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#2108148 - 06/25/13 10:57 PM Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 372
Loc: Michigan
Having never really listened to classical music before I started playing piano, after a few listens, I'm now addicted to this concerto and Tchaikovsky Piano Concert No. 1. Anyway, I'm attempting to learn a few sections of it.

The first chords contort my fingers in pretty awkward positions, but it seems like it's effortless for the great players... Mostly the issue is in measure 2, my LH pinky can hit the adjacent note, and my wrist is pretty tense. No matter what I do I can't avoid depressing the adjacent white key a little bit, but it might only be a quarter way so it doesn't sound. My right hand seems OK though. Any advice?



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Recent adult re-starter... http://www.youtube.com/user/allanw
Kawai MP-10 + Ivory II (pic), Young Chang Y175, 2012 (renting) (pic)

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#2108153 - 06/25/13 11:11 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
jazzyprof Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2623
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
You could try this... smile
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#2108160 - 06/25/13 11:41 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2139
Loc: Canada
Two solutions:

1 - take the bottom F of the left hand as a grace note for the entire passage.

2 - for that particular chord, play the F, D flat, and C simultaneously with the right hand, and fill on the top A flat quietly right after.

If your left hand can't reach everything, then don't kill yourself - it means your span is unfortunately too small, so you'll have to make some compromises.
_________________________
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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#2108173 - 06/26/13 12:24 AM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Yeah, that's a tough chord. Surprisingly, my issue is in the RH, not the left. I think it depends on a few different factors, one of which may be voicing along with hand size/span.

A lot of pianists with smaller hands roll at least some of these chords, or take a "grace note" approach as Kuanpiano suggested. I think it's been done so many times that, while not preferred, it has become accepted.


Now, looking at the picture of your hand position, I really don't think you have to do this. I simply think your wrist/hand is collapsed over on the left side and not "on top" of the chord enough to hit it solidly. Your hand looks like it's bigger than mine (or at least longer fingers), so if I can hit it, you should be able to. wink

Quick Cheats: If you don't voice the rising notes, you can drop the Db in the LH. The Db in the RH covers the dissonance.

Alternatively, you can get the damper to lift by using your index finger on the C and rubbing against the Db (angle your knuckle to bring the key down if possible). Since you're not voicing it, the strike won't be missed, but the vibration will continue as if you had struck it (albeit a bit softer).

If you do voice it, drop the C in the LH, but keep the Db.

This will help you get over on the notes better, and depending on exactly how you voice the chord, the notes won't be missed.


This is not good/proper technique, but sometimes you can curl the 3rd finger under and strike the C with the back of your knuckle/nail. This will free up a little extra stretch to get down to the F and up to the Ab, and you may not have to drop either note. I don't really advise it, or practicing it for long periods of time, but it does work. Sometimes the reason you can't reach the F-Ab stretch is because your 2nd and 3rd fingers are in the way.

Hope this helps. smile


Edited by Derulux (06/26/13 12:25 AM)
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#2108183 - 06/26/13 12:35 AM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
It's okay to roll the chords by using F as a grace note (as suggested above). Rachmaninoff himself rolled the chords! wink

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#2108191 - 06/26/13 01:21 AM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Really? I don't ever recall a recording (I am way too young to have heard him live wink )where he did that. Do you have one? I would really like to give a listen! Every performance/recording of his I've ever heard was blocked chords.
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#2108325 - 06/26/13 11:31 AM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
The one I heard does have some blocked chords, but he does roll some of them if you listen closely. I don't remember where I heard it, though..

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#2108354 - 06/26/13 12:18 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19284
Loc: New York City
Roll Over Beethoven Rachmaninov!


Edited by pianoloverus (06/26/13 12:18 PM)

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#2108363 - 06/26/13 12:34 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
TimV Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/11
Posts: 69
Loc: New York, NY
I have a question about the RH in the 2nd measure. This has plagued me for a long time. Do people play the D flat with their 2nd finger?? (If so, please take a picture of this prodigious feat). Do they hook their thumb over and play the C and D-flat with the thumb? That feels really unreliable to me in such an exposed texture.

