Author Topic: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2  (Read 17085 times)

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Offline amw

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2017, 07:47:46 AM »
The Rosen analysis was pretty important in my reasoning, as well as my own thoughts about playing this particular excerpt. I did also want to include more recordings though.... obviously could have cut it down to 5 pianists and done the entire piece, I guess.

Offline Cato

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2017, 07:54:52 AM »
I want to listen to everything a second time.  Right now #6 and #8 are the leaders, but a second listening could change things.

In general, the faster ones are not my preferred choices.
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2017, 09:18:15 AM »
Thanks for all the comments everyone.
Yes, that's definitely one of the recurring issues with these kinds of comparisons: it's hard to find excerpts that are representative enough to stand in for the entire work. For example, I wouldn't choose the opening of Mahler 7 to run a blind comparison upon (the representative passage I'd choose would most likely be the opening 3-4 minutes of Nachtmusik I, or the second half of the scherzo, but it's hard to find just one excerpt with a Mahler symphony when the material it contains is so varied). I do feel like the page of music I chose is a good stand-in for the entire Ballade—it's basically such an exposed passage, one where no pianistic "tricks" are possible, and one that reveals the pianist's conception of the entire work. (e.g. should it be played in a way that maximises the beauty of the sound [pianist #2] or the clarity of the rhythm [#7], should it have an irresistible forward drive [#3] or linger over the prettiest chords [#9], etc) There's actually one even more exposed passage in the 4th Ballade which I also might have chosen, but oh well. Every pianist here did record all 4 Ballades so once I reveal their names you can listen to their 4ths if you want >.>

Not wanting to steer the discussion too far towards Mahler, but there is one passage in the first movement of the Seventh that would be perfect for similar reasons to the opening of the Ballade.  The B major section near the end of the development, where all of the motifs from the movement come together.  Some conductors like to luxuriate in it, but it needs to retain momentum or the return of the introduction figure will seem like a non-sequitur.  The other thing that would be a deal-breaker for me would be treating that section or any part of the work as primarily homophonic rather than polyphonic.  Everything should be brought to the fore.

Looking forward to the reveal of the pianists, though.  I'm sure all of the names will be familiar.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2017, 02:19:51 AM »
First of all, thanks for this opportunity to get to know different pianists playing this enigmatic piece. The fact that it ends in in a different key is in itself already intriguing, together with the extreme contrasts between the F major and A minor sections.  I don’t want to be dismissive of any of the fine pianists cited here, so it is hard for me to put them in any kind of ascending or descending order.

There are certain general trends I look for or expect in Chopin’s music, a kind of improvisatory quality where it is called for. The first bars of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Ballades are tonally ambiguous, not giving a sure indication of where the music is going to proceed.  So from the get go, I do not expect that a big production should be made of the repeating C, which serves as an upbeat for what’s coming anyway, a kind of tuning or warming up.  I am not sure about no pedal for the rest of the first page except for the two instances where it is marked, I feel that Chopin was only pointing out special effects, to pedal the C in the beginning into the next chord and not to drop the bass at the end of the section.

The recordings that sounded older had those improvisatory and narrative qualities. These would be Nos. 3 and 5, who I think could be Cortot and Rubinstein. (If it is too early to guess, I can delete these speculations.) About the phrasing, I don’t know what your source is but the Paderewski edition has different markings. The first phrase goes from half measure on 1 to the first half of 10. If you consider the repeated C’s as upbeats, then for all practical purposes, it is 8 measures long that could easily be divided in half with the 2nd part repeating the A on top.  The same goes for the next phrase.

Another anomaly is the C that should be tied on the last half of measure 18. These long notes are actually very important in this section. All the pianists do not repeat this note as in your score.  I like to hear some counterpoint in the four part harmony in the beginning, not too much but some pianists were top heavy.

