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#2003869 - 12/24/12 10:10 AM Chopin Ballades
im@me Offline
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Registered: 09/21/12
Posts: 68
Can anyone order the Chopin Ballades in order of technical difficulty, then general difficulty thanks

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#2003890 - 12/24/12 10:38 AM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Nope. Nobody can do such a thing.

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#2003896 - 12/24/12 10:52 AM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
spk Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/09
Posts: 7
in my experience learning them, i thought the last was most technically difficult. everybody has their own technical strengths and weaknesses though.

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#2003899 - 12/24/12 10:58 AM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: spk]
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted By: spk
[...] everybody has their own technical strengths and weaknesses though.


And therein lies the very reason that it makes little sense to try to rank in order of difficulty pieces that are, as a whole, very difficult. It's not as though one were comparing a Bach minuet with a Rachmaninoff concerto!

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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#2003942 - 12/24/12 12:45 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Why do you ask?

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#2003945 - 12/24/12 12:49 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
jeffreyjones Online   content
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Registered: 01/31/10
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If you have to ask, then you're probably not ready for any of them. The Third is the least problematic, but I found the counting and rhythmical issues to be fairly tricky.

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#2003949 - 12/24/12 12:57 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
If you have to ask, then you're probably not ready for any of them.

That's what I think whenever I see a thread like this, but I assume it's not necessarily right.

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#2003956 - 12/24/12 01:11 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4794
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I attempted the 4th Ballade but got bogged down half way through. My teacher suggested I wait a while before going back to it.

He then assigned me the 3rd Ballade. I'm tying together the last challenges of it. The last 5 pages are a blast to play but I'm still not getting clarity and accuracy on some of the large chordal passages. I'd have say the 3rd is easier than the 4th but that doesn't mean it's easy.

I wonder what happened to WiseIdiot? He was attempting the 3rd but I had the impression he was in over his head. I wonder how he did? He hasn't posted since September.
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#2003959 - 12/24/12 01:17 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
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Loc: USA
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

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#2003963 - 12/24/12 01:30 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
Chopinlover49 Offline
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Registered: 08/17/11
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I think there are very easy parts in all of them, but overall, when the going gets tough, I think the first and last are slightly harder than the other two. But what do I know? I can only play the easy parts of them anyway. I know Horowitz avoided the fourth, playing the first all the time in concerts. I think he chose his pieces carefully and kept his performing list smaller than a lot of other pianists, but there must have been something about the fourth that he didn't like, or worried about. I like it the best, personally.

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#2003980 - 12/24/12 01:54 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Horowitz played the 4th Ballade but I think earlier in his career. I believe his recording is on YouTube.

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#2004012 - 12/24/12 03:13 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2147
Loc: Canada
Chopin writes pianistically-problematic codas for his larger works, so expect all of the Ballades to become ridiculously awkward when the notes get quicker at the end.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2004013 - 12/24/12 03:13 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 390
Horowitz has at least two commercial recordings of the 4th Ballade (one from his 1981 Met recital) and several non-commercial ones. He obviously did not have any technical problems with the work. Perhaps he didn't like the 4th Ballade as much as the 1st Ballade, or perhaps he wasn't interpretively comfortable with the 4th Ballade (the most profound of Chopin's works).

Regarding the thread question, I think that most pianists would agree that the 4th Ballade is the most technically and musically demanding, while the 3rd Ballade is the least technically demanding. The debatable issue is whether the 1st Ballade is harder than the 2nd Ballade.


Edited by LaReginadellaNotte (12/25/12 12:51 AM)

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#2004015 - 12/24/12 03:14 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
According to my experience ( I studied all Ballades )

technical difficulty:

No. 2 > No. 1 > No. 4 > No. 3
hardest

musical difficulty:

No. 3 > No. 4 > No. 1 > No. 2
hardest

rhythmic difficulty:

No. 3 > No. 1 > No. 4 > No. 2
hardest

So "IMO" skip No. 2 and No. 3 ( cause they are, I think above your level, I guess )

Choose No. 1 or No. 4

But their codas require mature technique.

@Joel_W

Scherzos are harder than ballades. Especially Scherzo no. 4 and no. 1 are devilishly hard.


Edited by Batuhan (12/24/12 03:18 PM)
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#2004018 - 12/24/12 03:18 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3468
Loc: US
I would rank 4 over the others on musical difficulty and interpretive difficulty as well as technical. Then 1. Numbers 2 and 3 less so than the others.

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#2004023 - 12/24/12 03:30 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

IMO the 4th Scherzo is a greater technical challenge than any of the Ballades.

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#2004024 - 12/24/12 03:31 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: Chopinlover49]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I think there are very easy parts in all of them....

Not really. smile

Quote:
....I know Horowitz avoided the fourth....

He recorded it, and performed it many times.

Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
....Perhaps he didn't like the 4th Ballade as much as the 3rd Ballade, or perhaps he wasn't interpretively comfortable with the 4th Ballade....

I don't think there's any reason to think that. And BTW I don't know that he gave any more attention to the 3rd than to the 4th.

Actually I think the one he played least was the 2nd.

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#2004033 - 12/24/12 04:01 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: Mark_C]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6149
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I think there are very easy parts in all of them....

Not really. smile


Spoken like a true Chopiniac. Still I think the OP would be least likely to butcher the 3rd one...maybe.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2004047 - 12/24/12 04:42 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4785
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

IMO the 4th Scherzo is a greater technical challenge than any of the Ballades.


For you!

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#2004062 - 12/24/12 05:23 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: JoelW]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.