Thanks,
Tim V.
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Brahms Op 76 #1, Op 118 #5
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#2108377 - 06/26/13 12:52 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I play the D flat with my 2nd finger. If you can't do it, try making the thumb work on both keys. With enough practice, you could get consistent with it. Or leave out the low C all together? grin

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#2108392 - 06/26/13 01:16 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 372
Loc: Michigan
I thought the RH wasn't difficult so I didn't post a picture of it. Here's my amateur hands playing RH 2nd measure:

In the picture my thumb is barely hanging onto the key but I can play it pretty high up too. The trick for me is to have a fairly high wrist, but for me it's not much tension.

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#2108400 - 06/26/13 01:27 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2139
Loc: Canada
I play the C and D flat with my thumb together. There's no hooking, just play those two notes with the thumb close to the black keys, and then push the C with the tip of the thumb, and the D flat with the part of the thumb just underneath the joint.
_________________________
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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#2108402 - 06/26/13 01:28 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3515
Looks good to me as in your picture. Just stretch your pinky a tiny bit straighter and 3&4 further a bit and keep the hand relaxed
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#2108403 - 06/26/13 01:29 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
That doesn't look too bad. If you can voice the chord well, that should be just fine.

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#2108443 - 06/26/13 02:19 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: TimV]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: TimV
I have a question about the RH in the 2nd measure. This has plagued me for a long time. Do people play the D flat with their 2nd finger?? (If so, please take a picture of this prodigious feat). Do they hook their thumb over and play the C and D-flat with the thumb? That feels really unreliable to me in such an exposed texture.

Thanks,
Tim V.

If you're voicing the rising line there, then you can leave out the C. It really can't be heard, especially if you've got the C resonating in the LH. If you're not voicing the Db, then you may want to go with the "hook over" as you've described it. grin
_________________________
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#2108509 - 06/26/13 03:52 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Derulux]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5059
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Really? I don't ever recall a recording (I am way too young to have heard him live wink )where he did that. Do you have one? I would really like to give a listen! Every performance/recording of his I've ever heard was blocked chords.


I believe Rachmaninov always plays the bottom (F) notes as grace notes, and many modern pianists imitate that way of playing, even if they can easily stretch to encompass those chords. And of course, Rachmaninov's huge hands could swallow those chords whole, if he wanted to...

http://youtu.be/x8l37utZxMQ

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#2108510 - 06/26/13 03:59 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2314
Loc: San Jose, CA
These are the easiest bars in the entire concerto, aside from maybe the silent ones. (Always found counting empty measures to be the most nerve-racking part of any concerto.) If you can't reach it then you roll it. Not so easy to do with the filled-in octaves at the recapitulation.

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#2108732 - 06/26/13 08:59 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
King Cole Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/12
Posts: 33
Loc: Louisiana
Just use your 2nd finger for C and D flat. Put it on the left side of the D flat but you're pressing down on C at the same time and yeah you'll scrap that G but you'll be alright it wont voice like you said
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#2108773 - 06/26/13 10:47 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: bennevis]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Really? I don't ever recall a recording (I am way too young to have heard him live wink )where he did that. Do you have one? I would really like to give a listen! Every performance/recording of his I've ever heard was blocked chords.


I believe Rachmaninov always plays the bottom (F) notes as grace notes, and many modern pianists imitate that way of playing, even if they can easily stretch to encompass those chords. And of course, Rachmaninov's huge hands could swallow those chords whole, if he wanted to...

http://youtu.be/x8l37utZxMQ

Man, my speakers must be horrible because I can't hear a grace note at all! frown

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
These are the easiest bars in the entire concerto, aside from maybe the silent ones. (Always found counting empty measures to be the most nerve-racking part of any concerto.) [...]

In most concertos, I don't. I memorize the orchestral parts, and come in where the music fits. I could never sit there and count half a movement (in some cases). I think Rachmaninoff is good in this way, because it's very obvious where the piano needs to enter, and if you can take the musical queue, you won't need to count. Other composers are not so easy in this regard.
_________________________
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#2108800 - 06/26/13 11:55 PM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17966
Loc: Victoria, BC
All this talk (and advice) about how to play the opening chords of the Rachmaninoff Second Concerto leads me to my question : what are you going to do after you learn the opening measures?

Regards,
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#2108808 - 06/27/13 12:14 AM Re: Opening chords of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 [Re: Allan W.]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 372
Loc: Michigan
This thread got a lot of responses. I guess I'm going to have to post a new thread for every line in the score smile

At some point I'll try the 2 piano version with my teacher -- should be fun.
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Recent adult re-starter... http://www.youtube.com/user/allanw
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