Some musical observations: the C in the beginning is a jumping off point for the higher F, the upper limit in this section. The second part has the stormy downward motion of the A/F through the same thirds that were featured in the beginning, which are E, C, and A. This is not surprising as Chopin uses frequently third relationships.  It is also very odd how the A towards the end of the section is harmonized with a C dominant chord. Already the A is asserting itself in an aggressive manner. It will not be content to be the third of an F major chord and in the end will smash this tonality to pieces.

The short list:
1. Andantino well-balanced, presto technically sound
2. Inconsistency in the top melody, notes going in and out, also too loud, presto doesn’t sound like one, rather heavy handed.
3. Long lines, narrative quality, very much in the music, but also a muddle in the presto section that should point to a pianist like Cortot.
4. Nice lilt to the Andantino, also more counterpoint in the 1st part
5. Nicely narrative, balanced counterpoint in the 1st part, with a rare (probably obsolete these days) improvisatory spirit, Presto with marked drive, Rubinstein?
6. Plodding 1st part, weird beginning of the Presto
7. Presto not good, rather boring 1st part
8. On the whole the most balanced, could be Zimerman, one of my favorite Chopin pianists.
9. Strange lingering on some notes of the 1st section and fading out of some other ones. Hobbling presto, not convincing.

To sum up, 8 is my favorite followed by 5,3, 1 and 4.
ZB
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 03:00:59 AM by zamyrabyrd »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2017, 04:55:54 AM »
Not my kind of music so apologies if I'm wide of the mark but here goes -

1 - If this is story-telling, then this version is a fairly dry and deadpan delivery.  I like this, to the extent that now I don't really want to hear it done any other way ...
I've just imprinted on the first thing I've heard, haven't I?

2 - Slower pace and more demonstrative.  Now I can just see the pianist emoting away with eyebrows and shoulders - never a good look.
3 - a tendency to spread his chords (where not indicated) and positively indulge them (where indicated) indicates - what? - over-heated febrile romantic sensitivity? - or small hands?   Otherwise, quite similar to No.1 I thought.
4 - seems fast after 3 but on analysis is no quicker than no.1 - some dynamics especially towards the end (penultimate stave in the score), seem a bit un-called-for, this pianist doesn't seem too comfortable with 'pp'.
5 - Oh, get on with it man!  Starting slow and almost grinding to a halt at one point, this person is obviously paid by the hour.  Also, is it my imagination, but I can hear something going on with the pedalling?  Either lots, or none - I'm not sure which (not being much of a pianist).
6 - also slow, but this pianist gives more weight than others to the harmonic undercarriage.  Miles Davis would have approved ("gimme those block chords man" he is heard to growl to his pianist on more than one recording) - but to my ears this is uninteresting.
7 - noticeably divides the music up into 'verses' - doesn't really tie in with the markings on the score, and doesn't work either, it gets obtrusive after a while.  Which is worse than 'uninteresting'.
8 - almost metronomic (not completely of course, but the steadiest of all those here), slightly funereal, and I would like this a lot if it were only a bit lighter of texture.
9 - no this is overheated and attention-seeking, obtrusive, the very opposite of No.1. 

I went back to No.1 for a re-listen, and found it much more characterful than I thought at first.  But in a good way.  A  clear favourite for me.

1 ... 8 ... 3 2 4 5 6 7 9

I should just add - I found the onset of the Presto most unpleasant and stopped each of these samples before it could kick in.  To me, the music stands alone just fine without.  (Though of course I note what amw says about this in his intro.)  All the above comments are based on the music that stops at the end of page 1.

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2017, 06:16:47 AM »
My favorite clips are #4 and #8.  The presto should come as a slap in the face, a brutal shock after the sotto voce introduction.  I really get it in those two versions.  Furthermore there should also be motion in the slow introduction.  #4 gets this motion in part by the faster tempo.
#1 is to me very feminine.  Perhaps a much better interpreter of the nocturnes.  I like my ballads as manly as I can get them.
 

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2017, 09:38:36 PM »
I just stumbled upon what Charles Rosen had to say about this Ballade in "The Romantic Generation". (I don't have the book, wish I did, and will try to buy it somehow.) He says the tonality of A minor is not established until the Coda. In fact, F Major was never really stable either.

