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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: MathGuy] #2693605 12/01/17 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MathGuy
Interestingly, Granados himself in a piano roll recording....

What I find even more interesting is what he does with that "note-note-note" passage near the beginning.

Even recognizing that piano rolls are limited in how much they can tell us -- because, y'know how it is, when you take how someone hit the notes and played the pedals on one piano and put it into any other piano, you're not getting how the person would have ever played that other piano -- even recognizing that limitation, I've got to say that I find this performance by Granados more revealing, more illuminating, than any performance of a composer's own work than I've ever come across.

I think it tells us exactly -- pretty much exactly -- what Granados meant with those accents-and-staccatos-on-every-note -- and that it's different from what's done in the two videos whose approaches I questioned, and completely in line with the flowing/lyrical quality that I thought I was looking for.

Let's back up a little for a minute. Those markings are pretty unusual, aren't they?? In a way they remind me of Chopin's occasional practice of simultaneously indicating what seem to be redundant indications, like "cresc." together with an 'opening hairpin,' i.e. one of these:

[Linked Image]

I don't mean that the thing in the Granados is much like that Chopin thing, just that it reminds me of the Chopin, in its unusual-ness, and being a kind of unusual-ness that should make us wonder what the heck the composer is trying to tell us.

And, there's another similarity to me, which I wouldn't have gathered except from how I hear Granados playing it.

For the Chopin, what some of us say is that the hairpin thing doesn't necessarily mean what it's usually taken to me (i.e. crescendo), but that it's sort of a 'visual onomatopoeia' -- it can sometimes just mean what it looks like, i.e. 'enlarge' in some way.

In this case, I take the staccatos as meaning "sharp attack." And BTW, notice that he makes a point of telling us that 'staccato' doesn't mean disconnected; after the intro, immediately he says "staccato but with the pedal" (in Italian).

So, what do those 'accent' marks mean?

BTW, for those who don't know the piece (as I didn't) or who haven't seen the score (ditto), the kind of accent mark that Granados picked for those notes isn't one of these:

[Linked Image]

.....nor one of these:

[Linked Image]

.....but THIS:

[Linked Image]

I wouldn't say that the different kinds of marks each have uniform specific meanings, but, in this case, in view of the simultaneous presence of the staccato marks, plus especially how Granados plays the passage, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what he meant by those marks:

Just what they look like. smile
Long.
Stretch.


They're basically rubato marks, actually indicating a specific kind of rubato: stretch the notes out.

Oh -- there's an extra thing in there that I think argues against a "notey" rendition: Look at what he says as you lead into that melody: molto a piacere, which I don't recall ever coming across and which I didn't know what it means, but I see that it means "molto at pleasure." grin

Love the melody; love each note (at least a few of them); linger on it, maybe try to love each note in a somewhat different way, its own way.....

That's what I hear in his performance, and it's all in the attack and pulse and rhythm, and it's all indicated by the staccato-with-accent, and the "staccato but with pedal" and the "molto at pleasure."

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed correlating Granados's playing with what's in the score in this way.
MathGuy, thanks a million for posting his recording!!

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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2693616 12/02/17 01:25 AM
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Thank you everyone for the feedback. This piece is definitely the hardest thing I've played, in terms of technique, and it was a bit overwhelming when I first started. Initially, I also thought the length was excessive, but I eventually developed an interpretation of "courtship" similar to what hbs60 described. I spent a lot of time focusing on balancing the polyphony and feeling physically fluid, so I can see how the phrasing and spontaneity may have suffered in places as a result. I was thinking of also trying Coloquio En La Reja, the second piece in the "Goyescas" set, keeping the group's advice in mind.

Tim: Incidentally, my teacher also used the phrase "tossed off" to describe what I should be going for. She alluded to Sam's piano playing in "Casablanca." I don't know how well I pulled it off, but I do think that image helped, especially in some of the tough octave passages. (And I got to watch "Casablanca," which I've somehow never seen until now. grin)

Looking forward to seeing everyone's progress with this!


