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#2043758 - 03/06/13 04:36 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: chopin_r_us]
-Frycek Offline
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Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
It was at Nohant June 1841. Zamoyski says the tone was so poor he 'kept bashing it furiously'. He insisted Pleyel send another. Anybody got more info on this unsuitable instrument?


Don't remember this incident but am intrigued. Did you know that Pleyel (which has apparently recently ceased to exist) has (had?) all its records dating back to Chopin's time and before? That's how they were able to prove the "English" Pleyel that surfaced a couple of years ago was the one he actually bought (he usually leased) to take with him to England and sold rather than ship it when he returned to Paris.

Chopin's Pleyel was already in the collection at the country house museum below. But they never suspected what they had until an outside researcher checked its serial numbers against Pleyel's records. That's Chopin's Pleyel at the lower right corner. It's in reasonably good playing condition.
Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands
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#2043781 - 03/06/13 06:27 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: -Frycek]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Loc: UK
In a letter to Fontana 23 July 1841 he encloses a letter about the piano saying ' I am writing about a better piano, for mine is not good. Read his letter [the letter addressed to Pleyel], and seal it. You can see from it I am asking you for an answer' Do we think the letter to Pleyel still exists? The new piano duly arrives but in a letter to Fontana 16 August 1841 we get '(don't tell him he has sent me a very bad pianoforte).' Another dud?

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#2043790 - 03/06/13 07:13 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: chopin_r_us]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
In a letter to Fontana 23 July 1841 he encloses a letter about the piano saying ' I am writing about a better piano, for mine is not good. Read his letter [the letter addressed to Pleyel], and seal it. You can see from it I am asking you for an answer' Do we think the letter to Pleyel still exists? The new piano duly arrives but in a letter to Fontana 16 August 1841 we get '(don't tell him he has sent me a very bad pianoforte).' Another dud?


Thanks. I'll have to refresh my memory about this. (How like Our Friend to pussyfoot around this via poor Fontana rather than confronting Pleyel himself!) (Sounds like he did get another dud though I wonder how well a piano could travel back then. Maybe he needed to let it settle in.)
Does the letter still exist? - maybe, maybe not. An awful lot of Chopin stuff got destroyed during WWII. If its in Pleyel's archives it may still be there. If it got sent to the collection in Warsaw at some point maybe not.
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#2043813 - 03/06/13 08:29 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: -Frycek]
Jeff Kallberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 211
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
In a letter to Fontana 23 July 1841 he encloses a letter about the piano saying ' I am writing about a better piano, for mine is not good. Read his letter [the letter addressed to Pleyel], and seal it. You can see from it I am asking you for an answer' Do we think the letter to Pleyel still exists? The new piano duly arrives but in a letter to Fontana 16 August 1841 we get '(don't tell him he has sent me a very bad pianoforte).' Another dud?


Thanks. I'll have to refresh my memory about this. (How like Our Friend to pussyfoot around this via poor Fontana rather than confronting Pleyel himself!) (Sounds like he did get another dud though I wonder how well a piano could travel back then. Maybe he need to let it settle in.)
Does the letter still exist? - maybe, maybe not. An awful lot of Chopin stuff got destroyed during WWII. If its in Pleyel's archives it may still be there. If it got sent to the collection in Warsaw at some point maybe not.


The best resource for any question around Chopin and Pleyel (but only if you read French) is now Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Chopin et Pleyel (Paris: Fayard, 2010). This is an amazing book, full of previously unpublished documents, photos of the original "Salons de Pleyel" where Chopin's Parisian debut recital took place (a surprise awaits you when you read about this venue!), photos of the extant pianos known to be owned by Chopin (by virtue of the Pleyel lists, also appended here). All that, and a really interesting story about the importance of Pleyel the man and Pleyel the instrument maker.

Anyway, on p. 176 Eigeldinger covers the territory relevant to this thread. The image of Chopin "boxing" the first bad Pleyel piano comes from a letter of George Sand. The letter to Pleyel that Chopin enclosed with the one from Fontana seems not to be extant. Chopin seems to have been so frustrated with his Nohant pianos that summer that he gave brief thought to switching to Erard.

