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#2058491 - 04/03/13 12:17 AM Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?!  
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 75
Piano Person16 Offline
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Piano Person16  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 75
I've posted my recent recording from the Hilton Head International Piano Competition in the recording section but here it is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKh5VYLHKNs

The link to the first movement appears in the description of the 2nd and 3rd movements-- I made it unlisted because it's particularly bad.

I love this piece so much, but I have such issues with it, both in regards to the technique and also with respect to creating a rich yet soft sound (and then being able to vary sounds between sections)!

If anyone's played this and has suggestions, they'd be greatly appreciated, even if I don't play 81a again for a while! This next two months, I have the impossible task of preparing Rach 3 (although I haven't yet taken a lesson on it)...


Working on: Rachmaninov concerto 3, Mozart K488, Beethoven Waldstein, Bach Goldberg Variations, Stravinsky Petrushka, Bach Art of the Fugue, Brahms 118, Rachmaninov op. 39 no. 6 (Red Riding Hood), Chopin etude op. 10 no. 1, Chopin nocturne op. 55 no. 2, Bach Prelude and Fugue in g# minor (Book 2)
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#2058492 - 04/03/13 12:25 AM Re: Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?! [Re: Piano Person16]  
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 121
mermilylumpkin Offline
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mermilylumpkin  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 121
This comment is going to sound as random as can be, but I think I recognized you from that YouTube video and I just wanted to say that a few months ago I found your recording of the Bach G major prelude and I bookmarked it to my Pinterest board beside Angela Hewitt so I could go back and listen to it a lot:-) It is a real place of honor.

You're really good! I don't know anything about Beethoven's 81a but I bet you will do a good job!

#2058497 - 04/03/13 12:48 AM Re: Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?! [Re: Piano Person16]  
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 21,385
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Mark_C  Online Content
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New York
Just did a comment on the other thread....

#2058517 - 04/03/13 01:50 AM Re: Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?! [Re: Piano Person16]  
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 125
Michael Glenn Williams Offline
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Michael Glenn Williams  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 125
Southern California
Hi PP16!

Since you asked for suggestions on tone and on technique... on tone I'd offer that you have a wide range/variety of "louds" but only one "soft". This is a slight exaggeration but in listening to the shape of the melodies, they seem to go from the soft level to a loud level, then stay in louds, but only to return to the one soft. If you could achieve more gradations in your soft and mezzo piano ranges, the line would sing even more.

Regarding technique, I'd suggest focusing on the pedal and on the legato. The use of more pedal and careful attention to the release of the pedal, especially the timing of it, could help add some depth to the sound. The legato sometimes came across as non legato. Careful attention to each note especially subphrase final notes or end of phrase notes could help give more singing quality.

Hope you like the suggestions!

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#2058666 - 04/03/13 11:29 AM Re: Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?! [Re: Michael Glenn Williams]  
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 75
Piano Person16 Offline
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Piano Person16  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 75
Thank you so much for your suggestions. I haven't really thought about the gradients of sound in piano before, but you can be sure I'm going to be doing a lot of experimentation in the practice room these coming months.
I definitely have an issue with phrase endings-- perhaps my aversion to singing stifles the natural impulse to taper my phrase-endings, but I need to work on this. Thanks for noting that; the more I am reminded it's a problem, the more actively I'll be seeking a solution!
AHA! You are the first person EVER to comment on my non-legato legato sound, which I myself have scrutinized many times. I shy away from Chopin as a result, even though his filigree is well-suited to my technical strengths. I'm guessing this arose from my childhood-- having learned without a teacher until I was ten, I just imitated recordings. Of Glenn Gould. I'm "specializing" in Bach where this seems to serve me better, but I'd like to acquire the flexibility to do my other repertoire justice as well. Thanks smile


Working on: Rachmaninov concerto 3, Mozart K488, Beethoven Waldstein, Bach Goldberg Variations, Stravinsky Petrushka, Bach Art of the Fugue, Brahms 118, Rachmaninov op. 39 no. 6 (Red Riding Hood), Chopin etude op. 10 no. 1, Chopin nocturne op. 55 no. 2, Bach Prelude and Fugue in g# minor (Book 2)
#2058687 - 04/03/13 12:26 PM Re: Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?! [Re: Piano Person16]  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Kreisler Offline
Kreisler  Offline


Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
Four random comments, which may be worth exactly what you're paying for them. ($0.00) smile

1) Your voicing is excellent, but narrow. The melody is very prominent, the accompaniment is well in the background. There are shades of grey in between you could explore.

2) You tend to carry intensity between phrases. (i.e. when it's not necessary) Phrases should have beginnings, middles, and ends. You have great beginnings and middles. Ends could be handled with more care, then take a breath before the next beginning.

3) Don't put too much stock in the competition recording. Listening to it is fine, but I noticed they put the mid very close to the piano and aimed it right at the hammers. This is going to make it sound ultra-clear. The sound for the audience and judges will be quite a bit different.

4) You're awesome. You're playing Hilton Head. That's a big deal. Keep it up. 81a is one of those pieces that takes a while to cook. That you're struggling a bit is probably a good thing. Means you're an artist and not a robot. smile


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2058878 - 04/03/13 07:13 PM Re: Why can I not play Beethoven's 81a?! [Re: Kreisler]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 4,365
Cinnamonbear Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Cinnamonbear  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 4,365
Rockford, IL
Originally Posted by Kreisler
[...] 81a is one of those pieces that takes a while to cook. That you're struggling a bit is probably a good thing. Means you're an artist and not a robot. smile


+1

It's not that you can't play it. It just needs to "season" a bit. I think what you're hearing, Rachel, is that it is a little bit "green," even to your own ears. You need to give yourself a chance to catch up with this piece. You said you won't be performing this again for a while? That's good, because you'll be amazed at what you hear from yourself when you get it back out to work on it later after giving it a rest. Even bread dough benefits from a rest before you go back to kneading it! It's the principle of the thing...

Being both a Beethoven fan and a Rachel Breen fan, I listened to your performance this morning when I spotted your post in Member Recordings (the first movement, too, because I was curious). Very well done. I enjoyed listening from start to finish and marveled at the accomplishment!

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

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