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#2169805 - 10/21/13 11:08 PM Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1?
A Guy Offline
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Registered: 10/15/13
Posts: 254
Loc: St Louis
What other chopin piece would you say it's closest in difficulty to? I realize this is a completely subjective question, it's just for my interest.
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2169814 - 10/21/13 11:35 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: A Guy
What other chopin piece would you say it's closest in difficulty to? I realize this is a completely subjective question, it's just for my interest.

Interesting question. smile

I don't think it's really comparable to anything, because I think it's impossible to talk meaningfully about degree of difficulty without also talking about type of difficulty, and there isn't really anything else like it.

If I had to pick something, I'd say the 2nd Scherzo, because it has sections that are sort of comparable in type.

Runner-up: Maybe the Winter Wind Etude (Op. 25 #11)

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#2169815 - 10/21/13 11:39 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
A Guy Offline
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idk in my opinion, the scherzo no. 2 seems harder. Idk, it's all subjective smile I like your answer of the winter wind étude though, the long line of notes and everything considered. Isn't it op. 25 though?
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2169817 - 10/21/13 11:41 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
Mark_C Online   content
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You're darn right it's Op. 25. grin

I made a mistake at first and wrote "23" because I had that opus number on my brain from the Rachmaninoff thread. I quickly corrected it, but you were too fast for me. ha

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#2169823 - 10/22/13 12:02 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
A Guy Offline
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Loc: St Louis
Haha ok smile
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2170187 - 10/22/13 05:36 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
dolce sfogato Offline
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It's incomparable to any other piece, even by Chopin, that's why it is a masterpiece.
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Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#2170195 - 10/22/13 05:48 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: dolce sfogato]
DanS Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
It's incomparable to any other piece, even by Chopin, that's why it is a masterpiece.


I always got the feeling that Saint Saens had this piece in mind when he wrote the Allegro Appassionato.
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2170196 - 10/22/13 05:50 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: dolce sfogato]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
It's incomparable to any other piece, even by Chopin, that's why it is a masterpiece.


Define incomparable.

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#2170200 - 10/22/13 05:54 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
dolce sfogato Offline
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UNIQUE
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Couperin pièces, Ravel tombeau de C

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#2170204 - 10/22/13 06:00 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: dolce sfogato]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
UNIQUE


Sure, it's unique, but not THAT unique. I could (and do) compare it to the other three. grin I feel that it's the weakest of the four, and rightfully so. He was experimenting with his new idea for the 'scherzo' and he was not quite in his mature phase yet.

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#2170211 - 10/22/13 06:15 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
ScriabinAddict Offline
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It's pretty damn difficult. Especially when taken at the indicated tempo (had editions that went up to 126(!) per dotted half). I would say it's my favorite of the 4, not too big on the e major unfortunately.


Edited by ScriabinAddict (10/22/13 06:29 PM)
Edit Reason: o

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#2170213 - 10/22/13 06:20 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: A Guy
What other chopin piece would you say it's closest in difficulty to? I realize this is a completely subjective question, it's just for my interest.
Baille divides Chopin's pieces into around seven difficulty levels. There are at least 30 pieces listed in highest level including all the Scherzi, Ballades, Sonatas, big Polonaises, and many of the Etudes. One might benefit from breaking her hardest group into say two groups, but attempting to be any more precise than that seems a pointless exercise to me.

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#2170216 - 10/22/13 06:38 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: ScriabinAddict]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
It's pretty damn difficult. Especially when taken at the indicated tempo (had editions that went up to 126(!) per dotted half). I would say it's my favorite of the 4, not too big on the e major unfortunately.

That's a problem. grin
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Polyphonist

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#2170235 - 10/22/13 07:16 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: ScriabinAddict]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
It's pretty damn difficult. Especially when taken at the indicated tempo (had editions that went up to 126(!) per dotted half). I would say it's my favorite of the 4, not too big on the e major unfortunately.


Whose recordings of the E major have you heard?

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#2170238 - 10/22/13 07:22 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: JoelW]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
It's pretty damn difficult. Especially when taken at the indicated tempo (had editions that went up to 126(!) per dotted half). I would say it's my favorite of the 4, not too big on the e major unfortunately.


Whose recordings of the E major have you heard?

