2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad) SWEETWATER Cyber Week Deals
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
67 members (36251, Bruce In Philly, ando, anotherscott, brdwyguy, Alex C, An Old Square, 8ude, 16 invisible), 738 guests, and 482 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
J
Jun-Dai Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
I've wondered this for years but have never taken the opportunity to ask anyone. How is one meant to interpret the combination of rest, slur/tie, and staccato notation in the opening piano notes?

[img]https://imgur.com/ioclhC9[/img]

This shows up in measures 1, 2, 9, 10, and 13 (in the Henle ed.). The fact that it's not in all the measures (though I think it is in some editions?), and that it's explicit in measures 9, 10, and 13 makes it seems clear that Brahms wants this somehow played differently from bars 3–8, 11, 12, and 14–16. But what's totally unclear is how he wants it played differently. There's a rest. But there's also a slur/portato notation. That seems mutually exclusive — either the piano is emitting sound on beat three or it is not.

Reading some random notes about Brahms, I get the sense that he's not too particular about how the notation is executed (i.e., they are not explicit instructions); his notation is merely an indication of what I am meant to convey and the details are up to me to figure out. If so, this explains why I run into more notation wtfs with Brahms than most composers. But in this case, it's unclear to me what I'm even supposed to be trying to convey.

The only things I can think of:

[ul]
[li]lift the hands in measure 1 the same way I do in measure 3, but use the pedal to let let it ring through the rest[/li]
[li]let the note last a bit longer? maybe halfway into to the third beat? as a sort of compromise?[/li]
[li]connect the note as I would for portato, but think about the rest while I am doing it[/li]
[li]lift the note and the piano makes no sound on beat 3, but imagine the portato while I am doing it[/li]
[/ul]

The latter two remind me of Churchill's (likely apocryphal) martini recipe: stir the gin with ice, while glancing at an unopened bottle of dry vermouth. Or with a nod in the direction of France. Perhaps Brahms is just trying to see if I'm paying attention.

Listening to recordings and watching a few videos, I don't see anything obvious that the pianists are doing differently in the third bar from the first two (they mostly seem to pedal through the third beat and lift the hands for the rests). Which makes me feel like I've spent far more time thinking about this than it's probably worth. But these things always bother me no end…

Last edited by Jun-Dai; 02/22/21 08:18 PM.
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
J
Jun-Dai Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
I'm still getting the hang of the forum settings :-) I can't seem to edit the post to fix the formatting, so I guess I'll have to leave it with the ubb code like that. Anyways, here's a working version of the image of the part of the score I'm talking about:

[Linked Image]

Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 38
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 38
Originally Posted by Jun-Dai
lift the hands in measure 1 the same way I do in measure 3, but use the pedal to let let it ring through the rest

i'm gonna say you got it right here.. but i think it's great that it's bothering you. wouldn't say half of the fun/joy of interpreting a score is doing just that, pondering one simple absurd minute dynamic or phrasing hahah. also nice Churchill joke smile

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,477
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,477
I would question why the first two measures are articulated differently in the score than the following measures. Everything else is the same. Can we assume that simile is not implied? If it is, why did Brahms not so indicate? What have you heard on recordings?

Interesting question!

On the other hand, in answer to my question:

[Linked Image]

What edition are you using?

To the original question, I don't think I would pedal through the rests, although I suppose that that is an interpretive possibility. I would incline towards a portato, I think.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,859
W
5000 Post Club Member
Offline
5000 Post Club Member
W
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,859
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portato

>successive notes are gently re-articulated while being joined under a single continuing bow stroke

>Currently, portato is sometimes indicated in words, by "mezzo-staccato" or "non-legato"

I think Brahms just wants in the portato measures the notes to have a slight accent on the notes, slightly accenting the rythm, but to keep the phrasing as with the other measures that don't have the portato. So no pedal, rather the opposite, a slightly sharper version of the rythm.