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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Mark_C] #2693618 12/02/17 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed correlating Granados's playing with what's in the score in this way.
MathGuy, thanks a million for posting his recording!!

My pleasure. There certainly a world of meaning in Granados' markings - and he seems to have more of them per square inch than just about any other composer!

So, Mark, you're obviously drawn to this piece. Are you going to join the quest?

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: MathGuy] #2693621 12/02/17 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by MathGuy
...So, Mark, you're obviously drawn to this piece. Are you going to join the quest?

Thanks for asking, and I'm awfully tempted!

But, lately an probably for a while, I have an 'excuse' for not working on anything that has a whole lot going on in the right hand (yes, right hand!). It's not even carpal tunnel syndrome or anything normal like that for a pianist to have (although I do have a bit of that too), but a very bad shoulder, from playing ball. (Been a problem for a few years, but got very bad lately.) I'm only able to play a little at a time, and nothing that's at all taxing to the right hand.

BTW, don't feel bad for me or anything like that. This way I get to watch more TV. cry

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693671 12/02/17 10:53 AM
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I saw Alicia when she came and played at my college too, about 1976 time frame (give or take a year), but she didn't also give a talk to music students like some touring pros did, and it never would have occurred to me to try to sneak into a practice session at the auditorium!

mp15, I really enjoyed your Requiebos! Yes, to me those tricky ornaments sound elegantly 'tossed off,' over a well-controlled tempo flow. This is the sort of thing I love about Granados' music.

MarkC - The staccato dots with pedal (which seem to also usually be under a phrase marking, as here) is something that I went back and forth with with my piano teacher last semester. She claims it sounds different but I don't hear it and I don't see how there is any physical/mechanical difference in what is going on in the piano, other than the one hammer staying closer to the string (or not). I asked my piano tuner/tech about it at the last tuning and he said it makes no difference soundwise. (a good Chopin article starts out on that subject here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/arts/music/jeremy-denk-chopin.html ).

The tenuto marks with staccato is a specific combination mentioned here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_symbols , and to my ears that sounds like what Granados is doing there, i.e. only the slightest detachment, to keep it from full legato.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693701 12/02/17 01:28 PM
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Mark, I'm sorry to hear about your shoulder! I hope it'll improve soon with rest and rehab. For what it's worth, the left hand of Requiebros is marvelous practice for arpeggios, leaps, stretches, thumb melodies, legato with multiple finger changes, and rapid staccato, and is a rollicking good time besides. Maybe one of us could make a "Music Minus One Hand" recording for you to play along with. :-)

Regarding the pedal+staccato+tenuto thing, I do hear a difference when I play pedalled legato vs. pedalled staccato, but I'm pretty sure it's just a difference in attack: I automatically strike the keys a bit more "sharply" when I anticipate releasing them quickly. And more sharply may just mean faster, although it's possible that the acceleration and higher-order derivatives of the hammer's position make a difference too. (What if the hammer is speeding up when it contacts the string, but at a rate that's decreasing ever more quickly? Heck if I know.) I'm still convinced that if the attack is exactly the same and only the time of release changes, then with the pedal depressed there's no audible difference between legato and staccato. Anyone who does hear a difference in that case could only be picking up the tiny slaps of the hammers as the keys are released.

Oh, and I heard Alicia play in San Diego in 1995, when she was 72. The first half of her program was all Mendelssohn, and the second half was all Spanish (Surinach and de Falla). Very little of the music was familiar to me, but of course her playing was amazingly colorful and brilliant. I just wish I could remember it better!

