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Mozart/Haydn #1185194
04/22/09 10:19 AM
04/22/09 10:19 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 794
Toronto
jnod Offline OP
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jnod  Offline OP
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I've been working on several of the Mozart and Haydn Sonatas over the past few years and I generally work with the Henle urtexts. Some of the Sonatas by both composers have quite limited dynamic markings and I have some questions about this.

First, I assume that this is because the composers were composing and performing predminently on harpsichord so there was no need for forte/piano. Is this correct?

Second, is there a concensus on dynamics for these pieces? I've been kind of winging it and don't have any rational basis for what I'm doing other than what sounds good to me. Is there a book that discusses this question?

Any input would be appreciated - thanks in advance.


Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: jnod] #1185200
04/22/09 10:29 AM
04/22/09 10:29 AM
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epf Offline
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I don't know of any text that lays out the dynamics. Your best bet is to simply listen to a lot of different interpretations and pick the one you like the best.

Ed


"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria
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Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: jnod] #1185212
04/22/09 10:51 AM
04/22/09 10:51 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,898
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by jnod
[...]Second, is there a concensus on dynamics for these pieces? I've been kind of winging it and don't have any rational basis for what I'm doing other than what sounds good to me. Is there a book that discusses this question?

Any input would be appreciated - thanks in advance.


The new Schirmer edition of the Haydn Sonatas (based on the original text edited by Karl Päsler (Gesamtausgabe of Haydn's works) is also very sparing in any dynamic markings.

The only comment that I would add is that given the wider dynamic range of the modern piano, it certainly is appropriate to incorporate dynamics into a playing of these works. However, I would suggest that "winging it [without] any rational basis for what [you're] doing other than what sounds good" is not necessarily the best musical or artistic approach. I would suggest that you analyze the score, and choose your dynamics based on the structure of phrases and on the direction of the music.

While I haven't recently read it, I suggest you might start with Charles Rosen's book The Classical Style. This would give you insight not only on dynamics but on many other aspects of the performance of music of that era. There may be other more recent works that address your specific question; I'm not aware of them.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: epf] #1185214
04/22/09 10:53 AM
04/22/09 10:53 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
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Haverhill, Massachusetts
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John Citron Offline
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Haydn, Mozart, and their contemporaries wrote the music with limited dynamics because the expression was pretty much left up to the performer to interpret and build upon. The dynamics that they indicated (if any) are there explicit instructions to play this particular point at that dynamic level. This does not mean to play forte then piano if the piano marking comes up later. Yes the fortepiano and clavichord can produce a decrescendo and crescendo when played by an accomplished performer.

In addition it wasn't unusual for the performer to actually add in short cadenzas at fermatti and to even use rubato and other techniques to bring the music to life.

Now for the caveat:

These performance ideas, such as the extra ornaments etc., I have found, are perfect for the earlier instruments, but sound odd on the modern piano. Perhaps this has to do with the increased sustain and sonority of the modern piano in comparision to the fortepiano and clavichord. These "devices" were used by the performers to add to the music as the early instruments didn't have that capability.

If you are willing to try some of these things, I recommend that you listen to period performances by such fortepiano artists as Anthony Newmann and Malcom Bilson to get an idea of what they are trying to do.

The other thing I should mention is that when playing the music of these composers, keep your dynamics, pedalling, and sudden shifts in volume to a moderate and controlled level. Think of playing everything in moderation including the tempo.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: BruceD] #1185234
04/22/09 11:20 AM
04/22/09 11:20 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 794
Toronto
jnod Offline OP
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jnod  Offline OP
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Thanks very much - I'll look the Rosen book up.
Justin


Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: John Citron] #1185238
04/22/09 11:25 AM
04/22/09 11:25 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 794
Toronto
jnod Offline OP
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jnod  Offline OP
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Very interesting! Do you happen to know what proportion of the work they wrote was intended for piano vs harpsichord or where they used interchangeably?
Justin


Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: jnod] #1185486
04/22/09 07:01 PM
04/22/09 07:01 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,959
London
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David-G Offline
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London
Originally Posted by jnod
First, I assume that this is because the composers were composing and performing predminently on harpsichord so there was no need for forte/piano. Is this correct?