Yeah, you probably don't like it because you haven't heard Bunin play it. grin
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Polyphonist

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#2170241 - 10/22/13 07:29 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Polyphonist]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
It's pretty damn difficult. Especially when taken at the indicated tempo (had editions that went up to 126(!) per dotted half). I would say it's my favorite of the 4, not too big on the e major unfortunately.


Whose recordings of the E major have you heard?

Yeah, you probably don't like it because you haven't heard Bunin play it. grin


You know me. But really, I didn't get this piece until I heard Bunin's. I'm a Bunin advocate, okay? grin One interpretation can make ALL the difference.

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#2170247 - 10/22/13 07:37 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: JoelW]
ScriabinAddict Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
It's pretty damn difficult. Especially when taken at the indicated tempo (had editions that went up to 126(!) per dotted half). I would say it's my favorite of the 4, not too big on the e major unfortunately.


Whose recordings of the E major have you heard?


Favorites would include the Godowsky, Moiseiwitsch, and the Bolet recording (Marston?). Still not a huge fan of the piece when compared with others in the set.

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#2170248 - 10/22/13 07:38 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: ScriabinAddict]
JoelW Offline
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Try Bunin's.

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#2170249 - 10/22/13 07:38 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: JoelW]
ScriabinAddict Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
One interpretation can make ALL the difference.

Exactly right.

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#2170985 - 10/24/13 01:32 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
jeffreyjones Offline
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The B minor Scherzo is just hard to control. I started learning it 20 years ago and I'm still haphazard at full speed - sometimes note perfect, sometimes all over the place. As with a lot of Chopin, accumulated tension is the main culprit.

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#2171134 - 10/24/13 09:16 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
Varcon Offline
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Try Josef Hofmann's recording of the first.

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#2171140 - 10/24/13 09:27 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
pianoloverus Offline
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Most of Chopin's important works have been recorded by hundreds of great pianists. One might prefer one performance over all the others one has heard up to that point, but I hardly think one must find that performance to understand a piece or decide if one likes one of these pieces.


Edited by pianoloverus (10/24/13 09:30 AM)

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#2171156 - 10/24/13 10:07 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Varcon]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Originally Posted By: Varcon
Try Josef Hofmann's recording of the first.


Richter's studio recording has the most amazing human touch. He softens the hard edges and the lullaby is so subtle and moving, it'll make a grown man like me cry.

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#2171211 - 10/24/13 11:47 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I feel like instead of asking the difficulty of pieces, it could be a little more helpful to ask the difficultIES of pieces. That way, you could get a variety of people's insights.

I am afraid I can't comment on this work, since I haven't really tried it.. But it seems like a lot of notes to wade through, especially at first. So... Many... Notes... I say "at first" because it also seems quite repetitive.

It may be rather awkward, too. Idk if all those fast figures are comfortable to play, especially at that speed.

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#2171214 - 10/24/13 11:50 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Orange Soda King]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7514
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I feel like instead of asking the difficulty of pieces, it could be a little more helpful to ask the difficultIES of pieces. That way, you could get a variety of people's insights.

I am afraid I can't comment on this work, since I haven't really tried it.. But it seems like a lot of notes to wade through, especially at first. So... Many... Notes... I say "at first" because it also seems quite repetitive.

It may be rather awkward, too. Idk if all those fast figures are comfortable to play, especially at that speed.

It is very pianistic. Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2171240 - 10/24/13 12:30 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Orange Soda King]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2290
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I feel like instead of asking the difficulty of pieces, it could be a little more helpful to ask the difficultIES of pieces. That way, you could get a variety of people's insights.

I am afraid I can't comment on this work, since I haven't really tried it.. But it seems like a lot of notes to wade through, especially at first. So... Many... Notes... I say "at first" because it also seems quite repetitive.

It may be rather awkward, too. Idk if all those fast figures are comfortable to play, especially at that speed.


With the right fingering it's a breeze, but I've played it for years and years so take that with a grain of salt. I went through a lot of "wrong" fingerings before finding the one that worked the best.

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#2171260 - 10/24/13 01:04 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
....Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
....With the right fingering it's a breeze....

With all enormous due respect to these fine members grin ....those things aren't true. At least not for everyone, and (I would say) not for most. The most we can say is that it "lies under the fingers" if you're unusually good at instantaneous stretching, leaping, and/or 'skipping.'

