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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693025 11/29/17 10:18 PM
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Hector,
This is about ways of learning.

It sounds like you might be of the school of thought, more or less, of "first learn the notes and then add the expression." I don't mean it purely -- I don't think any serious pianist does that purely -- but basically.

It seems that at this stage, you're focused on straightforwardly playing the notes, with almost no 'flow' from one note to the next. Is that so?

Granting that there are reasonable different schools of thought, I wouldn't think that this is a great way to approach a piece like this (if indeed any). For one thing, the choices of fingering might vary according to how notes relate to one another.

What do you think?

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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693073 11/30/17 05:10 AM
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I think some of it has to do with the camcorder mike which makes it sound flat and misses a lot of the gorgeous resonance and overtones of my grand, when I record the sound separately with my Zoom H1, it comes out much better. And yes, many passages could improve on their expression and voicing, not easy to do when I’m trying to do finger acrobatics. I’ve also been trying to use Graham Fitch’s technique of “chaining”, practicing overlapping fragments, so maybe this is making it lose expressiveness and continuity. Curiously, after I recorded this yesterday, I went on to do some errands, and when I got back home, I played the whole thing effortlessly with very little tension, I was shocked how much easier it was. I tried to play it again, and it was almost (but not quite as) good, I got the sense of breaking through a wall. Not sure how it will go today, but I got hope that maybe I’m closer to getting there. It will still take me a while but there might be a glimmer of hope in the horizon.
Hector

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693139 11/30/17 10:47 AM
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I have the same problem with the piano recording that I do with my camcorder -- it compresses the audio so much that most of the dynamic variation I put into the performance is totally lost. I really hate it, but I don't want to just record audio without video, for a variety of reasons.

I used to do the "just learn the notes first and add expression later," but my last teacher changed my way of thinking on that. She said that if you practice that way, then when you are having difficulties in a performance, you are likely to fall back on your original 'no-expression' version -- which I realized was exactly something that had happened in my last performance. So, ever since I started practicing with expression included from Day One, I have noticed that it becomes much more 'built-in' to my playing without having to think about it.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: hbs60] #2693140 11/30/17 10:52 AM
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Hector: I don't think much of it had to do with the recording method, because the "visual" aspect in itself strongly gives such an impression.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Mark_C] #2693151 11/30/17 11:33 AM
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Do you have any suggestions on how I could approach this better? What strategies might be helpful? I still do think that the recording is an issue, given that I have been thoroughly enjoying discovering the different nuances as I try different touches in different passages, but none of that is captured by the camcorder. As far as visually, there's also the issue that I'm tense trying to do a recording that's halfway decent, and that's probably a lot easier to see. So, any advice on how I can improve? Given that this is a monumental effort, I don't expect this to be performance ready for several months at least, so any tips would be most appreciated.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: hbs60] #2693153 11/30/17 11:43 AM
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Hector: First of all, don't particularly take it from me. See what the people say who know this piece better than I do, plus who play better. grin

But as to what advice I could give, really it's just what I said in that first reply up there, in terms of basic approach: Be thinking of phrasing and expression from the very first (or at least almost from the very first), and aim for more of a flow rather than "note-note-note."

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693188 11/30/17 01:31 PM
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I don't know the piece so I can't comment on specifics of interpretation. I agree with Marc_C about the goal of striving for longer lines, and I will add that I think it's also a question in much of the recording of voicing. I don't hear any results from efforts at balance between what might be called - for lack of better terms in this work - melody and accompaniment. Even at this stage of learning, I think it is important to incorporate that into your practice and playing.

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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: hbs60] #2693316 12/01/17 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by hbs60
Hi, just reviving this thread just to show my progress with this monster. . . . How is it going with you, SiFi?

Thanks for bringing the thread back and sharing the video. Congrats on being able to get through the "monster". It honestly doesn't sound like it should be that difficult, but, as we both now know, it really is.

As for how it's going with me, I'll let the recording below tell the story. I've been working on memorization and trying to find ways to not mimic Alicia's interpretation. Unfortunately my Steinway is in the shop (basically to undo some of the bad things that were done to it in the Steinway factory!), so I'm having to use my little Kawai, which, in addition to being a bit tinny, also needs tuning. Anyway, the performance is still on the slow side and not at all secure technically. For some unknown reason, I started to re-finger some passages spontaneously and unintentionally during the recording. In fact, that happened right at the beginning, which is why that passage is so much slower than I intended it to be. Who can tell why these things happen. So there's still lots to fix, but, I'll post it here anyway and go back to read some of the comments that have been posted since you uploaded your rendering.



SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: BruceD] #2693323 12/01/17 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I don't know the piece so I can't comment on specifics of interpretation. I agree with Marc_C about the goal of striving for longer lines, and I will add that I think it's also a question in much of the recording of voicing. I don't hear any results from efforts at balance between what might be called - for lack of better terms in this work - melody and accompaniment. Even at this stage of learning, I think it is important to incorporate that into your practice and playing.

