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#1078923 - 01/03/09 12:20 PM Tempo - How fast is fast enough (for you)?
toucanjunky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/08
Posts: 95
Loc: London. UK
I would like to get an idea of how people approach pieces that have a high designated
tempo to start with but where most of the recordings are at a higher tempo. I appreciate
that this appears to be the case with a great deal of the piano repertoire both recorded
and performed.

I am particularly sensitive to this, as someone who is playing pieces a fair way out of my
comfort zone. I know that part of what separates the consummate pianist from my Grade
6-7 starting point is controlled playing at high tempo. I'm intrigued to know how pianists of
all abilities view their "target" tempo.

Many of the Chopin Etudes are great examples of "high tempo" pieces which are challenging
in the extreme. I've created a very informal table of tempi for some pieces I have "looked at"
with some guesses at the various tempi. I'm particularly keen to know what tempi you are
happy to play yourself or listen to others performing.

___________________Ed. Peters____Professional_____Target Amateur?

Chopin Etude 10/1_____104 (?)________170-180_______150-160

Chopin Etude 10/2_____108-112_________150___________110

Chopin Etude 10/12______112 (?)_______130-154______120-130

Chopin Etude 25/1________92_____________100____________85

Chopin Fantaisie Imp.______84____________85-95__________76

I hope this doesn't come across as some major obsession with playing everything super
fast. I'm just interested in your thoughts and maybe some other examples of high tempo
pieces which create a challenge technically and artistically.



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#1078924 - 01/03/09 01:27 PM Re: Tempo - How fast is fast enough (for you)?
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Hi Chris!

I don't pay too much attention to beats per minute, primarily because it's so hard in many cases to reconcile the number suggested for the metronome with a verbal instruction that, more often than not, is merely Allegro.

This subject came up recently in a thread about Chopin's 10/1, and I shared my reasons there for my rationale in resisting the inflated speeds that professionals typically indulge in:


I remains a mystery to me why Chopin would have chosen Allegro if he meant Presto instead (and, indeed, how 10/1 played at 176 could be considered anything short of Prestissimo!).


#1078925 - 01/05/09 05:23 PM Re: Tempo - How fast is fast enough (for you)?
toucanjunky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/08
Posts: 95
Loc: London. UK
Hi Steven

Thanks for the reply and the link - somehow I missed that thread.

It was really interesting seeing the YT Richter Chopin Etudes. His 10/1 at that lower tempo was a revelation although the mistakes were slightly surprising. I was not so sure about the breakneck speed at the start of the "con bravura' in 10/3 slowing to the end of that section.

There's no question that the highly advanced pianists have pretty much total choice on the tempo they play a piece. For the rest of us I suppose it's a case of finding our comfort zone and choosing a tempo that we enjoy. That doesn't get away from the fact that there will always be some envy of those high tempo renditions.

I was at a concert in London on Saturday the centre piece being Ravel Gaspard de la nuit. Envy of the control at high tempo doesn't even come in to it, it was like watching someone playing a different instrument to me, a fabulous performance of one of my favourite all time pieces.




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