How good do you have to be at those things? Well, better than me ha and I don't stink.

Quote:
....but I've played it for years and years so take that with a grain of salt. I went through a lot of "wrong" fingerings before finding the one that worked the best.

Another reason to take it with a grain of salt is that perhaps your technique is far better than most. smile

Except for a very small minority of players, the piece is absolutely not "a breeze."


BTW Jeffrey, it would seem that what you just said is contradicted by the fact that a pretty good pianist said this just half a day ago: grin

Quote:
The B minor Scherzo is just hard to control. I started learning it 20 years ago and I'm still haphazard at full speed - sometimes note perfect, sometimes all over the place....

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#2171268 - 10/24/13 01:11 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
JoelW Offline
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At least it's not the 4th where you're basically playing Chopin-Mozart.

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#2171387 - 10/24/13 05:00 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Polyphonist]
Damon Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

It is very pianistic. Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.


Everything fits under the fingers.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2171514 - 10/24/13 09:54 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Damon]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

It is very pianistic. Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.
Everything fits under the fingers.

Yes indeed!

Other pieces that fit under the fingers: grin

Chopin Etude in 3rds
Beethoven Hammerklavier
Schumann Toccata
Liszt Foo Follets

I vacillate between laughing and shaking my head at people saying that hard pieces aren't that hard, which happens here pretty regularly.

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#2171516 - 10/24/13 10:06 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
A Guy Offline
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Registered: 10/15/13
Posts: 254
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

It is very pianistic. Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.
Everything fits under the fingers.

Yes indeed!

Other pieces that fit under the fingers: grin

Chopin Etude in 3rds
Beethoven Hammerklavier
Schumann Toccata
Liszt Foo Follets

I vacillate between laughing and shaking my head at people saying that hard pieces aren't that hard, which happens here pretty regularly.


What are you talking about!?? Hammerklavier sonata is really easy! Learned it as my first piece XD grin


Edited by A Guy (10/24/13 10:07 PM)
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2171531 - 10/24/13 10:49 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark C
...Liszt Feux Follets...

Or, as some like to spell it, Fo Fallay.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2171575 - 10/25/13 12:21 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Damon]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Damon

Everything fits under the fingers.

Assuming, of course, you have enough fingers. In playing the Franck organ works, I tend to run out of fingers, then it dawns on me: oh yeah, Franck must have had an extra finger on both hands.

And just ask Pogo- she has played the piano part of the violin sonata and knows what I mean!
_________________________
Jason

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#2171593 - 10/25/13 01:10 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Polyphonist]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
It is very pianistic. Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.


I think I see what you did there. The first two chords do, indeed, fit under the fingers quite easily.

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#2171594 - 10/25/13 01:14 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: jeffreyjones]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
It is very pianistic. Try the opening - it fits under the fingers very nicely.


I think I see what you did there. The first two chords do, indeed, fit under the fingers quite easily.


Don't forget the last two.

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#2171595 - 10/25/13 01:21 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mark_C Online   content
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JJ: No comment about your apparent contradiction? grin

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#2171600 - 10/25/13 01:32 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
JJ: No comment about your apparent contradiction? grin


Just because I don't think it's especially difficult, doesn't mean I will get it right every time!

Anyway, I play it at a breakneck speed, with a violent demeanor, and take lots of risks. At least I did in the recording I put up in the recordings forum today. If I tried to emulate Richter's studio recording, I would probably be more accurate.

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#2171604 - 10/25/13 01:44 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Just because I don't think it's especially difficult, doesn't mean I will get it right every time!

Here's hoping you said that with a smile. smile

This piece is very hard. It's not a snap or a breeze, with or without good fingerings. It takes a lot of work, and it's a bit treacherous even for the very best of players.

I think that about covers it. grin

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#2171606 - 10/25/13 01:50 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Just because I don't think it's especially difficult, doesn't mean I will get it right every time!

Here's hoping you said that with a smile. smile

This piece is very hard. It's not a snap or a breeze, with or without good fingerings. It takes a lot of work, and it's a bit treacherous even for the very best of players.

I think that about covers it. grin


If you say so. Between the 4 scherzi, I felt the first one was the easiest to learn and memorize, and most comfortable to play. The other three have difficulties that I have much more trouble overcoming, especially the E major.