Hector, I think Mark_C and BruceD both make good points. The long lines and elaborately decorated cadence points in this piece are intrinsic to its character, contributing as much to the work's "Spanishness" as the harmony and melodic inflections do. On another level, there's a tension between the overall pulse and the intricate microrhythms, meticulously indicated by the composer. So the challenge is to draw the lines clearly and cleanly within an extraordinarily complex and fluid set of dynamically shifting rhythms; making the rubato seem organic is something that even my teacher acknowledges is almost impossible (unless you're Alicia de Larrocha).

I would actually go further than BruceD regarding balance between melody and accompaniment. As you know, and I know you know because I can hear evidence of it in your playing, this piece is highly contrapuntal, with lots of criss-crossing motifs and intermingling fragments of thematic material. Even the start of the teneramente section, which looks like straight "tune and chords", is exquisitely polyphonic, like a mature Haydn or Beethoven string quartet, with the different voices interacting and bouncing off each other to create an extraordinary richness of texture, despite the narrow register. I'm sure that when you (I should say we!) have fully mastered the technical aspects you (we) will be able to make more of these details, but, as both Mark_C and BruceD suggest, learning to project the details and nuances of the music should ideally be part of a broad-spectrum learning/practice paradigm from the very beginning.

So, just my opinions. What is not an opinion is that this is one of the most intriguing, exciting pieces I have tackled in my entire musical life. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am.


SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693345 12/01/17 03:12 AM
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So hey, it's been a long time since I last posted on this forum, but I saw this thread back in September while popping in for a furtive lurk and just had to give Los Requiebros a whirl. I was immediately hooked, and what an experience it's been!

SiFi and I have discussed the piece some by PM, and that's been a big help. It's certainly easier to follow a rocky path when you know others are grappling with the same problems. And hats off to both Hector and SiFi for posting your recordings; I got a lot out of them. Personally, I don't have the piece in a recordable state at the moment, as I've been trying to polish it one variation at a time and haven't really attacked the coda yet. (Also, I'm chicken.) I do hope to play it at a class in February with the Italian pianist Francesco Attesti, who makes an annual visit to the college where I teach, so maybe there'll be video of that.

Regarding the recent discussion on this thread, the challenge for me in practicing the piece is to keep the interpretive urge in check. The piece is so full of gorgeous passages that it's really hard to stay focused on mechanics and accuracy and not get caught up in the irresistible sweep of the thing. And of course hearing Alicia, or even Granados himself, in your head makes that even harder. However, recordings also can be a relief sometimes - like when I've tried and tried to find a workable legato fingering for a passage, and then realize nobody plays it legato. Problem solved! :-)

Keep up the good fight, Requiebrians. It'll be worth it!

Best,
Jim

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693393 12/01/17 09:06 AM
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Requiebrans? I love the term, I can only think of the possibilities..."Requiebran-in-training", Pre-Requiebran, and so on. Man, oh, man, this is by far the most difficult thing I've ever tried to tackle, so those screams you've heard in the middle of the night was probably me trying for the umpteenth time to get those cursed passages under my fingers.

SiFi: Your Steinway is on the shop? I'm soooo jealous, I wish I could say the same, LOL, although I happen to be very happy with both my Kawai's, my trusty old upright that I've owned for over 30 years, and, since last year, my used but in great shape and stunningly gorgeous sounding Kawai grand.

As for the piece itself, a few additional thoughts:
I was honestly bummed out yesterday reading the comments, not because of the very valid, expected and reasonable critique, but because I've poured so much effort into this and I was hoping that at least I got something right. Still, this is a very hard beast to tame so just learning the notes is an accomplishment, at least for me.

I'm getting mixed messages (not from anybody in particular, but from my readings in this and other boards and resources), as far as on the one hand, there are suggestions to isolate the tough spots, chunks, etc, but on the other hand to look at the forest and not focus so much on the individual leaves. So I guess it's a matter of balance, of being able to zoom into a particular detail, but also zoom out to see the whole picture. Just like when speaking I don't pronounce each letter separately, but when we learn to speak, at first we can only do a few syllables at a time. A toddler can't recite a poem or give a speech, and a poet or orator doesn't speak like a toddler. So, I'm in that awkward stage of not fully mastering the piece but trying to learn to overcome the difficult spots without being bogged down by them.

SiFI, your rendition is so much better than the one you posted earlier (and both are so much, much better than mine!), it flows much better. I notice you have memorized it, while I am still reading, I believe it would help me if I could memorize it so I won't be hunting for the notes on the page.