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: MathGuy] #2693738 12/02/17 04:15 PM
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BTW, my main point about those markings wasn't anything about differences in sound with different kinds of attack if the pedal is being held anyway (I agree with MathGuy about that), but about the meaning of the 'straight-horizontal' accent marks, in view of their concurrence with the staccato marks and how Granados played the passage -- i.e. that they're sort of "rubato" indications, telling us to 'love' every note and probably to linger on some of them.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Mark_C] #2693748 12/02/17 05:30 PM
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Thanks for the clarification, Mark. My comment about pedalled staccato was more in response to scriabinfanatic's post, and of course I should have said so.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693762 12/02/17 06:34 PM
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.

Last edited by scriabinfanatic; 12/02/17 09:33 PM.
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: Tim Adrianson] #2693768 12/02/17 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
. . . although it is difficult as heck, it can't SEEM that way for the listener (or at least, this listener).

Hi Tim. Thanks for taking the time to listen to all of us and provide feedback. I agree wholeheartedly that this piece must sound as if the performer has complete control at every moment and I'm certainly not close to being there yet. I'm still not sure about "tossed off" though, for the reasons I tried to explain earlier. There are two short cadential passages where Granados specifies that the music should be played "nonchalantly" (using that actual word!), so there, definitely, it should be tossed off with a playful flourish. I also think that, for the most part, the piece should sound relaxed, confident, effortless (a term I've used before), and mp15 does a really good job of projecting those qualities. My only issue would be that he misses some opportunities to add his own nuances and doesn't fully explore the potential for rubato and "expressivity" that Granados undoubtedly was looking for. In that regard, the composer's own performance offers a helpful window into his vision of the piece, although I actually much prefer Alicia's.

By the way, I think there are some places where Hector "gets" it better than all of us, particularly where there are staccato effects underneath a smooth, legato figuration/melody -- the L.H. part at the first appearance of the quintuplet semiquavers is a good example, but there are others. His meticulous observation of the attack markings in those passages is something I hope to emulate as I work on my own interpretation. I think it will be very interesting to hear what Hector can do with this piece once he's at a point technically where he can really start to relax and "be" the music. (If you're reading this, Hector, I apologize for using the third-person; it's hard to write to multiple people at once.)

One more thing that may be stating the obvious but whatever. This piece is a challenge even for professional artists. When I messaged Lindsay after I heard her performance, she replied that it was gratifying to get my compliments because it had taken so much effort for her to learn it. Her response was something like, "Thanks, but I just wish it wasn't so incredibly difficult!" My teacher refers to it as a "real knucklebuster" and he can play pretty much anything. Sort of encouraging to know that we "Requiebrians" are in good company. (Great word for us, MathGuy.)


SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2693778 12/02/17 07:41 PM
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No need to apologize to me, SiFi, actually I feel very honored about the good things you say about my playing, particularly because it's still at the "it really sucks" stage, so thanks for your kind words. Both you and mp15 are doing wonderfully, much more ahead of me, but that's OK, it seems both of you have been working at it longer, so I hope to be able to get to where you are at.

I'm also approaching this work with what I know from Spanish culture, a lot of it we inherited and some of it they kept but we are aware of it, just like Americans have similarities with the Brits but also are aware of customs that stayed there. I may not be accurate in my cultural assessment, but I think I'm in the neighborhood.

Here's another rendition, this one Los Requiebros-Patricio Molina, on some parts the video shows paintings of Spanish life (I don't think they are Goya's), I think the most relevant is the one depicting the Jota dance at 2:18 then at 3:13 (it's a national dance, more characteristic of northern Spain, particularly Aragon and Navarra, very difficult with jumping singing, dancing, castanets). There is a particular section (in G major, marked un poco piu moto, stacc sans pedale, bar 127-130, or 3:13 in the video) that's giving me the fits because I'm trying to capture the Jota character and all those jumping chords are impossible for me to play at the tempo I want. The Tonadilla, particularly its last glorious recap seems like a different dance form, not sure which one, they have zillions of them, but I keep hearing castanets in those triplets...