Jeff Kallberg

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#2043911 - 03/06/13 12:15 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Jeff Kallberg]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Jeff Kallberg
Chopin seems to have been so frustrated with his Nohant pianos that summer that he gave brief thought to switching to Erard.

Jeff Kallberg
Thanks Jeff, I saw that too. I'd really love to know what he disliked about them - I know he didn't like any innovations. Maybe they were the latest models. Sadly my French would not be up to the Eigeldinger. I'll have to wait for the English copy.

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#2044028 - 03/06/13 04:47 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Jeff Kallberg]
-Frycek Offline
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Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Originally Posted By: Jeff Kallberg
The best resource for any question around Chopin and Pleyel (but only if you read French) is now Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Chopin et Pleyel (Paris: Fayard, 2010).


Thanks, Jeff. I'm be on it like a dog on a bone. Yum.
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#2044264 - 03/07/13 12:03 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
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Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
Ooh, I need to get that book-- to add to the rest of my stack of fascinating volumes I'm not getting around to reading [sigh]. I'm glad Eigeldinger is still with us as a resource.

I wouldn't be surprised if a piano shipped from country to country, even quite a good one, might have major problems. Before I bought my grand, it was being kept at a completely unrealistic level of humidity for our area, for a number of months, in the shop. I couldn't sustain that in my house, even humidifying assiduously. After the piano came to live with us, it took a whole year for it to stop going nuts. Many times I was afraid I'd made the wrong decision in buying this instrument, but at last it came around to being everything I had believed it to be.

I was interested to see that the picture of Chopin's 1848 Pleyel in the Cobbe collection was taken by John Challis, the maker of the harpsichord I'm using. So that must have been a good while ago.

I wonder about the effects of the low, sloped roof and the marble floor on the sound of that piano.

Elene
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#2044359 - 03/07/13 07:13 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
-Frycek Offline
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Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Originally Posted By: Elene
I was interested to see that the picture of Chopin's 1848 Pleyel in the Cobbe collection was taken by John Challis, the maker of the harpsichord I'm using. So that must have been a good while ago.

I wonder about the effects of the low, sloped roof and the marble floor on the sound of that piano.

Elene


The picture on the website was taken awhile ago. When MaryRose and I visited Hatchlands about five years ago, the Pleyel had been moved into their small performance hall and there was one of Liszt's Erards in that spot, actually under a staircase. Picturesque but an acoustical nightmare. Chopin's Pleyel is the one I accidentally struck a muted chord on trying to measure my handspan on it, compared with my handspan on my "modern" (1937) Kurtmann. My reach was identical on the Pleyel. One neat thing about Hatchlands is that they aren't overly dragon like about the instruments. You're not allowed to try to play them without obtaining special permission, which I gather is big deal, but you can get close enough to really study them.
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#2045524 - 03/09/13 02:22 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
IreneAdler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 120
Loc: Washington
I have a been working on Chopin's Waltz in A minor post. for two weeks now and needless to say I adore it like all his compositions. My problem is with how to use the sustain pedal in this piece. I started out using in the standard places right after the 1 beat to sustain the lilt of the piece and then changing after the 3 beat in preparation for the next measure. This produced an okay sound not quite what I desired, as it sometimes got muddled if I didn't change the pedal correctly.

Now after my 2nd lesson, on this piece, my teacher suggested putting the sustain pedal down on 1 and then letting it off at 2 and not putting it down again till the next measure. It went okay in the lesson, but now on my own its going terrible, the waltz has no sway at all and it sounds the worst it ever has. If anyone has suggestions on how they use the pedal they would be greatly appreciated as I am lost on how to make this pedaling work.

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#2045580 - 03/09/13 05:00 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: -Frycek]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6094
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: Jeff Kallberg
The best resource for any question around Chopin and Pleyel (but only if you read French) is now Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Chopin et Pleyel (Paris: Fayard, 2010).


Thanks, Jeff. I'm be on it like a dog on a bone. Yum.


