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Topic: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively  (Read 607 times)

Offline ranjit

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Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
on: December 17, 2022, 09:25:20 PM
This was largely an experiment, and I think the results were unexpected, both in good and bad ways. I would be interested to hear your reaction.

Offline lelle

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #1 on: December 18, 2022, 07:08:03 PM
I happen to enjoy rubato, and I think it works well for the most part! There are a few times where the tempo changes are too abrupt so they draw attention to themselves, but a lot of the time you give them good proportions so it felt quite natural. To me, it didn't feel extra, but a good level of expression to have :)

And in any case, I think interpretative experiments are really good to do, just to explore what can be done with music. It might end up totally tasteless, but you might also happen upon an expressive device you like that you can add to your "interpretation toolbox". Keep going, and I would recommend even doing a version that's extra extra just to see what happens - where you feel the limits are.

You should listen to some Cortot if you haven't already, to see what can be done with rubato.

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #2 on: December 18, 2022, 07:58:50 PM
It's good to conduct such experiments, not least to develop your own view of what works and what doesn't. In general, if you use rubato, I feel it should go with the flow, rather than against it. Both of these scenarios, imo, are present here. Be wary of the danger of using rubato as a substitute for dynamic variation. Almost everyone plays with less dynamic variation than they think they're using at any given time.
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Offline frodo3

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #3 on: December 23, 2022, 01:23:00 AM
I hear very nice early attempts at rubato here.  Your rubato does not sound excessive in any way to my ear.  Rubato in 1st 40 seconds sound generally very good to my ear.  Nice retard near 40 second marker to end the section.  The rubato from second marker 42 to 48 needs work, for example.  Almost sounds like a rhythmic inaccuracy here.

I think you are making fine progress, but again you are playing from memory and are having memory issues.  I wish your music reading skills were strong enough to aid you in your performance. I assume having music on your piano would not help with this performance.  I would love to see you reading from a score that you practiced at some time in the future.   Keep up great work.   :)

Offline ranjit

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #4 on: December 23, 2022, 07:06:31 AM
I happen to enjoy rubato, and I think it works well for the most part! There are a few times where the tempo changes are too abrupt so they draw attention to themselves, but a lot of the time you give them good proportions so it felt quite natural. To me, it didn't feel extra, but a good level of expression to have :)

And in any case, I think interpretative experiments are really good to do, just to explore what can be done with music. It might end up totally tasteless, but you might also happen upon an expressive device you like that you can add to your "interpretation toolbox". Keep going, and I would recommend even doing a version that's extra extra just to see what happens - where you feel the limits are.

You should listen to some Cortot if you haven't already, to see what can be done with rubato.
Thank you for your feedback!

Offline ranjit

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #5 on: December 23, 2022, 07:13:40 AM
Be wary of the danger of using rubato as a substitute for dynamic variation. Almost everyone plays with less dynamic variation than they think they're using at any given time.
I will keep this in mind. I never thought about it in this manner, but it makes perfect sense that almost everyone uses less dynamic variation than they think they are. I feel it's probably because the piano comes across so loud from right in front of it that it becomes a bit hard to tell exactly how much dynamic variation is coming across at any given moment.

Another point is that dynamic variation requires more technical control, and I believe my teacher has been underemphasizing dynamic contrast in order to develop other aspects of touch.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #6 on: December 23, 2022, 07:20:20 AM
I hear very nice early attempts at rubato here.  Your rubato does not sound excessive in any way to my ear.
How about 0:59 with the fast "accelerando" and then ritard?

I think you are making fine progress, but again you are playing from memory and are having memory issues.  I wish your music reading skills were strong enough to aid you in your performance. I assume having music on your piano would not help with this performance.
I don't really think so. I also wouldn't say that note accuracy was the point of the recording, as it was all geared towards trying to experiment with musical intention. I didn't memorize the middle section well enough, but I kind of learned this as a throwaway piece and wasn't focused on memorization, and it had only been two weeks since I started learning this. Also, in order to get into the "improvisational" frame of mind, I find I have to ditch the sheets. It helps me hear better and take more risks, while the sheets tend to act as a grounding factor which make me avoid risk as the hands automatically react to the page and play more measure-by-measure and less expressively.

Offline frodo3

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #7 on: December 23, 2022, 03:08:08 PM
How about 0:59 with the fast "accelerando" and then ritard?

Sounds good!  :)

I also wouldn't say that note accuracy was the point of the recording, as it was all geared towards trying to experiment with musical intention.


Understood.  But you are not missing notes per say, but instead are stuttering and having stops and starts which interfere with the flow of the music.  This results in my having difficulty figuring out what was your musical intention in certain spots.  For example, music marker 42 to 48 that I mentioned before - is this how you wanted it to sound? 

As far as ditching sheets -  I have no problem as long as you are able to not have memory problems when you post your polished version - as you did for the most part when you posted the Chopin prelude that sounded great.  I assume you never plan on playing chamber music or as accompanist for solo instrument or singer?  You will need those sheets when rehearsing!

