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Did ABRSM Publishing acquire Burgmuller's metronome?


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#1 EllieD

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 09:23

We've commented many times that ABRSM's exam metronome markings seem often to be on the quick side (and we know Burgmuller was also equally enthusiastic about tempo markings hence the title of this thread!), but even on non-exam ABRSM publishings, some of the tempi are frankly ridiculous.

 

I'm having a go at my favourite of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words - Op. 53 No.2. The ABRSM publication I have puts a metronome marking at crotchet = 104. The CD I have (Andras Schiff) would average at 86, and the lovely version in the video below is a tiny fraction slower than that (but has more rubato, which is fine given that the intruction by Mendelssohn is "Sehr Innig").

 

Seriously, does anyone believe this piece needs to go any faster than this lady is playing it, let alone the 20% faster that the ABRSM publication would suggest?

 

Do you think the editor of these publications actually played through the piece at his suggested marking? Struggling to believe that unless, as I hinted, the metronome is faulty.

 

Any other bonkers ABRSM tempo markings and / or any thoughts?

 


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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:35

I have an inherited copy of the Mendelssohn, an Augeners edition and it has metronome mark crotchet 112!I don't play it at that speed but wouldn't like to comment whether it's correct. Sometimes a speed sounds wrong because you're so used to hearing it at a different speed.
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#3 fsharpminor

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:40

We've commented many times that ABRSM's exam metronome markings seem often to be on the quick side (and we know Burgmuller was also equally enthusiastic about tempo markings hence the title of this thread!), but even on non-exam ABRSM publishings, some of the tempi are frankly ridiculous.

 

I'm having a go at my favourite of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words - Op. 53 No.2. The ABRSM publication I have puts a metronome marking at crotchet = 104. The CD I have (Andras Schiff) would average at 86, and the lovely version in the video below is a tiny fraction slower than that (but has more rubato, which is fine given that the intruction by Mendelssohn is "Sehr Innig").

 

Seriously, does anyone believe this piece needs to go any faster than this lady is playing it, let alone the 20% faster that the ABRSM publication would suggest?

 

Do you think the editor of these publications actually played through the piece at his suggested marking? Struggling to believe that unless, as I hinted, the metronome is faulty.

 

Any other bonkers ABRSM tempo markings and / or any thoughts?

 

I have two editions, ABRSM, which as you say is crotchet =104. My very old hardback german edition actually is faster at crotchet = 114. I play most of the Lieder ohne Worte, but that one is one I always seem to have missed (I like the following fast one, and the one called 'Duetto') . I will play through Op 53 No 2 this evening and see what I think !  I think it could go a bit faster than that recording.


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#4 fsharpminor

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 18:09

 

We've commented many times that ABRSM's exam metronome markings seem often to be on the quick side (and we know Burgmuller was also equally enthusiastic about tempo markings hence the title of this thread!), but even on non-exam ABRSM publishings, some of the tempi are frankly ridiculous.

 

I'm having a go at my favourite of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words - Op. 53 No.2. The ABRSM publication I have puts a metronome marking at crotchet = 104. The CD I have (Andras Schiff) would average at 86, and the lovely version in the video below is a tiny fraction slower than that (but has more rubato, which is fine given that the intruction by Mendelssohn is "Sehr Innig").

 

Seriously, does anyone believe this piece needs to go any faster than this lady is playing it, let alone the 20% faster that the ABRSM publication would suggest?

 

Do you think the editor of these publications actually played through the piece at his suggested marking? Struggling to believe that unless, as I hinted, the metronome is faulty.

 

Any other bonkers ABRSM tempo markings and / or any thoughts?

 

I have two editions, ABRSM, which as you say is crotchet =104. My very old hardback german edition actually is faster at crotchet = 114. I play most of the Lieder ohne Worte, but that one is one I always seem to have missed (I like the following fast one, and the one called 'Duetto') . I will play through Op 53 No 2 this evening and see what I think !  I think it could go a bit faster than that recording.

 

Later......Well I played  it couple of times, my perceived tempo was about crotchet = 100.   


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#5 fsharpminor

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 18:18

Whilst we are on those , the one I mentioned earlier Duetto Op 38 No6, varies on You Tube in time between Perahia at 3min 6sec to Gieseking at 4m 57sec, a big difference.  I played this for my 'A' dip in 1963, and my timing , still written on the copy is 3min exactly !   It must be 'con moto', and if played slowly the melody which is antiphonal between the top and tenor parts simply doesn't flow.  Do others of you play this ?


