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Topic: Chopin: Barcarolle  (Read 4962 times)

Offline prongated

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Chopin: Barcarolle
on: December 24, 2009, 09:15:46 PM
...wow, it's been a while...

This is from a recent recital on a NY Steinway D. Comments and thoughts are SO MUCH appreciated ^^
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Offline furtwaengler

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #1 on: December 25, 2009, 08:04:36 AM
I realize I do not go to the Barcarolle often anymore, and I don't know why. I have never played it...this I know why; it's because I'm terrified of it! Well, I am a fool. What an absolutely gorgeous piece. I love the Steinway's bass...that first note...adore those notes from that instrument, but I've noticed while the D's are able to project a very direct sound and allow for a wide range of moods and colors, they often times have a low ceiling on their peak dynamics...power is not their greatest asset. I hear such a thing here, and I wonder; did this effect you when you were dealing with the instrument?

Laying that aside, this is surely one of the most brilliant and beautifully played Barcarolles I've ever heard. Bravo! This is a master performance, and I will long keep it with me.  
Don't let anyone know where you tie your goat.

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 07:25:01 AM
I realize I do not go to the Barcarolle often anymore, and I don't know why. I have never played it...this I know why; it's because I'm terrified of it!

...what, you are more terrified of the loveboat song than the angry boatswain's song? ;D (I've seen your Beethoven op.111 around, but I haven't heard it yet...maybe soon I will...it's a work I don't intend to learn anytime soon and a work I don't feel capable of approaching yet)

I love the Steinway's bass...that first note...adore those notes from that instrument, but I've noticed while the D's are able to project a very direct sound and allow for a wide range of moods and colors, they often times have a low ceiling on their peak dynamics...power is not their greatest asset. I hear such a thing here, and I wonder; did this effect you when you were dealing with the instrument?

...it really depends on what sort of Steinway you are dealing with. New York and Hamburg Steinways are surprisingly very different - for example, the hammers of NYs are hot-pressed like most other pianos, whereas the hammers in Hamburgs are cold-pressed (heck, even the way they designed the middle pedal is different!). This is a major reason why NY Steinways generally sound brighter and more powerful (and the brand new ones these days, more coarse and unrefined, although that's really due to the fact they don't prepare them very well), whereas brand new Hamburgs have this soft, round sound that do not sound very powerful or well-projected.

This particular NY Steinway I played on was recently restored with new parts, and has that bright sound. There's another NY Steinway in the hall that had an accident (fell off the stage when being moved around apparently...) and the sound doesn't project very well, although it has a much nicer, rounder tone. In any case, I think for sure the piano has its limits, but it's probably also due to the fact that I'm trying a different kind of sound in the climactic part - smoother, well-rounded legato tone. I'm not so sure...maybe the recording quality is not that great either, but it's only $100 for the whole performance, so :)

Laying that aside, this is surely one of the most brilliant and beautifully played Barcarolles I've ever heard. Bravo! This is a master performance, and I will long keep it with me. 

Thanks ;D that's really too kind...but glad you enjoyed it!

Offline rachfan

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #3 on: January 03, 2010, 03:56:13 AM
Hi progated,

I just listened to your "Barcarolle" rendition and liked every moment of it.  You played it very well indeed.  This is one of those masterworks that you could keep in your repertoire for a lifetime, ever gaining new insights from it through the years.  Congratulations on this fine achievement! 
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #4 on: January 05, 2010, 06:51:05 AM
This is one of those masterworks that you could keep in your repertoire for a lifetime, ever gaining new insights from it through the years.

I agree very much here. And in fact, that is sort of what I'm hoping to hear from forumers here too - ideas on where you would take it from here; what you would do differently. Frankly for me, aside from the few missing notes, this is one of those very rare performances of mine that I felt satisfied with when I performed it, and not offended about when I heard the recording. But after all that, it makes me think, is this really how I wanted to play it? Is this really where I want to take it? So I'd be really happy to hear any criticism from anyone here ^^

And thanks so much for listening rachfan! Glad you enjoyed it!

Offline sashaco

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 11:27:30 AM
Hi prongated,

I know it's a while since you posted this.  I first listened to it in December, but I was too caught up in my own efforts with the piece to listen impartially (as it were) to your fine performance.

Most of all I would like to tell you that your playing of the piece as a whole works very well.   You hold enough back early on that the listener is excited to hear more at all times.  The opening has a slightly whimsical quality that makes me unsure where you're going, and I find this very effective.  This is even more true when it comes to the sfogato, where you take us far away before coming back, and the return to tempo is beautifully gradual.

You ask what listeners might do differently, and at the risk of being presumptuous I'll offer a few thoughts.

