people today!

Offline elevateme_returns

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #8 on: July 22, 2007, 07:33:54 PM »
yeah, not everyone did what ravel said. didn't a pianist refuse to premiere it because ravel wanted le gibet to stay the same tempo throughout? and they couldnt agree to disagree
elevateme's joke of the week:
If John Terry was a Spartan, the movie 300 would have been called "1."

Offline pita bread

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #9 on: July 22, 2007, 08:07:01 PM »
There's a book out there... Ravel According to Ravel that is a collection of Perlemuter's notes while he studied with Ravel. If you're looking for an idea of "Ravel as it Ravel wanted," this book is probably a better place to look than Perlemuter's recordings, which were done when he was well out of his prime.

Offline rallestar

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #10 on: July 22, 2007, 08:15:50 PM »
fnork, I'm gonna have to admit that your reasoning does make sense. I don't know Scarbo incredibly well, and you're probably right. Btw, my edition has pedal marks for the part when the tremolando notes comes again, too.

I love Perlemuters recordings of Ravel generally, although it's true that he was not at his best, technically, when he recorded them. But his tone is just amazing for Ravel.


Offline soliloquy

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #11 on: July 22, 2007, 08:56:10 PM »
I always thought Geiseking was sort of considered the "definitive" Ravel interpreter?

Offline Nightscape

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #12 on: July 22, 2007, 10:59:52 PM »
I suppose if you enjoy clunky, uneven Ravel you would listen to the Geiseking recordings.

Offline pita bread

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #13 on: July 23, 2007, 05:03:44 AM »
fnork, I'm gonna have to admit that your reasoning does make sense. I don't know Scarbo incredibly well, and you're probably right. Btw, my edition has pedal marks for the part when the tremolando notes comes again, too.

I love Perlemuters recordings of Ravel generally, although it's true that he was not at his best, technically, when he recorded them. But his tone is just amazing for Ravel.



His Gaspard just isn't demonic enough though.

Offline fnork

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #14 on: July 23, 2007, 10:42:09 AM »
Are we takling about the Perlemuter recording that is on youtube when he's over 80+? If so, it's obviously not so technically impressive... My former teacher studied with the man in Paris for a year, playing most of the solo works for him. In his studio, Perlemuter had a big Steinway D and an old Pleyel which had seen it's best days some fifty years ago. He never touched the Steinway, always practicing on this old Pleyel and having all of his students do the same. When my teacher played for him, he always complained that he "needed a more singing tone", which is quite hard if you play on such an old instrument! I'm sure most of his students were told the same thing...heh.
Anyway, "Ravel according to Ravel" is a good read - some pieces are not covered detailed enough I think but what's being said is very interresting. I find that Perlemuters comment about the general problem when playing Scarbo, that there's a "lack of first beats", to be very true... trying to exaggerate the beats when playing it for now.

Offline minor9th

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #15 on: July 23, 2007, 04:16:54 PM »
Ivo Pogorelich and Andre Gavrilov are my two favorites. I was disappointed in Aimard's--not nearly demonic enough despite slavish adherence to the score.

Offline pita bread

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #16 on: July 23, 2007, 06:22:24 PM »
Ivo Pogorelich and Andre Gavrilov are my two favorites. I was disappointed in Aimard's--not nearly demonic enough despite slavish adherence to the score.

Concurred.

Offline elevateme_returns

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #17 on: July 23, 2007, 09:11:57 PM »
Ivo Pogorelich and Andre Gavrilov are my two favorites. I was disappointed in Aimard's--not nearly demonic enough despite slavish adherence to the score.

pogo is wild!! very exciting but for me too fast. & i dislike gavrilov
elevateme's joke of the week:
If John Terry was a Spartan, the movie 300 would have been called "1."

Offline pita bread

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #18 on: July 23, 2007, 10:03:13 PM »
pogo is wild!! very exciting but for me too fast. & i dislike gavrilov

Actually, Pogorelich's Scarbo clocks in at 9:31. Pretty average timing. It just sounds ridiculously fast because its so clear and articulate.

Offline elevateme_returns

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #19 on: July 25, 2007, 10:10:37 PM »
Actually, Pogorelich's Scarbo clocks in at 9:31. Pretty average timing. It just sounds ridiculously fast because its so clear and articulate.

no, i meant the ridiculously fast bits . lol . it's 9:31 in TOTAL because he takes more time than others in the slow sections. and uses the silences. if you timed the fast spanishy bit that starts in Ab major then i bet no one would come near.

scarbo could be played in under 5 minutes, but pogo's repeated notes sections would still be quicker.
elevateme's joke of the week:
If John Terry was a Spartan, the movie 300 would have been called "1."

Offline pita bread

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #20 on: July 25, 2007, 10:55:48 PM »
no, i meant the ridiculously fast bits . lol . it's 9:31 in TOTAL because he takes more time than others in the slow sections. and uses the silences. if you timed the fast spanishy bit that starts in Ab major then i bet no one would come near.

scarbo could be played in under 5 minutes, but pogo's repeated notes sections would still be quicker.

Actually, you're right. I just listened to the recording again and damn those repeated notes are fast...

Offline dnephi

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #21 on: July 26, 2007, 02:30:13 PM »
Actually, only in the Pogorelich (not the youtube, but the one Chris posted) did I realize that the repeated note figure was an Islamey quotation/paraphrase.
For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

Offline minor9th

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #22 on: July 26, 2007, 03:36:42 PM »
Actually, only in the Pogorelich (not the youtube, but the one Chris posted) did I realize that the repeated note figure was an Islamey quotation/paraphrase.

His goal was to write an even harder piece than Islamey...

Offline franzliszt2

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #23 on: July 26, 2007, 06:16:23 PM »
I quite like the pogo youtube vid strangly. It's totally different to how I intend mine to sound, but I find his amazingly good.

As for Gavrilov...well his is just bad. Technically it's absolutly awful! He sounds like me practicing it today!! And that is a true insult to Gavrilov! (and anyone who sounds like me today!)  He treats the thing as a showpiece with no meaning. 

Offline minor9th

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #24 on: July 27, 2007, 04:51:28 PM »
Gavrilov's older CD version is entirely different...and a lot better!

Offline dnephi

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #25 on: July 28, 2007, 07:19:00 PM »
His goal was to write an even harder piece than Islamey...
The ostinato is an allusion to Islamey- compare the one in Scarbo with the repeated note motif in Islamey- you'll be surprised. Not only was it to be harder, it also paid homage to his model.
For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

Offline fnork

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #26 on: July 28, 2007, 09:56:42 PM »
Apart from the similarity with using repeated notes, I don't really hear how these motifs are similar melodically or tonally...

Anyway, I'm still thinking about what tempo "vif" should be... or rather, if the tempo needs to be absolutely steady throughout until "un peu retenu"? I'm asking because I played through the vif section with the metronome around 80-86 today and while it worked in some parts, other parts either felt way too slow or too fast. The repeated notes felt quite slow in this tempo. However, the 2-3 pages right before "un peu retenu" where you have some nasty arpeggios in both hands (where the melodical theme gets "interrupted" by the repeated notes motif), it's pretty much impossible to keep the same tempo - and actually most concert pianists slow down in some spots here. So all of this makes me wonder - COULD the tempo be a bit flexible or should it be metronomic throughout (as Aimards recording)?

Offline elevateme_returns

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Re: Scarbo!
«Reply #27 on: July 29, 2007, 12:56:04 PM »
i know i dont see any resemblance either apart from the fact that theyre both repeated notes
elevateme's joke of the week:
If John Terry was a Spartan, the movie 300 would have been called "1."