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I have been playing Chopin prelude no.15 for a while now (i have learned it 1 month ago), and i rarely play it rubato. I simply like it simple.

What i wonder is if my performance is worth less because of no rubato? Is rubato necessary for this piece, or is it enough if you bring out melody and use dinamic?



Thanks for answers.

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I'm not sure rubato is a "rule", but Chopin, like many composers, needs a lot of space to "breath" between phrases. There's nothing worse than overexagerated rubato. laugh

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GreenRain,

I think Matt's statements are correct, though they might seem contradictory. You need some, but not too much. The music needs to breathe and not feel robotic, but any rhythmic freedom mustn't be excessive either.

There must be a tremendous number of recordings of such a popular piece on YouTube. I recommend you listen to a variety of them, both professional and amateur, to get an idea of the parameters of what's appropriate, and then let your own good taste be your guide.

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Rubato can be so confusing and frustrating. A quick story:
I learned the Chopin Nocturne 9/2 30 years ago. My teacher was a pro, but from the old school of Chopin that says no rubato, no liberties with the piece. I ended up hating that pretty piece. 30 years later, I listened to 3 recordings of it on you tube and voila, lots of sentiment and some rubato and now the piece is taking on a new meaning for me personally. It now breathes and I love it. But there is such a fine line there between tasteful rubato and exagerated ego-based oversentimentality. I'm finding that phrasing is key and letting it breathe is such a perfect description from the folks who replied above.


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Originally Posted by Barb860
But there is such a fine line there between tasteful rubato and exagerated ego-based oversentimentality. I'm finding that phrasing is key and letting it breathe is such a perfect description from the folks who replied above.


Ditto.

Simple is nice, but it mustn't be rigid. You have to find a sweet spot between too "schmaltzy" (as my teacher always said to me) and too mechanical.


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Some people use a lot of rubato, others like to play things fairly straightforward.

And while I agree that it's best to find a place between mechanical and schmaltzy, I think there's a HUGE range in between those two extremes.

For example, take these three pianists, all of whom are pretty famous.

A little bit of rubato, very tasteful:



A bit more flexible:



And if this guy posted in the "Members Recording" section of the forums, he'd probably be told he was guilty of 3rd Degree Schmaltz with Intent to Drag and had no rhythmic skill whatsoever. He rolls chords and practically dots the 8th notes on a whim! There's no way Juilliard would touch this hack with a 10 foot pole. He obviously has no respect for composers' wishes: laugh



"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Both of those videos were so inspiring to me that I cried, no kidding. My teacher insisted that I play Chopin Nocturne 9/2 with a metronome and scolded me profusely for any freedom with the tempo whatsoever. I can't tell you how much I have detested that piece over these past 30 years. Until I heard the 2 recordings above. Then I sat down and played that piece and now I really believe I understand it, or at least can play it with love. But I can feel it when I take too many liberties with it--too much rubato, just a bit too much, you can feel it is wrong.
God Love Chopin forever.


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Originally Posted by Barb860
My teacher insisted that I play Chopin Nocturne 9/2 with a metronome and scolded me profusely for any freedom with the tempo whatsoever.


If I remember correctly, Chopin himself wanted the accompaniment part to be metronomically steady and unwavering, with rubato only taking place in the right hand part. Learning to separate the hands in that way, almost as if you have two brains, with one keeping a completely steady beat and the other freely rhapsodizing over it, is a difficult skill to acquire.

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Originally Posted by GreenRain
I have been playing Chopin prelude no.15 for a while now (i have learned it 1 month ago), and i rarely play it rubato. I simply like it simple.

I also learned this prelude recently. I think you can get away with little rubato (I certainly play it this way), but not really with no rubato, particularly during 7/10 note figures (bar 4 for example). It's also a case of delaying some of the notes, such as during the ff passages in the middle section (where right hand plays octave B quavers); delaying the initial chord of this passage, and perhaps also the A# quaver in the left hand, is effective.

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The simple answer is "Yes."
Ten bars before the end of the Nocturne op9/2 Chopin asks for poco rubato. Most pianists play this passage in a fashion no different to the rest of their interpretation. When I play it my understanding is that the two hands need to be slightly de-synchronized so I let the right hand lag a fraction behind the left.

Gershwin's second prelude is marked Andante con moto e poco rubato. This piece, and Gershwin's own recordings of it, has been discussed elsewhere on these forums. If those recordings are anything to go by, it might appear that the "poco rubato" here was meant to serve as a warning not to apply too much rubato to the interpretation.

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Quoting Kreisler:

"And while I agree that it's best to find a place between mechanical and schmaltzy, I think there's a HUGE range in between those two extremes."

I agree with this statement, and am personally willing to listen to the extremes of interpretation. I especially think it important to explore the extremes while learning a piece, and then settling on an interpretation with a full knowledge of what the possibilities are.

Tomasino


"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Barb860
My teacher insisted that I play Chopin Nocturne 9/2 with a metronome and scolded me profusely for any freedom with the tempo whatsoever.


