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#404367 - 12/30/01 08:34 PM Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
Aura Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 92
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Dear people,

I'm learning the 2nd Ballade of Chopin and find that by the last two pages (the Agitato coda) I am very tense and this impairs my ability to play it fast and clearly. Has anyone got any suggestions on how to play the fast passages in this Ballade with a relaxed arm - ways of practising it to avoid this problem - or just any suggestions or comments on this piece in general?

Would be greatly appreciated.

Happy New Year,

Aura
_________________________
cheers

Aura

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#404368 - 12/30/01 10:06 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
haha... you're not the only one learning this ballade right now... \:\)

honestly, i can't give you much advice on this... since i'm not experiencing this particular problem... but maybe you could practise the coda slowly and relaxed a few times before working it up to speed... i don't know... i'm sure the others will have advice for you...

the main problem i have with this ballade is the last few bits of the coda, where the right hand is playing rather 'jumpy' chords leading to the climax just before 'Tempo I'... i just can't hit those chords accurately and that really spoils the whole thing... any ideas on this?

btw... melbourne is a really nice place... i was there in winter of 97... the buildings, the people... the atmosphere of it all was just magical... i miss melbourne..

[ December 30, 2001: Message edited by: magnezium ]

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#404369 - 12/30/01 10:07 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
Hi Aura,

I haven't played this one, but looking at it briefly, I can imagine that much of the problem is having to play the final agitato while being already tired from preceeding presto con fuoco. You might try practicing just these last two sections back to back a few times before running through the entire piece.

Does the first presto con fuoco make you tired? It has alot of runny LH scales which you may be playing with too much "weight transfer" arm weight?

At the beginning of the agitato, do you break the four slurred chords in the RH into two "down up's"?

Those trills before the agitato are wild, aren't they!
\:\)

[ December 30, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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#404370 - 12/31/01 01:46 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
Amy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 433
Loc: Upstate New York
I am also working on this piece! I haven't done all that much with it since I'm busy getting ready for auditions with other pieces. I have played through the coda a few times now and my guess is that you are trying to play so loud that you are playing tense. I would recommend that you play through it VERY slowly and concentrate on relaxing your hands. Before you move on to another note, make sure that everything is relaxed. It will take some time to relax enough to play it comfortably. Are you having the same problem at the presto sections? Its great that the three of us are all working on this piece! We'll have to keep discussing our problems with it as we progress.
_________________________
-Amy-
*Visit my page! http://www.expage.com/pianopalace

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#404371 - 12/31/01 07:37 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
I've been thinking about taking on a new, big Chopin piece. So, I think I'll work on the second ballade, too.

Perhaps we could form the P W P C C S B S G:
the Piano World Pianists' Corner Chopin Second Ballade Study Group--sort of like the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, except it will take longer than a month (for me) to learn this.

For the international crowd, Oprah Winfrey has an American television talk show and has her audience read her favorite books, to be discussed on-air once a month, between having guest psychologists. :rolleyes:

[ December 31, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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#404372 - 01/01/02 06:23 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
Amy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 433
Loc: Upstate New York
hahaha! Thats our group!!
It'll take more than a month for all of us to learn it!
_________________________
-Amy-
*Visit my page! http://www.expage.com/pianopalace

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#404373 - 01/02/02 02:18 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
Aura Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 92
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Dear magnesium,

 Quote:
the main problem i have with this ballade is the last few bits of the coda, where the right hand is playing rather 'jumpy' chords leading to the climax just before 'Tempo I'... i just can't hit those chords accurately and that really spoils the whole thing... any ideas on this?


Ah, these jumpy bits are incredibly difficult for me! You see, I have extremely small hands (can barely stretch an octave) and the whole piece is murder (as with all other pieces excluding Mozart - immensely annoying, as you can imagine!) but this part is certainly causing me much grief!! I spoke to my teacher about this and he suggested an approach which I find very helpful, altho' I'm yet to master it at full speed. basically I think you'll find that the reason you can't hit the chords accurately (particularly the LAST chord in every group of six, right???) is that you're thinking ahead very anxiously about getting your hand into position for the next group. You're probably also a little tense and moving your hand is slightly impaired by this psychological barrier.