I was experimenting last night with recording with my iPad, the FilmicPro app and an attached Samson CO1 condenser microphone, and it seemed some of the nuances came out better, but I was on a bad mood and it was a very awful performance so I deleted it, I may record a smaller portion and upload it for comparison purposes. Perhaps it might be helpful to upload periodically tough spots and how to approach them, maybe sort of a "study group" type of thread, either here or separately.

Enough babbling on my part for now. Gotta go practice...

Last edited by hbs60; 12/01/17 05:10 PM.
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: hbs60] #2693492 12/01/17 02:54 PM
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Hi, SiFi, HBS60 -- I don't know if you've visited the Member's Recordings section recently, but mp15 has also recently posted a recording of Los Requiebros -- which for my taste is the most stylistically satisfying presentation. He makes it seem as if it is sort of "tossed off", although it's of course in fact a beautifully and elegantly constructed composition. But that "tossed-off" quality is for me absolutely necessary to a successful performance -- although it is difficult as heck, it can't SEEM that way for the listener (or at least, this listener). My two cents, after listening to all three, just now.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2693500 12/01/17 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Hi, SiFi, HBS60 -- I don't know if you've visited the Member's Recordings section recently, but mp15 has also recently posted a recording of Los Requiebros -- which for my taste is the most stylistically satisfying presentation. He makes it seem as if it is sort of "tossed off", although it's of course in fact a beautifully and elegantly constructed composition. But that "tossed-off" quality is for me absolutely necessary to a successful performance -- although it is difficult as heck, it can't SEEM that way for the listener (or at least, this listener). My two cents, after listening to all three, just now.

I agree completely. "Tossed off" is a great phrase for what I was wanting more of.

BUT, that said, because of your post, I went and listened to the beginning of that other recording -- and I had much the same feeling as I did about Hector's!!

So, since now I'm "wtf" grin ....I figured I'd better go look at the score.
Which never hurts to do. ha

And, what I see is that in fact, much of it is basically INDICATED TO BE "note, note, note." smile

Still of course, we do want "flow," plus, I'd say, the "tossed-off" quality.

Anyway, let me see what our friend Alicia did....

PERFECT!!!

Indeed she captures it all: Accenting and (somewhat) separating 'those' notes, yet having a real flow.

============

BTW, about our 'friend' Alicia.... ha

I had a nice little experience with her.
I mean, not that kind of experience grin but....

She came to my college to give a recital. My teacher was sort of hosting her. I happened to have a lesson on the afternoon of the day she was going to be playing. At the end of my lesson, my teacher said he was going to be running right out to meet her -- she had arrived and she was practicing in the concert hall. Well, I wasn't going to be passing up an opportunity like that. grin

You see, he was going by car, because the hall was a fair distance from the music building -- but it's not an extremely car-friendly campus. Most places that you're driving to, you can't take anything like a straight line between the places, and chances are you can't park real close to where you're going. By foot, on the other hand, you could usually cut a swath. ha

I absolutely sprinted to the hall, and there she was, running through Chopin's Barcarolle even though that wasn't one of the pieces she was going to be playing. I plunked myself down in the front row (relatively quietly, I think) smile -- way off to the side (way on the piano side, which meant I wasn't in her view), which was my concession to her privacy grin but, in the front row. When she finished the piece (my teacher still hadn't arrived), she paused for a couple of seconds, looked up at me,* and pursed her eyes and face into a mock frown -- like, what are you doing here, but in a way that you could tell she didn't really mean it. Or at least I thought she didn't.

* actually it was down, and mostly behind her -- dunno why I said up

Then she went into another piece, and now my teacher does arrive, looks at me and says, "What are you doing here?" -- in a way that I could tell he mostly did really mean it. ha

We all spoke for a minute -- I have no recollection what anybody said -- then I ran back off and left them to their appointed rounds. smile

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Mark_C] #2693518 12/01/17 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I agree completely. "Tossed off" is a great phrase for what I was wanting more of.

BUT, that said, because of your post, I went and listened to the beginning of that other recording -- and I had much the same feeling as I did about Hector's!!

So, since now I'm "wtf" grin ....I figured I'd better go look at the score.
Which never hurts to do. ha

And, what I see is that in fact, much of it is basically INDICATED TO BE "note, note, note." smile

Still of course, we do want "flow," plus, I'd say, the "tossed-off" quality.

Anyway, let me see what our friend Alicia did....

PERFECT!!!

Indeed she captures it all: Accenting and (somewhat) separating 'those' notes, yet having a real flow.


Other than your Alicia comments (yes, she's perfect!), I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at, Mark. Is "that other recording" mp15's? If so, I do agree with Tim that it's very fluent, generally faster, and has fewer wrong notes than mine and Hector's, but I'm not sure I would agree that "tossed off" is truly the goal with this piece, largely because of its intricacy, its detail, and the richness of its musical substance. In fact I'd say that Alicia's performance is immensely nuanced and deeply thought through, which I do not equate with "tossed off", or even the appearance of being such. Sure there's flirtatiousness, as befits the Goya theme for the work, but her gift for making every interpretive gesture sound spontaneous yet inevitable is almost other-worldly.

