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#2062864 - 04/11/13 11:31 AM Chopin 4th Ballade
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Hi,

I'm learning this piece now and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or opinions on the piece that they'd like to share, and if anyone had any advice in learning it.

Thanks very much. smile
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#2062866 - 04/11/13 11:37 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
-- It's a great, great piece.

-- It's very hard.

-- The hardest parts might be the ones that seem easiest. I think most listeners (including judges and auditioners) lose interest in most performances before even getting to the "hard parts."

-- Don't feel like it's learned just when you have the notes.

-- Plus, the notes are very hard to have. grin

Don't let any of this stop you. But realize that the piece is a very major challenge. The good news is that it will keep 'giving' for the rest of your life. smile

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#2062875 - 04/11/13 11:50 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
Just don't ask Mark about the 4th scherzo.

Just kidding. I enjoy reading his essays every time. grin




The 4th ballade? It scares the crap out of me. I cannot express how intimidating it is to me. I don't even feel that way about the 4th scherzo or 3rd sonata, which are probably just as difficult. But I don't know, something about the 4th ballade...

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#2062876 - 04/11/13 11:54 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
It's one that I have decided to learn as well. So while I can enjoy reading through the easier sections I know have a lot to tackle with the difficult passages. For me it's a matter of tearing it apart and then putting it back together. I believe it is 18 pages so probably half of those need lots of practice. Have fun.

rada

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#2062928 - 04/11/13 01:42 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: JoelW]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Just don't ask Mark about the 4th scherzo.

Don't be so discouraging here, I'm optimistically considering learning this for a masterclass fairly soon and a competition later on wink

As for the Ballade, well...it's a huge undertaking indeed. As has been said already, one of the issues is to maintain interest and not lose momentum. In the following book, I remember reading various useful remarks by Samuil Feinberg and others on this piece (as well as plenty of other pieces by Chopin): http://www.amazon.com/The-Russian-Piano-School-Conservatoire/dp/1871082889

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#2063003 - 04/11/13 04:19 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
This is possibly my favorite piece in the entire repertoire. I could talk on and on about it, and most likely fill several books. I chose my username partly because of it. smile (it's one of Chopin's most contrapuntal works). There is not a note out of place. Technically and musically, it is the hardest of the four ballades, as with the fourth scherzo relative to the other scherzos. It's amazingly rewarding to play, once you've learned it; but be warned you have a lot of hard work ahead of you. Practically everything about the piece is difficult, and amazingly beautiful when played well. The first several pages are technically easy, but you are so exposed that even if you don't miss a single note, every tiny slip in tone color or phrasing sticks out like a sore thumb. There are many double note passages that need to be worked on meticulously in order to achieve clarity within each line and with the passage as a whole. There is also a section with several tricky polyrhythms bunched into the space of a few bars, and then a transitional passage with a lot of fast right hand fingerwork, which leads into the first emotional climax of the piece (first because the coda is also a climax, in a different way). This section is so beautiful that it still often brings me to tears when I play it or hear it played. Following it is a section with huge arpeggios and fast sequences of chords, transitioning from D flat major back into F minor. After the five hushed pianissimo chords and a long pause comes the coda, which is chock-full of extremely difficult double note passages, including the infamous two bars of ascending chromatic thirds. There are no words to describe how brilliant Chopin's conception was in this coda, and indeed in the whole piece. After a gradual accelerando, those climactic unison arpeggios come crashing down on each other, and the piece ends in an explosion of pathos.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063067 - 04/11/13 06:58 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Easy peasy :-).

Just kidding, haha. It's hard. But don't allow yourself to be intimidated by it, you will never do it justice that way.

Learn the coda first.

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#2063071 - 04/11/13 07:01 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: debrucey]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: debrucey

Learn the coda first.

I disagree. Learn the other double note sections first, and the coda will become easier.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063076 - 04/11/13 07:07 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Polyphonist]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
This is possibly my favorite piece in the entire repertoire. I could talk on and on about it....

....and I'm glad you did talk for a while about it -- that was a great post. thumb

And here's a little bonus for Hopinmad: smile
Discussion of the most remarkable 2 measures in all music

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: debrucey

Learn the coda first.

I disagree. Learn the other double note sections first, and the coda will become easier.

I'm with Debrucey.

I think there are two things that are especially good ideas to work on first when you pick up a piece:
-- the ending, or
-- whatever you think will be the most challenging part

With this piece, the coda fits both.

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#2063103 - 04/11/13 08:17 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Mark_C]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....and I'm glad you did talk for a while about it -- that was a great post. thumb

Thanks. smile

Oh my gosh, yes. They are amazing in every way possible: rhythm, texture, sheer beauty...
Originally Posted By: Mark_C

I'm with Debrucey.

Whatever floats your boat.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063138 - 04/11/13 09:20 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Polyphonist]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Whatever floats your boat.

It doesn't float my boat, but it does work better. grin


Hey, I don't even have a boat.... ha

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#2063233 - 04/12/13 01:01 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Auntie Lynn Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1131
Loc: San Francisco, CA
It takes 20 minutes to play, two years to learn and 20 years to mature. If you stay with it, it will be one of the most rewarding efforts of your life...

Mwah!

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#2063241 - 04/12/13 01:26 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Auntie Lynn]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Auntie Lynn
It takes 20 minutes to play....

