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Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group #2816513
02/17/19 10:39 AM
02/17/19 10:39 AM
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After the success, the interest and the insightful contributions to Craig's study group thread devoted to Chopin's little Nocturne, it was decided to have another collaborative endeavour, this time investigating Tchaikovsky's Autumn Song, the October entry from his Seasons, Op. 37.

The technical demands of the piece are not great. Typical of Tchaikovsky, there is a lot of counterpoint going on so if you haven't reached the level of Bach Inventions yet and the ability to handle two concurrent melodies you might find the piece more challenging.

On the other hand you don't have to learn the piece to join or follow the discussion. It's likely that some of the topics raised are applicable to the learning process generally as much as this piece in particular, as was the issue of verifying the score and interpreting the directions in the Chopin thread.

The floor is open.


Richard
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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816538
02/17/19 11:38 AM
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A beautiful piece. I've suggested to my teacher a few times that we try it. I think she believes that it's a bit above my level.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816543
02/17/19 11:48 AM
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I linked to Dumka1's performance of this piece for the Slavic recital just yesterday and I'll do it again here because I thought it was a wonderfully sensitive playing of it, and I definitely wanted to play it myself after I heard her performance.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816558
02/17/19 12:18 PM
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I will watch this thread with interest and will try to offer some suggestions if I feel and hope that they might be appropriate.

I have recently performed this piece a couple of times. Having done so, I am now working on several other movements ("Months") from this set. The Seasons was a new discovery for me.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: BruceD] #2816598
02/17/19 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I linked to Dumka1's performance of this piece for the Slavic recital just yesterday and I'll do it again here because I thought it was a wonderfully sensitive playing of it, and I definitely wanted to play it myself after I heard her performance.



Thanks again, Tyrone, I'm a bit embarrassed if flattered smile. As I pointed out in a comment yesterday, I think I'm playing it now with more freedom and variety (+ from memory)--I had literally just learned it before that Slavic recital. And I agree with Tim Adrianson's comment on my Slavic recital submission:

"Briefly put, I think there are clear "A" and "B" sections, the "B" starting at 1:10 and continuing until 2:50 or so, and I believe I would inject some more forward motion and romantic yearning than I heard in your rendition. The "A" section, and the ending coda, I liked just as it was -- simple, sad, pretty much despairing at the end."

Overall, after working on it with my Russian teacher for a couple of months (and revisiting it occasionally), here are some points that she stressed:

1. Avoid playing it with excessive sentimentality or too much rubato when it's not justified by an overall "idea." Find a balance and stick to good taste (easier said than done).

2. Make sure to bring out all the voices separately. The middle voice is supposed to be basically a "cello" part.

I guess this is it for now... Good luck! I'm glad this piece is getting the attention it deserves. "The Seasons" are quite a staple of the Russian/ex-Soviet music education but apparently are less known in the West.

Originally Posted by BruceD
I will watch this thread with interest and will try to offer some suggestions if I feel and hope that they might be appropriate.

I have recently performed this piece a couple of times. Having done so, I am now working on several other movements ("Months") from this set. The Seasons was a new discovery for me.

Regards,


Yes, me too, I'm working on "April" now (for contrast) and would like to learn "June" next.

Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816620
02/17/19 02:29 PM
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Thanks for opening this up, Richard - I’m looking forward to beginning the piece. I played with it yesterday just a little, but with a imslp version. I may purchase a Henle of the set - it seems like a good addition to the library.

This piece, unlike the Chopin, I am able to sightread, although not all that fluently. I recognize there is a danger in that, though, in that I must avoid the temptation to play it through before I am ready, at least not frequently. I think I will have to devise a way to break down the measures into chunks and avoid biting off more than I can chew so that I can learn each chunk properly from the outset.

First task will be to find the measures that separate the larger sections mentioned by dumka1. I don’t have it in front of me at the moment but will inspect it later.

Another thing I noticed is that there seems to be a fair amount of repetition of motifs, in melody, timing, phrasing, and chords which may prove useful in learning the piece efficiently. I guess this must be true of most music, though. I also notice it with the Satie Gymnopedies, once you get the left hand progression / jumps, you find they repeats quite a lot.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816631
02/17/19 02:43 PM
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I'd like to follow as well. Thanks!


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816747
02/17/19 08:11 PM
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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: cmb13] #2816750
02/17/19 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13


Such a sublime and outstanding touch.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816757
02/17/19 09:08 PM
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Ooh this is pretty, maybe doable- will follow and will check in with my teacher


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: NobleHouse] #2816759
02/17/19 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse


Such a sublime and outstanding touch.


Yes absolutely - this will be my model performance.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816875
02/18/19 09:11 AM
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The piece is ABA form.

M1-16 is A, M17-33 is B, M34-49 is M1-16 repeated, note for note, as far as I can see. M50-56 is the coda.

The climax of the piece is in M21 and this is where I'd start my practise, working backwards in importance to M17. The first five measures of this B section build in intensity, using two voices in RH that need to be brought out separately, and leading to the climactic rolled chord.

After sorting out M17-21 I think I'd look next at M9-12 where the theme from the first four measures is played in the middle voice that I think needs to be brought out clearly against the RH counter melody.

If you can wrap up these two passages quickly I don't think there's much challenge anywhere else so playing through every day may not really be an issue. This is the sort of piece that might be better practised faster than it's eventual performance tempo.

With so few technical challenges there may be more to be had from looking more closely at the music and shaping the phrases. As you noted, Craig, there's a lot figures and motifs that get repeated, expanded and inverted, lots of shifting accents, and so on.

