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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2688588
11/10/17 01:28 PM
11/10/17 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Just a couple of additional thoughts regarding this thread --

For well-deserved reasons, Traumerei has earned a place as a stand-alone piece in piano recitals -- but if you place it in the context of the Kinderszenen set, it at least makes sense to me to play it at 100, largely because the next miniature, in the same key, has a more overtly dance-like character that works well with Traumerei as a diptych within the overall narrative flow. Having said that, I think Clara Schumann's "second-guessing" of the tempo down to 80 is a more appropriate choice to allow the reflective nature of Traumerei to emerge.

I hope this comment is taken in the humorous spirit in which it is intended -- but the pianist's predilection for uncoupled hands evokes the ghost of the feared Louis Podesta, who relentlessly opined a couple of years back, in numerous posts, that the loss of this great Romantic tradition was responsible for the decline of interest in Classical piano performance, and that we could in fact recapture the Golden Age of Pianism by restoring this feature. Uhh, briefly put: Sorry, fans -- there's a lot more to it than that!


A chill just went down my spine!

Funny thing after some consideration with my teacher we settled on 80 being about right.


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2688589
11/10/17 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson

I hope this comment is taken in the humorous spirit in which it is intended -- but the pianist's predilection for uncoupled hands evokes the ghost of the feared Louis Podesta, who relentlessly opined a couple of years back, in numerous posts, that the loss of this great Romantic tradition was responsible for the decline of interest in Classical piano performance, and that we could in fact recapture the Golden Age of Pianism by restoring this feature. Uhh, briefly put: Sorry, fans -- there's a lot more to it than that!


I think Barenboim is doing his best to bring back that tradition. Happily not quite as extreme as the OP here, but his LH is fractionally behind his RH for quite a lot of the time in most of his performances if you listen closely. I find it rather irritating and distracting, personally, but I'm told people find it charming.


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2688592
11/10/17 01:37 PM
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And btw, if we're now having to stick to composer's tempo markings, I think we'd better throw out every recording of half a dozen of Chopin's Nocturnes, amongst many others, because there are literally no recordings at anything close to the marked tempo for several of those.

Last edited by karvala; 11/10/17 01:37 PM.

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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: karvala] #2688609
11/10/17 02:48 PM
11/10/17 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by karvala
And btw, if we're now having to stick to composer's tempo markings, I think we'd better throw out every recording of half a dozen of Chopin's Nocturnes, amongst many others, because there are literally no recordings at anything close to the marked tempo for several of those.


Yes, with the Op. 27 No. 2 being the prime example!

Regards,


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: BruceD] #2688655
11/10/17 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by karvala
And btw, if we're now having to stick to composer's tempo markings, I think we'd better throw out every recording of half a dozen of Chopin's Nocturnes, amongst many others, because there are literally no recordings at anything close to the marked tempo for several of those.


Yes, with the Op. 27 No. 2 being the prime example!

Regards,


Yes, indeed! Pollini's performance here, for example, is heavily criticised in the comments for being too fast, and indeed it's probably the fastest performance I've heard as well, but it's still some 30% slower than the marked tempo!


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: BruceD] #2688703
11/10/17 11:25 PM
11/10/17 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by phantomFive
[...]
There's a 90% chance that Schumann actually meant Trireme by the name.



You think?

I don't know enough German to estimate frown

That way of looking at it gives me a good emotional image to go with the piece, though.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2688717
11/11/17 01:42 AM
11/11/17 01:42 AM
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I have only heard Traumerei once or twice before. So, as I was reading the OP's post, I was not able to recall the piece at all. I listened to the piece at the original tempo on the Henle website and I loved it. To someone who is not familiar with the established tempo of the piece, the original sounds quite lovely. Now, I am afraid to listen to any other recording for fear of losing my good impression of Traumerei.

Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: karvala] #2688795
11/11/17 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by karvala
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by karvala
And btw, if we're now having to stick to composer's tempo markings, I think we'd better throw out every recording of half a dozen of Chopin's Nocturnes, amongst many others, because there are literally no recordings at anything close to the marked tempo for several of those.


Yes, with the Op. 27 No. 2 being the prime example!

Regards,


Yes, indeed! Pollini's performance here, for example, is heavily criticised in the comments for being too fast, and indeed it's probably the fastest performance I've heard as well, but it's still some 30% slower than the marked tempo!


I'd be up to the challenge of trying to make that indicated tempo for Op. 27/2 work. I play it very much on the fast side anyway. It means that you have to be quiet in movement, so that it doesn't come off as agitated, and to be flexible with tempo. Just because there is a metronome marking doesn't mean that you should be able to turn on the metronome and follow along from beginning to end.. not in a piece that is highly vocally inspired, and has a lot of shifts in mood and texture.

Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: jeffreyjones] #2688887
11/11/17 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
Originally Posted by karvala
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by karvala
And btw, if we're now having to stick to composer's tempo markings, I think we'd better throw out every recording of half a dozen of Chopin's Nocturnes, amongst many others, because there are literally no recordings at anything close to the marked tempo for several of those.


Yes, with the Op. 27 No. 2 being the prime example!

Regards,


Yes, indeed! Pollini's performance here, for example, is heavily criticised in the comments for being too fast, and indeed it's probably the fastest performance I've heard as well, but it's still some 30% slower than the marked tempo!


I'd be up to the challenge of trying to make that indicated tempo for Op. 27/2 work. I play it very much on the fast side anyway. It means that you have to be quiet in movement, so that it doesn't come off as agitated, and to be flexible with tempo. Just because there is a metronome marking doesn't mean that you should be able to turn on the metronome and follow along from beginning to end.. not in a piece that is highly vocally inspired, and has a lot of shifts in mood and texture.


Well if you can pull it off, I'd be hugely impressed and certainly very interested to hear it. I had a go myself yesterday out of curiosity more than anything, and there's absolutely no way I can get it to work at that tempo. The detail becomes flat, the nuance is lost and the whole thing sounds rushed. That could well be a limitation of my playing, so if you (or anyone else) can make it sound even somewhat convincing at the original tempo, I'd be very curious to hear it.


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2688959
11/12/17 10:17 AM
11/12/17 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Just a couple of additional thoughts regarding this thread --

...I hope this comment is taken in the humorous spirit in which it is intended -- but the pianist's predilection for uncoupled hands evokes the ghost of the feared Louis Podesta, who relentlessly opined a couple of years back, in numerous posts, that the loss of this great Romantic tradition was responsible for the decline of interest in Classical piano performance, and that we could in fact recapture the Golden Age of Pianism by restoring this feature. Uhh, briefly put: Sorry, fans -- there's a lot more to it than that!




What happened to Louis Podesta? I have noticed his absence around here, and I miss his bright eyes and sweet smile.


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: karvala] #2688970
11/12/17 12:02 PM
11/12/17 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by karvala
Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
I'd be up to the challenge of trying to make that indicated tempo for Op. 27/2 work. I play it very much on the fast side anyway. It means that you have to be quiet in movement, so that it doesn't come off as agitated, and to be flexible with tempo. Just because there is a metronome marking doesn't mean that you should be able to turn on the metronome and follow along from beginning to end.. not in a piece that is highly vocally inspired, and has a lot of shifts in mood and texture.


Well if you can pull it off, I'd be hugely impressed and certainly very interested to hear it. I had a go myself yesterday out of curiosity more than anything, and there's absolutely no way I can get it to work at that tempo. The detail becomes flat, the nuance is lost and the whole thing sounds rushed. That could well be a limitation of my playing, so if you (or anyone else) can make it sound even somewhat convincing at the original tempo, I'd be very curious to hear it.