The current thinking on this Ballade about tonality as I understand it, is that the Andantino functions like a first subject and the Presto a second, which gives the tonality of the first subject priority even if the piece does not end in it. Instead of the Presto being in the dominant (if we are talking about likeness to sonata form), it is the mediant.

But how many bars do we get of A minor? Only six until it goes to G minor and a host of several other keys. There is a kind of "development" and mingling of themes, a "return" of the second theme in submediant and then the coda that firmly establishes the key of A minor.
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2017, 10:43:42 PM »
Interesting......i suppose the experts  (i most certainly am NOT an expert) believe number 5's interpretation to be better than many other pianists currently recording Chopin. Putting that in perspective, I think we must be living in an age without pianists who can really get into the music. Somehow that doesn't seem right though....but it is true that what sounded like the oldest recording was also the most interesting to me.

Can't agree more about "getting into the music". I have had too many useless arguments defending the artistry of say, a Cortot. Pianists who are brought up to bang, play in time and in short, follow directions, will look at you blankly and ask what is THAT?

It's an elusive something called "poetry". Now how does one define THAT?
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2017, 01:49:00 AM »
Since I'm not familiar with the entire Ballade, I had a dig around in my collection and found (surprise!) that I do have a copy, and had a listen last night. (The recording I've got is definitely not one of the nine in this comparison, and if it had been included I probably would have ranked it quite low, due to a particular repeated mannerism.  It was recorded in the mid-1980s by a pianist then in his 70s.)
Taken as a whole, it's actually a pretty turbulent  ???  piece of music - this is not something I can listen to comfortably in the confines of my own home, it needs more space.  I can't really imagine it in a 'salon' context either - though I daresay some salons were pretty big.
So - taking zamyrabyrd's good point about the initial repeated C's being a preparatory jumping-off point, and taking amw's interesting advice about this Andantino inevitably preparing the listener for what is to follow, I can sort-of see that the whole thing is an extended 'jumping-off point', for the more turbulent music that makes up the bulk of this Ballade.  (Though I do still think it works quite well as a standalone, ending on those lovely repeated A's.)

My problem with this though (as I have mentioned in some other threads) is that I hear music in the present and recent past, without any future (beyond the immediate resolution of a cadence, or melodic line).  I don't have any 'expectation' of what is to follow. This surely replicates the concert-hall experience (more especially for larger orchestral works) - but is completely undermined by our repeated listening to recordings.  Obviously the composer, or the performer or an academic, will see the music quite differently but this does not equate with what the rank-and-file listener can be expected to experience.
Obviously some education about the grammar of sonata form, the conventions of harmonic progression etc, would help with this - and I had some of that way back as a schoolboy - but how educated is a music-lover supposed to be?

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2017, 06:09:22 AM »
So - taking zamyrabyrd's good point about the initial repeated C's being a preparatory jumping-off point, and taking amw's interesting advice about this Andantino inevitably preparing the listener for what is to follow, I can sort-of see that the whole thing is an extended 'jumping-off point', for the more turbulent music that makes up the bulk of this Ballade.  (Though I do still think it works quite well as a standalone, ending on those lovely repeated A's.)

If you want a good example of revving up to a ascent, like the charging up of an engine, the beginning (and continuation) of the "Minute Waltz" is a good example. There are other instances in Chopin's music.
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline Cato

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2017, 09:01:29 AM »
Okay, here are my little comments after a second listening:

Pianist 1: Fine performance in general, a little too fast for my taste in the work, but others may prefer it.  The Presto opening is nicely done.

Pianist 2: In general, somewhat too loud and the notes are not legato enough to my ears.  Certainly the Presto begins in an impressive way!

Pianist 3: A not bad performance overall, just somewhat too fast for me.

Pianist 4: Much better dynamics in this one than in the first three, and in the Presto one hears more of the voices in the music, as opposed to a confused roar.

