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Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision) (Read 8110 times)

Offline rachfan

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Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
« on: April 21, 2011, 09:41:17 PM »
Here I turn to music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.  The piece I play is the familiar “Melodie” from the Morceaux de Fantaisies, Op. 3, No. 3.  But this is not the commonly heard original composition created in 1892 when Rachmaninoff was only 19; instead I play the lesser known revision from 1940 when the composer was 67.  So why after 48 years would Rachmaninoff rewrite what had been a much beloved piece?  Some thoughts: 1) Perhaps he wanted to bring a more seasoned perspective to this ultra-romantic music; 2) maybe Rachmaninoff wanted to better fulfill the piece’s potential by giving it a more lush, robust sound; or 3) whereas Rachmaninoff was still giving recitals late in life (he died in 1943), maybe he wanted a more opulent piece for use as an encore.  Probably we’ll never know the reason, but hopefully you’ll enjoy listening to this later version, which for some might be a first hearing of “new music”.  
  
Comments welcome.

David

Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3”) with lid fully open
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Microphones: Earthworks TC-20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in
A-B configuration    


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

piano sheet music of Mélodie


Offline furtwaengler

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #1 on: April 22, 2011, 05:17:17 AM »
Wow, again David! This is gushing and glowing with life. Rachmaninoff seemed to do a lot of revisions in his carrier, and in my experience I prefer the originals 9/10. I wonder if any of these stemmed from insecurity? I don't know...but this particular revision is successful indeed. There are a couple strange sounds not typical of your recordings at 3:00 - 3:03, almost like you were trying to edit out a page turn (such an external thing never bothers me, though I know some are sensitive to it).

Thanks as always for another great recording. Is there any temptation to be pulled into the little Chopin Etude fest in Miscellaneous?  ;D

Dave
Don't let anyone know where you tie your goat.

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #2 on: April 22, 2011, 05:49:29 AM »
Hi Dave,

Thanks so much for listening and you nice compliments.  This revision is devilish to play, so I had to give it my all.

On revisions, three come immediately to mind.  I dislike one and like two of them.  I dislike  the revised Second Sonata, where the original (1913) is so rich and opulent as to make the revised version (1931) austere by comparison.  Horowitz met with Rachmaninoff and got the composer's consent to play a hybrid version mix what he considered to be the best of both.  Nowadays many pianists are opting for the original again, which I'm glad to see.  Regarding the Fourth Piano Concerto, I would agree that the original has some interesting material that we no longer hear, but it also made the concerto too long and also somewhat fragmented.  The revision really refined the work while tightening it up, making its length more reasonable too.  As for the "Melodie" here, I far prefer this revision that I play here!  It is so rich, lush and passionate, such that when I hear the original now, it seems austere and stilted.  I'm really surprised that the revision never caught on much and didn't displace the original entirely.  Maybe it was because the publisher continued to reprint Op. 3 intact without including the revision of "Melody" as an alternate choice.  Or the far increased level of difficulty could be the reason.  It has my vote though.

Yes, you caught my clumsy editing of a page turn.  The piece is five pages so doesn't fit the music desk.  So I place page 4 over page 5, and at the critical moment I flip 4 aside onto the piano's side tray.  Well, during the maneuver the score got out of control making it a long and noisy incident.  Some listeners really complain about page turns.  I never edit my recordings for content, but I'm willing to try to remediate a nasty page turn, although this one I think was my first or second one at the most.  I'm a klutzy editor.  :-[ There's a remnant of the crinkling paper there, so at least people know what it is or was.  I eliminated about 95% of the problem though.

I'll probably have to skip the Chopin Etude gathering, although I'll look in on it.  I'm already into the Liadov preludes now.

Thanks again!

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

Offline emill

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #3 on: April 22, 2011, 05:00:58 PM »
Again this adds to my "music education" .... sounds like and feels like
Rachmaninoff .... excellently played and recorded ... looking forward to
more exchanges of views.. ;D ;D  THANKS David......
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #4 on: April 22, 2011, 05:10:03 PM »
Hi emill,

Thanks for listening, and your compliments.  I think many will get this same education that you and I have received as listener and performer, as this piece is so little known.  As I was playing it, I wanted it to sound more like Rachmaninoff than Rachmaninoff. ;D   

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

Offline goldentone

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #5 on: April 24, 2011, 06:29:59 AM »
Beautiful playing, David. :)  The energy and tempestuousness which concludes the first part gives way to a reverie-like second half, which is beautiful.  It's a beautiful piece.

