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#1160122 03/09/09 01:58 PM
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It was in noting that one of our members used the Gershwin Preludes to convey a level of performance skill ... that got me questioning in particular Prelude III ..." a mere bagatelle!!" of 58 measures (in 6 flats) at a dizzy Allegro ben ritmato e deciso ... dashed of in 1m40s by George ...
here’s the 1st page of 4 ... is there anyone out there who can match the 1m40s ... or does a description of "performance" level not have to include the requisite racy tempo?

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Angela Brownridge (The Complete Music for Solo Piano by George Gershwin, HELIOS CDH55006) clocks in at about 1m3s. The listed track time is 1:11, but there are several seconds of silence at the end of the track.


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Hi btb,

I just noticed something odd (or coincidental or interesting, at least).

58 measures of music in 2/4 time at 116 bpm equals exactly one minute.

If the M.M. marking on the score is Gershwin's, it looks like he intended it to be a "Minute Prelude"! laugh

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George must have had an off day when he recorded the third Prelude. If you do the math and follow Gershwin's tempo - MM=116=quarter note [1] - then one should play the 58 measures of this piece in about one minute. It would seem, then, that Ms. Brownridge is closer to the composer's recommended tempo than "ol' George" himself.

Why would there be a question whether or not anyone "out there" could play this at the requisite tempo?

[1] that may be a "crotchet" to you, btb

Regards,


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I was curious enough about this to dig out the score I have (which I have never played). It is in a volume called "The Complete Gershwin Preludes" edited by Alicia Zizzo and published by Warner Bros in 1996.

The introduction claims that it is a completely new edition prepared from original manuscripts where possible and Prelude III (which is subtitled "Spanish Prelude") has no metronome marking and only the tempo marking of "Agitato" (which a footnote says is the only indication given in the original manuscript).


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Before I read everyone's responses, I played through it (the 3rd prelude and I are long-time friends!). It was about a minute, just over, but I was trying to play it "fast", I usually play it a little slower.



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Interesting that you chaps should get out your log books
to reduce the Prelude III to a duration of about a minute ...
which represents a sight-reading and finger speed of
a blurring 15 notes per second (there are 880 notes).

Thank goodness neither sv nor BruceD pretend to be able
to play the Prelude III in anywhere near a minute if at all ...
but there’s always someone who bucks the premise ...
and joins the ranks of terminal inexactitude artists.

However, the main reason for the thread was to settle the
hash of a Forum student "looking for bigger things" (after a 5 year slog at the piano) with a background which included bringing to performance level, amongst others ... about half of Schumann’s Kinderscenen Opus 15 and the Gershwin Preludes ... but it was the Prelude III that had me questioning what constitutes performance level.

BTW My pianist (under the pseudonym of George) is Mario Rapko Delorko who pleasantly completes the Prelude in an apparently slow 1m40s (by all accounts) ... anything less has my second name of Thomas raising doubt.


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Velocity is no substitute for musicality, for heaven's sake.


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Originally Posted by CD131
Velocity is no substitute for musicality, for heaven's sake.


While I agree with the above, I don't see what it has to do with this particular thread. Gershwin's suggested tempo for this Prelude is MM=116=quarter note. Anyone who plays it considerably slower than that is not following the composer's direction, however "musical" the interpretation may be.

Regards,


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Quite agree BruceD,

But Canadian CD131 has thrown into the melting pot the interesting sidestep to stringent adherence to the tempo marking ... with the (for heavens sake!!) comment

"Velocity is no substitute for musicality".

Perhaps, the subject of thread ... the student with 5 years at the piano ... is being advised just so in the playing of the Gershwin Prelude III ... musicality before velocity.

I'm not sure that Gershwin would agree.

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In this case, I think it would be very unmusical to pick a much slower tempo to achieve perfection of tone and avoid potential wrong notes. The piece is supposed to be fast, crazy and reckless. To sacrifice recklessness to achieve control is totally against the spirit of the music. Of course, in the ideal case the performer has total control while creating a impression of crazy recklessness. But if the choice is between fast and reckless with potential mistakes or a slower "safe" version, I'd choose the fast one.

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One could just as easily state that "Musicality is no substitute for velocity" smile

Playing something appreciably more slowly than indicated by the composer due to a lack of technical capacity, then attempting to justify this on "musicality" grounds, is IMNSHO in itself just as much humbug as ripping through something faster than the composer indicates just to show off[1] that one is capable of doing so.

Michael B.
[1] For those interested in thread convergence, I believe that the current LL discussion is over there -------------------------->


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With regard to me comment,"velocity is no substitute for musicality," I no way implied that this prelude should be played at a tempo slower than one which fulfills the emotional requirements of the music.

What I intended by my comment was to impress upon btb that making velocity the primary objective would likely result in other elements being overlooked to the detriment of the music, the listener, and ultimately, the pianist making the music.

Speed is an intoxicating thing. Many think, "because I can, I should." We hear and feel all the small things, even the spaces between the notes. As such, what we may perceive as not too fast actually sounds faster to the audience.

In the 1970s, Mr. Horowitz gave an interview the day before he performed in recital in Toronto. He remarked that, as an older man, he slowed his tempos down of many works, not because he couldn't play as quickly, but because he felt that he was doing an injustice to the music. To his surprise, people kept coming up to him and saying, "How is it that you are able to play even faster than you did as a young man?" He said that he was astonished, but then realized that people could hear all of the notes clearly, not just as a glittering wave that washed over them. I think he may have been on to something.


Last edited by CD131; 03/10/09 05:55 PM.

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If only RogerW would divulge his home-base ... lack of profile info makes us wonder whether he’s a New Yorker or a Cockney ... but his IMHO valid focus on the "risk" factor of the Prelude III stirs my vivid image of the Manhattan wild traffic and racy lifestyle which characterized those stirring Gershwin song-writing days.

Thanks Michael B for the "humbug" slant on allowing musicality to
over-reach tempo ... you clearly denounce watering down the
tempo of a brisk piece ... by some perhaps a ploy to hide indifferent technique.

Thanks for the explanation CD131 ... apologies for drawing you out ... we all like Horowitz and expect that most would approve of his later penchant for a gentle slowing of tempo ... but then who can compare with the great Vladimir Horowitz.

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CORRECTION: Actually the recording I have of Gershwin playing it is 55 seconds.


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When I hear this prelude played at the indicated speed, it *always* sounds rushed. So Gershwin clearly got it wrong smirk


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Ha ha, yeah clearly the composer doesn't interpret his own piece the correct way.


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