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Topic: Chopin Barcarolle edition  (Read 5937 times)

Offline sashaco

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Chopin Barcarolle edition
on: January 06, 2010, 12:08:45 PM
Hi.  I printed a copy of the Chopin Barcarolle off the internet.  Although different in set-up from the version on this site, it has identical print, and the same markings.  Are the dynamics and pedallings  Chopin's?  If not, can I find a more original edition?  Unfortunately I live in Malawi, and I can't trot down to a music library for a look. 

Thanks, Sasha Cooke
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Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #1 on: January 06, 2010, 03:20:27 PM
Where did you get that score off the internet? In any case, surely the score from PS is superior ;D

The thing with the Barcarolle is that there are 3 "original" sources to look at - the original manuscript, and the original French and German editions - and they differ one way or another, so I'm afraid there is no such thing as "the" original edition. As a result, some notes and phrasings are different between today's published editions as they make different musical judgements regarding these discrepancies.

Are you learning this for yourself or to study with a teacher? Some teachers I come across have their own opinion regarding those discrepancies too. For example, some follow Mikuli's lead in playing the first LH bass note in the 4th beat of bar 11 as F# (the Paderewski edition I used, and I bet the Henle too, has D#). And I'm not sure about whether it's in the Mikuli (it's not in the Paderewski), but some also see it fit to add E# at the end of the trill in bar 102.

Offline sashaco

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #2 on: January 06, 2010, 05:50:49 PM
Thank you, Prongated.  I don't know where I got my copy, but it's virtually identical to the PS version.  The PS score is superior in that it places fewer bars on each page and is therefore much clearer. Since I've memorized the piece (although I still play from the score) there's no reason to switch now.  I am learning it by myself. Although I certainly need a teacher I haven't been able to find one in Blantyre, the nearest city of any size.  I'm puzzled by some of the pedalling in this score.  In the opening most of the pedalling is designed to presrve the C# in the bass, but not all of it.  Why the hiatus?  Then once the barcarolle bass begins in bar 4, the pedalling runs across the phrase markings, which it seems to me makes no sense.  Or am I thinking too classically- would that attention to phrasing not make sense in romantic music?   
  The tenuto markings I love in the second section (pocco piu mosso  bars 42, 46)  and I maintain that feeling in octave versions of the same tumbling phrase( bars 53, 57).  I also bring it back when the figure returns in 103, 104, 107 and 108, but perhaps now I'm being to schmaltzy and romantic?  These sorts of things, and the very different dynamic choices of the performances I've listened to on the internet, make me wonder how much of the score I can assume is Chopin's.

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #3 on: January 06, 2010, 10:20:45 PM
In the opening most of the pedalling is designed to presrve the C# in the bass, but not all of it.  Why the hiatus?

Hmmm, interesting question...my guess is, either Chopin didn't intend to preserve the C# in the bass, or he didn't want the harmonic progression muddled up and thus wrote no pedal marking (end of bar 1 and start of bar 2). Or neither. Anyway, usually I believe most people will use half-pedals to preserve that bass note to some extent, without blurring the harmony. Some preserve it for the entire line, and some letting it die progressively halfway through. Your choice.

Then once the barcarolle bass begins in bar 4, the pedalling runs across the phrase markings, which it seems to me makes no sense.  Or am I thinking too classically- would that attention to phrasing not make sense in romantic music?

Surely the Barcarolle begins in bar 1? ;D But the boat started swelling to the little waves in bar 4 for sure. Just to confirm: in bars 4 and 5, Chopin marked pedal changes in both A# in your score yes? (and of course at the beginning of each bar) And I think it is to reflect these swells that Chopin had that pedalling in mind. You can run the semiquaver notes (or 16ths) a little towards that A# without articulating too much to reflect that gentle sway.

But when the melody comes in bar 6, for sure you want to avoid blurring the sound by overpedalling, so yes you need to change the pedal a little more often. Essentially, remember that although Chopin wrote so much pedalling, it's imperfect. He couldn't tell you to flutter pedal or half pedal for instance. So you need to use your brain, ear, and musical intuition wisely to determine the pedalling in such places.

   
The tenuto markings I love in the second section (pocco piu mosso  bars 42, 46)  and I maintain that feeling in octave versions of the same tumbling phrase( bars 53, 57).  I also bring it back when the figure returns in 103, 104, 107 and 108, but perhaps now I'm being to schmaltzy and romantic?  These sorts of things, and the very different dynamic choices of the performances I've listened to on the internet, make me wonder how much of the score I can assume is Chopin's.

Well, the others are not marked "tenuto", so what is your reason for doing so for similar figures in the rest of the piece? You know, there's more going on than just that G# note landing after the harmonic change - namely, the echo starts there too at first, and then when it came an octave higher and after the climactic piu mosso, the echo starts a note earlier than where you'd put the tenuto in.
Anyway, what you're doing is not necessarily wrong, but it is wrong if it is not for the right reason!

As for other people's performances, well, don't worry about them too much. You know people understand and perform Chopin's music differently according to how they read and understand the score. And as regards the score, well you know, teachers and artists have their own preferences too! Some consider Paderewski the most musically satisfying, while some consider it academically flawed. And some consider the Henle simply arrogant. So...actually the problem stems from the fact Chopin signed off those 2 first editions that have quite a few subtle differences - which are then different again to his original manuscript!

I am learning it by myself. Although I certainly need a teacher I haven't been able to find one in Blantyre, the nearest city of any size.