.....twice grin


(Actually that would usually be more like 21-22 minutes....)

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#2063339 - 04/12/13 08:28 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Mark_C]
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Thanks for all your responses. I started out (I actually started learning it about a week ago) learning the coda. It's not too bad - as with a lot (if not all!) of Chopin it "fits" under the hands very well. I have more difficulty with the two pages before the four up and down hands together arpeggio sweeps, probably because I find it harder to play it quietly and convincingly. A similar remark probably applies to where the main theme (C F E Bb D) comes in again but with the inner notes included as well. Also I find the very first bit (and where it comes back in A major) hard to play nicely.


Also,



Those two measures are incredible! But my favourite two measures I think are measures 51-52.

ALSO: Post 1000!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#2063440 - 04/12/13 11:25 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1510
I love this piece, from the beg to the end. But knowing how demanding and how difficult this piece, should not we ask ourselves whether at the end of the day that we will satisfy with the quality of our playing? If at the end of the day our quality of playing only 40% of that of professionals, will we satisfy? The answer is personal choice. One time I wanted to learn Rachmaninoff Prelude Op. 23 No. 5, my teacher did not think that I will be able to play well (Play well means it does not sound amateurish), he really discouraged me from learning that piece.

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#2063447 - 04/12/13 11:39 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
DonaldLee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/11
Posts: 168
I would say start learning the notes and then let it marinate for a long time. Let's say it took you 2 months to learn all of the notes, then I would be listening to it, studying the score, recording yourself and listening, going to teacher with every now now and then for a few more months (maybe even a year, who knows with these things?). After all of that, I would say that you would be ready to start performing it. With each performance it will get more and more settled, and eventually, it will truly be your own.

Donald Lee III
_________________________
Currently working on:
Brahms Op. 118
Mozart Sonata K. 576
Bach Prelude and Fugue in b-flat minor (WTC Book I)
Balikerev Islamey



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#2063541 - 04/12/13 03:07 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: hopinmad
...my favourite two measures I think are measures 51-52.

Ah yes. One of the places where Chopin shows his contrapuntal genius.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063557 - 04/12/13 03:34 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Auntie Lynn
It takes 20 minutes to play....

.....twice grin


(Actually that would usually be more like 21-22 minutes....)


Once... if you're modern-day Pogorelich.

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#2063560 - 04/12/13 03:39 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: JoelW]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Auntie Lynn
It takes 20 minutes to play....

.....twice grin


(Actually that would usually be more like 21-22 minutes....)


Once... if you're modern-day Pogorelich.

Did he ever play it? wink

By the way, we should start a Chopin Ballade group, for myself and other Balladiacs (is that a word? wink ). Who's up for it? smile
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063572 - 04/12/13 03:54 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Auntie Lynn
It takes 20 minutes to play....

.....twice grin


(Actually that would usually be more like 21-22 minutes....)


Once... if you're modern-day Pogorelich.

Did he ever play it? wink

By the way, we should start a Chopin Ballade group, for myself and other Balladiacs (is that a word? wink ). Who's up for it? smile


Anything Chopin, I'm in. ha

What exactly is a 'ballade group'?

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#2063575 - 04/12/13 03:56 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: JoelW]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: JoelW

Anything Chopin, I'm in. ha

What exactly is a 'ballade group'?


A private forum to discuss the ballades. I've invited you to it. I will also invite anyone who is interested: just post here or PM me. smile
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063629 - 04/12/13 05:20 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
You should also have invited me! This is my ballade thread! laugh
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#2063634 - 04/12/13 05:27 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6469
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: hopinmad
You should also have invited me! This is my ballade thread! laugh


and I bet you're hopinmad !!!! grin
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2063646 - 04/12/13 06:03 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
I didn't start the private message 'thread', but is there a way I could invite you guys? Poly isn't on.

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#2063720 - 04/12/13 09:29 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Sorry, I had to log off earlier. Hopinmad, I thought a feature existed that didn't; I guess I can't add people to the thread. Maybe we should just make it a public regular thread in the forum. Sorry about that. mad
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063723 - 04/12/13 09:35 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Sorry, I had to log off earlier. Hopinmad, I thought a feature existed that didn't; I guess I can't add people to the thread. Maybe we should just make it a public regular thread in the forum. Sorry about that. mad


Go for it. It seems more sensible actually. Instead of having to be invited, anyone can pop right in and say what they want.

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#2063732 - 04/12/13 09:47 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Okay. Sounds good.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2063813 - 04/13/13 01:09 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
It's tough, but it's probably best to learn it early and then have it grow inside of you as you mature.
_________________________
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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#2063853 - 04/13/13 03:58 AM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: hopinmad]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
About a month ago somebody mentioned Richter and Chopin's ballade 4. and I did a google search and found the youtube of it. Thanks for keep the thread public because it is already very interesting. As a beginner hanging out in a thread like this and reading the posts is an awesome education on so many levels. Thanks.

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#2064144 - 04/13/13 05:29 PM Re: Chopin 4th Ballade [Re: Auntie Lynn]
kuifje Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 110
Originally Posted By: Auntie Lynn
It takes 20 minutes to play, two years to learn and 20 years to mature. If you stay with it, it will be one of the most rewarding efforts of your life...

Mwah!


Just in my 2nd year now. So far i got until about bar 167.

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