Me too!
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#2046305 - 03/11/13 02:04 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
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Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
IreneAdler, I have Willard Palmer's Alfred edition of that waltz, and like your teacher, he raises the pedal at the second beat and doesn't use pedal at all on the third. I'm afraid I can't fathom why either of them want it that way. Maybe I'm just not bright enough to make it sound right, but the only thing that works for me is to hold the pedal through the measure in the normal way, as you described; it should not sound "muddled" if you are careful. I am curious and a bit distressed about this and will ask my own teacher's opinion. Perhaps I am missing something.

Some of the phrases in the RH begin on the 3rd beat, and perhaps that has something to do with their strategy, but it seems to me that the beginning of the phrase can be handled nicely by dropping onto it a little.

Although the bass notes are written as quarter notes, Chopin often does that even though he clearly wants the bass note to sound through the measure. In this case he hasn't told us anything specific about pedaling, which usually can be taken to mean that he intends for us to do the obvious. (I can hear the arguments about this starting already....)

It's conceivable that your teacher is asking you to practice pedaling in this way simply to get you more conscious and in control of your foot, if you're tending to hold it down too long or too heavily.

By the way, whatever you do with the pedal, your LH will have more "sway" and lilt if you have some vertical movement of your arm and hand: beats 1-2-3 go down-up a bit-up more. Not a big violent movement, just enough that the strength of the three beats is differentiated and there is grace and flexibility in the sound instead of the "boom-clunk-clunk" that happens so often in a waltz bass.

Good luck!

Elene
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#2046310 - 03/11/13 02:24 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: IreneAdler]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7497
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: IreneAdler

My teacher suggested putting the sustain pedal down on 1 and then letting it off at 2 and not putting it down again till the next measure.


This is a terrible idea. Whatever else you do, do not do this. Who is your teacher, anyway? wink
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#2046317 - 03/11/13 02:36 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Polyphonist]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6094
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I find it strange too... crazy
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#2047136 - 03/12/13 05:48 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: ChopinAddict]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Not strange at all - it'll be what Chopin wrote. Usually he only uses the pedal to join the bass note in beat 1 to the chord in beat 2. He was never one to put pedal all over the place - study his first editions: http://chopin.lib.uchicago.edu/

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#2047171 - 03/12/13 06:17 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7497
Loc: New York City
It sounds horrific. Try playing it... wink
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#2047366 - 03/12/13 11:52 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
Often the chord changes on the third beat. Here it doesn't.

Elene

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#2047519 - 03/13/13 08:20 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Apart from the fact Chopin doesn't pedal the 3rd beat unless he has to, the initial phrase mark here shows why the 3rd beat must be clean:(from Rink, Samson and Eigeldinger's edition)

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#2048304 - 03/14/13 04:40 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
IreneAdler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 120
Loc: Washington
Originally Posted By: Elene
IreneAdler

I have Willard Palmer's Alfred edition of that waltz, and like your teacher, he raises the pedal at the second beat and doesn't use pedal at all on the third. I'm afraid I can't fathom why either of them want it that way. Maybe I'm just not bright enough to make it sound right, but the only thing that works for me is to hold the pedal through the measure in the normal way, as you described; it should not sound "muddled" if you are careful. I am curious and a bit distressed about this and will ask my own teacher's opinion. Perhaps I am missing something
It's conceivable that your teacher is asking you to practice pedaling in this way simply to get you more conscious and in control of your foot, if you're tending to hold it down too long or too heavily.

By the way, whatever you do with the pedal, your LH will have more "sway" and lilt if you have some vertical movement of your arm and hand: beats 1-2-3 go down-up a bit-up more. Not a big violent movement, just enough that the strength of the three beats is differentiated and there is grace and flexibility in the sound instead of the "boom-clunk-clunk" that happens so often in a waltz bass.

Good luck!