Pianist 5: One of the slowest performances, and so I enjoyed its pace.  Excellent dynamics, as if a friend in childhood were whispering secrets to the listener.

Pianist 6: One of my top ones from my first listening.  Slower, excellent pianissimo and legato, impressive Presto!  Some clothes rustling or breathing sounds distract a little bit.

Pianist 7: The notes are played without much nuance or mystery.  The Presto seems to hold more interest.

Pianist 8: Again, one of the slower performances, similar to 5 and 6, with fine dynamics and expression.  WOW!  That Presto is shown to be an explosion of bells!

Pianist 9: Nice quiet sound, and the use of rubato makes the opening seem slower than it is.

So they all have their merits, but...

8

5

6

4

9

1

3

2

7


Pianist 8 barely over Pianist 5 purely on the basis of the Presto. 0:)
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2017, 09:33:22 AM »
My problem with this though (as I have mentioned in some other threads) is that I hear music in the present and recent past, without any future (beyond the immediate resolution of a cadence, or melodic line).  I don't have any 'expectation' of what is to follow. This surely replicates the concert-hall experience (more especially for larger orchestral works) - but is completely undermined by our repeated listening to recordings.  Obviously the composer, or the performer or an academic, will see the music quite differently but this does not equate with what the rank-and-file listener can be expected to experience.
Obviously some education about the grammar of sonata form, the conventions of harmonic progression etc, would help with this - and I had some of that way back as a schoolboy - but how educated is a music-lover supposed to be?

Are you saying that even after you listen to it, you are unable to gain the ability to know where it is going, or that you think the music should be predictable from a first listen (to some well-equipped listener)?

Music like that of the early Romantics and the modernists with all of its juxtapositions and irregularities of form certainly does require a different mindset from the more conventionalized Baroque and Classical eras.  With the latter one can come in with an expectation that the music will follow some broad pattern, and even if the details are unexpected (as is certainly true of the best composers), the contours of the outline will not be.  With the early Romantics and the moderns, however, the form itself can be questioned, constructed out of any material imaginable.

It is true that the feeling of not knowing where a Chopin Ballade or Schumann piano work is going in the long run can be taken away by means of familiarity, but I don't see that as a loss.  When one knows the trajectory of a work, one can hear the way details lead there, and that enriches the experience of any music.

As for how educated a listener has to be, it depends on how that listener wants to experience a work.  If they are content (as many are) to simply let it wash over them as a stream of sound, not much education is required, merely enough familiarity with the language to be able to perceive its basic features (enough, in other words, that it does not strike them as meaningless noise).  If the listener wants to be able to fully follow a work in every detail, understanding the import of those details, this would require specific study of not only the music of an era, but of that composer and that work in particular.  What you need to put in is related to what you want to get out of it.

Study, in this case, need not be academic, and one can become a fine listener indeed without reading music, but I personally find it easier to internalize a piece if my experience of listening is reinforced by seeing the notes on a page.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 09:36:17 AM by Mahlerian »
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2017, 04:49:26 AM »
Are you saying that even after you listen to it, you are unable to gain the ability to know where it is going, or that you think the music should be predictable from a first listen (to some well-equipped listener)?

No - that music must be able to stand alone, without any reference to what is to come (beyond the few seconds it takes to resolve a cadence or finish a melody).

I'm suggesting that critiques that make reference to the future direction of the music, are coming from our privileged position of having listened repeatedly to recordings of the piece.  This is completely OK as we are writing on a sub-board called "Great Recordings and Reviews" - but from the standpoint of the music and its intended audience, it sometimes seems a bit unnatural to me.  Maybe not so much here, where a relatively 'miniature' piece (though it is 8 minutes) may actually have become familiar to Chopin's most ardent followers - but more in the case of some big orchestral work where opportunies to hear it even more than once must have been severely limited, back in the 19th C.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #33 on: February 10, 2017, 07:38:28 AM »
No - that music must be able to stand alone, without any reference to what is to come (beyond the few seconds it takes to resolve a cadence or finish a melody).

Thank you for the clarification.

