Mastering Rachmaninoff

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John Ruggero
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by John Ruggero » 05 Apr 2016, 14:34

Knut, concerning the tuplet numbers:

BACKGROUND: In the Prelude in C# minor, R. includes EVERY tuplet number in the middle section, which was engraved exactly in the first edition. In op 23 the tuplet numbers are more normal in the first edition, but we don't know about the MS.

The section that you mention is indeed curious since most of us would leave out all tuplet numbers after a measure or two in this section, especially given the crowded conditions. So we are left with only questions, not answers.

Here is my guess: R. is continuing to put in more tuplet numbers than most, according to his natural tendency (training?). But he may have left out the two in the first two measures of your example, because the tuplets are more involved at these points, and he got sidetracked. The very conscientious engravers follow R. even unto error, which seems to be their philosophy (see measure 20, where there is a rhythmic error, probably R.'s, caused by the clef change) However, from this point on, the triplet numbers continue unabated until the last four, where the crowded conditions may have caused the engravers to give up on them.

The placement of the triplet numbers throughout this section may very well be accounted for in the same way: it is the way they occur in the MS. I do think that the placement of the numbers is excellent given the conditions, except for the non-conforming one on the second beat of the first measure of your example, which might follow the second measure. But even it doesn't really bother me.

It would be interesting to see the B and H to see if this was corrected or commented upon. The Henle critical report doesn't mention it, again because they may have considered it trivial.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by John Ruggero » 05 Apr 2016, 15:29

Knut wrote:
I don't entirely disagree, but as history is full of great composers, artists and writers struggling to come up with something original and 'new', I'd say that this is genrally easier said than done. When it comes to editors and engravers, however, I agree with you completely. They are scholars and craftsmen, not artists (at least not in the same sense of the word as a composer), and should refrain from infusing to much of their personality into someone else's work.
My viewpoint: while some composers have struggled to express themselves (Beethoven) and others not (Mozart), I don't think that they ever struggled to be original. What such composers created WAS original, because they were able to express their own unique personalties through their art.

I think that every activity can be an art form, and if the artist approaches his art with a sincere, pure and open heart, that artist will also have something original to express within the confines of their art form. That is what I see in the work of the Breitkopf engravers. They were interpretive artists who were expressing music so that it speaks to the eyes as well as the ears, and their work is as alive today as the music itself.
Last edited by John Ruggero on 05 Apr 2016, 23:07, edited 2 times in total.
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 05 Apr 2016, 15:55

Knut wrote:
John Ruggero wrote:Sorry, our posts crossed, Knut.

One can view the complete Henle edition including the critical report at:

http://www.henleusa.com/us/detail/index ... ludes_1200
Thanks! It's good to see that it has been reissued. Even though the problematic edits still exist in the new version, the engraving of the older Henle edition uploaded by the OP was even worse.

P.S. I hope you're only pondering my point about the tuplets and didn't overlook it. :)
The older version is not Henle, but an old Russian publication.
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Knut
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 05 Apr 2016, 16:22

John Ruggero wrote:Knut wrote:
I don't entirely disagree, but as history is full of great composers, artists and writers struggling to come up with something original and 'new', I'd say that this is genrally easier said than done. When it comes to editors and engravers, however, I agree with you completely. They are scholars and craftsmen, not artists (at least not in the same sense of the word as a composer), and should refrain from infusing to much of their personality into someone else's work.
My viewpoint: while some composers have struggled to express themselves (Beethoven) and others not (Mozart), I don't think that they ever struggled to be original. What such composers created WAS original, because they were able to express their own unique personalties through their art.

I think that every activity can be an art form, and if the artist approaches his art with a sincere, pure and open heart, that artist will also have something original to express within the confines of their art form. That is what I see in the work of the Breitkopf engravers. They are interpretive artists who are expressing music so that it speaks to the eyes as well as the ears, and their work is as alive as the music itself.
You are certainly entitled to your opinion, although, even with Mozart and Beethoven out of the way, I can think of a few other names (Grieg, Mendehlsson or, dare I say, Brahms) who's works, while always competent, weren't always entirely original. I should stress here, btw, that this is my personal opinion!

I appreciate the sentiment of considering engraving an art form. My point, however, was that there is a difference (call it hierarchical) between the artistry of the engraver and the piece of art which he or she interprets, and that this difference is important to keep in mind, particularly for anyone wanting to re-engrave an old score. The Breitkopf engraver's assumed slavish treatment of the mistakes and inaccuracies in Rachmaninov's MS is a good example of this difference. But for an engraver redoing a work based on a high quality 1st edition, the difference is obvious.
Last edited by Knut on 05 Apr 2016, 16:28, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 05 Apr 2016, 16:26

DatOrganistTho wrote:
Knut wrote:
John Ruggero wrote:Sorry, our posts crossed, Knut.

