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#2121013 - 07/21/13 01:25 PM Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1962
Ok, this one has considerably less work invested in it, and is ragged in quite a few places.

But maybe if I solicit some suggestions now, I can focus how I polish it up better? I'm not sure whether this is a good idea or not.

Anyway, the first one has more of a tempo I want, but the second one has more smoothness in the trills and the runs at the end. Not that either one represents an end result I'm happy with yet, though.

I guess my main questions are these:

First, with regard to tempo. Am I correct in thinking the first one has a better pace to it?

Second, pacing/control/rubato... And I'm afraid to build too much rubato into it, lest it sound too affected, which is easy to do when your technique lacks. but suffice it to say, I would probably linger more here and there and do a little more give and take with the tension.

Third, I'm flummoxed by the beginning chords, as well as the middle part, as you can definitely hear. Consequently, both the beginning and middle in each piece are both different from each other, and they all lack a clear sense of purpose/shape, which makes sense since the player doesn't have one yet.

With regard to the middle section, I like it quick-paced, I think; playful but with a little emphasis on the slight tension the natural notes add, and then quieting down back into the tranquility of the rest of the piece. My version does not have a top voice, like I sometimes hear, but I think I like it this way anyway. Regardless, I'm not brave enough to really hit that section like I would want to, mostly because I'm not sure if my interpretation makes sense or not.

For the opening part, I think I like a clear rest between the chords at the beginning, like written (I often hear it sustained throughout) but I'm at a loss for how to cut the sound after the chord between the two chord pattern repeats, as well as how to transition from the end of the second repeat into the first notes of the main theme. It is jarring as played, but I don't know how to fix it without taking liberties with the rests.

Both have mistakes, I know this! smile And both suffer from unevenness and general nervousness and tension.

First effort:


Second effort:


#2121107 - 07/21/13 04:11 PM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20105
Loc: Victoria, BC
As far as tempo is concerned - and for my taste - your second version has much more coherence and structure to it. The slower tempo of the first version suffers from fluctuations in tempo that suggest a lack of a real sense of the basic rhythm of the piece. The second version is surely not too fast; it seems more "right" than the first version.

I will concentrate my comments on the second version, therefor. I sincerely hope that they will come across as constructive comments and not criticisms; your general sense of the work is quite lovely.

At measure 19, give the first beat quarter-note its full value; similarly at measures 23 and 24, give the first beat eighth-notes their full value. These beats are slightly rushed.

You need to pay more attention to the timing in the section that begins at measure 31. Yes, it is quite justified in increasing the tempo as you have done, but your note values are not accurate : Whatever overall tempo you decide for this section, one must still hear a distinctive three beats per bar in this "mazurka-like" section. I suggest you work this out carefully with a metronome, scrupulously observing that the triplet is not rushed but completely fills the beat and that you fully observe the dotted quarter on the second beat of measures 32, 35, 36, 38 and 40. After that, don't short-change the eighth-note at the end of those measures.

The last note of measure 43 is a quarter note; don't hold it for more than it's value because, as you do, it loses its function as a "pick-up" to the G-sharp in the next measure.

Occasionally - but not always - the top note of the broken chord in the LH (usually on beats two and four) sticks out a little. You will need to work a bit on keeping the left-hand notes smooth and connected without any "bumps" in the figuration. That said, generally speaking, your overall balance between the hands is really very good.

While we all need to slow down the tempo slightly to accommodate the runs in measures 55 and 56, I think you begin to slow down too soon and, even allowing for the necessity of accommodating those runs, the ending begins to drag. There is no rall. marking in the score until measure 58.

One thing you might experiment with : In your long trills in measures 9 and particularly in measure 54, you might think of shaping them a little, both in dynamics and in the speed of the trill. At the moment, the trill in measure 54 has no musical "meaning," and I think it would gain in that respect if you started in slower, sped it up a little as you make your crescendo into the middle of the measure, and then slow it down at the end so that we distinctly hear the final C-sharp grace note leading into measure 55. Just a thought.

Again, I think that you are showing fine sensitivity in your performance of this work.

Thank you for sharing and for being brave enough to do so.

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#2121181 - 07/21/13 05:54 PM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1962
Thanks for the detailed breakdown! Just the kind of feedback I was hoping to get. I appreciate all the time you took to listen and analyze.