Offline ranjit

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #8 on: December 23, 2022, 07:13:53 PM
Understood.  But you are not missing notes per say, but instead are stuttering and having stops and starts which interfere with the flow of the music.  This results in my having difficulty figuring out what was your musical intention in certain spots.  For example, music marker 42 to 48 that I mentioned before - is this how you wanted it to sound? 
Yes, that was not a memory hesitation. I agree it sounds a bit odd, but it was an experiment and I had to do *something* with that phrase. In the moment, messing with the rhythm so that it didn't sound like 4 repeats of the exact same rhythm was what came to mind.

  I assume you never plan on playing chamber music or as accompanist for solo instrument or singer?  You will need those sheets when rehearsing!
As I said, I've only been reading music for less than two years. I'm working on it and it's getting better, but slowly and with easier music. Technique developed quicker than reading skill for me. I wish I could get up to a grade 8 reading standard but it's hard to do given how short a time I've been actually doing it. Perhaps I'm untalented in that regard, but it is what it is.

Offline frodo3

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #9 on: December 23, 2022, 07:32:20 PM
Yes, that was not a memory hesitation. I agree it sounds a bit odd, but it was an experiment and I had to do *something* with that phrase. In the moment, messing with the rhythm so that it didn't sound like 4 repeats of the exact same rhythm was what came to mind.

Absolutely understandable!  You are not expected to hit a home run each time when experimenting.  Overall you did great.  You are looking for feedback and so I felt it was worth mentioning this small spot in case you thought it was fine - in which case we would discuss further.

As I said, I've only been reading music for less than two years. I'm working on it and it's getting better, but slowly and with easier music. Technique developed quicker than reading skill for me. I wish I could get up to a grade 8 reading standard but it's hard to do given how short a time I've been actually doing it. Perhaps I'm untalented in that regard, but it is what it is.

You are doing incredibly well.  Keep working on your reading a little each day if possible so in maybe 10 years it will be at a good level.  It will imrpove with time!

Offline ranjit

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #10 on: December 23, 2022, 09:48:45 PM
You are looking for feedback and so I felt it was worth mentioning this small spot in case you thought it was fine - in which case we would discuss further.
I wouldn't say it's fine, it's just not a memory slip. I'm not sure what would work there. It needs a bit of a slow down, and with this sort of interpretation making it metronomic wouldn't work, and at the same time the phrase can't be overdone because it is the quiet section so it shouldn't bring too much attention to itself.

You are doing incredibly well.  Keep working on your reading a little each day if possible so in maybe 10 years it will be at a good level.  It will imrpove with time!
Yes, thanks. I don't think it'll take 10 years, but it will take a few for sure. I'm hoping to improve it by the end of the next year or so.

Offline frodo3

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #11 on: December 24, 2022, 12:05:59 AM
I wouldn't say it's fine, it's just not a memory slip. I'm not sure what would work there. It needs a bit of a slow down, and with this sort of interpretation making it metronomic wouldn't work, and at the same time the phrase can't be overdone because it is the quiet section so it shouldn't bring too much attention to itself.

Here is a possibility to consider for the section in question (approx. second maker from 40 to 60 in your recording):

Play this section to establish the base tempo without rubato.  The section is marked a tempo con anima.  Ashkenazy uses this section to show that this is indeed a waltz.  He goes for the classic oom-pah-pah waltz sound with light, staccato pah-pah in the left hand played with little rubato, but slows for the marked ritardando in the 8th measure of the section.  The right hand plays in strict time to the left hand. 

Ashkenazy does not play with the amount of rubato that you do. However, I think his simple interpretation of this particular section would work well even with the fair amount of rubato you use in the first section IMO, contrary to what you say.  This is a possible simple solution until you come up with a satisfactory alternative.  Maybe others have an opinion here.

EDIT after rereading this:
1) "It needs a bit of a slow down" - But this section is marked "a tempo" - so it should be played at regular speed rather than a slower speed.  Do you agree?
2) "making it metronomic wouldn't work" - Metronomic meaning played with steady beat?  This is where we disagree here?  Ashkenazy plays this with a steady beat giving it contrast to the first section that is played with rubato.
3) "the phrase can't be overdone because it is the quiet section so it shouldn't bring too much attention to itself." - I agree with making this the quiet section.  Perhaps playing it simply without rubato keeps the section from bringing too much attention to itself.


Offline robertus

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Re: Tried to play a Chopin waltz extra expressively
Reply #12 on: January 03, 2023, 02:51:45 PM
That seems to be a good level of rubato-to be honest, I would quite a lot more for this waltz.

A piece of advice- don't use the 5th finger in the left hand for the lowest notes of the chord (so that you use 5 for the single bass note, then jump and use 5 again at the bottom of the chord). Doing that means that your left is continually jumping around wildly. It looks really awkward too. Even if you can't cover all the notes in a given left hand pattern (i.e. bass notes, and notes in the chords which follow), at least try to do this as much as possible.

 
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