Mozart surely composed principally for the piano, not harpsichord.

Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: David-G] #1185505
04/22/09 07:43 PM
04/22/09 07:43 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,898
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by jnod
First, I assume that this is because the composers were composing and performing predminently on harpsichord so there was no need for forte/piano. Is this correct?

Mozart surely composed principally for the piano, not harpsichord.


Yes, but just keep in mind that Mozart's piano was a far cry in power, in dynamic range, and in sustain from that of the modern piano. The early Viennese pianos built by Stein and which Mozart had praised in a letter to his father in 1777 did not really become " ... a more expressive, more responsive instrument ..." until the end of the 18th century, by which time Mozart had already died. It is more likely that most of the pianos at Mozart's disposal were "... rather awkward device[s] that needed to be played in a precise manner." [1] This suggests to me that they may have been more akin to clavichords than to what we know of as the piano.

[1] Crombie, David. The Piano. Miller Freeman Books, San Francisco, 1995. (p. 24)

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: BruceD] #1185629
04/23/09 12:01 AM
04/23/09 12:01 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
J
John Citron Offline
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John Citron  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by jnod
First, I assume that this is because the composers were composing and performing predminently on harpsichord so there was no need for forte/piano. Is this correct?

Mozart surely composed principally for the piano, not harpsichord.


Yes, but just keep in mind that Mozart's piano was a far cry in power, in dynamic range, and in sustain from that of the modern piano. The early Viennese pianos built by Stein and which Mozart had praised in a letter to his father in 1777 did not really become " ... a more expressive, more responsive instrument ..." until the end of the 18th century, by which time Mozart had already died. It is more likely that most of the pianos at Mozart's disposal were "... rather awkward device[s] that needed to be played in a precise manner." [1] This suggests to me that they may have been more akin to clavichords than to what we know of as the piano.

[1] Crombie, David. The Piano. Miller Freeman Books, San Francisco, 1995. (p. 24)

Regards,


Bruce - You hit this dead on. The early fortepianos are very much like clavichords in tone. The only differences are that they have a couple of pedals to assist with the shading, and they are a bit louder.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: John Citron] #1185693
04/23/09 06:08 AM
04/23/09 06:08 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 794
Toronto
jnod Offline OP
500 Post Club Member
jnod  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 794
Toronto
I find this really interesting and it is relevant to my (decidedly amateur if well-meaning!) quandry. To me, Mozart played at full throttle on a gigantic Bosendorfer or whatever sounds somehow wrong. It's not that I find historical accuracy to be the critical issue - I'm not an original instruments devotee - but I just find that the full range of volume and....angst....that you hear in Chopin doesn't fit the music that was written 40 years earlier.


Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780
Re: Mozart/Haydn [Re: jnod] #1185789
04/23/09 10:49 AM
04/23/09 10:49 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,898
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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BruceD  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,898
Victoria, BC
Originally Posted by jnod
I find this really interesting and it is relevant to my (decidedly amateur if well-meaning!) quandry. To me, Mozart played at full throttle on a gigantic Bosendorfer or whatever sounds somehow wrong. It's not that I find historical accuracy to be the critical issue - I'm not an original instruments devotee - but I just find that the full range of volume and....angst....that you hear in Chopin doesn't fit the music that was written 40 years earlier.


Yes, quite true. That is why one has to play Mozart "differently" on a modern (grand) piano than one plays Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Prokofiev, etc. on the same grand. The saving grace - and the great virtue - of a good modern piano is that the instrument is capable of playing these different styles if the pianist is aware of how to produce them. No, you won't produce a sound equivalent to what Mozart heard when he played his fortepiano, but one can at least emulate a "Mozartian" sound on a modern piano.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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