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I recently bought Valentina's J.S. Bach and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition recordings. The sound quality is great as is her playing. It is interesting that the pianos sound very different across the two recordings. Her YouTube vids show a Steinway for Bach and Bösendorfer for Mussorgsky so perhaps those are the models used on the recordings.

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It used to be exciting following VL on YouTube. Her output was extraordinary. Now she hardly posts at all. I know she still records, but the buzz around her YouTube is gone. She always seemed to be having great fun.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by BruceD
The only quibble I have with her playing - and only because it goes against what all my teachers have taught, and even though she produces good results - is that she often lets the damper pedal hold a note that should (according to teachers) be held by a finger.

Why should she hold a note with her finger if the damper pedal is being used?

It's a reasonable question and for which I don't have a reasonable answer. I could say, however, it may be the characteristic of the sound produced. With a note (notes) being held with the damper, other strings are (may be) resonating in sympathy with the struck note. Without the damper, only the held note(s) is(are) sounding.

I once had an incredibly sound-sensitive teacher in a summer program. I was playing something while his back was to me and to the piano. "Why did you hold that note (chord?) with the damper pedal instead of with your finger(s)?" He was right, by the way. When I asked him how he could tell, he said that the sound was different depending on which "technique" I used.

In certain contexts, this could be obvious.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Ken Knapp
Politics are not a topic of conversation that are allowed on the forum. All these things lead to are contention and mean spirited discussion. These days discussion of racism and cancel culture are also included under that umbrella. Whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the views expressed is not the issue. The issue is keeping peace and things on topic. Whenever things veer into these areas, arguments and contention abound.

In the Pianist Corner, the discussion is to be about: "Discussions about playing the piano, performance, technique, composers, competitions, etc."

If the discussion can't be kept on topic the topic will be closed and/or deleted.


Since when was blatant racism a political matter?

Anyways, I'll leave that discussion, because I find Valentina to be a tasteless and—perhaps not boring, but chronically dry pianist. She has some decent recordings of Liszt but her ouevre is generally pedestrian and limited.

Last edited by achoo42; 08/06/20 04:31 PM.
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by BruceD
The only quibble I have with her playing - and only because it goes against what all my teachers have taught, and even though she produces good results - is that she often lets the damper pedal hold a note that should (according to teachers) be held by a finger.

Why should she hold a note with her finger if the damper pedal is being used?

It's a reasonable question and for which I don't have a reasonable answer. I could say, however, it may be the characteristic of the sound produced. With a note (notes) being held with the damper, other strings are (may be) resonating in sympathy with the struck note. Without the damper, only the held note(s) is(are) sounding.

I once had an incredibly sound-sensitive teacher in a summer program. I was playing something while his back was to me and to the piano. "Why did you hold that note (chord?) with the damper pedal instead of with your finger(s)?" He was right, by the way. When I asked him how he could tell, he said that the sound was different depending on which "technique" I used.

In certain contexts, this could be obvious.

Regards,
There is certainly a difference between holding a note just with one's fingers(and no pedal) vs. holding a note with the pedal. But there is no difference between holding a note with one's finger and the pedal vs. holding it with just the pedal.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There is certainly a difference between holding a note just with one's fingers(and no pedal) vs. holding a note with the pedal. But there is no difference between holding a note with one's finger and the pedal vs. holding it with just the pedal.

Agreed 100%.

Applying rational physics to your musical instrument, and disregarding theories that have negligible impact on the sound aside from the placebo. In my opinion, this is important to the progression of the instrument and the quality of it's players. There is no place here for woo-woo or flim-flam. It's a waste of time and energy that could be put to much better use.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There is certainly a difference between holding a note just with one's fingers(and no pedal) vs. holding a note with the pedal. But there is no difference between holding a note with one's finger and the pedal vs. holding it with just the pedal.

My teacher gets annoyed with me (and anyone else) when I finish a piece, especially a quiet one, and release the final chord before releasing the sustaining pedal, even though it makes no physical difference. He calls it the "Look Ma, no hands" trick and considers it amateurish/unprofessional. Actually, he doesn't like it in general and when I see Valentina doing it, I don't like it either.

Last edited by SiFi; 08/06/20 07:42 PM.

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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Yes, it is indeed rubbish that any kind of aftertouch can affect the sound after the note has been pressed, although like Pianoloverus has said, it sometimes helps the flow of the musician's playing. I think that's why a lot of them do that lifting the hand up thing.

Anyone who claims that a piano has aftertouch is quite simply scientifically wrong.

Any piano technician will tell you that aftertouch is a real artifact on all pianos. Once the jack releases from under the knuckle (known as let-off), the key continues to travel about 40 thousands of an inch before it is stopped by the felt punching around the front rail pin. This minuscule amount of travel after let-off actually gives the pianist more control. With no aftertouch, the piano will feel heavy and difficult to control. Too much aftertouch usually means there is something else wrong with the regulation of the action.

If you depress a key VERY slowly, you can feel the point at which the jack escapes the knuckle and then feel a tiny bit of free travel of the key after that...the aftertouch.