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#2171607 - 10/25/13 01:57 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
....Between the 4 scherzi, I felt the first one was the easiest to learn and memorize, and most comfortable to play. The other three have difficulties that I have much more trouble overcoming, especially the E major.

Oy. ha

You think that negates any of what I said?


I happen to think the 3rd is less hard, but that doesn't matter. That's a very hard piece too.


BTW, I don't think "memorizing" is one of the greater challenges of these pieces, but even so, I wouldn't say they're a breeze to memorize. smile

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#2171613 - 10/25/13 02:06 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
JoelW Offline
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They're all so hard. Why are we fighting over this? grin

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#2171615 - 10/25/13 02:08 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
They're all so hard. Why are we fighting over this? grin

Because some people said it's not that hard, and they need to be shouted down to avoid having our esteemed site promulgate misinformation. grin

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#2171629 - 10/25/13 02:52 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
BDB Offline
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I believe that if you cannot figure out how difficult a piece is by yourself, it is too difficult for you.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2171631 - 10/25/13 02:55 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: BDB]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
I believe that if you cannot figure out how difficult a piece is by yourself, it is too difficult for you.


Non-sequitur.

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#2171633 - 10/25/13 02:56 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Online   content
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Actually it sequits quite fine. smile

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#2171634 - 10/25/13 02:58 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Actually it sequits quite fine. smile


I don't think so. smile

OP didn't ask us anything about whether or not he could play it..

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#2171638 - 10/25/13 03:04 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Actually it sequits quite fine. smile
I don't think so. OP didn't ask us anything about whether or not he could play it. smile

Well yeah. (I forgot.) ha
But BDB was only saying was what he was saying, and I said what I said about what he was saying. grin

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#2171643 - 10/25/13 03:21 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
BDB Offline
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Actually, difficulty can be measured on a scale of 2: 1 if you cannot play it, and 2 if you can. That makes as much sense as any other measure.
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#2171644 - 10/25/13 03:21 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
beet31425 Offline
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For what it's worth, here's my experience with this Scherzo:

For a while I struggled, a lot. I'd always thought of it as one of the most ferocious statements in music, and I struggled to convey that, while I struggled to get the notes. It was never in control, and always exhausting.

Then (under my teacher's guidance) I started playing it much quieter. Slightly more elegantly. I began to feel that, yes, it did fit under the fingers, and I saw that many of the phrases on the first page were just based on the B minor arpeggio. I began to play it very light, and fast, and lean-- and only then did I achieve the level of ferocity that I wanted from the beginning. It never became easy, but this new approach placed it under my control (and made it sound better).

-Jason
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Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2171646 - 10/25/13 03:25 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
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Oh well. As long as we're all just 'saying what we're saying' grin, I think everyone should learn the Impromptus before they play the larger works. I see them as an important segue. I think that a lot of students get a feeling of affirmation of their technique from conquering the posthumous one. Sadly, not enough go for the 2nd. I think it's even harder than the 4th. It's odd, really. It's hardly the kind of structure that his other three are. It's in a world of its own. I think I saw someone call it a 'mini-Ballade' here on PW some time ago. I like that. I wish he would have written more of these mini-Ballades with the same format. Maybe call title them "Ballade petit". grin

Would have been a lovely Chopin genre I think.

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#2171684 - 10/25/13 07:31 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: beet31425]
DanS Offline
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Then (under my teacher's guidance) I started playing it much quieter. Slightly more elegantly.


Yes! That's what people very often miss in Chopin, it needs elegance and grace. It should never sound like a bullfight.
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"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2171726 - 10/25/13 09:44 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: DanS]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: DanS
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Then (under my teacher's guidance) I started playing it much quieter. Slightly more elegantly.


Yes! That's what people very often miss in Chopin, it needs elegance and grace. It should never sound like a bullfight.
Surely that depends on which Chopin piece is under discussion. I'd say the Scherzo No.1 is one of his most angriest and most ferocious pieces. I think the poster you quoted was talking mostly how he improved his technical control of the piece. He says that "only then did I achieve the level of ferocity I wanted".


Edited by pianoloverus (10/25/13 09:46 AM)

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#2171731 - 10/25/13 10:01 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: DanS]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: DanS
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Then (under my teacher's guidance) I started playing it much quieter. Slightly more elegantly.