Now the dampers on Brahms' piano would work less well than on modern pianos. So you may want to try it on a historic instrument and mimic the final effect on a modern piano


[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 2,490
S
2000 Post Club Member
Online Content
2000 Post Club Member
S
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 2,490
I have listened to a couple of versions and indeed there isnt anything obviously very different between bars. That said, i would still try to play differently. For me i would put a slight accent and put a half pedal through the third beat to create some continuity. In anything, the only justification i can see is that it does give a little more harmonic support at the beginning before the cello gets into full melodic development.

Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,301
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,301
This came up back in my college days non-stop. All of my professors agreed that the articulation presented means that all the notes/chords under the slur with staccato get the same articulation. Same length, same volume, same everything. It means "play everything the same".


I do music stuffs
Yep, I have a YouTube channel!

Current:
1998 PETROF Model IV Chippendale
LEGO Grand Piano (IDEAS 031|21323)
YAMAHA PSR-520

Past:
2017 Charles Walter 1500 in semi-polish ebony
1991 Kawai 602-M Console in Oak
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
J
Jun-Dai Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
Quote
What edition are you using?

The one I have at home is the Henle. The one I took the screenshot from is the Schott edition on imslp. The B&H edition on imslp has the same notation, as does the first edition. The Philips (Klengel), Kalmus, and International (Rose) editions do also.

Interestingly, the Bärenreiter has the portato-rest notation for the whole sequence, as does the Schirmer (Hughes-Van Vliet) (also on imslp).

Quote
Can we assume that simile is not implied?

I would have thought that — I often see (what I take to be) implied simile for pedalings and other notations, but the fact that it is indicated again in measures 9, 10, and 13 makes me think it is not meant to be read that way.

For portato, which I've always understood as a way of connecting notes, I'm not quite sure what that means with a rest in the middle — it's making me question whether I really understand portato at all :-), since my understanding of portato would not be possible with a rest. Like legato and non-legato (and unlike staccato), you cannot have a single portato note, right? that would make no sense.

Last edited by Jun-Dai; 02/23/21 09:57 AM. Reason: grammar
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,301
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,301
Portato on a piano is different than a stringed instrument, which if from what the definition is derived. My post above yours should be the answer you seek.


I do music stuffs
Yep, I have a YouTube channel!

Current:
1998 PETROF Model IV Chippendale
LEGO Grand Piano (IDEAS 031|21323)
YAMAHA PSR-520

Past:
2017 Charles Walter 1500 in semi-polish ebony
1991 Kawai 602-M Console in Oak
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
J
Jun-Dai Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
For some interpretations:


Sedok/Starker:

This is the hardest to hear, since the piano is so quiet relative to the cello. I think I hear slightly elongated notes in the opening two measures, but impossible to say for sure. Certainly not noticeably accented. And in measures 9, 10, 13 they sound largely the same as the surrounding measures, which is to say a clear rest between the notes with no pedalling to connect them. (Note: Starker's version is simply wonderful and my favourite opening. I've not really listened to this recording before. And nicely, there's a video of him teaching a masterclass on this piece, which I will watch later)

Ax/Ma:

Nice to have video: you can see clearly that Ax is playing a light staccato (his hands are down for far less than a crotchet), but from the sound he is using the pedal to sustain the note a bit longer than a crotchet — in some cases it sounds like it's connecting up to the fourth beat, but when he does that doesn't seem to clearly map to the specific measures Brahms notated with portato.

Barenboim/Du Pré:

He's pretty consistent throughout, and in general it sounds like he's playing a full crotchet with a pedal that almost reaches the next note. But the second and fourth beat sound about the same to me (e.g., the first- and third-beat rests are abbreviated to near non-existence). Nothing special about the bars in question that I can hear.

Kocsis/Perényi:

Kocsis is pedalling, but he's clearly giving the rest a full beat, or close to it. For the first few measures, the notes all seem pretty much equal length and emphasis.