I will put your advice to work tomorrow. The gin and tonic currently in my system is not likely to encourage careful attention to detail. Here in Spain, it isn't a proper weekend night without a gint├│nic--they sort of reinvented the whole thing and now it's super trendy. Anyway, I only had one, but at my size (small) and frequency of drinking anything at all (even smaller) its presence most likely prevents me from making any real improvement until my liver takes care of business.

Or maybe this is my chance to just knock it out of the park without all the nervousness and baggage.


As Homer Simpson so astutely said: Ah, [liquor]. The cause of, and the solution to, all life's problems.

Or, as I just made up: ¡Poco toco cuando no foco! (Or: I play very little when I don't have the focus. It clearly rhymes a lot better in Spanish.)

#2121451 - 07/22/13 10:14 AM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1962
Ok, I just redid that middle section, and you're entirely correct that the rhythm was off in several respects.

I hope this is rhythmically correct, and if so, on to a better shape and sound to it. The edition I have sure seems to indicate it should be a fairly quiet section (no louder than p, and then dim into a rall.) And, what's more, there's no indicated pedal and some clear rests so I'm guessing this is meant to be unpedaled and the rests are there to give it a jumpy little quality. However, I have heard it a million different ways. Everybody has their own approach, or none at all, sometimes (several recordings sound, to me, as if the player would prefer this section didn't exist at all).

Anyway, for right now, I played it quietly (other than landing like an elephant into it in the first measure), but used pedal, didn't pull out any particular notes so I guess I will have to figure out the final approach here before dropping it into the piece. I led into it starting at the last measure of the sotto voce phrase, just so I don't get too comfortable playing it out of context.


#2121472 - 07/22/13 11:02 AM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20105
Loc: Victoria, BC
TS :

Eleanor Bailie in her book on playing Chopin's works [1] cites the editor of the Paderewski edition of Chopin's works concerning pedalling. Without quoting at length what they both have to say, it boils down to this :

Chopin often indicated in detail the pedalling that he requires, but one must keep in mind that Chopin's piano was much less resonant than our modern grand, meaning that we must consider Chopin's pedal indications judiciously. Furthermore, when Chopin does not indicate pedalling in certain sections of his works, it can mean one of two things :
1) Pedalling is so obvious that it is unnecessary to indicate its use, or
2) Pedalling is so complex that to try to annotate it in the score would be cumbersome and inaccurate.

The result, then, is that one should use the pedal depending upon one's own artistic discretion bearing in mind the resonance of the particular piano one is playing and the acoustics of the room in which one is playing.

The "bottom line" in pedalling in Chopin is : lack of damper pedal indication in the score does not mean that no pedal should be used.

The timing in this section now is much closer to what is written in the score.

You are right about the degree of volume in this section; according to the Urtext, it is to be played softly (starting p), with a diminuendo starting at measure 32 and an indication of sempre piu piano at measure 37 and a rallentando starting at measure 38.

[1] Bailie, Eleanor. The Pianist's Repertoire; Chopin: A graded practical guide. London, Kahn & Averill 1998 (reprint 2000, 2005).

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#2121520 - 07/22/13 01:30 PM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1962
Very illuminating, thank you. I will figure out what sounds best to me, and hopefully it is something that also happens to be a valid interpretation.

I have also made a lot of progress on the fast run at the end; I'll get a recording up if I can.

The only other thing I wanted to ask was that with regard to the comments you made here:

At measure 19, give the first beat quarter-note its full value; similarly at measures 23 and 24, give the first beat eighth-notes their full value. These beats are slightly rushed.

I think our scores may have different measure numbers. Measure 19 for me is the penultimate measure before the first major resolution. Measure 21 then starts in a major at that ppp section on a quarter note E which is what I suspect you're referring to as measure 19, and then it goes to its relative minor (f sharp melodic) with an eighth note on (middle) c-sharp, and again a measure later at the c-sharp an octave higher. Are those the three rushed notes you're referring to?

#2121533 - 07/22/13 01:54 PM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20105
Loc: Victoria, BC
I'm using the Henle edition which gives two version of this Nocturne. In the first version, measure 1 goes from the top note C-sharp all the way down to the G-sharp before the melody begins. The measure has a repeat, so it counts as measures one and two.