Yes! That's what people very often miss in Chopin, it needs elegance and grace. It should never sound like a bullfight.
Surely that depends on which Chopin work is being discussed. I think the Scherzo No.1 is one of his most angry and ferocious works, and "elegant" is not really part of the picture.

My impression is that the poster you quoted was describing how he developed the technical control for the piece. He said something to the effect that this was how he was able to achieve the level of ferocity he required.

Some other Chopin works or parts of works where I think elegance is not really part of the picture: Ballade No.2 except for the slow sections, codas of Ballades Nos. 1 and 4, much of Scherzo No.2, first two movements of Sonata Op. 35, Etudes Op. 25 Nos. 10-12, Preludes in D minor and B flat minor, middle section of Nocturne Op. 15 No.1, etc.

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#2171758 - 10/25/13 10:37 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
A Guy Offline
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Wow, everyone's contributing a lot to this discussion! Thanks to everyone! Regarding the questioning of whether I can play the piece: I THINK I can, but that is why I am asking this question. I have not played it before. I usually don't have a problem with the musicality aspects of chopin pieces, but obviously this piece does have a nasty technical side. Do you think the technique required is much more than the Prokofiev I'm playing (see signature)?

@BDB (I assume that comment was meant regarding me): I have not tried to play some of the notes, and I have spent around 30 seconds looking at the notes, and listened once to a youtube recording. I do not have time right now, since I'm preparing for a competition in 2 weeks smile

@JoelW: I, too, have only played the fantasie impromptu and not the others
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2171791 - 10/25/13 11:44 AM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: pianoloverus]
DanS Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: DanS
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Then (under my teacher's guidance) I started playing it much quieter. Slightly more elegantly.


Yes! That's what people very often miss in Chopin, it needs elegance and grace. It should never sound like a bullfight.
Surely that depends on which Chopin work is being discussed. I think the Scherzo No.1 is one of his most angry and ferocious works, and "elegant" is not really part of the picture.

My impression is that the poster you quoted was describing how he developed the technical control for the piece. He said something to the effect that this was how he was able to achieve the level of ferocity he required.

Some other Chopin works or parts of works where I think elegance is not really part of the picture: Ballade No.2 except for the slow sections, codas of Ballades Nos. 1 and 4, much of Scherzo No.2, first two movements of Sonata Op. 35, Etudes Op. 25 Nos. 10-12, Preludes in D minor and B flat minor, middle section of Nocturne Op. 15 No.1, etc.


Elegance isn't part of the picture, eh? Well, that's the great thing about music, we can all interpret it the way we like. We're free to play with grace or to bang our way through it. To each his own...
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2171808 - 10/25/13 12:18 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
BDB Offline
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If you are preparing for a competition, you should not be worrying about other pieces to play. Concentrate on your competition pieces. If you want to play other music for a change or a break, just play things that are fun and relaxing to play.
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#2171811 - 10/25/13 12:25 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
beet31425 Offline
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What I learned from my teacher in this particular piece was: the path to the most vicious, ferocious harrowing performance is, surprisingly, through elegance.

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2171812 - 10/25/13 12:28 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: BDB]
A Guy Offline
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Loc: St Louis
Originally Posted By: BDB
If you are preparing for a competition, you should not be worrying about other pieces to play. Concentrate on your competition pieces. If you want to play other music for a change or a break, just play things that are fun and relaxing to play.


Which is why I'm not worrying about it. I'm not playing the piece right now, and I don't think posting this thread on piano world is too much of a distraction.
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2171824 - 10/25/13 12:52 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
BDB Offline
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Aha! So this is all a ruse to distract your competition from concentrating on their preparation! smile
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#2171828 - 10/25/13 12:58 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: BDB]
A Guy Offline
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Registered: 10/15/13
Posts: 254
Loc: St Louis
Originally Posted By: BDB
Aha! So this is all a ruse to distract your competition from concentrating on their preparation! smile


You got it! grin
_________________________
Pieces:
Soler sonata r.48
Soler sonata r.78
Haydn Hob XVI 50 movement 1
Chopin Ballade 3
Liszt Hungarian rhapsody 8
York Bowen toccata

www.youtube.com/channel/UCKqmkVdn_41vKvDG-ELy0bg

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#2171860 - 10/25/13 02:07 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: DanS]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: DanS
Elegance isn't part of the picture, eh? Well, that's the great thing about music, we can all interpret it the way we like. We're free to play with grace or to bang our way through it. To each his own...
I don't think it's a choice between grace or banging our way through it. That's a false dichotomy that almost forces one to choose grace since most don't want to be accused of banging.