Serkin/Rostropovich:

This is the one I grew up with. I never realised how slow it is compared to the others. And interestingly, it's the only one where I can hear a clear difference in several of the measures. Serkin seems to emphasise the second beat of bars 1 and 2, but much less so on bar 3 onwards. And he does it more exaggeratedly in bar 7 and 8 (which don't have that notation) and continues it for a few bars afterwards. He also sustains it through the rest, with the pedal (I think) for the first two bars, and several of the others (including 9 and 10), but in other places I hear a pretty clear rest on the third beat (bars 4 and 6 in particular). And regardless, he always gives a clear rest on beat 1, so there's a marked difference between how he connects beats 2 and 4, where 4 and 2 are not connected at all.

Horszowski/Casals:

Wow, the cello is loud and the piano is quiet on this one. And I've listened to so many I'm not really sure what I'm hearing anymore :-) but overall he seems to be connecting beats 2 and 4 (with pedal?) where there's a clear rest on beat 1.

Gililov/Maisky:

Pedaling throughout, so there's no audible rest on beats one or three. Definitely more emphasis on beats two.

Last edited by Jun-Dai; 02/23/21 10:46 AM.
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
J
Jun-Dai Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 110
The Sedok/Starker is a bit easier to hear on the repeat. And it's clear that he's giving a full beat (or close to it) to each rest. If he's pedalling (it's not clear to me whether he is), he's definitely not holding it past the beat.

Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 585
MRC Offline
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 585
Originally Posted by Jun-Dai
...his notation is merely an indication of what I am meant to convey and the details are up to me to figure out.

Spot on. For me that slur means that the chords must feel connected, but the rest indicates that there is actually silence between them. The staccato can be taken to indicate that the notes should die away faster than usual. Depending on the piano and the acoustic, you should be using more or less pedal to create that effect for the listener.

Here I don't see a good musical reason to clearly differentiate between the articulation in the first two measures and in the measures that follow. In fact no two measures should be articulated exactly the same anyway: you need to adapt your playing to support the cello melody, maybe playing longer chords as the melody becomes more insistent, or subtly underlining harmonic changes by letting a dissonance ring on a little longer than a consonance.

It's quite common for a composer to write an articulation for only a measure or two and expect the player to continue playing in that manner, even without the indication "simile". For another example in the music of Brahms, look at the Intermezzo Op. 119, N° 2: I'm sure that the articulation indicated in the left hand in the first measure is intended to continue in the following ones.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Kawai ES-100 (2019)
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,225
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,225
Originally Posted by MRC
It's quite common for a composer to write an articulation for only a measure or two and expect the player to continue playing in that manner, even without the indication "simile".


Agreed. Happens in Schubert quite a bit. Although his manuscripts are fairly easy to read (unlike Beethoven's which always look like he's racing to the finish), they can be a bit of an editor's conundrum as Schubert may indicate some articulation in opening measures, then omit it from subsequent near-identical passages. Many editors put it in the subsequent measures in braces [] to indicate it is editorial, and then they explain in the notes.

As to this Brahms, it's ultimately a matter of interpretation, as your musical examples indicate (they all do it slightly differently). To me the staccato marking under a phrasing mark almost always indicate a gentle detachment, and the rests strongly suggest space between the chords. The "portato" chords could be very lightly pedaled...or not. For my taste I like these chords to be a little "breathy," like little intakes of air, if that makes any sense! I would continue the "portato" for all these chords in the opening. Now you may have a different interpretation, which is fine. I think Brahms' writing is open to that.


August Förster 215

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Link Copied to Clipboard
What's Hot!!
Pianos - Organs - & Keyboards, Oh My!
My first professionally recorded piece
---------------------
Visit Maine, Meet Mr. Piano World
---------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Working while pregnant
by Elsbels - 12/07/21 07:41 AM
Improve sound of Casiotone CT-S1
by Charline - 12/07/21 07:28 AM
Which pedals are compatible with Yamaha P-515?
by Olie222 - 12/07/21 05:32 AM
Constant instrument hopping: the recorder
by meghdad - 12/07/21 04:39 AM
Es920 production stopped??
by playplayplay - 12/07/21 12:07 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics210,425
Posts3,151,169
Members103,545
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5