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Thread: Forgotten Melodies - Episode Three

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    Junior Member Mike_OHara's Avatar
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    Default Forgotten Melodies - Episode Three



    Episode Three of The Forgotten Melodies Podcast is now online at www.forgottenmelodiespodcast.com.

    This week, Danny focuses on two French composers, Charles Valentin Alkan and Francois Couperin (and finishes with a spot of JS Bach for good measure!).

    Alkan (1813-1888), a contemporary of Chopin and Liszt, wrote almost exclusively for the keyboard, with a volume of work ranging from the formidably challenging to the lyrically charming. Danny plays two of his pieces that demonstrate this diversity.

    Couperin (1668-1733) was a Baroque composer, whose work (particularly his book “The Art of Harpsichord playing”) influenced many composers, one of whom was the great Johann Sebastian Bach (who went on to adopt Couperin’s fingering system).

    If you have any comments or feedback, please feel free to email mike@forgottenmelodiespodcast.com or to call our Audio Comment line on 020 7193 1295 (from the UK) or +44 20 7193 1295 (from outside the UK). Or you can leave a comment on the Forgotten Melodies website!

    Track Listing:

    - Etude for Piano in D minor, Op.27 “Le Chemin de Fer” by Charles Valentin Alkan
    - Barcarolle (from Troisieme Recuil de Chants, Op.65 no.6) by Charles Valentin Alkan
    - Les Baricades Misterieuses (from Pieces de Clavecin Book 2, Ordre 6 in B flat major) by Francois Couperin
    - Allemande (from 6th Partita in E minor, BWV 830) by Johann Sebastian Bach

    Listen/Download Now:

    FM002.mp3

    Visit the Website:

    www.forgottenmelodiespodcast.com

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    feeds.feedburner.com/ForgottenMelodies

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    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    Mike,

    Thank you for informing us about Episode three. It's good to see Alkan given some spotlight. Providing two contrasting pieces was a good idea, as it really showcases the powers of a composer. Grimwood played The Railway pretty well. It's one of those pieces that helps Alkan lay a stake in originality. As Programme music, you can sense the rhythmic propulsion of the train, the speed of its journey, the whistles, the humming engine etc. I especially like the last few bars that depict the train coming to a stop in the station. As absolute music, the piece is endearing and virtuosic. Alkan's humor tends to rival Haydn's in his unpredictable mannerisms. The Barcarolle was impeccable; as simple as it is, I don't see how anyone can dislike this piece.

    The Couperin was oddly uncharacteristic of most Baroque keyboard works I've heard. There was almost no embellishment at all and the repeated phrase sounds strangely modern. Ending the show off with Bach was unexpected, but I never find problems with Bach.

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    Junior Member Mike_OHara's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback Hexameron, much appreciated.

    The Railway is quite an extraordinary piece, isn't it? I'm looking forward to discovering more of Alkan's works, I didn't know too much about him before starting this podcast series.

    Mike

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    Mike: a very slick presentation. And Danny's playing was admirable. Very well done. As you might have gathered, some of the material itself is not quite to my liking, but it was interesting nevertheless. I rather felt that the baroque pieces would probably sound better on harpsichord. I gather Danny has one of these? If so, why not let's hear something on that too?

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    Junior Member Mike_OHara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Topaz View Post
    Mike: a very slick presentation. And Danny's playing was admirable. Very well done. As you might have gathered, some of the material itself is not quite to my liking, but it was interesting nevertheless. I rather felt that the baroque pieces would probably sound better on harpsichord. I gather Danny has one of these? If so, why not let's hear something on that too?
    Funny you should say that Topaz. I think we may be featuring Danny's harpsichord at some future point....

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    Mike: a quickie for you and Danny. You will be familiar with Schubert's piano sonata No 18 in G Major, D 894. It has the most lovely first movement. My version is by Maria-Joao Pires. This first movement - marked molto moderato e cantabile - is 19 min 45 secs.

    Now this is a bit of an amazing thing because there are reputable versions which go as little as about 11 and a half minutes, and some go up to 26 minutes. It's clearly an amazing difference. Does Danny have a view on what is "right" for this? I guess I would prefer something around say 16-18 minutes, but I am ready to be persuaded otherwise.

    More generally, may I ask who are your and Danny's favourite Schubert interpretors? What did you think of Zimerman's playing of the two Impromptus which I referred to?

    If you can't see a clue above as to a nice single piece for one of your later podcasts, then I give up.

    Regards


    Topaz

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    Speaking as a person who has real problems with a piano centred concept of music I must say that until the works of Andre Medtner are played and known as well as those of other modern composers I will continue to think that he is the greatest composer for the keyboard since Beethoven. He never quites get a hearing except in minor works. This is as close as we get to scandalous in the musical performing world.

    Robert (campaign for the recognition of Andre Medtner as a greatly ignored musical genius). !

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    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    Robert, don't you mean Nikolai Medtner?

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    Robert: It's a long between LvB's death in 1827 and Medtner's first works circa 1900. What about late works by Schubert, and all of those by Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Tchaikovsky?

    Nikolai Medtner must have been quite galactic in his ability to beat this lot. Was he really that good?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Topaz View Post
    Mike: a quickie for you and Danny. You will be familiar with Schubert's piano sonata No 18 in G Major, D 894. It has the most lovely first movement. My version is by Maria-Joao Pires. This first movement - marked molto moderato e cantabile - is 19 min 45 secs.

    Now this is a bit of an amazing thing because there are reputable versions which go as little as about 11 and a half minutes, and some go up to 26 minutes. It's clearly an amazing difference. Does Danny have a view on what is "right" for this? I guess I would prefer something around say 16-18 minutes, but I am ready to be persuaded otherwise.

    More generally, may I ask who are your and Danny's favourite Schubert interpretors? What did you think of Zimerman's playing of the two Impromptus which I referred to?

    If you can't see a clue above as to a nice single piece for one of your later podcasts, then I give up.

    Regards


    Topaz
    I put your question to Danny, and here's his response...

    That particular Sonata is one of my very favourite pieces. My own tempi for the first movement have fluctuated almost as widely as that- as i keep changing my mind. Pires is inspired, Zimmerman isn't (just my opinion, you understand), I love listening to Ingrid Haebler, Schnabel and my teacher's teacher, Ewin Fischer in this repertoire.

    Personally I always play repeats in Schubert (as I feel that to leave them out shows that one doesn't like the music enough), which obviously effects the length enormously. Nowadays, I tend to go for flowing tempi in Schubert and I feel that his music should be played in a rather classical manner. Of course, many get quite paranoid about the length and repetitiveness of Schubert, but if the material is elegantly managed, the desired effect of timeless hypnotic-trance can be achieved.

    Regards,

    Danny Grimwood

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