I am trying to present the first theme with the greatest simplicity possible.  That is not to say that your version is elaborate, but I for me it might sound even less like "Chopin" and more like a simple song he might have heard.  This might leave still more room for development later.  I love your dynamic control, and wonder if you have tried bars 28 & 29 with the dynamics as marked?  Almost all playings I hear follow somewhat what you have done, each bar starting gently and building all the way through in intensity.  It seems to me that with the dynamics as marked we can feel a boat on the wave (or the wave itself) building quite strongly but failing to crest fullyand move on.   I think of a big intake of breath ( cresc. and accent) and a surprisingly gentle exhale, (the dim. mark).   When the same bars reappear with the octave bass (88,89) they aren't marked with a hairpin down.  This time they are more certainly part of a great oceanic building to climax.   

In the next theme you achieve a mysterious feeling while preserving the steady rythm of the inner voice and bass, and this is very effective.  To me, this might be a hair piu piu mosso, particularly in the forte sections following the long trills.  Again, I think of things always seeming to build- to become more excitato as the sea enters the sailor's blood. 

I love your playing of bars 61 through 69, but it is very different from my conception of them.  I think that here we have another Venetian song, but this time a more sprightly one.  The huge left hand when this tune returns means that it's perhaps not neccessary to hold back the tempo the first time and still achieve great contrast.  Again, what you have done with the two versions works beautifully, I'm merely saying what I would do differently.

The next sections I find virtually "perfect", particularly the sfogato bit, and I only do things differently because I'm not capable of playing them remotely so well!  From bar 103 on, I think of things being  more agitato, but I'm not sure I should have listened to your recording, since it's making me doubt my reading!  Bar 110 blows me away!  That run seems to release all remaining energy and delivers us to the calando superbly.

Again, I could not have enjoyed your playing more.  I found it far more interesting than any versions by big names I've listened to on the iternet.  Many thanks.

Sasha Cooke

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 05:50:31 PM
You ask what listeners might do differently, and at the risk of being presumptuous I'll offer a few thoughts.

Not at all presumptuous! Thank you very much for taking the time to do so!

I love your dynamic control, and wonder if you have tried bars 28 & 29 with the dynamics as marked?  Almost all playings I hear follow somewhat what you have done, each bar starting gently and building all the way through in intensity.  It seems to me that with the dynamics as marked we can feel a boat on the wave (or the wave itself) building quite strongly but failing to crest fullyand move on.   I think of a big intake of breath ( cresc. and accent) and a surprisingly gentle exhale, (the dim. mark).   When the same bars reappear with the octave bass (88,89) they aren't marked with a hairpin down.  This time they are more certainly part of a great oceanic building to climax.

Very interesting, and good, observation there. I'll definitely look into bars 28 and 29 next time.

In the next theme you achieve a mysterious feeling while preserving the steady rythm of the inner voice and bass, and this is very effective.  To me, this might be a hair piu piu mosso, particularly in the forte sections following the long trills.  Again, I think of things always seeming to build- to become more excitato as the sea enters the sailor's blood. 

...hahaha...what actually happened during the performance from around bar 50 and for the next 4 or so bars was, I fell asleep! My mind went to the backburner, completely immersed in the sound generated as I let the physical memory took over completely! The tempo definitely took a little step back in the process there too, until I "woke up" and realised I was dragging behind...so, certainly yes!

From bar 103 on, I think of things being  more agitato, but I'm not sure I should have listened to your recording, since it's making me doubt my reading! 

Bar 103 is marked tempo I, and it is after the piu mosso...but that is certainly also a different mindset more than just a different tempo - one I should perhaps like to try in the future!


Again, much thanks for looking into it! Hope yours is going well too :)

Offline ponken

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 07:05:50 PM
...wow, it's been a while...

This is from a recent recital on a NY Steinway D. Comments and thoughts are SO MUCH appreciated ^^

[EDIT:
So I was very happy with how I performed it...
Except upon hearing the recording...well I'm not sure if that's what I really wanted...
Maybe one day I will know what I really want from it...]

I am glad you posted this because this is one of my favourite pieces. Some parts of it just gives me goosebumps. I have been looking on youtube for this Barcarolle but there are not many performances of it that I like. I believe this piece is very hard to get to sound good. Anyway, I think you did a fantastic job. The dynamic was great.  I enjoyed every moment of it. Congrats and applause!

Offline sashaco

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Re: Chopin: Barcarolle
Reply #8 on: April 15, 2010, 04:24:59 PM
Hi Prongated,  I am making progress, but will not achieve anything at all comparable to what you have done here. 

Bar 103 is marked tempo I, and it is after the piu mosso

Absolutely.  The thing that gets me is the "sempre F", which is unusual in Chopin (correct me if I'm wrong).  I think that he might have imagined players pulling back too far after the boisterous and climactic Piu mosso, and put that "sempre" in to emphasize that things are not yet relaxing. I would need to listen to you again, but in my recollection, while this was not actually relaxed, it was if contrasted with the previous section.  I loved it for its own sake, it had a feeling of surf in the moonlight on a deserted shore, but I believe the climax is still spasming (sp?) here.  (It's hard not to get into sexual imagery when thinking about the Barcarolle (as many have remarked), and I think that's one reason why people can have such different takes.  After all, there's nothing more personal than...)

I will certainly listen again, but it takes a long time to download recordings here.

Cheers,  Sasha



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