What you are suggesting seems to be like a novel without foreshadowing, though.  Even if one only reads a particular novel a single time, isn't one still grateful that the author constructed a narrative that implies what is to come in what comes before?

Or that a film director should cut out references to things that are to happen so long as they don't affect the immediate scene?

Just like in those media, a part of a piece of music does not stand alone without reference to any other parts.  A piece constructed in such a fashion will most likely not satisfy even on a first hearing, let alone on subsequent hearings.  A performance that doesn't relate the parts to each other may sound fine in snippets, but will lose the cumulative effect.

I'm suggesting that critiques that make reference to the future direction of the music, are coming from our privileged position of having listened repeatedly to recordings of the piece.  This is completely OK as we are writing on a sub-board called "Great Recordings and Reviews" - but from the standpoint of the music and its intended audience, it sometimes seems a bit unnatural to me.  Maybe not so much here, where a relatively 'miniature' piece (though it is 8 minutes) may actually have become familiar to Chopin's most ardent followers - but more in the case of some big orchestral work where opportunies to hear it even more than once must have been severely limited, back in the 19th C.

Any critique of the piece we may write, except that written on the spot while listening to it for a first time, betrays our knowledge of its progression.  As far as possible, I think a critique should be related to the experience of listening, and that includes the experience of an informed listener who already knows the piece well.

I understand what you are saying, but I don't see the point of feigning ignorance of things which affect our immediate experience when relating that experience.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Brian

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2017, 12:55:49 PM »
1 - Pianist can't help that their (early digital?) recording sounds a little like a MIDI. Rubato beings sensitively, but gets a little too teasing for me at times. There's a stop-start feel to phrases. I think I agree with Jessop - the performer could have gotten away with more if they had blurred the line a bit more between metronomic and freer playing. The fast bit at the end is definitely superior. 3.5/10

2 - I'm not sure I like how slow a basic tempo this performer takes, but I do think they do a good job differentiating (uh...inventing!) dynamic variation within each phrase. As someone notes, the presto is not terribly presto, but I don't mind it. It's hard to comment on this clip; seems like a performance I could really enjoy within context, or then again, it might not be. 5.5/10

3 - Had to rewind to re-hear the first few bars. Those opening chords encapsulate the uncertainty and instability of the piece (even though this pianist inserts a pause in the second bar; Jessop loved this!). Not 100% precise in the presto section, but overall I quite like this performance. 7.5/10

4 - Wow, a live performance, and the best performance so far in this game. Love the tempo, although it seems to get fractionally slower as the andantino goes on, as if the performer has had a bit of a second guess. Does set up the presto quite well though, while offering a more sung, more flowing interpretation of the opening melody and (in bars 3-4) an utterly beautiful attention to the countermelody also in the treble. I definitely disagree with those who accuse this of being too fast. 9/10

5 - This pianist's control of tone and color and play-soft-ability must account for their success with many voters. This does feel rather sleepy and nocturne-ish, however. The Rubinstein guess seems doubly wrong; Rubinstein was more literal, and he was recorded much longer ago than this new-sounding recording. Watch as it turns out to be Rubinstein and I look like a dum dum. The fluency of the presto confirms that turning the andantino into an adagio was a deliberate choice by a highly skilled virtuoso. 5/10 (harsh?)

6 - Two chords was enough for me to know I wasn't gonna like this one. That and seeing the length of the clip. Left hand feels quite heavy under the main melody, the bass accompaniment to each phrase's second half elevated in importance. Unlike others, I do not feel that this bass part is meant to be a 'countermelody' - unless to suggest that the extreme prettiness of this section is an illusion. Gosh the slowdown before the presto is agonizing. The presto itself is OK; do I hear fingernails clicking? 4/10

7 - Very good andantino. Others have commented on the transition to the presto; I think the recording's obvious age has been most damaging to the bass registers, which is why the attack on those first chords seems so light. This wins the You Had To Be There award, but props to the pianist for a superb andantino, on par with #4. Guess y'all know my tempo preferences now. 8/10