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#2171869 - 10/25/13 02:22 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the Scherzo No.1 is one of his most angry and ferocious works, and "elegant" is not really part of the picture.

My impression is that the poster you quoted was describing how he developed the technical control for the piece. He said something to the effect that this was how he was able to achieve the level of ferocity he required....

Agree on all counts -- but what I found most interesting about Jason's post was that he tied together what I consider two very different possible ways of viewing and playing the piece.

My first exposures to the piece were from recordings by Horowitz and Rubinstein. Horowitz's was as you said (brilliantly and frighteningly so); Rubinstein's was more elegant, a bit meditative. I much preferred Horowitz, that's what I felt the piece "is," and I had to wonder, 'What the heck is Rubinstein doing? That's not this piece.'

But years later, I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing Horszowski play the piece, at age 97 or so. (Rumor had it that he was actually 5 years older than that but didn't want people to think he was old.) grin
When I saw the Scherzo on the program, I wondered how a 97 year old could think of playing such a piece. What I heard was a revelation. He played it in a completely elegant, subdued, dreamlike way. It was transfixing, surely in part because you couldn't help appreciating the fact that this was a very old man doing this, but mainly because of how original and gorgeous it was.

If not for that performance, I wouldn't have much understood how Jason could have approached the piece as he did. And maybe I'm understanding it in a tilted way because of Horszowski, but anyway I'm understanding it. smile

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#2171881 - 10/25/13 02:47 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Offline
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Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Agree on all counts -- but what I found most interesting about Jason's post was that he tied together what I consider two very different possible ways of viewing and playing the piece.

My first exposures to the piece were from recordings by Horowitz and Rubinstein. Horowitz's was as you said (brilliantly and frighteningly so); Rubinstein's was more elegant, a bit meditative. I much preferred Horowitz, that's what I felt the piece "is," and I had to wonder, 'What the heck is Rubinstein doing? That's not this piece.'

But years later, I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing Horszowski play the piece, at age 97 or so. (Rumor had it that he was actually 5 years older than that but didn't want people to think he was old.) grin
When I saw the Scherzo on the program, I wondered how a 97 year old could think of playing such a piece. What I heard was a revelation. He played it in a completely elegant, subdued, dreamlike way. It was transfixing, surely in part because you couldn't help appreciating the fact that this was a very old man doing this, but mainly because of how original and gorgeous it was.

If not for that performance, I wouldn't have much understood how Jason could have approached the piece as he did. And maybe I'm understanding it in a tilted way because of Horszowski, but anyway I'm understanding it. smile


Interesting thoughts, Mark.

Here's another perspective on my approach. First, I sometimes think that there's a tremendous gulf between what the performer is actually doing and what the listener hears, so that performance becomes like a magic trick, in which the pianist is aware of all kinds of tricks behind-the-scene and the listener is only aware of the effect of those tricks. For example, sometimes to conquer a difficult passage I insert some small pauses to allow for hand repositioning. Eventually, at speed, the pauses aren't noticeable to the audience, but I still feel them, and they still help me. They're a trick for executing the passage that only I know about.

Similarly, I think, with "elegance" in this Scherzo-- for concreteness, look at the B-minor arpeggio at the end of the 2nd measure after the opening chords. It's a beautiful, graceful phrase, and hearing its beauty, and therefore playing it lightly and not forcefully, greatly helped me bring this piece up to speed. Once it was there, ferocity was quite easy to add-- given the speed and the raw power of the notes themselves, a little goes a long way-- and I think the audience mainly hears ferocity. But I'm still hearing it through that elegant foundation I used-- it's my trick, and the audience probably doesn't know just how delicately I'm experiencing this very harrowing music.

But if you go for the ferocity directly, as I tried to do for a while, the piece becomes clumsy, tiring, hard to control.

I'll even make one of those annoyingly unprovable statements here, and say that perhaps the great pianists who do play this Scherzo ferociously actually have elegance and lightness built into their conception and practice of the work. We don't hear it, and maybe they're not even aware of it-- they are natural talents, after all. But I think it's there. I even think that a kind of lightness is there in almost *all* fast passagework at its core-- heaviness and ferocity, if they're desired, are added "on top".

