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#2390989 02/25/15 10:03 PM
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Chopin Mazurka Op 50 # 3

Recorded this yesterday on a 1908 Steinway model O that I'm just putting the finishing touches on.


Mark Dierauf, RPT
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Thoroughly enjoyable, Mark! Beautifully played! Nice sound!

What did you record this with? The scope is quite close and the anatomy of the scale is quite prevalent in the wide stereo spread. And yet, I hear no action noise at all!

You really put the piano through its paces with exceptional control. Well done!

--Andy


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Thanks, Andy. I only recently discovered this particular Mazurka, and I really love it. There's a lot to work with here and I don't think I've even begun to scratch the surface! My wife (who's the real pianist in the family) suggested that I play with the tempos more, and I'm inclined to think that she's right. I also think I could probably could also employ more dynamic variation.

Everything was replaced in this action, so it's about as quiet as it can be. Recorded with 2 large condensors about 16" above the string plane, one over the treble bridge around 5th/6th octave and the other over the mid bass bridge. I'm still voicing the hammers back here and there. It has NY Steinway hammers, which were heavily lacquered at the factory but voiced back quite easily. I think that they give a very broad tonal palette.


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You may already know all of this, but here is a link to short paper, "Polish Folk Music and Chopin's Mazurkas" by Jan Gorbaty. At three and a half pages, it is a pretty quick read. Our PW friend Carey found this one when we were preparing music for the Mazurka e-cital last year. It captured my imagination, and helped me to better understand the dance aspects of the various sections of the Mazurkas--and why each section stands alone with such distinct "character." It seems to me that some Mazurkas practically beg for differences in tempo from one section (or dance) to the next, besides the usual consideration of flexibility with the musical line.

http://www.chopin.org/articles/Polish%20Folk%20Music%20and%20Chopins%20Mazurkas_Gorbaty.pdf

Do not sell yourself short, Mark! You are clearly a "real" pianist! (Self-criticism is the sure sign.) grin I look forward to hearing more from you!

--Andy


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There's a remarkable clarity not only to the sound but also to your articulation; or, perhaps the sound is so clear because the articulation and use of pedal are so judiciously done. I wouldn't think you need to play around too much with the tempo; it sounds flexible and elastic as I think a Mazurka should.

I do love the sound of the piano and wonder what it would sound like if not mic-ed quite so closely.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
[...] I wouldn't think you need to play around too much with the tempo; it sounds flexible and elastic as I think a Mazurka should.[...]


I agree with you, Bruce. And, I think the dynamics are very nicely scaled, too. It sounded very "finished" to me, and I loved the touch. But, if Mark wants to play around with it, there is no harm in playing around with it. Sometimes you discover things by getting a little goofy with the music. It can help you find edges to the boundaries. smile

--Andy


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Thanks for the link, Andy. I had seen something like it, but with less detail. I also ran across a mention of Rubinstein demonstrating the dance steps for the recording engineers when he was recording the Mazurka (Oh, to have been a fly on the wall!).


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Originally Posted by BruceD
I do love the sound of the piano and wonder what it would sound like if not mic-ed quite so closely.

Regards,


Unfortunately the piano is located in an small, acoustically dead room, with very low ceilings, so I always close mic.


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IMO the tempo changes go miles beyond rubato and sound inappropriate, more just like a rhythmic problem. My suggestions is to practice it with a metronome and then add some rubato as desired. I would also compare your recording to any YT recordings by top pianists. and I think you'll see what I'm saying.

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Very nice piano sound.

Why don't you just leave the mazurka and play us some jazz tunes on this wonderful instrument?
You can post it on the non-classical forum.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
There's a remarkable clarity not only to the sound but also to your articulation; or, perhaps the sound is so clear because the articulation and use of pedal are so judiciously done.
I agree !!!! You have an excellent technique, and the piano sounds great !! thumb However.....
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
IMO the tempo changes go miles beyond rubato and sound inappropriate, more just like a rhythmic problem. My suggestions is to practice it with a metronome and then add some rubato as desired. I would also compare your recording to any YT recordings by top pianists. and I think you'll see what I'm saying.
I also concur with this assessment and recommendation. smile


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Originally Posted by carey
[...]
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
IMO the tempo changes go miles beyond rubato and sound inappropriate, more just like a rhythmic problem. My suggestions is to practice it with a metronome and then add some rubato as desired. I would also compare your recording to any YT recordings by top pianists. and I think you'll see what I'm saying.
I also concur with this assessment and recommendation. smile


My goodness, gracious! I could hardly disagree more than I am disagreeing with this assessment and recommendation! LOL! laugh

I had to go back and listen, again, to see what I must have missed in the first several listenings, and came to the conclusion, "Nothing." To my ear, the various tempi are internally consistent. That is, within each section, the tempo and rubato of the phrasing follows the development of the line and gracefully animates the idea of that section. New section. New idea. New tempo with rubato shadings. Playing with a metronome is not going to help. It's not a piece for a metronome. It's too life-loaded to be that mechanical. In fact, I believe the metronome markings on each Mazurka help the performer find the idea of the "overall character" of that Mazurka. Each section of each Mazurka is its own dance with its own purpose, and applying slavish devotion to the T-E-M-P-O over the whole Mazurka would rob it of its life.