So yeah, I think mp15 does a great job overall, but the detail and the phrasing to me sound a bit wooden and metronomic, respectively. As you point out, there are lots and lots of notations in the score that you really have to observe, and simply by doing that -- well "simply" is the wrong word, but you know what I mean -- you can get very close, IMO, to what Granados seems to have been looking for. So that's my ultimate goal and it's complicated by the fact that, as I mentioned before, I am consciously trying not to mimic Alicia because I can never do what she does as well as she does it. So I want it to be my interpretation, as faithful to the score as possible, with enough elasticity at the micro level to project the expressiveness of each moment, but with rhythmic discipline at the macro level combined with a sense of technical "effortlessness".

"Simple", right? ha


SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693522 12/01/17 05:09 PM
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Mark:
There was nothing WTF about your comments, they were very appropriate and spot on. Problem is, this particular piece has so many nuances, tempo/interpretation markings almost measure by measure, it's hard not to break it into manageable pieces. After working on the piece fragment by fragment, I'm now working on "assembling" the piece and hopefully it may be coherent, hopefully before the end of this century.

Alicia sounds like she was a lovely person. I kick myself for missing the opportunity of seeing her perform in my hometown of San Juan back in the 1970s (or maybe early 80's, I can't recall exactly), but I was young and didn't know any better, but I remember to this day the flyer announcing the recital, the title translates loosely to: The Genius Pianist Alicia De Larrocha in concert. I'm so glad for the existing videos and recordings!

Regards,
Hector

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Mark_C] #2693524 12/01/17 05:16 PM
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Cute story about Alicia, by the way. I’d give almost anything to have been able to hear her live.


SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693527 12/01/17 05:29 PM
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I just heard MP15's performance, very nice, I would say it's a bit too careful, which is understandable given the difficulties of the piece. It occurs to me that what's been lacking is a sense of passion and fire. I spent the whole afternoon working on it, and I pushed the accelerator hard, really cranked up the speed and put fire on my playing, and it was quite a difference. Of course, I couldn't keep up in many places and stumbled badly, but it seems that it's hard to get a sense of cohesion at lower speeds. Just my 2 cents in my inexpert opinion.

Speaking of experts, here's a recording by a current Spanish expert, Luis Fernando Perez, who also updated Iberia's score at the Albeniz institute in Madrid, here's his whole Goyescas with score: https://youtu.be/s0aVTPvYQ4Y

Perhaps it may help give another perpsective.

Regards to all
Hector

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693562 12/01/17 07:54 PM
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Following along with the score and Perez' performance, shows me how fantastically difficult this piece is technically and how difficult are the interpretive challenges as well.

In Perez' hands, it has an elegance and a refinement so easily executed but also, at times, a controlled passion that belie the underlying challenges. I admire Perez' flexibility of tempo, yet the line is never sacrificed nor is there any compromise in the overall direction of the performance.

All the brilliance and beauty of this performance notwithstanding, is the piece perhaps longer than it need be? While luxuriating in this performance, I began to wonder before the piece was over: Isn't it time to mark finis and move on to the next? If the title does mean "The flirtatious remark" (my only source was an online Spanish dictionary) perhaps the flirtation goes on too long and it's no longer a simple remark but a prolonged seduction? (Is this heresy in the eyes of those who love every note of the piece?)

I'm unabashedly envious of anyone who can play a work like this as Perez does.

Regards,


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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693574 12/01/17 08:35 PM
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Bruce,
I would venture to say that us Hispanics can be very wordy, elaborate, complicated, dramatic, colorful, ...you get my point. :-) I’m not from Spain but I’m sure we share many traits all over the Spanish speaking world. Being brief, concise and to the point isn’t our thing. Specifically regarding the flirtations, what comes to mind for me is the whole courtship process, particularly in those days when the ladies had a whole silent language with their hand-held fans, men would serenade ladies who would watch them from their balconies, couples were supervised by chaperones, so just getting a simple kiss took a lot of time and monumental effort. These days, sadly, a lot of that seems to be gone, but I remember some vestiges from when I was growing up. I can’t speak for all things Spain but I hope I have a fairly good idea. So, the length of the movement seems appropriate and consistent with my cultural recollections.
Hector

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: hbs60] #2693598 12/01/17 10:48 PM
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Interestingly, Granados himself in a piano roll recording makes a pretty significant cut in the piece, starting at about 3:40 in the video. It's kind of tempting, because the section he skips contains what's arguably the hardest passage of all, but I'm going to keep playing the whole thing!

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