One of my first questions would be how much weight to give the top A in M6 compared to the one in M5.


Richard
Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816890
02/18/19 09:46 AM
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Thanks for the early analysis. Yesterday I actually played with the first eight measures,taking care to get final fingering, voice them properly, make them fluid. Maybe I'll move on to the B section next. Funny, on my listening, I would have thought the B section started on M22, where there was a clear new theme....but I agree M17-21 differ from the prior measures. What do you think? Would it be fair to call M17-21 a transition section?


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816901
02/18/19 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
[...]This is the sort of piece that might be better practised faster than it's eventual performance tempo.


What I find interesting - if not curious - is that any professional I have listened to playing this piece (including the above link), play it as if the tempo designation were "lento" or even "adagio." Yet, Tchaikovsky marks it "Andante doloroso et molto cantabile." Yes, the molto doloroso certainly dictates a sadness of mood, but how slow can andante be and still be andante?

And certainly Buniatishvili's tempo starting at measure 17 is considerably faster than at the outset. Not that I disagree with this. In fact, it underscores what I had written in a previous thread, that often a piece's mood in a given moment almost requires a change of tempo even when no change of tempo is indicated by the composer.

Thoughts?

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816911
02/18/19 11:00 AM
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Compare the Andante for his fourth and fifth symphonies and his Andante Cantabile, Op. 11 with the Adagio of his sixth symphony.

Tchaikovsky uses a slower andante than most of us.

Pletnev's tempo, live in London, June '06, is slower still but he brings out the counterpoint very well and also picks it up at M17.


Richard
Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2816923
02/18/19 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
One of my first questions would be how much weight to give the top A in M6 compared to the one in M5.

I think you could play it either way, placing more weight on the 1st A or the 2nd A. It conveys a different character. Building the sound from M5 to M6 and placing more weight on the 2nd A will sound emphatic and hopeful. Back off on M6 and placing less weight on the 2nd A in M6 will sound more wistful and resigned.

Since this passage appears twice in the piece I would not play it the same way. So in M5-6 I might build that phrase so the 2nd A has more weight and sound. Then in M 38-39 I might make that 2nd A softer. This is something definitely worth experimenting with and trying out different options. You can even change it up and not play it the same way each time. I think these kinds of choices are what makes each person’s performances unique.



Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2817329
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I worked on M1-6 last night (as I had already started with this) and on 17-21. This is really a beautiful piece. I think once several small sections are in order, it will come together nicely. I'm planning on working on tone, note production, voicing on this piece.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2817369
02/19/19 11:45 AM
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Hi, Ellen, welcome to the thread! smile

Having introduced the very appealing figure in M5 I want to keep the crescendo going into M6. On the other hand, the bass line is descending, the pitch in M6 is not rising (relative to M5), the A is shorter and there's no dynamic indication, other than the accent, to give the note any extra weight (again, compared to M5) before the descent beginning in M7.

So, for me, the second A is softer in M6 than in M5 but not by much. So having filled my sails with wind do I soften the M6 triplets straight away, as an echo of M5 and soften the top A accordingly or do I continue the crescendo but leave the top A as a bit understated, prefiguring the descent of M7. The parallel measure, M14, is a more definite descent as the C on the second beat is already falling.

That's a good idea, Ellen, to distinguish the two halves. I think I might keep the crescendo going in M6 but not in the reprise when the cat, so to speak, is already out of the bag.

Glad you're enjoying the piece, Craig, and not having any technical issue build tension into it.

The counter melody in M9-12 is all on the off beats and the counter melodies in M17-21 are effectively in separate halves of each measure so the difficulties won't be as much as I thought.

While I've read through this a couple of times at the piano I'm still not ready to start working on it yet but I don't think this is going to take as long as the Nocturne.


Richard
Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2817382
02/19/19 12:01 PM
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Thanks a lot for starting this thread. I was thinking of doing this very piece next and my teacher is OK with it. Unfortunately, I don't have much time lately; I didn't post for a while and barely read the forums these days. But I will follow the thread and make notes for the future.


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Re: Tchaikovsky: October, Op. 37 - Study Group [Re: zrtf90] #2819149
02/23/19 08:52 AM
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I've been looking a little more closely here this week. I don't think there's much by way of technical difficulty but there are places where extra care is needed.

I've mapped out my prospective practise sections and the likely points of interest.

Starting at M17-21 there are two voices in M18, 20 and 21. It might be worth taking each of the RH voices on their own, with the LH, just to make sure they're well phrased separately. The upper voices takes the climax so it needs to be brought out well.

In M9-16 the second voice is more a counter melody over the middle voice, the main theme from M1-4, and appears predominantly on the off beats so counting aloud should be enough to distinguish the two voices.

M22-25 and M26-29 have some interesting LH chords at the beginning of MM23, 24, 27 and 28, where I might experiment with taking the harmony in LH as a rolled octave with the two thumbs sharing the middle voice between them rather than risk the rhythm breaking up with the rapid bounce from the accaccs to the principal chord. This goes for M15 as well.

M1-8, M30-33 and the coda are all straightforward.

The predominant theme throughout this piece is descent, both doloroso and cantabile. If you still work your scales frequently you might make sure to include slow practise, hands separately, with carefully managed weight transfer and almost motionless fingers in your technical work while learning this piece. I neglected this for a long time when I was doing scales.

I'm planning on starting work on this in the coming week.


Richard
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