In my humble opinion, of course. wink

I applaud Mark for looking into this Mazurka so deeply, and shaping and shading each section with nuanced consistency. His delightful playing is delicately controlled.

--Andy


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ha OK - I went back and listened several times. Quite honestly I don't think PL was suggesting (and I certainly wasn't) that Mark play the entire piece at the same tempo - using a metronome. smile But there are a few times during the performance (particularly in the statement of the opening theme and in a few transitional passages) where, quite honestly, it's hard to tell exactly where the pulse is. Yes, the playing is nuanced and delicately controlled - and each section is shaped and shaded. Overall a very original interpretation. But I guess I'm accustomed to a more straightforward approach to the piece. I just listened to Rubinstein and Ashkenazy play the Mazurka for a reality check - and don't feel I'm too off base. But OF COURSE this is just my personal opinion. grin


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Two examples of the rhythmic distortion I'm talking about(there are many more):
1. The opening phrase in the RH is not in time...the 4 eighth notes are played much too fast.
2. The opening of the second theme with the octave A's in the left hand is held for close to 1.5 beats destroying the 3/4 rhythm.

The reason I suggested practicing with a metronome is I'm not sure the OP hears how he's changed the rhythm.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Two examples of the rhythmic distortion I'm talking about(there are many more):
1. The opening phrase in the RH is not in time...the 4 eighth notes are played much too fast.
2. The opening of the second theme with the octave A's in the left hand is held for close to two beats destroying the 3/4 rhythm.

The reason I suggested practicing with a metronome is I'm not sure the OP hears how he's changed the rhythm.


Actually, I agree with the comments about the rhythm - to a point. I feel that there's a lot of room for rhythmic freedom in the mazurkas, both within and between the sections. At the same time, they're dances, and the listener should be able to anticipate the downbeats much like a dancer. Rhythmic deviations can be fine, but they should be thoughtful, which some of mine were certainly not. Of the two examples PL cites, I think I could make an argument for the liberties I take with the opening phrase (although perhaps I overdid it a bit <g>), but I agree completely with his point regarding the opening of the 2nd theme. When I played it I thought I was increasing the dramatic effect, and indeed I think lingering a bit on these octaves might be appropriate for that reason, but I way overdid it.

Thanks for the suggestions, PL & Carey, I'll see if I can't tighten things up when I practice this.


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LOL! Well, I went back and listened again this morning, and what *I* hear in the opening statement is an intro that gets the dancers into position. It is a "ready, set, here's where we're going... GO!" I think it's perfect, and wouldn't change a thing.

And as to strict rhythm, it's over-rated. Especially in a Mazurka! (Do not forget, people, that before the Mazurka e-cital came along, I did not know Mazurkas even existed. I read an article, played five of them, and now I am an expert. [*a-hem*] In my humble opinion, of course.)

And Phil, you know I am rarely swayed by the interpretations of the Big Boys. They're just people. And they got it wrong all the time. They just play wrong real good.

I'll be interested to see what Mark does with all of this, since he said he feels like he's barely started to scratch the surface of this one. You know how it is when suggestions come to you from all corners and you put them into your thinker--you sort it out, test the merits against your conceptions--and the piece is new each time you play it, anyway. grin

--Andy


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Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear

And as to strict rhythm, it's over-rated. Especially in a Mazurka! (Do not forget, people, that before the Mazurka e-cital came along, I did not know Mazurkas even existed. I read an article, played five of them, and now I am an expert. [*a-hem*] In my humble opinion, of course.)
No one's asking for strict. i.e. metronomic rhythm, when the piece is performed. But there's a huge difference between what you like to think of as rubato and just counting incorrectly.

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While I was certainly swayed - and still am - by the clarity of the execution and of the recording, there were times when I could not feel the pulse and wondered where the beat was. So, perhaps nhpianos could revisit this work with that in mind which might satisfy the listeners, if, at the same time, it satisfies the performer.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear

And as to strict rhythm, it's over-rated. Especially in a Mazurka! (Do not forget, people, that before the Mazurka e-cital came along, I did not know Mazurkas even existed. I read an article, played five of them, and now I am an expert. [*a-hem*] In my humble opinion, of course.)
No one's asking for strict. i.e. metronomic rhythm, when the piece is performed. But there's a huge difference between what you like to think of as rubato and just counting incorrectly.


As per usual, Pianoloverus, we are coming at this from very different perspectives. smile Here is an example of the kind of elasticity I am talking about, and the kind of elasticity that I hear (well moderated) in the OP's performance. This is a "kujawiak":

http://youtu.be/7g5OhiRKPKY

--Andy


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And now that I have whetted your appetite for flexible folk music with that vintage recording, here's one that's a little more conventional in terms of its high fidelity. Still highly elastic. Please listen to the fun that both the violinist and the pianist have with the idiom:

http://youtu.be/hm8-RCgk6Ms

--Andy


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but at least I'm slow.
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