Why not simply learn some of the more difficult Preludes, Impromptus, Mazurkas or whatever. Why "all four" of the Scherzi ??? Are they really a "prerequisite" for the Ballades??? smile
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#2004065 - 12/24/12 05:41 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

IMO the 4th Scherzo is a greater technical challenge than any of the Ballades.

For you!

Well yeah!
Or maybe I just handle the Ballades unusually well. ha

But seriously folks....what I said about the 4th Scherzo is far from an idiosyncratic view. smile

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#2004069 - 12/24/12 05:59 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: carey]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4785
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.


Why not simply learn some of the more difficult Preludes, Impromptus, Mazurkas or whatever. Why "all four" of the Scherzi ??? Are they really a "prerequisite" for the Ballades??? smile



Well, for technique, of course not. But I think that the scherzi are musically less challenging than the ballades. I think tackling one or two of the scherzi before any of the ballades is a good idea. Once a pianist can make a scherzi come together as a whole, then it's time for one of the ballades. I don't think it must be done that way but I just think it's a good idea.


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#2004076 - 12/24/12 06:21 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
They're all staggeringly difficult. Don't buy into this "technically more difficult" or "musically more difficult" talk. They are all staggeringly difficult in both regards. Also, what makes something more difficult than something else, especially with pieces these difficult, is entirely different for you than it is for me.

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#2004100 - 12/24/12 07:42 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: JoelW]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18068
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
[...]Once a pianist can make a scherzi scherzo come together as a whole [...]


scherzo - singular
scherzi - plural
_________________________
BruceD
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#2004101 - 12/24/12 07:54 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: BruceD]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4785
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
[...]Once a pianist can make a scherzi scherzo come together as a whole [...]


scherzo - singular
scherzi - plural


Whoops, made a typi. Thanks, Bruce.

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#2004104 - 12/24/12 08:11 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
celegorma Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/08
Posts: 103
The ballades are so difficult because there are so many sections and themes its very hard to hold them together. Often performances sound fragmented and as if the pianist is playing many different pieces together. The technical difficult is immense too. But I would say for someone who has never attempted a Ballade before, start with Ballade 1.

Ballade 1 is the most straight forward to begin with. Its not the most difficult in all aspects. Put in some work and it will sound decent.
Ballade 2 is too technically difficult.
Ballade 3 is very hard to "narrate" with and people often lost the plot somewhere in the middle. Ballade 4 is most difficult all round.

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#2004151 - 12/24/12 11:25 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
They're all staggeringly difficult. Don't buy into this "technically more difficult" or "musically more difficult" talk. They are all staggeringly difficult in both regards. Also, what makes something more difficult than something else, especially with pieces these difficult, is entirely different for you than it is for me.

thumb thumb

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#2004154 - 12/24/12 11:32 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: im@me]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4785
Loc: USA
Mark, I believe you have written an entire wall of text concerning the 4th scherzo's transcending difficulty, but I have no idea where to find it. What about it is more difficult for you than the rest of the ballades or scherzi? (and don't hesitate to write another wall of text) smile

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#2004162 - 12/24/12 11:52 PM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Mark, I believe you have talked about the 4th scherzo before. What about it is more difficult for you than the rest of the ballades or scherzi?

I was hoping somebody would ask. smile

Some of it is hard to describe so I'll save it for last. The easy part to describe is, the passagework is so crystalline and transparent (unless you slosh it all with the pedal, in which case you're not really playing the piece), and so, IMO more so than in any other Chopin piece, the slightest imperfections, especially in evenness, will, ahem, shine through. smile In order to do the piece even half-justice -- or, if you don't want to see it that way, in order not to embarrass yourself -- you need the highest level of technique, aural sensitivity (because without that, even the highest level of technique will somewhat fail you), and poise. In this respect, the piece combines the challenges of playing Mozart with the challenges of Romanticism, and IMO it combines these challenges more than absolutely any other piano piece. (I'm open to suggestions of other pieces that would vie with this Scherzo; I'm sure some pieces of Liszt would be up there. But to me, this piece outstrips them all on this count.)

Now for the aspect that's harder to describe: There are some little brief places which (a) are extremely awkward, and (b) require complex voicing and/or coordination between the hands. Well actually they're not awkward and don't require complex voicing or coordination if you don't care about what's going on and don't care to try to make sense of it. grin
But if you do, the mere 'fingers' aspects are very hard, and even harder if you're trying to make music. The main example that occurs to me is the snippet from 8:29 to 8:32 on here (I'd give measure numbers but don't have them handy):



I'm sure it won't sound like much of anything to most people, but all I can say is, try it! -- and see if you can get it up to some semblance of tempo while feeling like you're making sense of the melodic lines in the treble and bass, and without your brain being scrambled by the subtly clashing voices.
I found it the hardest 3 seconds of Chopin I've ever played, and that includes pieces like the 4th Ballade and the 3rd Sonata.

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#2004175 - 12/25/12 01:01 AM Re: Chopin Ballades [Re: Mark_C]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 390
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
....Perhaps he didn't like the 4th Ballade as much as the 3rd Ballade, or perhaps he wasn't interpretively comfortable with the 4th Ballade....

I don't think there's any reason to think that. And BTW I don't know that he gave any more attention to the 3rd than to the 4th.

Actually I think the one he played least was the 2nd.

That was a typo on my part. I meant to say that he might have been less comfortable with the 4th Ballade than he was with the 1st Ballade (the Ballade that he frequently played). Horowitz seldom played the 2nd and 3rd Ballades.

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