If I remember correctly, Chopin himself wanted the accompaniment part to be metronomically steady and unwavering, with rubato only taking place in the right hand part. Learning to separate the hands in that way, almost as if you have two brains, with one keeping a completely steady beat and the other freely rhapsodizing over it, is a difficult skill to acquire.


Although this idea is often mentioned, I don't think I've ever heard a single pianist play this way. In the three recordings posted by Kreisler, the left hand follows the right hand's rubato. It seems to me that if the left hand remained completely steady while the right hand played rubato, then the two hands would often not play together when it was indicated to do so in the score.

I'd be interested if you can find a Youtube recording where you think the pianist uses the type of rubato you mention.

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In the front cover of the Dover edition I have, it has Mikuli saying something along the lines of "Chopin had no bigger criticism of a student than the overuse of rubato"

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In "Chopin, Pianist and Teacher", there is discussion about how Chopin would never play the same piece twice for his students during their lessons. This would drive them crazy, as he would say "play it this way" (not the way the student was doing it)and then he would demonstrate by playing pieces differently every time.
If anybody has the Schirmer edition of the Nocturnes, there is discussion about the interpretation of these pieces in the beginning of this collection. Mikuli is the editor. James Huneker writes the description of the Nocturnes and says to play 9/2 simply and "Field-like". This is how I learned that piece and it was stifling to play that way.


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For most genres of Chopin's music, Schirmer has offered an edition by Mikuli and another by Rafael Joseffy. Huneker's quaint, florid and opinionated remarks preface both of them (for better or worse!). Fortunately, they aren't taken terribly seriously nowadays.

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Originally Posted by Barb860

If anybody has the Schirmer edition of the Nocturnes, there is discussion about the interpretation of these pieces in the beginning of this collection. Mikuli is the editor. James Huneker writes the description of the Nocturnes and says to play 9/2 simply and "Field-like". This is how I learned that piece and it was stifling to play that way.


I don't think "simply and Field like" excludes rubato. I think your teacher was in a very small minority when she wanted you to play this piece metronomically. Because of the repeated pattern in the bass of this Nocturne, I think a non rubato approach would be particularly boring.

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Thanks for the Rachmaninoff recording. I don't think I've enjoyed a performance of that nocturne in about 5 years.


Originally Posted by tomasino
I especially think it important to explore the extremes while learning a piece, and then settling on an interpretation with a full knowledge of what the possibilities are.


That's something I do a lot myself. I do many ranges from extremely mechanical to grossly exaggerated, and I'll play the piece an octave higher and lower, and I'm always surprised what new things I learn about a piece by doing this. I never perform a piece in this manner for the record.

Daniel


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Barb860
My teacher insisted that I play Chopin Nocturne 9/2 with a metronome and scolded me profusely for any freedom with the tempo whatsoever.


If I remember correctly, Chopin himself wanted the accompaniment part to be metronomically steady and unwavering, with rubato only taking place in the right hand part. Learning to separate the hands in that way, almost as if you have two brains, with one keeping a completely steady beat and the other freely rhapsodizing over it, is a difficult skill to acquire.


Although this idea is often mentioned, I don't think I've ever heard a single pianist play this way. In the three recordings posted by Kreisler, the left hand follows the right hand's rubato. It seems to me that if the left hand remained completely steady while the right hand played rubato, then the two hands would often not play together when it was indicated to do so in the score.

I'd be interested if you can find a Youtube recording where you think the pianist uses the type of rubato you mention.


I don't think it's on YouTube but there is an early vinyl recording of Mozart's K 467 by Friedrich Gulda conducted by Hans Swarowsky in which he treats the slow movement in this way with remarkable results. When he recorded the concerto again, years later for DG with Abbado conducting, he obviously thought better of it and put his two hands closer together that time round.

A very interesting book on the subject is this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Time-History-Clarendon-Paperbacks/dp/0198166672#

P S I have just found a review of Gulda's recording (which has, apparently been re-issued) which reflects a more enthusiastic response than my own to it. The reviewer says that Gulda makes the movement sound "like jazz"...to me it sounds like a pianist who has been at the bottle.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/the-compact-collection-755295.html

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Perhaps my teacher was in the minority. Or perhaps I could have been playing icky over-the-top rubato as a 16 year old learning Chopin. I just remember she jumped on me like crazy every time I deverted from the precise tempo I began the piece with. Funny how we remember these things. She warned me to not take liberties with pieces and let the composer's intent be heard. She once told me a professor of hers had studied with Liszt. I wish I knew who that was. My teacher died about 20 years ago, she was 100 then. Just a side note as to her background, she taught at the university level for 14 years.
So she did have some credentials. Then when I entered college, my teacher there disagreed with so much I had learned....go figure...thanks for letting me get personal and vent. I'm learning so much from you all.


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Generally speaking, I don't think there are very many pieces in the repertoire that can be played entirely without rubato. Even in Baroque music which generally has a very steady pulse, most interpreters "give a little" as they approach a cadence. The skill is in knowing how much or how little rubato to use and, in most cases, to use it sparingly.

Regards,


BruceD
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