I realize you are not referring to this technical meaning of "aftertouch." The only time a pianist might be aware of aftertouch is probably when playing pianissimo, and even then, precious few of them are even aware of its existence.


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Originally Posted by AaronSF
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Yes, it is indeed rubbish that any kind of aftertouch can affect the sound after the note has been pressed, although like Pianoloverus has said, it sometimes helps the flow of the musician's playing. I think that's why a lot of them do that lifting the hand up thing.

Anyone who claims that a piano has aftertouch is quite simply scientifically wrong.

Any piano technician will tell you that aftertouch is a real artifact on all pianos. Once the jack releases from under the knuckle (known as let-off), the key continues to travel about 40 thousands of an inch before it is stopped by the felt punching around the front rail pin. This minuscule amount of travel after let-off actually gives the pianist more control. With no aftertouch, the piano will feel heavy and difficult to control. Too much aftertouch usually means there is something else wrong with the regulation of the action.

If you depress a key VERY slowly, you can feel the point at which the jack escapes the knuckle and then feel a tiny bit of free travel of the key after that...the aftertouch.

I realize you are not referring to this technical meaning of "aftertouch." The only time a pianist might be aware of aftertouch is probably when playing pianissimo, and even then, precious few of them are even aware of its existence.

Well the first point I'd make is that what you've given is actually an excellent example of something real and tangible that we should take in to consideration, especially if one is a piano technician. It is to do with the actual physical set up of the piano. Similar to string height above fret level for a guitar, or bridge height or bow tension for the violin.

The second is that, indeed, you're right. It wasn't what I meant by aftertouch. In fact, I'm probably using the term in a loose sense of the word.

I'm talking more "If I fully depress a note then wiggle my finger around, will it sound different, an imaginary vibrato, perhaps".

Funnily enough, one of the stranger techniques I saw on guitar, especially the likes of Steve Vai, and sometimes the Van Halen ilk, was playing a chord and then pulling or pushing the headstock to bend slightly the whole chord (effectively bowing the neck in shape temporarily). Unfortunately, this doesn't work on a piano by wiggling one's finger around or similar.

Also, - are you talking about the "notch? If so, then surely it's far more than a 25th of an inch from the bottom? Or is there another notch that you are talking about nearer the bottom?

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Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There is certainly a difference between holding a note just with one's fingers(and no pedal) vs. holding a note with the pedal. But there is no difference between holding a note with one's finger and the pedal vs. holding it with just the pedal.

My teacher gets annoyed with me (and anyone else) when I finish a piece, especially a quiet one, and release the final chord before releasing the sustaining pedal, even though it makes no physical difference. He calls it the "Look Ma, no hands" trick and considers it amateurish/unprofessional. Actually, he doesn't like it in general and when I see Valentina doing it, I don't like it either.
If you're only talking about the final chord, then it's obviously visually inappropriate to lift one's hands off the keys before the piece ends. So, in that sense, it could be considered amateurish.

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If the dampers are lifted by the pedal, they are lifted off all the strings and some of those strings can resonate with the notes of a played chord, whether they are struck, or not.

When a chord is struck and is held without pedal, only the strings whose keys are depressed can sound, excepting possibly a resonance from those treble notes which have no damper.

However, you can get some of both by playing a chord with both the pedal and keys held, then releasing the pedal. It doesn't amount to much, more of an afterthought than an aftertouch, but you can have some fun messing around. And if your piano supports sostenuto, and your back action is in good order (they often are not) then there are more not-very-important effects that might be played with.

As for Valentina.

I like Lisitsa's work, to the extent I am familiar with it (and that is a lot less than it might be). No performer needs, or deserves, the burden of being the last word on any technique or interpretation. We can learn from anyone. Personally, I would prefer that some performers opine on music and let it go at that. But there have been many sinners and performing artists with horrid views on humanity, some more and some less distinguished. Some have learned better, rather publicly in some cases, and have tried to amend the harm. Walter Gieseking comes to mind. Think on the major centers of performance and composition, Russia and Germany, and the heavy pressure put on performers before and during the First and Second World Wars, to conform to Stalinist and Fascist philosophy (if that is the word), even that their compositions serve the state or face the consequences.

It is still that kind of world. We may not be able to, personally, fix the whole mess, but we can try to avoid making it worse. I don't know if Valentina has learned from the criticism that has come her way; one can hope. I am glad that this "space" here is something of a refuge. It's enough that it be what it is. We are always better off when we don't try to be what we are not, and when we know when boundaries serve our truest being. After all, it was the invention of the membrane that made the cell possible.


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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Also, - are you talking about the "notch? If so, then surely it's far more than a 25th of an inch from the bottom? Or is there another notch that you are talking about nearer the bottom?

I'm not sure what you mean by "notch"; it's not a term with which I am familiar. The aftertouch happens at the very end of the key stroke. It is about .04 inches, so very slight but necessary to give pianists maximal control over sound production.


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Originally Posted by AaronSF
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Also, - are you talking about the "notch? If so, then surely it's far more than a 25th of an inch from the bottom? Or is there another notch that you are talking about nearer the bottom?

