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#1955968 - 09/08/12 02:22 PM Hammerklavier - 4th movement (feedback much appreciated!)
fnork Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 2070
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Once again the work with this seemingly unplayable piece has started. Although plenty of aspects are obviously still "in progress" (isn't everything?) then I have rather limited time with preparing this for an audition. Anyone willing to lend their ears for a moment and give some constructive criticism are more than welcome to do so. Not sure yet about the tempo - I used to play it faster, and I keep having troubles deciding a suitable tempo in general...


#1956016 - 09/08/12 04:22 PM Re: Hammerklavier - 4th movement (feedback much appreciated!) [Re: fnork]
ChrisKeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1342
Loc: Dallas, TX
Things I liked: the tempo, the clarity.

The tempo is fast enough, I think, to carry the forward momentum required, and it allows the listener time to digest it and not get lost in a blur of notes. And the rhythm is always clear, enhancing the listener's comprehension.

And you play with great clarity. At first the somewhat detached notes seemed odd but I quickly adjusted and ended up liking it. This piece's texture is so thick that clarifying it for the listener is next to impossible. I think you accomplished this very nicely.

I think this could benefit from some greater contrasts and dynamics throughout. Sometimes it feels just a little "mechanical" and lacking in color. And the introduction section should feel a little more free-form and smooth.

I've read through this movement several times in the past, and I have nothing but great respect for what you've achieved here. I doubt I could get anywhere near this level of playing. I look forward to your next recording of this movement!

#1956221 - 09/09/12 05:11 AM Re: Hammerklavier - 4th movement (feedback much appreciated!) [Re: fnork]
fnork Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 2070
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Thanks for commenting! smile I've done a lot of effort in order to gain clarity here, which isn't an easy thing. Keeping notes a tiny bit more detached (or at times rather light and leggiero - if we're talking 16th note passages low in the bass for example, where it'd just be a blur otherwise) is one way to do it, but even more importantly, I'm trying to project the music that's going on beyond the constant 16th note figurations, which are present throughout the piece. Beethoven adds "con alcuna licenza", so, it's a fugue with certain liberties. Liberties usually mentioned are doubling of bass notes and that there'll occasionally be more than three voices, but just as important to mention in my opinion is, that there's a very clear hierarchy between the voices sometimes where a 16th-note figuration might simply provide a harmonic framework rather than sounding like an interesting voice in itself. In places where this happens, I find it useful to highlight other voices that usually move with slower note-values - and I think it helps avoiding monotony. But yes, greater contrasts and dynamics could be done. It's a problematical piece in this sense because there's no way to make it "sound pleasant", and it's not meant to be that way. Still, you don't want it to sound as though Beethoven wrote sempre fortissimmo for the whole fugue. I had very interesting lessons on Hammerklavier this summer and did get the advice to find places to make color changes and pianos, however, I got rather limited advice on where this should be done...

#1956226 - 09/09/12 05:38 AM Re: Hammerklavier - 4th movement (feedback much appreciated!) [Re: fnork]
Franz Beebert Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/11
Posts: 386
The fugue part you did well! This is not easy, and one cannot be other than impressed. The only two parts that made me a little bit uncomfortable in this performance was the Largo opening, where I found your tone a little bit harsh, and also the climax in the fugue, where it felt like you were stumbling a bit, but hey, now I am hard, this is when comparing your playing with the interpretation of Schnabel.. I cannot play this piece, and you have done a good job. But the opening has a great meaning to it, that very much defines the performance of the piece, and if I were you, I would focus a bit on that part, because clearly, you have the technique.

#1956778 - 09/10/12 06:16 AM Re: Hammerklavier - 4th movement (feedback much appreciated!) [Re: fnork]
fnork Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 2070
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Thanks for commenting, and I do agree with your words. (incidentally, while I love lots of what Schnabel does in his hammerklavier recording, it's actually full of mishaps throughout, in the outer movements in particular - he does take much greater risks in terms of tempo and character than I dared, though!) You're right about what bits I need to work on. For me, the introduction is somehow very hard to do convincingly. It was in a way easier to do it when I performed the piece in its entirety - it's like a rebirth after the amazing slow movement. I have a short 15 minute audition to prepare however and this is a part of the program, and it is somehow very hard to set the mood from the beginning without the preceding movements.

#1956809 - 09/10/12 08:16 AM Re: Hammerklavier - 4th movement (feedback much appreciated!) [Re: fnork]
Beethoven747-400 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/11
Posts: 153
Loc: Perth, Australia
Wow.... I am honestly overawed! You have managed to play one of Beethoven's most difficult pieces, and probably one of the most challenging pieces in the whole classical repertoire. This is an accomplishment for any pianist!

I really liked the communication between the voices. The clarity was maintained throughout. I felt it was about to fall apart during the middle section but you kept control. The opening was too brilliant for my liking, none the less this is overall an amazing performance, such an accomplishment!!

I was actually listening to this exact movement on the train to school this morning - played by Valentina Lisitsa :P

I think Bareboim's masterclass would be a great help to you.


All the best!
YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/brandonscherrer?feature=mhee


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