At a slow speed, practise putting your hand into closed position on the second semiquaver in the group of six (i.e. the first chord you come to in the group - first time it appears is f#, a, b). This will allow your thumb to smoothly move to the highest note to play the next part of the group. Don't close your hand and the top, but keep it open, lifting the hand up and totally relaxing it on the last chord in the group. Relaxing your hand momentarily here and actually lifting it away from the keys will keep the next group relaxed... and so on. I hope I've explained that properly. I think playing eachgroup of "jumpy" chords like that will help... as I say, I'm still trying...

I hope that helps.

Just a few questions of my own:

How fast are you playing the presto sections??? Approximate metronome speed?

Don't you find yourself tired by the Agitato section (coda)? I'm wondering just how to get that right... I feel very tired by that time and find it difficult to play the right-hand part fast.

OK, best of luck!

cheers
_________________________
cheers

Aura

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#404374 - 01/02/02 09:29 AM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
thanks a lot for the advice Aura. I'll have to try it out tomorrow and see what happens...

 Quote:
Originally posted by Aura:
How fast are you playing the presto sections??? Approximate metronome speed? [/b]


sorry... i don't have a metronome...

 Quote:
Don't you find yourself tired by the Agitato section (coda)? I'm wondering just how to get that right... I feel very tired by that time and find it difficult to play the right-hand part fast.[/b]


maybe the reason why i'm not really getting tired is because my hands are really moving alot, jumping here and there... this seems to be less tiring than trying to play loud and with minimal hand movement... maybe the excess hand movement removes built-up lactic acid or something, i wouldn't know... but it does seem to help to really relax and just throw your hands... though it isn't always accurate, which is why i'm having problems with that last bit...

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#404375 - 01/02/02 09:59 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
Aura Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 92
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Dear MacDuff,

Thank you for your advice.

I actually don't get tired after the first presto con fuoco, but the last one just before the agitato coda does tire me somwhat and then the agitato becomes a wash of blurry nonsense(!) I think the main problem is the part where the RH plays repeated notes in the top part and a descending melody in the lower part (and the LH descends by semitones each time...) At that point, my RH gets into a "locked" position playing the repeated noted... my forearm gets very tense, and the result is of course awful... have you got any advice on a technique to use when playing this section of the coda?

Yes, I am breaking up the four slurred semiquavers into two "down ups" - again, your advice is excellent - this is what my teacher told me also.

Well, this Ballade only has until the 14th of january to get to performance standard... aaaaargh! I'm in a Piano Summer School at ther academy of music here, and have to perform it to visiting pianists from Europe and China on the FIRST DAY!!

it's a great piece - but the looming performance is a little to close for comfort.
I also have to play the Les Adieux sonata of beethoven (a few questions on that for you as well... another post perhaps) the 457 sonata of Mozart, Waldesrauschen of Liszt... and a few other things that are equally stressful.

best of luck!

cheers
_________________________
cheers

Aura

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#404376 - 01/03/02 04:41 PM Re: Chopin Ballade No. 2 problems
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Aura:

I think the main problem is the part where the RH plays repeated notes in the top part and a descending melody in the lower part (and the LH descends by semitones each time...) At that point, my RH gets into a "locked" position playing the repeated noted... my forearm gets very tense, and the result is of course awful... have you got any advice on a technique to use when playing this section of the coda? [/b]


Gee, this is hard to diagnose "at distance" and close to the performance date. I'm sure your teacher doesn't want some idiot half the world away messing you up! \:\)

Are you leaning toward (rotating the forearm toward) the fifth finger too much? The sound will build up such that you don't really need to work hard to play these passages extremely loud. Would practicing this very lightly staccato with a quiet forearm and more wrist action help? Some suble fingering changes might help, but at this stage of the game, all fingering changes will have to wait until after the upcoming performance.

You are fortunate to be playing such advanced literature. It's common to hear Chopin played as blur and fury. Sometimes you just have to plow through and tack on a real charming quiet ending!

[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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