Elene
Thanks for your advice! My teacher has mentioned that I should work on the control of the sustain pedal as sometimes I put it down at the wrong place, a hair too soon too late etc. I put Chopin: Pianist and Teacher on hold at my local library, with the hope that there will be some information in there about how Chopin intended the pedal to be used. I agree with you it must have been an obvious technique or he would have indicated on the sheet music how to use the pedal. I have been listening to and watching people playing this waltz and I was wondering if there is a middle ground to be had. With the exception of the arpeggio section at the end of the first page, maybe you use the pedal normally on the first beat and then less and less for the 2nd and 3 beats? Does this seem like a reasonable idea? My second idea is that I know my teacher would not suggest it this pedaling if it were not possible, so in order to keep the sway to you slightly speed up the 2nd and 3rd beats so that the left hand has a more continious sound without relying on the sustain pedal. This again seems reasonable to me as when you are dancing a waltz the first beat is the longest followed by ever so slightly quicker 2nd and 3rd.

If neither of these ideas seem reasonable, than I am more than a bit lost on how you achieve the clarity and sway that is evident in the music and I shall have to wait until Wednesday for my teacher to explain it again.

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#2048418 - 03/14/13 09:20 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6094
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
We shouldn't forget (I think) that the effect of the pedal was different on the Pleyel of Chopin's time, so that particular effect in this piece might have been much nicer on his piano than it sounds on ours. Bailie often emphasizes this point.
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#2049443 - 03/17/13 01:08 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
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Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
"I know my teacher would not suggest it this pedaling if it were not possible" is one thing I was thinking about, IreneAdler-- and if Willard Palmer likes it too, it must be doable and reasonable in some way. I experimented some more and still can't make the idea work unless I pedal again on the 3rd beat. The thing that sounds so particularly bad to me is the disconnection between the chord on the 3rd beat and the bass note in the next measure. I will be VERY interested to hear what more your teacher will have to say on Wednesday, and by that time I will have had a chance to hash it over with my own teacher on Tuesday.

Speeding up the 2nd and 3rd beats will not affect this issue, and would come to no good in general. The tempo of the notes and their connection or disconnection are separate matters. I'm not sure what you mean by pedaling "less and less" on the 2nd and 3rd beats. If you mean gradually raising your foot, there are certain situations in which that can be useful, but this isn't one of them, and you probably won't be encountering any of them anytime soon.

Chopin r us, I don't see any pedal indications on the copy you've pictured here-- are they absent, or just too faint to show on my screen? I thought about that initial phrase when this first came up, since the RH 3rd beat is not connected to the 2nd and that could imply a change in the pedaling (but does not require it). However, one could just as easily say that the pedal must be held through the 3rd beat because of the way the RH is written in the next measure.

We seem to have an assumption here that the pedaling will be the same in every measure, one way or another (as Palmer directs). That isn't necessarily true.

I do wonder about the difference we would find with the less-resonant 1830s-40s instruments, but have no way of experimenting directly.

I don't think for a moment that Chopin "put pedal all over the place"; I think he used it with great restraint and discretion. However, sometimes people think that if he didn't mark something to be pedaled he specifically wanted it not to be pedaled. One of my own early teachers thought this way. It is not correct.

(A few years ago when I was trying to get an impression from the composer regarding something I was practicing, and I asked, "Pedaling for your work is...?" what I heard was "An exercise in restraint." Dry Polish humor and a pithy lesson.)

Amazing how much there is to think about with this "easy" piece-- but Chopin is like that.

Elene
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#2049525 - 03/17/13 07:01 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Here's the first bit on my 1830's/40'3 upright. Haven't tuned it for a while and it's only a voice recorder. Oh, and I keep it a semi-tone flat - sorry perfect pitchers.

https://www.box.com/s/hzenf74g49yimzj3ngkj


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#2049733 - 03/17/13 03:24 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
Thank you for the recording! Very attractive rubato. I still strongly dislike the sound of the 3rd beat chords being disconnected from the next bass note, but you play it convincingly.

It sounds to me like the old, less-resonant piano does make a difference on this issue. How neat that you have one. What all sorts of instruments do you have available?