One can view the complete Henle edition including the critical report at:

http://www.henleusa.com/us/detail/index ... ludes_1200
Thanks! It's good to see that it has been reissued. Even though the problematic edits still exist in the new version, the engraving of the older Henle edition uploaded by the OP was even worse.

P.S. I hope you're only pondering my point about the tuplets and didn't overlook it. :)
The older version is not Henle, but an old Russian publication.
Really? I could have sworn it was an old (and badly done) Henle edition. I find it quite similar to their style in many respects, the sloppy engraving notwithstanding. Oh, well, thanks for correcting me!

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John Ruggero
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by John Ruggero » 05 Apr 2016, 20:25

Knut, I think we are saying much the same thing, but in different ways. But "entirely original"? Whose music is entirely original?

Grieg, Mendelssohn and Brahms. The music of each of these men has an unmistakable style and character that everyone recognizes immediately. If they aren't "originals", who is?
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 05 Apr 2016, 20:47

John Ruggero wrote:Knut, I think we are saying much the same thing, but in different ways. But "entirely original"? Whose music is entirely original?

Grieg, Mendelssohn and Brahms. The music of each of these men has an unmistakable style and character that everyone recognizes immediately. If they aren't "originals", who is?
Sorry, 'entirely original' was not the right choice of words. I was referring to certain pieces, not their entire body of work. Grieg's production, with which I'm most familiar, certainly has a number of pieces not at all representative of the very personal artistic voice he is associated with.

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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 05 Apr 2016, 21:26

DatOrganistTho wrote:
Knut wrote:
John Ruggero wrote:Sorry, our posts crossed, Knut.

One can view the complete Henle edition including the critical report at:

http://www.henleusa.com/us/detail/index ... ludes_1200
Thanks! It's good to see that it has been reissued. Even though the problematic edits still exist in the new version, the engraving of the older Henle edition uploaded by the OP was even worse.

P.S. I hope you're only pondering my point about the tuplets and didn't overlook it. :)
The older version is not Henle, but an old Russian publication.
Henle has not published a version of Rachmaninoff except for the C# prelude before their most recent publication. Happy to help!
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 06 Apr 2016, 11:52

DatOrganistTho wrote:
DatOrganistTho wrote:
Knut wrote:
Thanks! It's good to see that it has been reissued. Even though the problematic edits still exist in the new version, the engraving of the older Henle edition uploaded by the OP was even worse.

P.S. I hope you're only pondering my point about the tuplets and didn't overlook it. :)
The older version is not Henle, but an old Russian publication.
Henle has not published a version of Rachmaninoff except for the C# prelude before their most recent publication. Happy to help!
Thanks.

Looking at it again now, I can't believe I mistook it for Henle. I must have been blinded by your reference to it above the link. While there are similarities in the white balance and fonts to Henle's style, the (lack of) engraving quality and beam angles should have been enough to disprove it.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by John Ruggero » 06 Apr 2016, 18:32

I was referring to certain pieces, not their entire body of work. Grieg's production, with which I'm most familiar, certainly has a number of pieces not at all representative of the very personal artistic voice he is associated with.
Sorry I misunderstood, Knut.

"Interesting" = compelling—what makes us want to listen to piece of music, the essential quality of a successful piece of music

"Original" = unique, what makes a piece different from other pieces of music

I think that composer is best concerned about "interesting" rather than "original", because worry about originality can lead to negative consequences like: the conviction that one's style must be totally different from anything ever heard before or that there is something terribly wrong with the unconscious borrowing that is a normal part of the creative process. An example:

A Sad but also Happy Story

A composer once wrote a piano piece that was such a huge hit among his friends that they constantly asked him to play it for them. Close to publishing the piece, he suddenly realized that he had subconsciously summarized the whole of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata in his own piece and had even "borrowed" a long melodic sequence note-for-note from the famous piece, which was, as often in such cases, in the exactly same keys as his own.

Convinced that the public would immediately notice the borrowing, he put the piece in a drawer where it remained until after his death, whereupon a friend and disciple published the work. Instantly, the piece became one of the most beloved and famous piano pieces ever written. For over one hundred years, people wondered why the composer would not have published such a great piece. Finally, a student of Heinich Schenker noticed the connection and published an article about it. Did this affect the popularity of the piece or the esteem in which it is held? Is it a less good a piece because it is a little "unoriginal". Suppose the composer had destroyed the work? Suppose the composer had stopped writing it because he had immediately noticed the connection?

The composer was Chopin; the piece was the "Fantasy"-Impromptu.
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