It's going to lose nuance for sure, but what it should gain is the integrity of the line. If you try to plan it the same way that you would at 80 to an eighth note, of course it's going to sound rushed and busy. Increasing the tempo, you have to become more feline, careful with the touch and develop longer lines. I think it can be done, but I'm under no illusions that it will be easy or that it will work the first time I sit down with it.

Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: jeffreyjones] #2689108
11/13/17 06:08 AM
11/13/17 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
I'd be up to the challenge of trying to make that indicated tempo for Op. 27/2 work. I play it very much on the fast side anyway. It means that you have to be quiet in movement, so that it doesn't come off as agitated, and to be flexible with tempo. Just because there is a metronome marking doesn't mean that you should be able to turn on the metronome and follow along from beginning to end.. not in a piece that is highly vocally inspired, and has a lot of shifts in mood and texture.

Some of us discussed the tempo of this nocturne a few years ago on TP. Although there are a few tempi in Chopin that are significantly faster than the way they are usually performed, I think that the metronome mark for Op. 27/2 really stands out. I have read quite a lot about Chopin as a teacher but I have never read that he used a metronome when teaching his works, or discussed his metronome marks with anyone. I also believe that Op. 27/2 is the latest work that Chopin gave a metronome mark, which suggests that sometime soon after he no longer believed it was worthwhile to designate a metronome mark for his published works. My speculation is that Chopin made a mistake when writing the metronome mark for Op. 27/2. The scenario I envisage is that the metronome marks for Op. 27 were a last-minute addition before he sent his autograph to his publisher. He tests the pieces out with his metronome and decides on 84 quarter notes per minute for No. 1 and 100 eighth notes per minute for No. 2. At the last moment he decides to halve the numbers and writes down 42 half measures = half notes per minute for No. 1 and 50 half measures = dotted quarter notes for No. 2 before sending them off, not paying attention to the triple meter in No. 2.

The above is just a theory with no solid evidence, but I believe it is plausible. Op. 27/2 was an advanced work for its time, and I do not know how many music-lovers owned a metronome in those days. If someone had published a relatively easy piano solo piece in the 1870s or 1880s marked Lento sostenuto but with a surprisingly fast metronome mark, I expect it would have become a topic of discussion, and that a friend or fellow composer might politely query it. In my opinion, the published metronome mark for Op. 27/2 does not make sense musically, but I feel that 100 eighth notes per minute is an apt tempo for Op. 27/2 and also happens to match the same metronome mark given to Op. 10/3, which is marked Lento ma non troppo compared to the Lento sostenuto of Op. 27/2.


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Julian_] #2689230
11/13/17 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Julian_
My speculation is that Chopin made a mistake when writing the metronome mark for Op. 27/2.

He did not.

The development of the grand piano (greatly improved sustaining capabilities) since Chopin's day has enabled modern pianists to play these pieces at almost absurdly luxurious, dragging tempi. What Chopin marked makes much more musical sense.


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Polyphonist] #2689350
11/14/17 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by Julian_
My speculation is that Chopin made a mistake when writing the metronome mark for Op. 27/2.

He did not.

The development of the grand piano (greatly improved sustaining capabilities) since Chopin's day has enabled modern pianists to play these pieces at almost absurdly luxurious, dragging tempi. What Chopin marked makes much more musical sense.


I agree with that wholeheartedly. The technological advances in the piano that happened in the 19th century alone were profound, and it's important to remember that Chopin's instruments had different qualities to offer. Take something like Beethoven's C minor sonata No. 5, Op. 10 No. 1. The slow movement is marked Adagio, but it's common to perform it at an extremely broad tempo, such that the long notes last for an eternity. Then I tried that on a period piano from Beethoven's time. It sounded like complete nonsense - the melodic line didn't carry through at all. A faster tempo was an absolute given.

There's also the widespread availability of recordings - every student knows what Arrau, Richter, and Perahia sound like. And they were/are well known for good reason, but that doesn't mean we all have to play the music the same way as they did. If my life's goal was simply to play the same music that Rubinstein did, in the same way, I'm sure people would be happy with it but it wouldn't be original and I wouldn't be remembered the way that Rubinstein is.

Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2689354
11/14/17 02:47 AM
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Composers don't always have the perfect tempo in their mind. They experiment and find something that works. Dvorak's famous Largo started out as a Andante, it was crossed out in the manuscript. Kovarik reports it like this:

Originally Posted by Kovarik 100 years ago
"The master commented that Seidl [when he had a chance to play through the score on the piano] has 'quite drawn out' the introduction to the first movement, and also the second movement—then he paused in silence—but after a while he added:—"but it is much better in this way!" And when we reached home, he took his own score, prescribed a slower Metronome for th introduction of the first movement—in the second movement he crossed out 'larghetto' and prescribed 'Largo!"


So it shouldn't be assumed that composers have infallibly deep understanding of their own conceptions: instead, we should play what sounds good.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Polyphonist] #2689368
11/14/17 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by Julian_
My speculation is that Chopin made a mistake when writing the metronome mark for Op. 27/2.

He did not.

The development of the grand piano (greatly improved sustaining capabilities) since Chopin's day has enabled modern pianists to play these pieces at almost absurdly luxurious, dragging tempi. What Chopin marked makes much more musical sense.

If you feel that 150 eighth notes per minute makes more musical sense than 100 eighth notes per minute when playing Op. 27/2, you are of course entitled to your opinion. I wasn't debating the appropriateness of Chopin's metronome marks in general (though I am not alone in noting that a Presto mazurka or two seem almost unplayable at the published metronome mark, at least on a modern piano). I too am not a fan of the modern tendency towards very slow tempi, especially in slower pieces and movements. A classic example is the tender, wistful slow movement from Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, which can come across as a kind of deep tragedy if one has only heard or played it at a typically sloooooooow tempo.


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Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Julian_] #2689406
11/14/17 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Julian_

If you feel that 150 eighth notes per minute makes more musical sense than 100 eighth notes per minute when playing Op. 27/2, you are of course entitled to your opinion. I wasn't debating the appropriateness of Chopin's metronome marks in general (though I am not alone in noting that a Presto mazurka or two seem almost unplayable at the published metronome mark, at least on a modern piano). I too am not a fan of the modern tendency towards very slow tempi, especially in slower pieces and movements. A classic example is the tender, wistful slow movement from Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, which can come across as a kind of deep tragedy if one has only heard or played it at a typically sloooooooow tempo.




A great example of a very broad version of that movement, that doesn't get the tragic quality. That cello solo from Troester is just pitch-perfect.

Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Julian_] #2689491
11/14/17 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Julian_
Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by Julian_
My speculation is that Chopin made a mistake when writing the metronome mark for Op. 27/2.

He did not.

The development of the grand piano (greatly improved sustaining capabilities) since Chopin's day has enabled modern pianists to play these pieces at almost absurdly luxurious, dragging tempi. What Chopin marked makes much more musical sense.

If you feel that 150 eighth notes per minute makes more musical sense than 100 eighth notes per minute when playing Op. 27/2, you are of course entitled to your opinion.

I feel entitled to Chopin's opinion.


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2689496
11/14/17 03:56 PM
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Piano writing is highly textural. Part of why he marked it so fast is to blend the accompaniment together. I also happen to think the melody sounds nicer at the marked tempo. The Rubinstein version is so slow at times it's hard to listen to.

I'm convinced that if the jury of the Chopin competition blindly heard a recording of Chopin, they would say the pianist is breaking all the rules.

Re: Only Schumann's Traumerei at authentic tempo [Re: JoelW] #2689500
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I'm convinced that if the jury of the Chopin competition blindly heard a recording of Chopin, they would say the pianist is breaking all the rules.

Chopin would have been a naive interpreter. In the time since then we've built up a lot of scholarship about how to interpret Chopin that he didn't have in his day. Nowadays we have people like Daniel Trifonov who have really mastered the craft of playing Chopin.


Regards,

Polyphonist
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