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#1261498 - 09/03/09 01:50 AM Schumann Toccata Op. 7
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
It seems there hasn't been a thread specifically about this piece since 2003. I'm in the earliest stages of learning it—and admittedly wondering if I've bit off more than I can chew, based not on my initial experiences but rather the Toccata's fearsome reputation. What exactly does that rest on?

I take for granted that I won't be trying to bring it to the speed of professional performances. The fastest ones, in my opinion, display technical bravura at the expense of musical expressiveness, and a tempo of Allegro affords the requisite latitude for what I believe will be a reasonable and attainable goal.

That said, I'm having trouble understanding just what is considered so difficult as to warrant such extreme opinions about the Toccata and its rarefied standing in the repertoire. It's obvious that a functional and comfortable span of a tenth and fluency with double-note and octave passages are essential, but what else am I failing to see?

Any comments about technique by those who've worked on the Toccata, and about its musical qualities by anyone familiar with it, would be most appreciated!

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1261507 - 09/03/09 02:32 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
akonow Offline
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Registered: 03/07/08
Posts: 589
Loc: Los Angeles
It's probably all Cziffra's fault...



P.S. You're a brave soul for even trying it at Allegro! wink


Edited by akonow (09/03/09 02:33 AM)
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Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12

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#1261514 - 09/03/09 02:39 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: akonow]
beginningpianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 98
Or barere's.

Very uncomfortable fingerings.

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#1261533 - 09/03/09 03:24 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: beginningpianist]
BDB Offline
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The smoothest version is Lhevinne's. It is not the fastest, but he exhibits such control over the piece that one is overwhelmed by his mastery.

I looked at Harold Bauer's edition once, and I think it is worth looking up. He redistributes the notes to untangle the knots.
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#1261802 - 09/03/09 01:13 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: BDB]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
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I wouldn't listen to recordings of pieces if I'm in the process of learning them >.< But that's just me.

I've heard it's a bitch to play because your hand just gets so tired so fast.. So if you're tense at all and not practicing right, you'll start hurting in no time.

Man, I'm never touching that piece!
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#1261830 - 09/03/09 01:50 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Pogorelich.]
Horowitzian Offline
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#1261861 - 09/03/09 02:32 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Horowitzian]
8ude Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
I've only read through it a couple times, but apart from the obvious technical difficulties already mentioned, such as octave passages, double-note passages, and above all, stamina, I think there are a lot of difficulties musically to pull it off. Some of these are:
- maintaining a clear leggiero so nothing sounds muddy,
- making each musical line stand out, especially in the fugato section in the middle
- maintaining tempo
- giving the piece shape/character so it doesn't sound simply like a double-note etude

Taken at a reasonable tempo, I hardly think the piece is impossible, but be ready for a challenge.
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What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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#1262171 - 09/04/09 01:16 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7896
There are a bunch of spots that are tough for me personally, but the passage where I think I've heard the most pianists in general come to grief is the one with a series of fortissimo/staccato and pianissimo/legato alternations, approximately three-quarters of the way through the piece (not counting the repeat). The left-hand octave leaps in that section especially - they seem to be really hard to nail for a lot of pianists that I've heard play it.

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#1262187 - 09/04/09 02:52 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: wr]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6374
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Ditto to the observations by WR and 8ude.

I started to work on the Toccata a few months ago - and was surprised how easy it initially appeared to be - once I got past the thirds on the second page. I worked out the fingering and was getting fairly good at playing hands separately with the score. Then I was able to play different sections of the piece at a moderate tempo hands together. Soon after that, however, reality kicked in. I realized what I was up against both musically and technically. From a technical standpoint, the abrupt transitions between sections were clearly going to be a challenge if the tempo was to be maintained. I decided to shelve the piece for a few months until I retire and can devote more time to learning it. Memorization may be the key. Years ago I performed the Symphonic Etudes in recital. The Toccata is clearly going to be much more of a challenge to learn and play - but I'm motivated because I really love this work !! I hope I can pull it off.
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#1262290 - 09/04/09 10:23 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: carey]
pianovirus Offline
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Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 953
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
Originally Posted By: carey
Years ago I performed the Symphonic Etudes in recital. The Toccata is clearly going to be much more of a challenge to learn and play


Wow that surprises me. Really?

P.S. Sorry Steven, I can't comment on the Toccata specifics, as I have not really studied it. But I love the piece and wish you lots of fun and success studying it.
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#1262712 - 09/04/09 11:57 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: pianovirus]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6374
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Per Pianovirus - "Wow that surprises me. Really?"

Yup - really (my personal opinion). Don't get me wrong - the Symphonic Etudes are a handful!! With the Etudes, you at least get a bit of a break between sections - and the etudes vary somewhat in character, tempo and technical demands. The Toccata, on the other hand is seven minutes of intense perpetual motion.
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#1263052 - 09/05/09 04:15 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: carey]
pianovirus Offline
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Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 953
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
carey, thanks for your explanation!
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#1263118 - 09/05/09 06:47 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: pianovirus]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Many thanks to everyone for your comments.

I'm using Henle as my study score (though there's fingering in both roman and italic type and I'm still not sure what the distinction is). Unfortunately, the edition by Harold Bauer that BDB mentioned, once published by Schirmer, has been out of print for many years. I printed out another version from IMSLP; it's heavily overedited by Henry P. Eames, but the fingerings are occasionally useful.

I've come across a marking I don't remember ever seeing, from bars 142-146 and again from 197-202:






Does anyone have any idea what T.S.P. means? If I had to guess (considering the musical context), I would say tenuto sostenuto pedal. However, according to Dolmetsch Online "s.p." means senza pedale, and I can't corroborate that "t." (instead of "ten.") would ever be used for tenuto. What was Mr. Eames thinking here?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1263140 - 09/05/09 07:23 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
wdot Offline
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Registered: 12/28/07
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That's "The Sostenuto Pedal," meaning the "middle pedal" on a grand. I seriously doubt that Schumann wrote this into the piece. I suspect it was added by an editor. The obvious idea is to sustain a pedal tone. It's not a bad idea, but timing that pedal to pick up only the note or notes you want is not at all easy.

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#1263267 - 09/05/09 11:50 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: wdot]
Auntie Lynn Offline
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Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1108
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I have played this forever. The challenge is endurance to the end. The secret is LOTS of bicep curls...

Been there, done that...

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#1263295 - 09/06/09 03:02 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Auntie Lynn]
BDB Offline
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I used to tune for a woman who had studied with Harold Bauer, and she would play the toccata after I finished tuning. She was 97 or 98 years old at the time.
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#1263455 - 09/06/09 12:38 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: BDB]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Out of respect for your selection sv ... I downloaded the Schumann Toccata Opus 7 and played the first 20 measures to make my dog howl ... with your liking for Chopin, what on earth made you want to punish yourself with this Germanic finger-grind ... which reminds me of the notoriously deadly accuracy of train arrivals in Deutchland (I married a German wife so please show a little sympathy, chaps!) ... efficiency in getting to one’s destination is one thing ... but how much more pleasant en route to stop a while and smell the roses (just stirring).

As someone in awe of the Schumann genius for his Kinderscenen Opus 15, it beats me why the chappie didn’t blossom further and reach greater heights ... and instead churn out cold and arid repeating note patterns which might impress some when played at a rate of knots ... but for my part totally lack the magic carpet ride of a Chopin Nocturne.

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#1263461 - 09/06/09 12:51 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: btb]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
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Perhaps Steven would like to broaden his horizons. smile
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1263489 - 09/06/09 01:34 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: btb]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: btb
As someone in awe of the Schumann genius for his Kinderscenen Opus 15, it beats me why the chappie didn’t blossom further and reach greater heights ... and instead churn out cold and arid repeating note patterns which might impress some when played at a rate of knots ... but for my part totally lack the magic carpet ride of a Chopin Nocturne.


I would say Schumann's Toccata is greater than Chopin's similar Etude in C from Op.10. As far as reaching greater heights, two of Schumann's greatest works, Kreisleriana and the Fantasy immediately follow Kinderscenen.

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#1263506 - 09/06/09 02:03 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: btb]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Hi btb,

Hehe, well, I did invite comments about the Toccata's musical character, after all!

I love Schumann's piano music, even though I've never been motivated actually to learn much of it. While his musical point of view was obviously different from Chopin's, I think that their music has more common elements than Chopin cared to concede. The similarities in warmth, sentiment, harmonies and cadences are as palpable to me in the Toccata as anywhere else, though it would be more instructive to compare it to Chopin's essays in perpetuum mobile like the Etude 10/7 than to any Nocturne. smile

While the technical aspects of the Toccata are fun, I am finding great beauty in the music, too. The secondary theme is lovely, as is much of the passage work leading up to and away from it even at slow speeds; the development is downright scintillating.

Time will tell if this is too much of a challenge, but I'm very motivated to give it a try. I think that speed for its own sake is a bad idea here, but stamina is obviously a big factor even at the most modest Allegro. Still, I am actually pleased that the Toccata does not contain the compositional element I most strongly associate with Schumann: voices, melodies or figurations that are divided between or passed between the hands (something basically unknown in Chopin).

So even though the Toccata is a stretch for me technically, it doesn't feel like a big stretch from the familiar home turf of Chopin at all. It might be even more of a challenge if its musical vocabulary seemed less familiar, but then I would probably not have the compelling interest in learning it that I do.

There's no accounting for taste or what we find beautiful, appealing or enjoyable. I've yet to persuade many of the merits of Chopin's own Allegro de Concert Op. 46 (despite Chopin's own apparent esteem for the piece), so I accept that that's just how it goes.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1263634 - 09/06/09 06:41 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
beginningpianist Offline
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Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 98

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#1263830 - 09/07/09 03:34 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: beginningpianist]
nanabush Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 15
Loc: Canada
It's funny because you say "other than the obvious double note and octave, reaching a 10th, difficulties"... that pretty much sums THE difficulty in the piece. I tried it for fun, and got to about page 2. My brain exploded at the sight of what your hands and fingers have to do in order to play that!

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#1263966 - 09/07/09 11:18 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: nanabush]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Have others had the experience of finding a score they didn't know (or had forgotten) they had? Even if I won't find the Harold Bauer edition, I think I have the next best thing!



Rafael Joseffy is one of my favorite editors, so I'm delighted to have "found" this (though I think I'll continue to use the Henle Urtext as my study score). "Instructive Edition" means that there are lots of supplemental practice exercises suggested (in the manner of Cortot).

Steven

p.s. The Etude by Paul de Schlözer is played on YouTube by Geoffrey Tozer:

_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1263994 - 09/07/09 11:58 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
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Hey, that's really cool Steven! What a find! smile
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1264041 - 09/07/09 01:16 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Horowitzian]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
A young Gilels........
Cziffra is my favorite in this, though.


Edited by Keith D Kerman (09/07/09 01:23 PM)
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#1264380 - 09/08/09 02:58 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Keith D Kerman]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Having just viewed the U-tube of Vladimir Horowitz playing the Schumann Toccata Opus 7... am better able to respond to sv’s rejoinder ... incidentally, during the 6m23s of the playing there is a sketch of Schumann (presumably at the time of the composition) ... a handsome enough chappie but looking for all the world as though he might be today wrestling with the shrunken German budget ... IMHO far too serious ... but in keeping with the character of the unrelenting speeding mechanical structure ... Deutch trains always arrive on time!!

However can’t pick up for a moment sv’s reference to some gentle inner theme ... once that rattling locomotive got steam up, there was no time "to have your ham’n eggs in Carolina" (a la Chattanooga Choo-Choo) ... just that whirring wild objective of reaching an express destination in 6m23 seconds ... glad Horowitz had good brakes!

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#2139950 - 08/28/13 12:48 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
pianorigami Offline
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Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 290
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Bringing back an OLD post.
My teacher suggested this piece to me, and although I'll have to wait at least a few more months, maybe more so I have time, I wanted to know: is it even worth attempting this piece if I can only reach a 9th (I can't reach B-flat to C, however)?
Of course, 10ths are not the main issue, but it's certainly one of them! Also, how does this piece compare to, say, Prokofiev's Toccata?
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Currently working on:
1) Chopin Etudes Op. 10; Scherzo Op. 54
2) Beethoven Sonata Op. 53
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5) Grieg Concerto, Op. 16
6) Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 no. 3
7) Debussy Images, Book I

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#2139953 - 08/28/13 12:54 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
fnork Offline
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Registered: 10/01/04
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All I can say is that it seems hard as heck. And the other thing I could say is that in 99.9999999% of all performances I hear, everyone grasps the toccata element well but nobody seems to communicate the "stillness in the storm" well enough when it happens. Generally it has to have a great drive, but then there are also moments where you're just on a tonic pedal point for a long time (alternating between tonic and dominant), and those, for example, should feel still, in spite of the movement going on in the background.

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#2139955 - 08/28/13 12:57 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: fnork]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
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Originally Posted By: fnork
All I can say is that it seems hard as heck. And the other thing I could say is that in 99.9999999% of all performances I hear, everyone grasps the toccata element well but nobody seems to communicate the "stillness in the storm" well enough when it happens. Generally it has to have a great drive, but then there are also moments where you're just on a tonic pedal point for a long time (alternating between tonic and dominant), and those, for example, should feel still, in spite of the movement going on in the background.

To sum it up, you need to know when to play forward and also when to back away.
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Polyphonist

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#2139960 - 08/28/13 01:09 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
fnork Offline
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Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Yup. Most toccatas tend to have those two elements in them (prokofiev, ravel, etc) but people forget about 'resting points' often.


Edited by fnork (08/28/13 01:10 AM)

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#2139978 - 08/28/13 02:06 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: pianorigami]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: pianorigami
....and although I'll have to wait at least a few more months, maybe more so I have time....

You have lots of time, because I don't think there's any such thing as being a few months away from being ready for this piece. grin

I realize that this can't be literally true, but I have to say, it sure seems like it: If you're ready for it, you're ready for it, and if you're not, it's probably going to be a fair while before you are.

OK, I have a better way to put it: If you're really just a few months away from being ready for it, it probably means you're ready for it right now but don't realize it.

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#2139980 - 08/28/13 02:10 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
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What does it mean to be "ready for it?" You're not not ready for it one day and then ready for it the next. wink
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Polyphonist

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#2139981 - 08/28/13 02:12 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Polyphonist]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What does it mean to be "ready for it?" You're not not ready for it one day and then ready for it the next. wink

I think that's what I meant too -- it just took me longer to say it. ha

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#2140086 - 08/28/13 07:38 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: pianorigami]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
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Originally Posted By: pianorigami
Bringing back an OLD post.
My teacher suggested this piece to me, and although I'll have to wait at least a few more months, maybe more so I have time, I wanted to know: is it even worth attempting this piece if I can only reach a 9th (I can't reach B-flat to C, however)?
Of course, 10ths are not the main issue, but it's certainly one of them! Also, how does this piece compare to, say, Prokofiev's Toccata?


I'm not the best at comparing difficulties, but having played Ravel's and Prokofiev's, those two toccatas look like child's play compared to Schumann's.

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#2140143 - 08/28/13 09:50 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
izaldu Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
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#2140156 - 08/28/13 10:25 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Orange Soda King]
pianorigami Offline
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Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 290
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: pianorigami
Bringing back an OLD post.
My teacher suggested this piece to me, and although I'll have to wait at least a few more months, maybe more so I have time, I wanted to know: is it even worth attempting this piece if I can only reach a 9th (I can't reach B-flat to C, however)?
Of course, 10ths are not the main issue, but it's certainly one of them! Also, how does this piece compare to, say, Prokofiev's Toccata?


I'm not the best at comparing difficulties, but having played Ravel's and Prokofiev's, those two toccatas look like child's play compared to Schumann's.


If that's true, then that's really scary! The Prok toccata seems pretty darn intense (also on my list!).
To compare double note "pieces," is it fair to say, in increasing order of difficulty: Chopin Etude op. 10 no. 7, Schumann Toccata, Liszt S 139/5 (Feux Follets)? I would find it hard to believe that the Toccata is harder than the Liszt (speaking of, HOW does ANYBODY pull that piece off??).
I don't know that I'm "made" for this piece at this moment in time, however; my teacher gives me pieces that challenge me (Op. 10 no. 4, for example. I didn't think I'd be able to do it, but it is actually sounding relatively close to how I'd want it to). So, I think if it were given to me to learn, I could go a long way with it.
1) Compared to the pieces above, how does it stack up in terms of technical and musical challenges (OrangeSodaKing, detailed analysis? smile )?
2) Would the Prokofiev Toccata be a better piece to start with (plus, does anybody else think that the Prok is actually easier than the Schumann??)?
3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?
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Currently working on:
1) Chopin Etudes Op. 10; Scherzo Op. 54
2) Beethoven Sonata Op. 53
3) Prokofiev Sonata Op. 83
4) Bach Prelude and Fugue in f# minor, WTC II
5) Grieg Concerto, Op. 16
6) Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 no. 3
7) Debussy Images, Book I

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#2140179 - 08/28/13 11:14 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: pianorigami]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?


With this particular piece, it could be a problem. Have you actually tried reading through the first two pages? Have you asked your teacher about it?
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#2140184 - 08/28/13 11:18 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What does it mean to be "ready for it?" You're not not ready for it one day and then ready for it the next. wink

I think that's what I meant too -- it just took me longer to say it. ha


Yes - but when you're young - and advancing rapidly - a few months can sometimes make a big difference in terms of being ready to tackle a piece. Then again, when you're much older, you're either ready for it or you're not. grin
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#2140185 - 08/28/13 11:20 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: carey]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?
With this particular piece, it could be a problem. Have you actually tried reading through the first two pages? Have you asked your teacher about it?

Maybe you're right, but I never had any impression that the 'reach' thing was an issue with this piece.

(Where?)

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#2140243 - 08/28/13 01:00 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Mark_C]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?
With this particular piece, it could be a problem. Have you actually tried reading through the first two pages? Have you asked your teacher about it?

Maybe you're right, but I never had any impression that the 'reach' thing was an issue with this piece.

(Where?)


Look at the left hand a few measures in. I don't think it's impossible with smaller hands, but I've joked that this is the only piece small hands will present a problem with, haha. I have small hands, but I have no problem approaching big intervals, such as in Brahms and Busoni.

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#2140258 - 08/28/13 01:28 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mark_C Online   content
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OK -- sorry, I got our threads mixed up!
I started thinking this was about Chopin's 4th Scherzo!

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#2140279 - 08/28/13 02:13 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Orange Soda King]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?
With this particular piece, it could be a problem. Have you actually tried reading through the first two pages? Have you asked your teacher about it?

Maybe you're right, but I never had any impression that the 'reach' thing was an issue with this piece.

(Where?)


Look at the left hand a few measures in. I don't think it's impossible with smaller hands, but I've joked that this is the only piece small hands will present a problem with, haha. I have small hands, but I have no problem approaching big intervals, such as in Brahms and Busoni.


IMHO, if you can't easily reach a 10th with your LH, then it is challenging to play the first couple of pages (and similar sections of the piece) as written. You can always try to "break" the chord by playing the lower note first, but at the tempo this piece "should" be played, doing so would be awkward and sound a bit strange. I recall that some of the 10ths are easier to reach than others - depending on the actual notes involved.

That said, pianorigami, I'm glad you resurrected this old thread. When I originally posted here over four years ago, I said I was starting to work on this Toccata (after "thinking" about learning it for many years) - but I decided to put it aside until I retired and had more time to focus on it. Well, I've been retired for almost four years now and still haven't gotten around to it. ha Also - Sotto Voce and I were both learning it at the time, and were exchanging PM's, articles, etc. Then things suddenly changed.........(old timers here will know what I mean). grin


Edited by carey (08/28/13 02:15 PM)
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#2140296 - 08/28/13 02:49 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: pianorigami]
D. S. F. Offline
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Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 142
Bah...I was writing my response, and pressed backspace to erase letters, and it loaded the last page losing my thoughts (Venting...it takes me SO long to write of thought...)

Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?


It is very debilitating in this piece. It's not the LH 10ths, but the RH 10ths which are most problematic for my small hands. Splitting them compromises accuracy. But then depending on the make up of your hand, the 10ths are not the only problem stretch wise. My RH fingers 2-4 cannot reach the B flat - F sharp stretch, which would be the ideal fingers to use oscillating with the G octaves (I am going from memory here...I think these are the notes). So then the fingering becomes 5-5-5-5 in the top...not ideal, very awkward...

It doesn't mean you shouldn't try it - it's too great a piece not to try. Just know we with small hands will not be able to do some of the things larger hands naturally can do with the piece.
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#2140350 - 08/28/13 05:21 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: D. S. F.]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: D. S. F.
Bah...I was writing my response, and pressed backspace to erase letters, and it loaded the last page losing my thoughts (Venting...it takes me SO long to write of thought...)

Which is why, when writing long posts, I highlight my progress and copy it from time to time, so that if there's an issue I can just reload the page and paste what I had back into the box, and continue.
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#2140413 - 08/28/13 07:16 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: D. S. F.]
pianorigami Offline
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Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 290
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: D. S. F.
Bah...I was writing my response, and pressed backspace to erase letters, and it loaded the last page losing my thoughts (Venting...it takes me SO long to write of thought...)

Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?


It is very debilitating in this piece. It's not the LH 10ths, but the RH 10ths which are most problematic for my small hands. Splitting them compromises accuracy. But then depending on the make up of your hand, the 10ths are not the only problem stretch wise. My RH fingers 2-4 cannot reach the B flat - F sharp stretch, which would be the ideal fingers to use oscillating with the G octaves (I am going from memory here...I think these are the notes). So then the fingering becomes 5-5-5-5 in the top...not ideal, very awkward...

It doesn't mean you shouldn't try it - it's too great a piece not to try. Just know we with small hands will not be able to do some of the things larger hands naturally can do with the piece.

I didn't see how many 10ths there are until I sightread it. Did Schumann have monster hands?? Sigh. I can't even comfortably reach a 9th, so until my hand grows, I'll have to be fine with listening to this piece. Tons of pieces are easy to get away with (Chopin- rolling; some Liszt), but the sheer rapidity and number of 10ths means I'll have to wait.
Not to change the topic of the thread (I'll make it brief), but does the Prokofiev Toccata have as many 10ths (or large 9ths...)?
Thanks!
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#2140417 - 08/28/13 07:29 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
ScriabinAddict Offline
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Registered: 06/10/12
Posts: 335


Daim.

+



Wonderful piece, notoriously difficult. Despite it being fairly comfortable, 5+ minutes of double note passages and octaves is pretty taxing.


Edited by ScriabinAddict (08/28/13 07:29 PM)

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#2140428 - 08/28/13 08:10 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
Serge Marinkovic Offline
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Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 342
Loc: United States
It took me three years to learn this piece. It has several technique and musical needs to bring this piece to an audience performance. Probably my overall favorite piece. I heard Kissin play it as an encore during a Philadelphia recital in the winter of 1995. It brought the house down. People in the front rows were standing with 45 seconds to go in the piece it was stupendous. Back stage he said he had never played it so well.
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#2140614 - 08/29/13 09:47 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: D. S. F.]
pianorigami Offline
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Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 290
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: D. S. F.
Bah...I was writing my response, and pressed backspace to erase letters, and it loaded the last page losing my thoughts (Venting...it takes me SO long to write of thought...)

Originally Posted By: pianorigami

3) How debilitating is not being able to reach a 10th (at ALL)?


It is very debilitating in this piece. It's not the LH 10ths, but the RH 10ths which are most problematic for my small hands. Splitting them compromises accuracy. But then depending on the make up of your hand, the 10ths are not the only problem stretch wise. My RH fingers 2-4 cannot reach the B flat - F sharp stretch, which would be the ideal fingers to use oscillating with the G octaves (I am going from memory here...I think these are the notes). So then the fingering becomes 5-5-5-5 in the top...not ideal, very awkward...


I totally underestimated the shear number of tenths. What a shame! It looks like this piece, until my hands grow (fingers crossed), will have to be one I just listen to. There are just too many 10ths at too fast a tempo to roll or ignore them all!


Edited by pianorigami (08/29/13 09:48 AM)
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Currently working on:
1) Chopin Etudes Op. 10; Scherzo Op. 54
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3) Prokofiev Sonata Op. 83
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5) Grieg Concerto, Op. 16
6) Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 no. 3
7) Debussy Images, Book I

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#2140632 - 08/29/13 10:21 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
Frankni Offline
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Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 160
Loc: UK
A quick question: was this piece written before or after Schumann destroyed his right "piano hand" allegedly by using a mechanical device or perhaps by putting wedges between the fingers? Maybe the piece was the single most cause of the composer's demise as a pianist? Just a thought.
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#2140651 - 08/29/13 11:19 AM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: Frankni]
pianorigami Offline
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Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 290
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: Frankni
A quick question: was this piece written before or after Schumann destroyed his right "piano hand" allegedly by using a mechanical device or perhaps by putting wedges between the fingers? Maybe the piece was the single most cause of the composer's demise as a pianist? Just a thought.

After reading a little on Schumann, I think the toccata was composed after his hand was ruined. Thusly, I doubt he could have played it. No wonder it's so hard...
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Currently working on:
1) Chopin Etudes Op. 10; Scherzo Op. 54
2) Beethoven Sonata Op. 53
3) Prokofiev Sonata Op. 83
4) Bach Prelude and Fugue in f# minor, WTC II
5) Grieg Concerto, Op. 16
6) Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 no. 3
7) Debussy Images, Book I

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#2141887 - 08/31/13 04:31 PM Re: Schumann Toccata Op. 7 [Re: sotto voce]
dolce sfogato Offline
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Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2652
Loc: Netherlands
Just a few thoughts on op. 7: I have been playing this great piece for say 25 years, in concert, and it is a gem in any recital, needs to be programmed carefully though, only 7 minutes of hard work, no big ending, hard to place (I like to play op.18-op.7 in one go). Technically, everybody who hasn't played it talks about tenths, strain on biceps, endurance, difficult double notes, blablabla, no one talks about Schumann, the poet-composer that, yes, also here, writes very melodically, even in the somewhat 'childish'-sounding 2nd subject (op.15 lurking in the distance), but also in the coda (where, magically, the metric shift of one 16th note pulls over the whole piece till the end!) and actually everywhere, it's a real pinkysolo-etude. It's dynamics are more p than f, a distinction rarely observed. Although I'm sure that Schumann wanted to write a bravoura piece, dedicated it to Ludwig Schunke, who read through it and played it to perfection at first sight according to the composer, and transposed it down from D to C, former discussions might catch fire here..., he was himself enough not to end it in a flashy manner, but let the piece outrun itself and, even in a higher tempo, lets it diminish and go out like a flame, just one question remains: why did he write such a totally unplayable c-major chord that no one can reach, just Richter might be the one who did? As to tempo: the piece needs to have a very strict one, mostly depending on the octave-section, the most difficult I think, compares to Chopin op.25/9, a piece everybody regards as one of the easier etudes, I don't, I hold that one for one of the more difficult ones, leggierissimo etc. no power, yaya.
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