Started by The Mad Hatter, June 07, 2007, 03:04:39 AM
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Quote from: aukhawk on July 14, 2021, 09:59:26 AMSome gemeral observations, drawn from listening to a strickly limited subset of Op.87 as detailed below, and the following pianists so far:Nikolayeva/Hyperion, Nikolayeva/Melodiya, Lin, Weichert, Jarrett, Petrushansky, Donohoe and to a slightly lesser extent, Melnikov, Rubackyté and Woodward. I hope to add some of the obvious missing names (Papadopoulos, then Bond, arec next in line) to my own notes in due course.The pieces auditioned - 1 quick Prelude, 2 dramatic extended Preludes, 2 long slow Fugues, 1 fast and complex Fugue:In each case the quote is lifted from the Hyperion booklet. And in brackets after, is the tl:dr of my preferred versions:Prelude 8 in f sharp minor (Allegretto 2/4) - "busy semiquavers over an ostinato-like two-note figure" (favs: Weichert, Donohoe, Rubackyté)Fugue 8 in f sharp minor (Andante 3/4) - "a splendid piece of sustained intensity and feeling" (favs: Melnikov, Donohoe)Prelude 12 in g sharp minor (Andante 3/4) - "a superb Passacaglia" (favs: Lin, + 4 others)Fugue 13 in F sharp major (Adagio 2/4) - "shows this composer at his most personal, deep in contemplative thought" (fav: Nikolayeva/Melodiya)Prelude 14 in e flat minor (Adagio 7/4) - "somberly Mussorgskian" (favs: Lin, + 2 others)Fugue 15 in D flat major (Allegro molto) - "fiery, hot-headed and intensely chromatic ... constant changes of time-signature" (favs: Petrushansky, Donohoe)Timings:In general there is only so much to be gleaned from looking at track timings - because many of these pieces, and many of these peformers, use a massive rallentando towards the end, which distorts any comparisons of the basic tempo adopted. I found just listening and thinking "that sounds just right" a better guide.Total duration - the sweet spot seems to be 2h28, with about 50% of all recordings surveyed falling within 5 seconds of that timing. The massive outliers are Petrushansky (slow) and Woodward (quick) but I have found plenty to like about both these recordings, even if neither is likely to be a first choice.Touchstone:I can't help regarding Nikolayeva as the touchstone in this music, by which everyone else must be judged. Timings-wise both her recordings here are outliers though, much slower than what seems now to be the norm, and - in the limited subset of six pieces I chose to audition - Nikolayeva/Hyperion didn't really shine at all, her best moment was probably the slow Fugue No.8, one of my very favourite pieces - but even there I found others I preferred.Piano sound:As I said earlier, I often have difficulty separating recording quality from piano quality, which is why I use this phrase to cover both. Best IMO (of the recordings listed above) is Lin, and by a good margin in my book, from Woodward in 2nd place. The Lin recording is a bit close, for more air Jarrett or Donohoe are possibilities, though the latter sounds a bit compressed to me (read: loud). Although none of them are less than good, a lower tier for varying reasons is occupied by Melnikov (jangly), Rubackyté (dull), Petrushansky and Nikolayeva/Melodiya (very occasional peak distortion).Pinch of salt:Comparing my notes with Madiel's excellent survay of Nikolayeva, Melnikov and Lin - it's not really any surprise to find that our tastes differ, so that on more than one occasion his 'last' is my 'first' and vice versa. Most notably in the Prelude No.12 where Madiel puts Lin 3rd of 3, she is unequivocally my first choice (of 10) in this dramatic music. Similarly in the 15th Fugue where Madiel prefers Nikolayeva, I find her (both recordings) all at sea. Admittedly Lin is not much better but I quite like Melnikov here - but for me, Petrushansky and to a lesser extent, Donohoe (with identical timings incidentally), take this music where it needs to go.That's as far as I can go for mow - from my notes it looks as though the standouts among new-to-me recordings of Op.87 are Weichert and Donohoe. Of these Donohoe has scored better, but I'm not sure I completely buy into the piano sound on this recording (his instrument is tuned a tiny tad flat compared with most others, which doesn't help). The Weichert recording sounds more natural to me, if less spectacular. And sound-wise neither are a patch on Lin who I already have (but in my comparisons, Lin is shown to fall short in the slower music generally - and that is most of it!)