I'm not sure what you mean by "notch"; it's not a term with which I am familiar. The aftertouch happens at the very end of the key stroke. It is about .04 inches, so very slight but necessary to give pianists maximal control over sound production.

On most pianos, about two thirds of the way down the key press, one can feel a "notch". I believe this is where the hammer is released on to the string (please correct me if I'm wrong) - and I was wondering whether that was what you were talking about.

Press the key very slowly on a piano (not all pianos have it) - you can quite distinctly feel it. It is talked about a fair bit on here, actually. To get a more accurate and technical answer, you'd have to ask another tech.

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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by AaronSF
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Also, - are you talking about the "notch? If so, then surely it's far more than a 25th of an inch from the bottom? Or is there another notch that you are talking about nearer the bottom?

I'm not sure what you mean by "notch"; it's not a term with which I am familiar. The aftertouch happens at the very end of the key stroke. It is about .04 inches, so very slight but necessary to give pianists maximal control over sound production.

On most pianos, about two thirds of the way down the key press, one can feel a "notch". I believe this is where the hammer is released on to the string (please correct me if I'm wrong) - and I was wondering whether that was what you were talking about.

Press the key very slowly on a piano (not all pianos have it) - you can quite distinctly feel it. It is talked about a fair bit on here, actually. To get a more accurate and technical answer, you'd have to ask another tech.

The "notch" I think you're speaking of is the point of escapement, when the jack slips out from under the round, leather-covered knuckle at the back of the hammer. It is the point at which the hammer is released and hits the strings. This "notch" exists on all pianos, but if the piano is particularly well regulated, you may not feel it. On many old pianos, the knuckle will be very worn and flattened (not round the way it should be), so when the jack comes out from under the knuckle, it does not come out smoothly but in a sort of ka-lunk way.

But no, this is not aftertouch, which comes after the jack has escaped the knuckle and before the key is stopped in its downward travel by a felt punching on the front key rail.


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Originally Posted by BruceD
It's a reasonable question and for which I don't have a reasonable answer. I could say, however, it may be the characteristic of the sound produced. With a note (notes) being held with the damper, other strings are (may be) resonating in sympathy with the struck note. Without the damper, only the held note(s) is(are) sounding.

I once had an incredibly sound-sensitive teacher in a summer program. I was playing something while his back was to me and to the piano. "Why did you hold that note (chord?) with the damper pedal instead of with your finger(s)?" He was right, by the way. When I asked him how he could tell, he said that the sound was different depending on which "technique" I used.

In certain contexts, this could be obvious.

Regards,

Surely the appropriate use of the pedal is an entirely different issue.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by BruceD
It's a reasonable question and for which I don't have a reasonable answer. I could say, however, it may be the characteristic of the sound produced. With a note (notes) being held with the damper, other strings are (may be) resonating in sympathy with the struck note. Without the damper, only the held note(s) is(are) sounding.

I once had an incredibly sound-sensitive teacher in a summer program. I was playing something while his back was to me and to the piano. "Why did you hold that note (chord?) with the damper pedal instead of with your finger(s)?" He was right, by the way. When I asked him how he could tell, he said that the sound was different depending on which "technique" I used.

In certain contexts, this could be obvious.

Regards,

Surely the appropriate use of the pedal is an entirely different issue.

A different issue from what? My response was to Lisitsa's use of the pedal.


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Surely the appropriate use of the pedal is an entirely different issue.

A different issue from what? My response was to Lisitsa's use of the pedal.

Sorry. I assumed it was to her lifting her hands off a note that was being held with the pedal, and not that she shouldn't have used the pedal in the first place.

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Why do some teachers etc. think that it looks unprofessional to take one's hands off a note that is being held with pedal?

Personally, I feel it can an atmospheric aesthetic if done with grace. You know, not the pianist starting to pick their nose and look at their watch, but rather to put their hands in their lap and contemplate the sound along with the audience.

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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Why do some teachers etc. think that it looks unprofessional to take one's hands off a note that is being held with pedal?

Personally, I feel it can an atmospheric aesthetic if done with grace. You know, not the pianist starting to pick their nose and look at their watch, but rather to put their hands in their lap and contemplate the sound along with the audience.

Sure, I think there are exceptions to the rule that one should generally keep one's hands on the keys for as long as we want the sound to persist. I mentioned that it's with the endings to slow pieces that my teacher has a particularly big problem with not holding the keys down. One exception might be the end of Ravel's Jeux d'eau, where the composer only writes an eighth note chord at the end but there are those phrase or tie marks or whatever they're called (what are they called?) that say, in effect, keep the sustaining pedal down to hold the sonority vibrating throughout the instrument. Another case would be the ending of Chopin's Op. 25 No. 5, which is a wonderful exploitation of the acoustic properties of a grand piano with all the dampers raised (and is also amazingly enjoyable to play!). But I think that releasing the final chord of Beethoven's Op. 111 before releasing the pedal would be, as they like to say in political reporting, terrible "optics".


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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Why do some teachers etc. think that it looks unprofessional to take one's hands off a note that is being held with pedal?
Pianists do that all the time. often one hand at at time, during a piece but I think it would look incredibly silly at the very end of the piece.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/10/20 06:14 PM.
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