Ah, I wish things in Barcelona would calm down, as there was a place there where I could study piano in a self-directed course, but I guess that will have to wait until the dust settles there. I'm very drawn to this music so I hope somehow I can get the chance to go over there and immerse myself in the culture. For now, I'll keep on dreaning, and playing.

Hector

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: hbs60] #2693830 12/03/17 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by hbs60
Americans have similarities with the Brits but also are aware of customs that stayed there. I may not be accurate in my cultural assessment, but I think I'm in the neighborhood..

I would lay odds that you have more cultural connection to Spain than any American has to Britain. Even I, as an expatriot, find myself wondering what country I'm in whenever I go back. There's so much there now that I barely recognize. At least the people still seem British though, which I am fairly sure of because of their accents.

I really enjoy your insights and comments about Los Requiebros and its context. I still have so much to learn about all of this. As I said in my initial post, this is my first real foray into Spanish music. I was initially somewhat trepidatious about my ability to render the music appropriately, given my ignorance of the complex cultural universe out of which the Goyescas were born. Thank you so much for helping me understand some of that.

Last edited by SiFi; 12/03/17 10:26 AM. Reason: Correct typo; clean up language

SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2697110 12/15/17 01:22 AM
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So MathGuy and I got our Alicia editions more or less at the same time. Lots of really interesting preamble material and specific notes on the individual pieces. However, I'm less impressed with Alicia's editorial scholarship. There are editor's notes about many uncontroversial and sometimes insignificant things, but several major instances that cry out for a well-sourced explanation (I'll post something later to illustrate) are ignored or maybe not recognized as important. At the same time, she inserts all kinds of notations in the score that reflect her own interpretations/performances. These are enclosed in square brackets (mostly), but you have to do a lot of close reading to figure out what's original and what's been added.

On the positive side, the printing is beautiful. No expense spared on layout and clarity. I wish that making the music easier to read made it easier to play. But it doesn't. frown


SRF
Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2697181 12/15/17 09:35 AM
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Yep, I agree, although I can't comment on the printing because I only have the app version of the score and it won't let me print, I personally prefer darker, bolder print since my eyesight is not all that great, but the layout seems much cleaner. I don't always agree with some of the extra octaves she adds on places, and I mostly use this score as a reference but work mostly from my regular Belwin Mills score. There are a couple of discrepancies and I then decide which version makes more sense for me. As an update, I've proceeded to chop up the whole piece into 39 different segments, I'm purposely avoiding playing through the whole thing, but instead I focus on playing these segments randomly, so I can focus on each individual difficulty. Playing the whole thing over and over is very exhausting, so I'm taking my time, trying to slowly overcome the various challenges, I'm hoping to have progressed enough by May, when I usually go to piano camp, but if not, I'll keep working on it, hopefully I'll be able to play it passably...someday!

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2697217 12/15/17 02:36 PM
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Wow, 39 segments - now that's organization! I'm taking kind of a similar approach, but not in such a structured way. For example, if I have a few minutes I'll sit down and take another stab at cleaning up that G major staccato section. (I'm guessing that's along about part 10 or 11, somewhere in there?) But I do play the whole piece too; it's such a joyous outpouring that I just can't resist.

The Alicia edition... First off, I wish it would lie flat! I ended up hand-copying the edits that I wanted into my other edition for that reason. And I too have mixed feelings about the edits.

I think part of the deal is supposed to be that Granados' own conception of the Goyescas kept evolving after he published them, and that many of the edits reflect Granados' own performance practice as received by Alicia through Frank Marshall. Some of them I'm actually quite grateful for, as they're like a granting of permission to imitate certain things she does that would otherwise seem off limits. (Example: that extra Bb four bars from the end, which is almost like a single guitar string allowed to keep sounding.) On the other hand, some of the additions, like the extra octaves Hector referred to, seem gratuitous; and as SiFi mentioned, some very puzzling things are left unchanged and unmentioned. So it's a mixed bag, but still I'm very glad to have it.