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#6 elemimele

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 20:02

Tempo of classical and romantic music is an interesting subject (and not my area). Here's Elam Rotem doing an interesting study of how we, today, perform things differently to those who were  nearly 100 years closer to the romantic era, with less time for performance-drift away from what the composers might have known; these are people left recordings:


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#7 dorfmouse

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 04:53

Fascinating, and what a nice summary of a huge topic.
I've taken the liberty of making a quick summary of the points, which in that video refers mainly to music of the Romantic era:

Underlying tempo tends to be faster but more flexible - more sudden changes
Note values often slightly altered, more inegale
Melody more distinct from accompaniment, often subtly desynchronised from the accompaniment
Vibrato generally lighter, not so consistently present and complete absence of it seems more common
Much more portamento and glissandi in vocals and voice-like melodies
Extra ornaments and passagi inserted
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#8 EllieD

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 06:28

Thank you for playing it F#m - I hope you enjoyed it! Maybe it is just that I am used to Andras Schiff's interpretation …. I haven't found a faster version on Youtube so don't know what I'd think of crotchet = 114!! I love it at Andras Schiff's tempo though. (All that said, I would not be able to play it fast anyway!!)

 

Thank you for the video elemimele. Even more contemporary to the romantic era, I am reading again Berlioz's Memoirs (an amazing book) and he is often incensed by the liberties that some musicians and especially singers take with the music, adding needless trills etc. Even one soprano who sang his piece straight in the rehearsals only to embellish it in the performance - much to Berlioz's annoyance of course! There is also an interesting bit in the back about Chopin which mentions that even in playing his own music, his rubato could lead to him playing, for example, a 3/4 mazurka as 4/4 - and Chopin wrote the piece! 

 

So I guess even then, there were no hard and fast rules. Some people (eg Berlioz) would want things played exactly as written, while others would see a composer's efforts as a basic starting point to show off their own abilities …. and then pretty much everything in between those two!

 

Just enjoy it I guess! smile.png

 

 

EDIT - Just checked Andras Schiff's time to play "Duetto" Op 38 No.6, and he gets through that in 2:39! Phew! Don't think I'll be looking to emulate that any time soon .... 


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#9 fsharpminor

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 09:00

Thank you for playing it F#m - I hope you enjoyed it! Maybe it is just that I am used to Andras Schiff's interpretation …. I haven't found a faster version on Youtube so don't know what I'd think of crotchet = 114!! I love it at Andras Schiff's tempo though. (All that said, I would not be able to play it fast anyway!!)

 

Thank you for the video elemimele. Even more contemporary to the romantic era, I am reading again Berlioz's Memoirs (an amazing book) and he is often incensed by the liberties that some musicians and especially singers take with the music, adding needless trills etc. Even one soprano who sang his piece straight in the rehearsals only to embellish it in the performance - much to Berlioz's annoyance of course! There is also an interesting bit in the back about Chopin which mentions that even in playing his own music, his rubato could lead to him playing, for example, a 3/4 mazurka as 4/4 - and Chopin wrote the piece! 

 

So I guess even then, there were no hard and fast rules. Some people (eg Berlioz) would want things played exactly as written, while others would see a composer's efforts as a basic starting point to show off their own abilities …. and then pretty much everything in between those two!

 

Just enjoy it I guess! smile.png

 

 

EDIT - Just checked Andras Schiff's time to play "Duetto" Op 38 No.6, and he gets through that in 2:39! Phew! Don't think I'll be looking to emulate that any time soon .... 

Actually I have just played it at 2m 50.   . I wasnt at that tempo in 1963 for ALCM, though it got a lower mark than my Bach and Beethoven.


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#10 EllieD

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 09:41

 

 

Actually I have just played it at 2m 50.   . I wasnt at that tempo in 1963 for ALCM, though it got a lower mark than my Bach and Beethoven.

 

 

I'd love to hear your version of Op.53 No.2 at 100! I have found a slightly quicker version (Barenboim, around 94) on Youtube and yes, that does work well too. I still can't imagine how it can go much faster than 100 without the LH getting a bit muddy, but I guess an excellent pianist on a great piano in a room with good acoustic could pull it off. Obviously this is all just out of interest since:

a) Mendelssohn didn't specify a metronome marking;

b) as we know, the same piece played by different people in different places at different times can be quite different but all sound great and all are valid interpretations; and

c) I have just managed to play the first 24 bars at 60 but I think I'd be chuffed to get to 76 let alone any of these professional tempi! 

 

I just love this piece of music!


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