8 - If one is to play slowly, one should play slowly like this. Excellence, subtlety, and although some people complained about the rubato I found the rhythm to be quite straightforward here most of the time (there's also some kind of tonal waver caused by compression rather than performance). Of course I wish this were more 'andantino' but with a good presto to boot, this is really a contender. 8.5/10

9 - Love that the first bars have become a crescendo here. It does rather make the main theme, uh, what's not sotto voce? En voce? A couple microscopic pauses disrupt what's a nice flowing tempo that does a very good job stitching together the phrases into a logical whole. Part of why I advocate for a faster tempo is we need to hear Chopin's long-run game plan with this melody, not just the fact that this bar is pretty, and then that bar is also pretty. If you let everything flow together naturally (and, sure, a little quickly), it's almost like a whole 'nother piece, one with clearer classical roots. Anyway, I unfortunately don't love 9's execution in some spots (the gentle easing into the Presto, the tiny pauses, one phrase that sticks out as not quite coherent with its surroundings [0:48-0:57] but they are on a good track. 7/10

Final ranking:
Really good - 4, 8, 7
Good with flaws - 3, 9
Respect, but not quite for me - 5, 2
Nope - 6, 1

Also, a hearty thank-you to amw for a superb version of the game with a great first post and a really diverse, distinct, and engaging collection of performances.

Spineur

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2017, 01:22:53 PM »
In complete agreement on all count with you Brian.  It is really nice that you took the time to write it all up.  It looks like we are converging on the same recordings, just some of us are differing on the order.  It might be time to stick to the first 3 and listen to the whole bloddy ballade to get an overall view.


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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2017, 01:52:35 PM »
7 is way more popular than I anticipated! Good for all of you who like it. :)

Offline Pat B

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2017, 01:57:04 PM »
After listening to them, and probably under some influence of amw’s initial comments, and following the score, I came up with these general criteria (in no particular order):

*not too slow
*the pp should be respected
*arpeggios (throughout) and left-hand dotted rhythms (bar 41-42) should not become distractions
*subtle differentiation of similar phrases

I didn’t worry too much about the ending of the Andantino seeming like the ending of the piece.

My ranking from best to worst:
8. Nice tempo, pretty good dynamics. Gets my nod for flow and lack of attention-hogging details. I bet some people criticize it for being MOR, but I think it’s unique in its own way.
7. Really close to #8 in the Andantino. Maybe a tad too fast. Presto has nice dynamic contrasts. Instrument seems to have faster decay than others.
4. Intimate and dreamy, with the best pp. A bit too much emphasis on those details while being slightly homogenous otherwise. Still, could have landed on top on a different day.
5. Slow. Still really good.
6. Nice bell sound at the beginning. The pp is good, not that much quieter than before but the effect comes through. Clock says it's even slower than #5 but doesn’t seem so. Knocked for over-emphasis on those details, and a herky-jerky Presto.
1. Good but not much of a pp. On second listen, some of the dotted rhythms sound rushed.
2. Probably would come across better outside of comparative listening, but here it sounded too big, and the pp was more like mp.
9. Fast, with some agogic hesitations that bug me. Again, not much of a pp. The Presto has impressive clarity.
3. Older recording with surface noise, but still good piano sound. Unfortunately the performance lacks dynamic contrast.

Offline amw

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2017, 07:52:55 PM »
Thanks for all the comments everyone! Also I'm in the middle of moving so sorry for being MIA but I do appreciate aukhawk and mahlerian's discussion about future in music a lot

#1 is to me very feminine.  Perhaps a much better interpreter of the nocturnes.  I like my ballads as manly as I can get them.
If pianist #1 ever does record the complete Nocturnes I am buying them immediately. Unfortunately hasn't happened yet.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mini-Blind Comparison: Chopin's Ballade No. 2
« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2017, 08:25:35 PM »
It might be interesting if a recording "by" Joyce Hatto were put into the mix alongside the recording that release was based on.  See how perceptions of the two versions differ.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg