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#1690624 - 06/04/11 09:19 PM Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight")
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona

Recorded at home on a Young Chang "Weber" baby grand about nine years ago. Not perfect - but heartfelt. Sincere thanks to Andy Strong for enhancing the original home cassette recording.

http://www.box.net/shared/uif7vtj48o
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#1690767 - 06/05/11 05:55 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
Samuel1993 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 351
Loc: United Kingdom
Beautiful, there's a reason why this piece is so popular. Wonderful playing, very expressive. One bit of advice, maybe it slow it down a little? I guess it's personal preference but it is marked Adagio. Great playing though!
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Currently working on...
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#1690828 - 06/05/11 09:31 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: Samuel1993]
ChrisKeys Offline
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Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1274
Loc: Dallas, TX
Originally Posted By: Samuel1993
One bit of advice, maybe it slow it down a little? I guess it's personal preference but it is marked Adagio.

It is also marked cut time, so the tempo carey chose actually makes sense to me.

Very nice playing, carey!

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#1691198 - 06/06/11 01:19 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Samuel and Chris -

Thanks for listening and commenting !! You bring up a good point regarding the tempo. When I recorded this, I knew I was taking a fairly brisk tempo - but it didn't feel inappropriate at the time. My recording clocks in at 4 minutes/51 seconds.

BUT - I did a quick You Tube search this morning and found the following variations in length of the first movement as performed by:

Lisitsa - 5:19
Kemph - 5:44
Horowitz - 5:55
Ashkenazy - 6:00
Brendel - 6:03
Barenboim - 6:28

Interesting !!


Edited by carey (06/06/11 03:25 AM)
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#1691669 - 06/06/11 11:17 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
ChrisKeys Offline
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Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1274
Loc: Dallas, TX
Andras Schiff takes it even faster, I think, with two beats per measure forming the Adagio.

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#1691681 - 06/06/11 11:39 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: ChrisKeys]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: ChrisKeys
Andras Schiff takes it even faster, I think, with two beats per measure forming the Adagio.


Thanks Chris - I wasn't aware of that.

For those of you who have never heard Schiff's wonderful lecture on the "Moonlight" here's a link. It is well worth a listen. He deals specifically with the first movement staring at 1:00 through 14:14. His tempo is even faster than mine. I don't know if I'm completely sold on Schiff's approach to the pedal, however.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW_Dv_GNQAo
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#1694574 - 06/12/11 08:51 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
LisztAddict Offline
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Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
A very expressive performance. If you are to play this piece again today, what tempo would you take?

I'd love to hear you play this again on your M&H!

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#1695047 - 06/13/11 04:46 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: LisztAddict]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: LisztAddict
A very expressive performance. If you are to play this piece again today, what tempo would you take?

I'd love to hear you play this again on your M&H!


Thanks LA !!

When I record this again - on the M&H - I'll play it a bit slower.....but just a tad !! cool
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#1695269 - 06/14/11 02:23 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
feebeeliszt Offline
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Registered: 05/30/10
Posts: 414
Loc: London
I agree a bit slower is better. But I still enjoyed it wink
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#1695278 - 06/14/11 03:13 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: feebeeliszt]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: feebeeliszt
I agree a bit slower is better. But I still enjoyed it wink


And I enjoyed your wonderful playing of the Ravel !! Hope the exams are going well. I look forward to hearing your next recording of the "Jeux d'eau."



Edited by carey (06/14/11 03:14 AM)
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#1695342 - 06/14/11 09:02 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: ChrisKeys
Andras Schiff takes it even faster, I think, with two beats per measure forming the Adagio.


Thanks Chris - I wasn't aware of that.

For those of you who have never heard Schiff's wonderful lecture on the "Moonlight" here's a link. It is well worth a listen. He deals specifically with the first movement staring at 1:00 through 14:14. His tempo is even faster than mine. I don't know if I'm completely sold on Schiff's approach to the pedal, however.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW_Dv_GNQAo


That was such a strange experience listening to Schiff's version of this movement. He gives a compelling case with respect to the original instructions meaning "without dampers". I don't think I've ever come across a piece that didn't use dampers. It goes against everything I've ever thought about pedalling - yet I assume he is correct about Beethoven's instructions. Very confusing!

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#1695397 - 06/14/11 10:59 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
LisztAddict Offline
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Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
I put the idea to test because I don't think Beethoven's piano had the same sustain power as of modern pianos. I made a wedge and inserted it in the pedal to lift the dampers off the strings by about 80-90% from full pedal. The sound died down after 7-8 seconds with the dampers off this much.

So I recorded this same piece with the wedge in the pedal.
http://www.box.net/shared/imhn47y0k54x4rx71mtu

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#1695402 - 06/14/11 11:11 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: LisztAddict]
Cinnamonbear Offline
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Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3907
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: LisztAddict
I put the idea to test because I don't think Beethoven's piano had the same sustain power as of modern pianos. I made a wedge and inserted it in the pedal to lift the dampers off the strings by about 80-90% from full pedal. The sound died down after 7-8 seconds with the dampers off this much.

So I recorded this same piece with the wedge in the pedal.
http://www.box.net/shared/imhn47y0k54x4rx71mtu


LisztAddict,
That's VERY interesting. To my ear, it gives the impression of moonlight shimmering and reflecting off of water. It totally works. Do you think, then, that Beethoven was pushing the artistic envelope with this instruction ("without dampers")? Thanks for executing this experiment!

--Andy
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but at least I'm slow.

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#1695444 - 06/14/11 12:23 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: Cinnamonbear]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: LisztAddict
I put the idea to test because I don't think Beethoven's piano had the same sustain power as of modern pianos. I made a wedge and inserted it in the pedal to lift the dampers off the strings by about 80-90% from full pedal. The sound died down after 7-8 seconds with the dampers off this much.

So I recorded this same piece with the wedge in the pedal.
http://www.box.net/shared/imhn47y0k54x4rx71mtu


LisztAddict,
That's VERY interesting. To my ear, it gives the impression of moonlight shimmering and reflecting off of water. It totally works. Do you think, then, that Beethoven was pushing the artistic envelope with this instruction ("without dampers")? Thanks for executing this experiment!

--Andy


Yes - thanks !!

Early "Impressionism" smile
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#1695841 - 06/15/11 01:05 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18070
Loc: Victoria, BC
Let's remember that, as far as we know, "Moonlight" - or even the image of moonlight - wasn't Beethoven's idea in this movement/sonata. I believe it was Rellstab who came up with the title and the inevitable image it continues to (erroneously?) convey.

Regards,
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#1695847 - 06/15/11 01:43 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
You are correct, Bruce. thumb

Thanks for the gentle reminder !!

From the internet....

"The Moonlight Sonata is believed to have been dedicated to the Countess Giuliana Guicciardi, one of Beethoven’s pupils at the time he composed it. The musician and the young Countess fell in love after only a few lessons, and he is even supposed to have proposed marriage to her. By all accounts, she was amenable to the marriage, but because of her aristocratic station, her family forbade the match.

While this romantic mishap is historically accurate, some discount it as an inspiration for the Moonlight Sonata. This school of thought believes instead that the piece captures Beethoven’s reflections on the death of a friend. One of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century, Edwin Fischer, pointed to areas where the Moonlight Sonata’s first movement bears a striking resemblance to Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, from the first act where the Commendatore is murdered. Thus the melancholy atmosphere created by Beethoven in the Moonlight Sonata’s first movement is associated with the idea of impending death, rather than thwarted love.

Whatever its inspiration, the nickname “Moonlight Sonata” was attached to the piece only after the composer’s death.
In 1832, several years after Beethoven’s demise, the poet Ludwig Rellstab described the piano work as reminding him of “a boat visiting the wild places on Lake Lucerne by moonlight.” The name has stuck fast in the nearly two hundred years since."
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#1695927 - 06/15/11 08:14 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3907
Loc: Rockford, IL
Fascinating! I never, ever thought the first movement of this sonata was melancholy. Ever. The second movement certainly is not melancholy at all... And the third movement--I could never square it with the first OR second--it never seemed to fit.

I think I'll line up behind Rellstab on this one. grin

Still, what's with the "no dampers" thing for the effect?

Just askin'.

--Andy
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1695991 - 06/15/11 10:53 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
All shall be revealed.........

Hi, does anyone have any view on how to interpret the performance direction that precedes the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata: "Si deve suonave tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamento e senza sordino." How do you interpret the senza sordino (without mutes) direction?

I originally thought that the direction was to play with the sustain pedal through the piece (which you obviously wouldn't do on a modern piano, given the sustaining power is much greater than Beethoven's piano, and holding the sustain pedal throughout would create enormous dissonance).

My teacher (an international concert pianist, so I'm very inclined to back his view) has a different view - he reckons the direction refers to the use of the "una corda" pedal (senza sordino), and that you should aim to produce a pp sound without the use of the una corda pedal. His reasoning is that, in the upper registers of the piano, Beethoven's piano only had two strings per note, whereas a modern piano has three strings. Using the una corda pedal would result in two of the three strings being struck on a modern piano, but one of two strings on Beethoven's piano, a much larger reduction in sound, and a substantial alteration in tone.

At the end of the day, I don't think it'll make too much difference to my interpretation. I'll definitely use the sustain pedal, pedalling on changes in harmony. And I'll avoid that una corda pedal, but not religiously.

Does anyone have another view?

Cheers
Tom


Response:

"There are actually two sets instructions - which translate literally from the Italian as: "The whole piece is to be played very delicately and without mute", and "Always very quiet and without mute".

So what is this "mute" that we are instructed to play without? There is a lot of twaddle talked about it in books on interpretation, in programme notes, in instruction manuals, in pompous musical dictionaries, and in other places ... wink.gif

Is it the una corda, as your teacher argues?

Or is it the dampers? That is the conventional interpretation. As to how how exactly to do it right - the argument continues to rage. This is what I used to think, and I faffed about with various amounts of pedal to get the "right" amount of sustain. But I changed my mind just a few days ago when, prompted by your question, I did some proper research into the instruments and conventions of the classical period.

Actually it is neither.

The Mute was an additional pedal common on Fortepianos. It was a piece of leather or felt covered wood that, when activated by a pedal or knee lever, was placed against the bridge and created a quieter and muted tone. The distinction is quite clear. This device is the "Sordino" or Mute. The regular dampers, controlled by the modern RH pedal are the "Sordini".

So Beethoven was instructing the performer to play quietly and delicately, but without making use of the muting device - presumably because he did not want the particular tone quality that it produced.

Beethoven's written instruction unambiguously states sordino and not sordinii. Unfortunately the instruction is misquoted in many places as "Senza Sordini" and then the misquotation is copied by people that cannot be bothered to check with the original score. Also there are famous and respected Beethoven interpreters (Taub, Rosen) who have written whole books on the sonatas and believe the instruction is for the "Loud" pedal. What is worse some editions, even some "Urtexts", have incorrect footnotes that mislead the performer. For example even the generally excellent Henle-Verlag gives the inaccurate translation: "This whole piece must be played very delicately and with Pedal"

It was actually so easy to find out the truth that I am amazed at the 200 years of confusion and muddled thinking on this point. (And a bit ashamed of going along with it for my entire piano-playing career). But it is a good lesson. Trust what Beethoven actually wrote. Not what anyone else says about it. Even so called "Urtexts".

There is a third instruction that appears right at the start - Andante Sostenuto. A sustained leisurely pace. You might want to interpret the Sostenuto as an indication to use some pedal, but I think it is more of a warning not to speed up.

So, in summary, the phrase "senza sordino" is irrelevant to a modern piano, because it does not have a Sordino and actually tells us nothing about how to use either the una corda or the sustain pedal of the modern instrument. You could, however, argue that if Beethoven did not want the muted tone of the "Sordino" he probably did not want the Una Corda either. On the other hand he does not expressly forbid it. On that point I guess we'll never know.

So for the performer, what you do with the two modern pedals in Op.27/2 (i) is up to you and has to be based on a combination of: your idea of what Beethoven wanted to express; your knowledge of what was implicitly expected by the conventions of Beethoven's time (without needing to be spelled out); your understanding of the differences between Fortepianos and modern pianos; and a dollop of personal taste."
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#1696001 - 06/15/11 11:10 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
Thanks for shedding some light on this pedal subject. smile

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#1696027 - 06/15/11 11:48 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
The plot thickens...

So Carey, it would appear that you have come up with a strong challenge to the theory of Andras Schiff. I wonder what he would do if you informed him of this? He seems to be very convinced that Beethoven's instructions should be obeyed. Therefore, if what you are saying is correct and he has misunderstood the "sordino" instructions, he should abandon his interpretation immediately. Perhaps it is meant to be like your "Grandmother" would play it after all...

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#1696028 - 06/15/11 11:49 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
Cinnamonbear Offline
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Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3907
Loc: Rockford, IL
Ah-so!

And yet, carey, all has not been revealed! smirk Who was the author of that fine reponse? Was it you?
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1696039 - 06/15/11 12:08 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: Cinnamonbear]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Ah-so!

And yet, carey, all has not been revealed! smirk Who was the author of that fine reponse? Was it you?


ha

No - another anonymous voice on the internet !!!
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#1696043 - 06/15/11 12:17 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: ando]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: ando
The plot thickens...

So Carey, it would appear that you have come up with a strong challenge to the theory of Andras Schiff. I wonder what he would do if you informed him of this? He seems to be very convinced that Beethoven's instructions should be obeyed. Therefore, if what you are saying is correct and he has misunderstood the "sordino" instructions, he should abandon his interpretation immediately. Perhaps it is meant to be like your "Grandmother" would play it after all...


Just to clarify.....the response was not my own. I apologize if anyone thought it was. I found it here (and have absolutely no information about the individual who posted it)...

http://www.abrsm.org/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t40175.html

Does seem plausible to me, however. cool


Edited by carey (06/15/11 12:18 PM)
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#1696052 - 06/15/11 12:30 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
I just can't see how one can play with delicacy and at the same time all blurry with pedal the way Schiff does.

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#1696093 - 06/15/11 01:31 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: LisztAddict]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: LisztAddict
I just can't see how one can play with delicacy and at the same time all blurry with pedal the way Schiff does.



I agree !!
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#1716086 - 07/19/11 01:12 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
PianomomAZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 72
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Beautiful played, i enjoy it so much

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#1723909 - 07/31/11 07:01 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
I actually enjoyed the brisk tempo! It gives a feeling of unrestfulness, yet still tranquil(l). I tend play this piece with a subtle feeling of agitation also, i think it compliments the third movement better. I especially admire how you manage to play the upper voice cantabile whilst keeping the accompianiment in the background separate without making it sound like octaves; quite a difficulty for me, that was!
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#1723910 - 07/31/11 07:06 AM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: feebeeliszt
I agree a bit slower is better. But I still enjoyed it wink


And I enjoyed your wonderful playing of the Ravel !! Hope the exams are going well. I look forward to hearing your next recording of the "Jeux d'eau."



Whilst in Chappel's in London about a week ago i heard someone play that very piece; it's definitely reminiscent of water! One of my favourites!
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All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1724001 - 07/31/11 12:22 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: carey]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: carey
All shall be revealed.........

Hi, does anyone have any view on how to interpret the performance direction that precedes the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata: "Si deve suonave tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamento e senza sordino." How do you interpret the senza sordino (without mutes) direction?

I originally thought that the direction was to play with the sustain pedal through the piece (which you obviously wouldn't do on a modern piano, given the sustaining power is much greater than Beethoven's piano, and holding the sustain pedal throughout would create enormous dissonance).

My teacher (an international concert pianist, so I'm very inclined to back his view) has a different view - he reckons the direction refers to the use of the "una corda" pedal (senza sordino), and that you should aim to produce a pp sound without the use of the una corda pedal. His reasoning is that, in the upper registers of the piano, Beethoven's piano only had two strings per note, whereas a modern piano has three strings. Using the una corda pedal would result in two of the three strings being struck on a modern piano, but one of two strings on Beethoven's piano, a much larger reduction in sound, and a substantial alteration in tone.

At the end of the day, I don't think it'll make too much difference to my interpretation. I'll definitely use the sustain pedal, pedalling on changes in harmony. And I'll avoid that una corda pedal, but not religiously.

Does anyone have another view?

Cheers
Tom


Response:

"There are actually two sets instructions - which translate literally from the Italian as: "The whole piece is to be played very delicately and without mute", and "Always very quiet and without mute".

So what is this "mute" that we are instructed to play without? There is a lot of twaddle talked about it in books on interpretation, in programme notes, in instruction manuals, in pompous musical dictionaries, and in other places ... wink.gif

Is it the una corda, as your teacher argues?

Or is it the dampers? That is the conventional interpretation. As to how how exactly to do it right - the argument continues to rage. This is what I used to think, and I faffed about with various amounts of pedal to get the "right" amount of sustain. But I changed my mind just a few days ago when, prompted by your question, I did some proper research into the instruments and conventions of the classical period.

Actually it is neither.

The Mute was an additional pedal common on Fortepianos. It was a piece of leather or felt covered wood that, when activated by a pedal or knee lever, was placed against the bridge and created a quieter and muted tone. The distinction is quite clear. This device is the "Sordino" or Mute. The regular dampers, controlled by the modern RH pedal are the "Sordini".

So Beethoven was instructing the performer to play quietly and delicately, but without making use of the muting device - presumably because he did not want the particular tone quality that it produced.

Beethoven's written instruction unambiguously states sordino and not sordinii. Unfortunately the instruction is misquoted in many places as "Senza Sordini" and then the misquotation is copied by people that cannot be bothered to check with the original score. Also there are famous and respected Beethoven interpreters (Taub, Rosen) who have written whole books on the sonatas and believe the instruction is for the "Loud" pedal. What is worse some editions, even some "Urtexts", have incorrect footnotes that mislead the performer. For example even the generally excellent Henle-Verlag gives the inaccurate translation: "This whole piece must be played very delicately and with Pedal"

It was actually so easy to find out the truth that I am amazed at the 200 years of confusion and muddled thinking on this point. (And a bit ashamed of going along with it for my entire piano-playing career). But it is a good lesson. Trust what Beethoven actually wrote. Not what anyone else says about it. Even so called "Urtexts".

There is a third instruction that appears right at the start - Andante Sostenuto. A sustained leisurely pace. You might want to interpret the Sostenuto as an indication to use some pedal, but I think it is more of a warning not to speed up.

So, in summary, the phrase "senza sordino" is irrelevant to a modern piano, because it does not have a Sordino and actually tells us nothing about how to use either the una corda or the sustain pedal of the modern instrument. You could, however, argue that if Beethoven did not want the muted tone of the "Sordino" he probably did not want the Una Corda either. On the other hand he does not expressly forbid it. On that point I guess we'll never know.

So for the performer, what you do with the two modern pedals in Op.27/2 (i) is up to you and has to be based on a combination of: your idea of what Beethoven wanted to express; your knowledge of what was implicitly expected by the conventions of Beethoven's time (without needing to be spelled out); your understanding of the differences between Fortepianos and modern pianos; and a dollop of personal taste."


I'm not sure whence this originates, but there is quite a bit of misinformation here which I don't have the time at the moment to address in detail, but will at some point.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1724078 - 07/31/11 04:01 PM Re: Beethoven - 1st Movement, Sonata Opus 27 No. 2 ("Moonlight") [Re: stores]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: carey
All shall be revealed.........

Hi, does anyone have any view on how to interpret the performance direction that precedes the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata: "Si deve suonave tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamento e senza sordino." How do you interpret the senza sordino (without mutes) direction?

I originally thought that the direction was to play with the sustain pedal through the piece (which you obviously wouldn't do on a modern piano, given the sustaining power is much greater than Beethoven's piano, and holding the sustain pedal throughout would create enormous dissonance).

My teacher (an international concert pianist, so I'm very inclined to back his view) has a different view - he reckons the direction refers to the use of the "una corda" pedal (senza sordino), and that you should aim to produce a pp sound without the use of the una corda pedal. His reasoning is that, in the upper registers of the piano, Beethoven's piano only had two strings per note, whereas a modern piano has three strings. Using the una corda pedal would result in two of the three strings being struck on a modern piano, but one of two strings on Beethoven's piano, a much larger reduction in sound, and a substantial alteration in tone.

At the end of the day, I don't think it'll make too much difference to my interpretation. I'll definitely use the sustain pedal, pedalling on changes in harmony. And I'll avoid that una corda pedal, but not religiously.

Does anyone have another view?

Cheers
Tom


Response:

"There are actually two sets instructions - which translate literally from the Italian as: "The whole piece is to be played very delicately and without mute", and "Always very quiet and without mute".

So what is this "mute" that we are instructed to play without? There is a lot of twaddle talked about it in books on interpretation, in programme notes, in instruction manuals, in pompous musical dictionaries, and in other places ... wink.gif

Is it the una corda, as your teacher argues?

Or is it the dampers? That is the conventional interpretation. As to how how exactly to do it right - the argument continues to rage. This is what I used to think, and I faffed about with various amounts of pedal to get the "right" amount of sustain. But I changed my mind just a few days ago when, prompted by your question, I did some proper research into the instruments and conventions of the classical period.

Actually it is neither.

The Mute was an additional pedal common on Fortepianos. It was a piece of leather or felt covered wood that, when activated by a pedal or knee lever, was placed against the bridge and created a quieter and muted tone. The distinction is quite clear. This device is the "Sordino" or Mute. The regular dampers, controlled by the modern RH pedal are the "Sordini".

So Beethoven was instructing the performer to play quietly and delicately, but without making use of the muting device - presumably because he did not want the particular tone quality that it produced.

Beethoven's written instruction unambiguously states sordino and not sordinii. Unfortunately the instruction is misquoted in many places as "Senza Sordini" and then the misquotation is copied by people that cannot be bothered to check with the original score. Also there are famous and respected Beethoven interpreters (Taub, Rosen) who have written whole books on the sonatas and believe the instruction is for the "Loud" pedal. What is worse some editions, even some "Urtexts", have incorrect footnotes that mislead the performer. For example even the generally excellent Henle-Verlag gives the inaccurate translation: "This whole piece must be played very delicately and with Pedal"

It was actually so easy to find out the truth that I am amazed at the 200 years of confusion and muddled thinking on this point. (And a bit ashamed of going along with it for my entire piano-playing career). But it is a good lesson. Trust what Beethoven actually wrote. Not what anyone else says about it. Even so called "Urtexts".

There is a third instruction that appears right at the start - Andante Sostenuto. A sustained leisurely pace. You might want to interpret the Sostenuto as an indication to use some pedal, but I think it is more of a warning not to speed up.

So, in summary, the phrase "senza sordino" is irrelevant to a modern piano, because it does not have a Sordino and actually tells us nothing about how to use either the una corda or the sustain pedal of the modern instrument. You could, however, argue that if Beethoven did not want the muted tone of the "Sordino" he probably did not want the Una Corda either. On the other hand he does not expressly forbid it. On that point I guess we'll never know.

So for the performer, what you do with the two modern pedals in Op.27/2 (i) is up to you and has to be based on a combination of: your idea of what Beethoven wanted to express; your knowledge of what was implicitly expected by the conventions of Beethoven's time (without needing to be spelled out); your understanding of the differences between Fortepianos and modern pianos; and a dollop of personal taste."


I'm not sure whence this originates, but there is quite a bit of misinformation here which I don't have the time at the moment to address in detail, but will at some point.


I'm not sure whence this originates either - and in retrospect I shouldn't have posted it verbatim from the internet. That was a tad irresponsible on my part. crazy

But - any light you can shed on this issue - when you have an opportunity - would be greatly appreciated !!!!!
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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