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Author Topic: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue 4 Hands  (Read 5279 times)
gvans
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« on: July 27, 2014, 04:41:45 PM »

Here is a Saturday studio recording by my pianist friend Erica (primum) and moi (secundum) of the Levine transcription of Rhapsody in Blue. Levine worked with the composer in rendering the transcription, or so it goes.

Comments welcome.

* Gershwin_ Rhapsody in Blue.mp3 (21204.12 KB - downloaded 106 times.)
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awesom_o
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 05:57:29 PM »

Well played! Thank you for posting this! There are not enough duet players around, in my opinion, and it's great to hear this familiar piece in a new light! It seems like quite a challenging transcription.

In terms of being hyper-critical.... the difficulty of 4 hands, particularly with transcriptions, is avoiding the clunky sound of 'both players playing the notes in their parts'. The greatest responsibility in this regard of course lies with the secondo player.  It's very easy to play the secondo part with blinkers on, so to speak. I can't tell you how often I've been criticized when playing secondo for being slightly too loud.

Be more the conductor, and less the players... the players are skilled. They can handle the parts. Greater judgement of balance and overall texture should result in a smoother, more realistic orchestral sound. 

Good work though! I really enjoyed this.

Also, the recording itself seems very quiet-maybe you should boost the audio levels?
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gvans
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 06:05:48 PM »

Thanks, awesom_o, for your comments and kind words. Yes, as with all chamber music, it is difficult to get beyond hitting the notes and tight ensemble to voicing and balance, especially with four hands. This is our first attempt, hopefully we'll make progress.

Thanks again.
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awesom_o
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 06:19:21 PM »

Thanks, awesom_o, for your comments and kind words. Yes, as with all chamber music, it is difficult to get beyond hitting the notes and tight ensemble to voicing and balance, especially with four hands. This is our first attempt, hopefully we'll make progress.

Thanks again.

A noble result, for a first-timer with a big work like this!

The 4 hands repertoire is INCREDIBLE. Check out the Pines of Rome by Respighi, Tchaikovsky's 5th and/or 6th symphony, Rachmaninoff's 2nd Symphony.....or any of the 9 Beethoven Symphonies! Or Schubert's 9th!
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rachfan
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 10:43:13 PM »

Hi gvans,

Wow!  If that's your first attempt, it's still terrific! This is the first time I've heard this 4-hands version.  Some of those rapid repetitions you played must be challenging.  I've always heard that the most important part of logistics during practicing is observing the hands playing at the very center of the keyboard and deciding on motions where necessary to avoid interference, collisions, trip-ups, etc.  You both had the timings pretty well synchronized so that you were staying together.  You already know the places that might need a bit more work or polish to meet your standard.  But I must say, for a first recording, this is very, very good!  Congrats to you and Erica, and thanks for sharing your recording here!

David
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Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.
gvans
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2014, 03:35:19 AM »

Hi David,
Thanks for the kind words. Especially from a recording master, like yourself.

In Gershwin, or any jazz, you've got to keep the beat. But there are a lot of tempo changes in Rhapsody, some quite sudden, and that makes duo ensemble interesting. Luckily, the two of us click well together. It's easier, in some ways, playing 4 hands one piano than 4 hands two pianos, because you can see each other and communicate better. Of course, the risk for getting in each other's way increases. It's all about listening...and rehearsing.

We're putting it on the back burner for now, but once we get a complete program together, we'll record it live. I hope.
Best,
Glenn
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cbreemer
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2014, 07:09:30 PM »

Wow, kudos ! This piece is bloody damn hard enough without someone else getting their fingers in the way. There's work to do in the trickier passages but for the large part it has a nice swing and
the ensemble playing is pretty good. I did not know there was a 4-hand version. Which Levine ?
Not James I guess as you say he worked with the composer (which isn't humanly possible).

Apart from the occasional stiffness I have just one criticism which is the dry sound. When you next record it, I hope some post processing (reverb) will be in order.

Good job for a first try. I take it you each practiced your own part for some weeks (or longer) and then got together and recorded it ? If so, how many hours of practice together before you actually taped it ?

Cheers,
Chris
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cbreemer
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2014, 07:14:17 PM »

Check out the Pines of Rome by Respighi
Ahhh....  *drool*  I never knew that ! This will have to be played at some stage. 
Must add it to the already too long to do list... Thanks for the tip !
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gvans
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2014, 12:43:53 AM »

Wow, kudos ! This piece is bloody damn hard enough without someone else getting their fingers in the way. There's work to do in the trickier passages but for the large part it has a nice swing and
the ensemble playing is pretty good. I did not know there was a 4-hand version. Which Levine ?
Not James I guess as you say he worked with the composer (which isn't humanly possible).

Apart from the occasional stiffness I have just one criticism which is the dry sound. When you next record it, I hope some post processing (reverb) will be in order.

Good job for a first try. I take it you each practiced your own part for some weeks (or longer) and then got together and recorded it ? If so, how many hours of practice together before you actually taped it ?

Cheers,
Chris


Thanks for your kind words, Chris. Henry Levine was the arranger, from back in the Roaring Twenties or maybe the early thirties. Perhaps I'll take your advice and remaster with more sound and more reverb (I added some but maybe not enough). I think we rehearsed maybe five or six times? Not sure. We do a lot of sight-reading together. If you would like to hear one of the best recordings ever of the piece, try this jazzed-out clip by Marcus Roberts and Seiji Ozawa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9Ub718U9uQ
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