Elene

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#2049752 - 03/17/13 03:48 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6094
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Yes, it does make a difference. I thought so, but I am not as lucky as chopin_r_us and don't own a piano from Chopin's time so I couldn't check.
Is it a Pleyel?
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#2049774 - 03/17/13 04:31 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Polyphonist Online   content
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That sounds more than a semitone flat. wink
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#2049815 - 03/17/13 05:31 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: ChopinAddict]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict

Is it a Pleyel?
No, it's a Wornum Piccolo piano. Pleyel copied much of the design for his Pianino which is what my other piano is (I've just spent 3 hours tuning it, sheesh ) Both off Ebay!

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#2049819 - 03/17/13 05:38 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Polyphonist]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
That sounds more than a semitone flat. wink
Hadn't noticed. Oh dear, another tuning job!

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#2049825 - 03/17/13 05:48 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
IreneAdler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 120
Loc: Washington
Originally Posted By: Elene


Amazing how much there is to think about with this "easy" piece-- but Chopin is like that.

Elene

I second that! I picked this waltz from a book of all his waltzs as I thought it would be a good piece after his Prelude no. 4 op. 28, in the process of working on that piece I learnt a tremendous amount. Wow this waltz! Maybe I should be more wise and think about it before rushing off to say, can we work on this piece next?
This piece is the first time where I have no idea how to proceed. Since my last lesson my playing of this piece has gone from bad to worse. After experimenting with the pedal last night the waltz was sounding so disconected that I had to stop, also partly due to fear that ghost of Chopin would swoop down and slam the fallboard down. As you predicted Elene "speeding up the 2nd and 3rd notes" came to absolutely no good. That idea was tossed out the window along with lessening the pressure on the pedal for the 2nd and 3rd notes, that didn't work at all. I agree with you that it you should not use the pedal all the way through the measure as that creates such a muddled sound.

One interesting is that when I play the right hand alone with the pedal only used on the first note, like my teacher wants, it sounds great. It lends it just enough sway, but also clarity. The left hand is problematic, when I try the same thing with the left hand it sounds very jumpy and disconected. The 1st note is fine, but when you let the pedal up to play the 2nd note you lose the sound entirely. I suppose this could be due to several thing maybe I am letting the pedal up a second to early or I am letting the pedal up to fast. I am now desperate to ask my teacher what is going wrong in my practice, though I have a sinking feeling that it will be something totally obvious and he will give me the look of "were you paying attention last week". wink




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#2049906 - 03/17/13 08:02 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
IreneAdler, if you do the pedaling your teacher has in mind, and as chopin r us has done it, you'd be letting the pedal up when you play the second beat chord and not before, so that the bass note is connected to the chord. You're probably letting it up too early if "you lose the sound entirely." Letting it up "too fast" would not be causing a problem unless you were so abrupt that you caused a clunk of some sort. Do practice pedaling with just the LH till you get a sound you like.

(Holding the pedal through the measure would definitely be easier, and you've got more than enough to think about right now, so I wonder if your teacher will insist on this way of pedaling.)

You've learned a tremendous amount from studying and thinking about this piece already, so even if you decide to put it aside for a bit, your time has certainly not been wasted. (I would love to work with such a thoughtful student, myself.) Maybe in a few days it will all start to fall into place and you'll feel comfortable with it.

Good luck!

Elene
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#2049964 - 03/17/13 10:39 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
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Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I am so happy. smile I just won an auction - the first 13 volumes of the Paderewski edition of Chopin's works (they are the most relevant) in good to very good condition for $5!!! Unfortunately it costs a fortune to send them here (over 120 dollars), but the seller is very helpful and is looking around for cheaper options.
I can't wait to get them!
(Shipping costs are unavoidable of course when you walk upside down, also when you buy something new.)
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#2050658 - 03/19/13 06:44 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Here's the Pianino doing the same bit: https://www.box.com/s/6c4omxleqkshm7sq2v8q
Not such a good job of tuning. I'll start again properly next time.

edit: redone with proper mike and wav file. The file's over 2meg but I just couldn't treat a grand old lady like that!


Edited by chopin_r_us (03/19/13 12:31 PM)

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