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: MathGuy] #2697263 12/15/17 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MathGuy
So it's a mixed bag, but still I'm very glad to have it.

That pretty much sums it up. I, too, agree with Hector about the octave doublings. And the additional Bb near the end just seems very odd, even in Alicia's blessed hands. Only thing I would add is that it's well worth the money,though it looks like none of us is actually using it to practice from (I did what MathGuy did: just copied some of the markings into the copy I originally learnt from). smile


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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2704478 01/13/18 01:23 AM
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Just checking in on this thread. I'm going to be performing this beast in a little over a week. I'll try to get my son to record it, but he may be busy with his own Slipknot retreads and love raps. In any case, I've been a bit sick lately, so not having a recording would probably be the better option.

How are you getting along with it, Hector and MathGuy? I will say, affirmatively, that I think the work is a masterpiece. I don't think you can fully get that until you feel it under your fingers and hear the results. JMO.


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Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2704717 01/13/18 11:52 PM
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Good to hear from you, SiFi, and good luck in your performance. I’m trying a different approach with this and other pieces. Instead of playing through the whole thing, I’m really backing off and only practicing the trouble spots, intermingling it with snippets of other pieces. I’m trying to have a more focused approach and save my energy, because it has been exhausting. I want to make these tough spots part of my routine, and once in a while I indulge in playing longer passages. It’s almost like tending a garden, taking care of the weeds, but letting the grass grow on it’s own. I’ve been wanting to record this again but I’m not there yet. I’m also going to a piano meetup this weekend and planning to play El Albaicin, so I’m focusing on reviewing that. I’m hoping to play Los Requiebros in May when I plan to go to piano camp. So, it’s cooking in the back burner. I’ll post a recording at some point hopefully in the near future. From what I’ve seen of your playing, I feel confident you’ll do great!

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2705156 01/15/18 01:52 PM
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It's good to know you guys are still at it! I hope you're feeling better, SiFi, and please tell your son that people on the internet want to see the video of your performance! I'm sure it'll be awesome despite your modest disclaimer.

Hector, your approach to practicing Los Requiebros makes a lot of sense, and I think your gardening analogy is spot on. Good luck (not that you need it) with El Albaicin this weekend; that's a heck of a piece too!

I'm planning to play Los Requiebros for the Italian pianist Francesco Attesti on about Feb. 15 when he'll be holding a masterclass at the college where I teach. He and the organist Matteo Galli, who have made piano/organ duets a niche of theirs, stop by for several days every year to perform and do community outreach. The class is really for the piano students at the college (and we have some really excellent ones), but they're always been kind enough to let me play at the end. A couple years ago I played Quejas from Goyescas for Francesco and he seemed to like it quite a bit, so hopefully Los Requiebros will go over well too, even though it'll definitely be less polished. Most of it is behaving pretty well now, but just like in software, the last 20% of the project takes 80% of the time!

Anybody else finding that, once the technical stuff has mostly been put to bed, the very first run-through of the tune (m. 8-32) is really the hardest part of all?

Jim

Re: Who Can Play Los Requiebros? [Re: SiFi] #2705420 01/16/18 11:02 AM
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Thanks, Matt!
As for El Albaicin, I've been working on this one off and on for the last 20 years at least, so I'm pretty familiar with it, I've done a couple You Tube recordings, but I've never dared play it in public, so that's going to be a stretch for me, especially since I'll try to do it by memory. I normally prefer to read but this one is too hard to read and play at the same time, it's very very easy to get lost in an ocean of notes, so let's see how I do with it.
Good luck with your February performance of Requiebros, there's plenty of good material in there that can be very educational.
Maybe I'll change my opinion on this down the road, but I find the measures 8-32 the ones I do best, after that, it tends to fall apart, but that may be because I'm still struggling with technical issues. I hope it doesn't take me 20 years to be able to play this acceptably, but even then, I'm sure I can learn a lot from that piece.
Again, good luck with your performance next month!

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