...I'd try to find a good teacher if I were you, even if to play it just once when you feel you're ready. It's just such a gorgeous piece it's a shame if you don't get to learn it really well.

Offline sashaco

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #4 on: January 07, 2010, 06:33:15 AM
Prongated, It's very thoughful of you to write such detailed answers.  I will experiment with different pedallings in the opening, bearing your thoughts in mind. 
In Bar 4 I'm still puzzled that the pedal links the sixth eighth note, C#, to the seventh, F#, while the slur breaks, but I think you're absolutely right that the pedalling must not blur things once the right hand enters. By "barcarolle bass" I meant the repeated simple figure that you might hear in any boat song, like "Santa Lucia."
On the tenutos I thought it not impossible that marking it twice might have been thought sufficient to indicate it as a general idea for that figure.  What I hear, (and now, perhaps, I'm going to be embarrassingly fanciful,) is a suggestion of the way waves sometimes hold each other up as the backwash of one hits the next one or two incoming.  The rythm is temporarily stretched, but the underlying pulse always returns.  This becomes even more pronounced with bigger waves, which sometimes create almost a chaotic feel, that I thought might be supported by the more complex harmonies in bars  107 and 108 for example.  The pedal point-like F# fom 103 to 110 assures us that even though it's getting a bit chaotic on the surface, the depths are constant.  I know this kind of allegorical imaging is a bit reductive, but it seems to occur in a few other places.  Bar 14 has a wave come up to forte, and then shows the ripples gently flattening out as they splash back, in this case not strongly enough to interfere with the rythm of the next wave coming in.
   I have to run but will send this incomplete-  anyway, those are my reasons for using tenuto even where not marked.  Thanks again

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 08:33:59 AM
Pleasure ;) and haha you're right, that bass line starts in bar 4 - actually I missed the word "bass" when I first read through your previous post.

In Bar 4 I'm still puzzled that the pedal links the sixth eighth note, C#, to the seventh, F#, while the slur breaks...

...I think the editors of the Paderewski edition probably agree with you and actually put in a pedal marking for that second F# as an option in order to show that there is a new phrase...on the other hand, I also find that sometimes slurs in romantic music are there simply to show groups of phrasing.  You need to keep that in mind when playing it of course, but you don't necessarily have to break off there like you would in a classical composition. I mean, in retrospect, are you seriously going to play the LH non-legato in the opening because there is no legato marked at all?

On the tenutos I thought it not impossible that marking it twice might have been thought sufficient to indicate it as a general idea for that figure.  What I hear, (and now, perhaps, I'm going to be embarrassingly fanciful,) is a suggestion of the way waves sometimes hold each other up as the backwash of one hits the next one or two incoming.  The rythm is temporarily stretched, but the underlying pulse always returns.  This becomes even more pronounced with bigger waves, which sometimes create almost a chaotic feel, that I thought might be supported by the more complex harmonies in bars  107 and 108 for example.  The pedal point-like F# fom 103 to 110 assures us that even though it's getting a bit chaotic on the surface, the depths are constant.  I know this kind of allegorical imaging is a bit reductive, but it seems to occur in a few other places.  Bar 14 has a wave come up to forte, and then shows the ripples gently flattening out as they splash back, in this case not strongly enough to interfere with the rythm of the next wave coming in.

O.o...you know, I actually enjoy very much hearing what other people think of the music that they are playing, so thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

That is a fine musical goal, and yes it is important to ensure that the underlying pulse returns naturally, just as the waves return naturally to the ocean after they "hold each other up" as you say. By the way, are you thinking/counting 4 beats per bar throughout the piece, instead 3 notes per beat? I personally find that counting 4 beats per bar is extremely helpful in keeping the music naturally flowing.

But you know, I personally think that doing the tenuto with the slight rubato in some of those places is not the best way to create chaos in bars 107 and 108. If you take time there, it will instead sound expressive, leaning towards indulgent, which is nice in the poco piu mosso section, but isn't necessarily what you want in bars 107/8. To create agitation, I would keep the music going instead of taking time. Also note the way Chopin phrased the melody there, and where he put the accents. Otherwise I agree with you regarding the pedal note F# - certainly keeps the tension up until it returns to the key of F# in bar 111.

Take it for what it's worth of course! And it would be interesting to hear what you come up with in the end - i.e. post it in the Audition Room when you have the time!

Offline sashaco

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 09:26:28 AM
Prongated, Again thanks.  I think every comment you make here is useful, and I have to agree that tenuto in 107 and 108 is exactly what you call it- indulgent.  I think Mark Twain talks somewhere about how we each hqave our little ideas, and we like to take them out and caress them, rather than poking them to see if they stand up.  That is exactly what indulgence is. The music should certainly move ahead there.  On the other hand I may continue to play with tenuto in the section ending in bar 60, where those little 16th runs seem to restore the rythm so gracefully, or rather, allow the rythm to restore itself.
It's unlikely I will attempt to post in the audition room from here.  Even if I could find the equipment, piano tuners rarely pass through the country- there hasn't been one in Zomba for over a year. I have to say I'm very lucky that my piano is holding its pitch as well as it is, but it probably wouldn't sound great to people who have regular tunings.  Sasha

Yes, it must be heard in 4, but I'm still working on that as well!

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle edition
Reply #7 on: January 08, 2010, 12:00:43 AM
You're welcome :) just glad if you find it useful ;D
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