Piano Nocturnes 6-9

I've never bothered putting up my limited forays into solo piano music up on the web before as I was never very happy with my endeavours. And piano music is anyway the most commonly posted form by amateurs. But the latest set of four works seems to me to be a step forward in various respects, including the recording where I have used the soulful VSL Vienna Imperial piano. There is something of a stylistic mixture between almost classical and almost atonal in all the works. Will be interesting to see if anyone responds to this particular idiom.

The best of these works in my view is the second, no.7. It's also the longest. I've put this one separately on Box temporarily for anyone who might be curious but doesn't have time to listen to the whole collection here https://app.box.com/s/e9v01e03pdk4fwbv7su153ska4vyn1w4

The set is on Reelcrafter here https://play.reelcrafter.com/dko22/latestworks

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  • Hi David. My favorites are #6 and #8 - which I quite enjoyed. They seemed a bit impressionistic mixed with a folkish quality like Kodaly or even Bartok in some spots.  Stylistically I felt they were more cohesive than #7 - where I felt the romantic sections didn't quite work in offsetting the 'atonal'. Just my opinion.. 

    Thanks for posting!

    • interesting -- these are the faster, more extrovert of the pieces. Neither Kodaly nor Bartók have influenced me in the least, I must say -- in fact I don't think I even consciously know any Kodaly piano music. Schubert, Faure and more occasionally in this case Janacek (who is behind nearly all my vocal music in one way or another) are much closer to my emotional world. And possibly Prokofiev at times.

      But anyway, interesting comments and thanks for listening.


    • Yes,  Janacek - (at least I was geographically close :) -  Kodaly and Bartok from Hungary - and from similar time frame).

      I was just meaning a folkish quality from that region - though mixed with impressionism - . You do mention Faure :)

      You might enjoy hearing a few Kodaly pieces for piano. (He went with Bartok  from village to village collecting old, and very old folk tunes- thousands of them.. )

    • just to be clear -- I don't think of Faure's Noctures as being Impressionistic -- rather in the later and greatest ones, there is a pained struggle towards some sort of self-expression. It's the emotional depth which puts these works for me above anything Debussy or Ravel wrote. Janacek's "Overgrown Path", perhaps my absolute favourite piano work, is to a large extent about the death of his daughter and as such very tragic. Unfortunately my piano music barely even hints at such masterpieces (or the Schubert D960 which is also an influence) but even so, the motivation, as with virtually all my music, is emotional rather than folkloristic. The first piano work which made a really profound impression was the Schumann Fantasy Op.17 and it remains a deeply moving experience

      But anyway, I will try a little Kodaly piano music out of curiosity. There are certainly one or two of his works I enjoy.


  • These are good.

    • direct and to the point embarassed


  • I've listened to the first one, No 6.

    Enjoyable, lively for the most part but with rather beautiful slower episodes that came across with great warmth. It's always good to be self-critical (which you seem to be) and it comes across as an accomplished work. The close was beautiful, fading out under the trill (although that would be pretty hard to play, getting it down to a ppp). 

    I felt there were slight problems with the dynamics here and there when the dynamic went very quiet; the result sounding as if the fader was slid down a notch rather than he timbe take on a true pianissimo  - but that's a minor point.

    I'll book in to listen to more tomorrow.

    Very nice. 

    • Hi Ivor -- the 6th nocturne (together with 8)  is the most extrovert of the series and the others tend to have more hesitant introspective music, though all are rather varied. As for the dynamics, I know pp al. niente on a trill is definitely a stretch in the real world but if someone actually wanted to play these works, I'd be perfectly happy to make the odd adjustment and allowance for situations which are borderline playable. As for the very quiet passages -- my wife complained the dynamic contrasts were insufficient and wnted the pp passages to be quieter. I myself think they now work as they are but I do see your point. The virtual piano does have up to 100 dynamic layers so it unusually sensitive.

      Will be interesting to see which of the nocturnes you like the most if you manage to get through all of them. Appreciate your comments!


    • A pity you've been unable to leave a score as The works seem pretty demanding. So far, if anything, I enjoyed the 8th a little more - possibly because it seems less abstract if that makes sense. The opening bars during which the right hand fades to a pp would demand much control. However, I'd put the 9th as a close favourite as well.

      You mention your wife. May I ask if you both play piano? It's a fair biet that you do as a composer but these pieces are highly pianistic and involve some interesting technciques. Again, apologies that I can't mention exactly those I noticed but I'd need a score.

      Yes a most accomplisehd set of works. Some moments sound as difficult to play as Ravel's Scarbo!

    • I didn't want to initially include a score because I am primarily interested in feedback on the music and not the notation. In other words what, if anything it expresses, is the construction making any sense, do the contrasts work and such considerations.

      We're both poor piano players and couldn't possibly play these works properly though of course having played the music to enter it into the score I'm roughly aware of the jumping around of fingers that would be required in some places, and there are indeed a few pretty challenging -- perhaps even impractical moments. Of course if a professional standard pianist wanted to play these pieces, I'd be happy to make any reasonable adjustments. The work was never designed to be within reach of the average amateur. The most important music is actually often in the slower, easier to play parts. Having said that, if you'd like to look at the score, I could easily mail you it (just write me a mail to the address on the Reelcrafter site)


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