Quote from: amw on July 14, 2021, 04:30:09 PMGiven that all the fugues are played attacca after the preludes, meaning that each prelude + fugue is a continuous and relatively self-contained unit, I think significant musical meaning is lost if one examines a particular prelude or fugue in isolation, comparable to evaluating only the first half of a sonata movement, for example.
Quote from: Madiel on July 14, 2021, 04:11:45 PMInteresting, thank you. I would note that I'm much more likely to look at a prelude and fugue pair in my comments, even if I talk about each separately. Sometimes it's the juxtaposition of the 2 that's important.For instance in no.12 it's Lin's fugue that's the big disappointment to me, not her prelude.And I think it's pretty clear in no.15 that my comments were not about the fugue. You say you like Melnikov. Well so do I if we're just talking about the fugue if you read what I said. So in both of the specific examples you decided to pick out, your description of what I said is rather at odds with what I actually said.
Quote from: aukhawk on July 15, 2021, 12:47:20 AMYes I take the point (and amw below) about listening to the Preludes and Fugues as pairs - but in point of fact that's not what I do, when listening for pleasure. On most recordings they are tracked separately** and I take advantage of that. And on another day I'd likely have different preferences, so please take my remarks with a "pinch of salt".
Quote from: Madiel on July 15, 2021, 02:21:46 AMYour listening preferences are your own. The far bigger point, which you seem not to have taken, is that you misrepresented my views in the 2 cases where you decided to say "Madiel and I have different opinions".
Quote from: aukhawk on July 16, 2021, 01:50:17 AMIf I did so, it wasn't wilful. Of the 12th Prelude specifically you wrote: "Nikolayeva is good. She gives the prelude a lot of gravity ... Melnikov is perhaps even better. His prelude has intensity ... Against this competition, Lin's prelude is decent ..." and so I summarised that as:"Madiel puts Lin 3rd of 3".
Quote from: Madiel on July 15, 2021, 04:56:56 AMI've been listening to Caroline Weichert's version tonight. Bottom line, I think it's really rather good, probably the best of the half dozen I've tried recently.Weichert's reading is not big and boldly dramatic. What it is, though, is unfailingly musical. There are some cases where she takes a tempo that wouldn't be my choice, but then she almost always makes sense of it. For example, the start of the E minor fugue is rather fast but then when she hits the acceleration she does accelerate and gives the sense of drive and momentum that's needed. Similarly the G sharp minor prelude is faster than I'd like but she gives the fugue the drive it needs to still be a contrast. A slow and dreamy D major prelude is nicely offset by a very perky fugue. The music always has shape.I think the A flat p&f was about the only place where I really wanted her to pick up the pace somewhere, but even then it was quite pleasant. I found the E flat major prelude uncomfortably fast though... and that would basically be the weakest spot in the entire 2.5 hours.And there's lots of tone colour as well. Lots. That E minor prelude and fugue works in part because she uses really muted tones, a nice offset to the bolder G major piece before it. The B minor prelude is heavy without being thumping. The B flat minor prelude and fugue is wonderfully elegant. She makes several preludes in particular rather song-like.The recording is slightly recessed, and Weichert never quite lets fly to the degree that some pianists do (though the E flat minor prelude for example sounds sufficiently intense), but within the range she's using there's a really nice palette. And she really seems to understand when to play for contrast between one movement and the next, and when to play for continuity or linkages (there are plenty of cases where Shostakovich creates a link from one p&f to the next).There are a few cases where she doesn't play the notes I was expecting. Whether that's her or a different edition of the music, I'm unsure (I think in some cases I might have heard another pianist do the same thing). It wasn't a super big deal though.Some similarities perhaps to Rubackyté, but I generally found myself responding to Weichert with a greater degree of enthusiasm. I might have to compare Weichert head-to-head with Melnikov at some point.
Quote from: Mandryka on July 16, 2021, 02:20:43 AMI can see exactly why you say this, though my attention has been less on these than on op 34. She's good!
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