I have not heard the original, but I like this revision very much.  My bent is away from revisions, though. Mendelssohn revised his Italian symphony to the worse and totally stripped the last movement of its power.  He took the wonderful, dramatic, and tightly-knit finale and decomposed it into mediocrity, a ghost of what he had originally written.  Fortunately conductors stick to the original.

The Melodie will definitely make the next Rachfan CD. :)  I'll let you know when it ships!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #6 on: April 24, 2011, 02:44:02 PM »
Hi goldentone,

Thanks for the nice compliments, I appreciate it!

Yes, revisions have a mixed history.  In Rachmaninoff's music, I think this revision of the "Melodie" has it all over the original.  I also much prefer the more coherent 4th Concerto.  But when Rachmaninoff simplified the Second Piano Sonata, I believe it was a mistake, as it stripped the piece of its rich filligree.  Fortunately, these days more pianists are gravitating to the original version of the sonata again.

I think if I were to return to this piece in the future, there are a few things that I could improve.  This is one of those pieces that one could revisit several times in a lifetime.

Thanks for listening.

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

Offline nadia goh

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #7 on: April 25, 2011, 12:27:50 PM »
My God! this is wonderful! i've never heard of this piece before...it sounds really amazing! i'll definitely play it in the future.

btw, is this played on grand piano or upright?

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #8 on: April 25, 2011, 02:19:34 PM »
Hi ridiculousme,

I'm glad you enjoyed this piece.  As you can see at the bottom of my recording post, I play a Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6'3").

You won't be able to find this music at your friendly music store.  When you buy Rachmaninoff's Fantasy Pieces (Morceaux de fantaisies), any volume will always show the original 1892 version, not the 1940 revision that I play here.  The thing to do is download the piece for free in pdf form from the IMSLP.

I should add that it's difficult to play.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline nadia goh

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #9 on: April 25, 2011, 02:54:17 PM »
oh, sorry rachfan, i didn't read your post carefully... i have always been missing out things when i read... when it comes to music, i always wanna listen to the piece straight away. so, i prefer to listen first to help me read the music sheet.

i know it's difficult but your playing is inspiring. it sounds so wonderful! i will learn to play the piece in the future someday :)

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #10 on: April 25, 2011, 07:22:18 PM »
Hi ridiculousme,

No prob.  I miss stuff myself sometimes when reading.  

When the time comes for you to undertake this "Melodie" in its revised form, if it turns out to be too difficult, (sometimes we all encounter music that is too difficult), at least you'll have a fallback--the original 1892 version which might suffice.

Thanks for your nice compliment on my playing, I appreciate that!  :)

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

Offline scottmcc

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #11 on: April 26, 2011, 01:48:55 AM »
rachfan, as usual, you've presented a very fine rendition of a piece I had not heard (at least not this version).  keep up the excellent work--you've never disappointed!

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #12 on: April 26, 2011, 02:25:35 AM »
Hi Scott,

Thanks for the nice compliment!  This revised "Melodie" is a gorgeous piece to say the least.  In my travels through the Late Romantic era, I always try to find the unusual, but it also has to be of great beauty for me to play it. This Rachmaninoff piece certainly met both criteria.

I believe I have a small but dedicated listening audience here including you who have really appreciated hearing wonderful music off the beaten path.  So it's always a pleasure for me to keeping posting these pieces here.

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

Offline rafant

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #13 on: June 10, 2011, 11:37:34 PM »
Pianism of highest quality.

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff, "Melodie", Op. 3, No. 3 (1940 revision)
«Reply #14 on: June 11, 2011, 12:59:23 AM »
Hi Rafant,

Thanks so much for that wonderful compliment!  But you might give me too much credit.  This 1940 revision is really tough to play in some ways, and, of course, my performance was not up to those of Rachmaninoff himself, or Volodos to mention two superb renditions.  Not that I can ever compete with the legendary and current crop of virtuoso artists.  In particular I think I might have done a better job of tuning down the accompaniment figuration in a couple of places for example to allow the melody to shine more.  I will admit though that I loved playing the piece overall.  By its very nature it invites the infusion of ardent feeling and expression.  

Relatively few pianists have played this version, but my guess is that for those who would play it, it would be very difficult for them in my opinion to revert back to the original 1892 composition.  This piece shimmers in splendor, so one can't help but like it.

Thanks for listening to my recording!

David

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