-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2171887 - 10/25/13 03:09 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: beet31425]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Here's another perspective on my approach. First, I sometimes think that there's a tremendous gulf between what the performer is actually doing and what the listener hears, so that performance becomes like a magic trick, in which the pianist is aware of all kinds of tricks behind-the-scene and the listener is only aware of the effect of those tricks. For example, sometimes to conquer a difficult passage I insert some small pauses to allow for hand repositioning. Eventually, at speed, the pauses aren't noticeable to the audience, but I still feel them, and they still help me. They're a trick for executing the passage that only I know about.

Similarly, I think, with "elegance" in this Scherzo-- for concreteness, look at the B-minor arpeggio at the end of the 2nd measure after the opening chords. It's a beautiful, graceful phrase, and hearing its beauty, and therefore playing it lightly and not forcefully, greatly helped me bring this piece up to speed. Once it was there, ferocity was quite easy to add-- given the speed and the raw power of the notes themselves, a little goes a long way-- and I think the audience mainly hears ferocity. But I'm still hearing it through that elegant foundation I used-- it's my trick, and the audience probably doesn't know just how delicately I'm experiencing this very harrowing music.

But if you go for the ferocity directly, as I tried to do for a while, the piece becomes clumsy, tiring, hard to control.

I'll even make one of those annoyingly unprovable statements here, and say that perhaps the great pianists who do play this Scherzo ferociously actually have elegance and lightness built into their conception and practice of the work. We don't hear it, and maybe they're not even aware of it-- they are natural talents, after all. But I think it's there. I even think that a kind of lightness is there in almost *all* fast passagework at its core-- heaviness and ferocity, if they're desired, are added "on top".

-Jason
To me this is mostly saying you found some tricks to help you solve the technical problems in this piece, but the bottom line is that you think it is a ferocious piece. IMO it's one of Chopin's most consistently ferocious pieces, and almost impossible to classify otherwise. I remember Janina Fialkowska saying in a master class that it was important to use a fair amount of body language when playing the opening chords because this was one of Chopin's most violent works.


Edited by pianoloverus (10/25/13 03:11 PM)

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#2172088 - 10/25/13 10:36 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: Mark_C]
Mark_C Online   content
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Afterthought about what piece has a comparable kind of difficulty:

Our guy asked for other Chopin pieces but I'm going to ignore the Chopin part of it, and give a "comp" that might seem bizarre, and I'm not sure it isn't. ha

I recently read an article on Nancy Williams' website, which is known to some people here. (I'll be posting about the article in a separate thread.) Something from that article made me think of this other piece in relation to the Scherzo. I'll bypass the details here and just get to the point at hand (literally). grin

Before, I said:

Quote:
I think it's impossible to talk meaningfully about degree of difficulty without also talking about type of difficulty, and there isn't really anything else like it.


Well, something else like it did pop into my mind. Nancy's article seemed to highlight the way in which pieces of very different natures can be more similar than they seem, and it struck me that at times we may only realize it by seeing that the hand is doing a similar kind of thing.

In that light, I offer my off-the-wall nomination for 'technical challenge most similar to the 1st Scherzo' (and I'm serious!):

Click to reveal..



I suspect that most people would think right off the bat that this other piece can't possibly be a meaningful comp because it's not nearly as hard. But I think it is indeed comparably hard, and for what it's worth, for me it happens to be much harder.

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#2172089 - 10/25/13 10:45 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
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Loc: USA
God, that is seriously the best Prelude and Fugue he wrote. Both are absolutely perfect.. and the end of the Fugue is so noble, so powerful, as if he was composing for royalty. Very moving. Agghhh... The BEST!

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#2172365 - 10/26/13 01:16 PM Re: Difficulty of Chopin Scherzo 1? [Re: A Guy]
Pathbreaker Offline
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Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1036
Loc: Massachusetts
That's awesome. And I was completely distracted and mesmerized by the scrolling guitar hero notation.

I agree with playing softly and gracefully in addition to playing slowly when learning difficult passages. It definitely helps me to understand my phrasing and playing louder or fiercer can be "added on top" later. It has the added bonus of ensuring that you don't hurt yourself from over-practice.

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