In the second version, that same measure is written as four measures without repeat.

So, yes, reading from Version 1, my reference to measure 19 is measure 21 in the second (your) version. This "infamous" second version also has, starting at (your) measure 21 a time signature of 3/4 in the right hand while the left hand continues in 4/4 (cut).

Yes, those were the notes : E, middle C-sharp and the C-sharp an octave above to which I was referring.

Henle says this :

"The posthumous nocturne in c # minor exists in the form of an autograph, several manuscript copies, a first edition, and an early impression. There is an interesting passage in the autograph in which the time signature of the right hand is 3/4 and that of the left hand 4/4. The other sources - which by the way are more fully marked than the autograph - retain in this passage the 4/4 time-signature for both hands. In comparison to the natural rhythmic flow of the Chopin line, this reading seems more constrained however, and one gains the impression that copyists and publishers, not being quite sure of the then rather unusual feature of a different time-signature for each hand, sought for this very reason to provide independent solutions. It is for the purpose of comparison that two versions of this nocturne are given in the present edition."

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#2121540 - 07/22/13 02:23 PM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1962
Ha, well, I've got the Wiener, and it changes from common time to 5/4 for the measure leading into the first triplet, and then both hands go to 3/4 and stay there until it's back to common time for the adagio upsweep. If I had a scanner on me, I'd show you but, ah well.

I just recorded a really nice version, with the correct rhythm on the middle section, a fairly nice even run, a better elongated trill, and showing some more controlled use of rubato, so then my brain was screaming "omgyoudiditbringithome!" which meant I utterly plonked a nice couple of honkers on the last measure.


I am my own worst enemy sometimes.

#2121628 - 07/22/13 06:54 PM Re: Chopin c sharp nocturne, two versions [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1962
Ok, I managed to record a version that does its best to address the issues you pointed out. It's not my best response to each issue (in isolation, they are all much more to my liking), but it's the best "whole piece" version, and I don't really count whether I can do them perfectly as a parlor trick outside of the whole piece.

I really have to overcome general anxiety so I can successfully play a piece start to finish with some confidence. Otherwise I just get very tense and mistake-prone. Or way too timid.

Anyway, here it is as it stands.

1) The opening line is still not settling in with me in a way I understand and feel in control of.

2) There are a few errors; I hear them, but it was actually huge for me not to grind to a total and utter halt over them. I will eliminate them in short order.

3) The middle section is shaky because I was deathly afraid of really blowing it and having to start over. Consequently, I don't think I really give it a good even energy in this version because my entire brain is consumed with not self-destructing entirely. But suffice it to say, I see the rhythm now and pretty much know where I want to go with it.

4) The trills are only so-so. I practiced a lot today, and my right hand is really tired! With the longer trills in 9 and 54, I played a bit with speed and changing dynamic as you suggested (a swell, some rubato; something to give it motion, interest and a real sense of purpose since it really anchors the ends of some important phrases), but those examples are not in this. They're ok, possibly better than before, but not as good as they can be. Some trills are kind of swallowed and indistinct, mostly as a result of hand fatigue.

5) Same goes for the long run in terms of hand fatigue. There are some really nice versions of it earlier this evening as per your corrections, but of course none are in a largely competent example of the whole piece. Anyway, I did some of those pattern exercises and ended up with more dynamic control and even attack. I was really proud of myself! I'm hoping over the next few days I can make the push to the finish line so that I can just rely on it to just...go when I need it to.

6) I think I made some progress on the rushing issue in measure 19/21/etc. Tell me what you think.

7) I lost my rudder, I think, on some of the rall. arpeggios I think. They don't sound even, deliberate, and well-matched to what comes before and after to me, but again I think it's just fatigue.

But this version isn't terrible, I don't think. I think it's an improvement. I think it sounds more confident and controlled overall, even if it there are some places that could use major improvement. But I actually feel like I may actually be able to polish it up. And that's really, to me, a huge thing. I was quite convinced there were more than a few aspects of this piece that put it firmly out of my ability to consider playing it.

I appreciate all the help. I think my teacher will be pleased to see what I managed to do with it in her absence, and I'll give credit to you for pitching in!

Without further ado, here's the "best version that doesn't have any horrifying fatal flaws in it, but isn't the most inspiring example of all aspects of it."



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