Chopin Ballades

Posted by: im@me

Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 10:10 AM

Can anyone order the Chopin Ballades in order of technical difficulty, then general difficulty thanks
Posted by: debrucey

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 10:38 AM

Nope. Nobody can do such a thing.
Posted by: spk

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 10:52 AM

in my experience learning them, i thought the last was most technically difficult. everybody has their own technical strengths and weaknesses though.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 10:58 AM

Originally Posted By: spk
[...] everybody has their own technical strengths and weaknesses though.


And therein lies the very reason that it makes little sense to try to rank in order of difficulty pieces that are, as a whole, very difficult. It's not as though one were comparing a Bach minuet with a Rachmaninoff concerto!

Regards,
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 12:45 PM

Why do you ask?
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 12:49 PM

If you have to ask, then you're probably not ready for any of them. The Third is the least problematic, but I found the counting and rhythmical issues to be fairly tricky.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 12:57 PM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
If you have to ask, then you're probably not ready for any of them.

That's what I think whenever I see a thread like this, but I assume it's not necessarily right.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 01:11 PM

I attempted the 4th Ballade but got bogged down half way through. My teacher suggested I wait a while before going back to it.

He then assigned me the 3rd Ballade. I'm tying together the last challenges of it. The last 5 pages are a blast to play but I'm still not getting clarity and accuracy on some of the large chordal passages. I'd have say the 3rd is easier than the 4th but that doesn't mean it's easy.

I wonder what happened to WiseIdiot? He was attempting the 3rd but I had the impression he was in over his head. I wonder how he did? He hasn't posted since September.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 01:17 PM

I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 01:30 PM

I think there are very easy parts in all of them, but overall, when the going gets tough, I think the first and last are slightly harder than the other two. But what do I know? I can only play the easy parts of them anyway. I know Horowitz avoided the fourth, playing the first all the time in concerts. I think he chose his pieces carefully and kept his performing list smaller than a lot of other pianists, but there must have been something about the fourth that he didn't like, or worried about. I like it the best, personally.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 01:54 PM

Horowitz played the 4th Ballade but I think earlier in his career. I believe his recording is on YouTube.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 03:13 PM

Chopin writes pianistically-problematic codas for his larger works, so expect all of the Ballades to become ridiculously awkward when the notes get quicker at the end.
Posted by: LaReginadellaNotte

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 03:13 PM

Horowitz has at least two commercial recordings of the 4th Ballade (one from his 1981 Met recital) and several non-commercial ones. He obviously did not have any technical problems with the work. Perhaps he didn't like the 4th Ballade as much as the 1st Ballade, or perhaps he wasn't interpretively comfortable with the 4th Ballade (the most profound of Chopin's works).

Regarding the thread question, I think that most pianists would agree that the 4th Ballade is the most technically and musically demanding, while the 3rd Ballade is the least technically demanding. The debatable issue is whether the 1st Ballade is harder than the 2nd Ballade.
Posted by: Batuhan

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 03:14 PM

According to my experience ( I studied all Ballades )

technical difficulty:

No. 2 > No. 1 > No. 4 > No. 3
hardest

musical difficulty:

No. 3 > No. 4 > No. 1 > No. 2
hardest

rhythmic difficulty:

No. 3 > No. 1 > No. 4 > No. 2
hardest

So "IMO" skip No. 2 and No. 3 ( cause they are, I think above your level, I guess )

Choose No. 1 or No. 4

But their codas require mature technique.

@Joel_W

Scherzos are harder than ballades. Especially Scherzo no. 4 and no. 1 are devilishly hard.
Posted by: sophial

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 03:18 PM

I would rank 4 over the others on musical difficulty and interpretive difficulty as well as technical. Then 1. Numbers 2 and 3 less so than the others.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

IMO the 4th Scherzo is a greater technical challenge than any of the Ballades.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 03:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I think there are very easy parts in all of them....

Not really. smile

Quote:
....I know Horowitz avoided the fourth....

He recorded it, and performed it many times.

Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
....Perhaps he didn't like the 4th Ballade as much as the 3rd Ballade, or perhaps he wasn't interpretively comfortable with the 4th Ballade....

I don't think there's any reason to think that. And BTW I don't know that he gave any more attention to the 3rd than to the 4th.

Actually I think the one he played least was the 2nd.
Posted by: Damon

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 04:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I think there are very easy parts in all of them....

Not really. smile


Spoken like a true Chopiniac. Still I think the OP would be least likely to butcher the 3rd one...maybe.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 04:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

IMO the 4th Scherzo is a greater technical challenge than any of the Ballades.


For you!
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 05:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.


Why not simply learn some of the more difficult Preludes, Impromptus, Mazurkas or whatever. Why "all four" of the Scherzi ??? Are they really a "prerequisite" for the Ballades??? smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 05:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.

IMO the 4th Scherzo is a greater technical challenge than any of the Ballades.

For you!

Well yeah!
Or maybe I just handle the Ballades unusually well. ha

But seriously folks....what I said about the 4th Scherzo is far from an idiosyncratic view. smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 05:59 PM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I would learn all four scherzi before any of the ballades.


Why not simply learn some of the more difficult Preludes, Impromptus, Mazurkas or whatever. Why "all four" of the Scherzi ??? Are they really a "prerequisite" for the Ballades??? smile



Well, for technique, of course not. But I think that the scherzi are musically less challenging than the ballades. I think tackling one or two of the scherzi before any of the ballades is a good idea. Once a pianist can make a scherzi come together as a whole, then it's time for one of the ballades. I don't think it must be done that way but I just think it's a good idea.

Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 06:21 PM

They're all staggeringly difficult. Don't buy into this "technically more difficult" or "musically more difficult" talk. They are all staggeringly difficult in both regards. Also, what makes something more difficult than something else, especially with pieces these difficult, is entirely different for you than it is for me.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
[...]Once a pianist can make a scherzi scherzo come together as a whole [...]


scherzo - singular
scherzi - plural
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 07:54 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
[...]Once a pianist can make a scherzi scherzo come together as a whole [...]


scherzo - singular
scherzi - plural


Whoops, made a typi. Thanks, Bruce.
Posted by: celegorma

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 08:11 PM

The ballades are so difficult because there are so many sections and themes its very hard to hold them together. Often performances sound fragmented and as if the pianist is playing many different pieces together. The technical difficult is immense too. But I would say for someone who has never attempted a Ballade before, start with Ballade 1.

Ballade 1 is the most straight forward to begin with. Its not the most difficult in all aspects. Put in some work and it will sound decent.
Ballade 2 is too technically difficult.
Ballade 3 is very hard to "narrate" with and people often lost the plot somewhere in the middle. Ballade 4 is most difficult all round.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 11:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
They're all staggeringly difficult. Don't buy into this "technically more difficult" or "musically more difficult" talk. They are all staggeringly difficult in both regards. Also, what makes something more difficult than something else, especially with pieces these difficult, is entirely different for you than it is for me.

thumb thumb
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 11:32 PM

Mark, I believe you have written an entire wall of text concerning the 4th scherzo's transcending difficulty, but I have no idea where to find it. What about it is more difficult for you than the rest of the ballades or scherzi? (and don't hesitate to write another wall of text) smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/24/12 11:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Mark, I believe you have talked about the 4th scherzo before. What about it is more difficult for you than the rest of the ballades or scherzi?

I was hoping somebody would ask. smile

Some of it is hard to describe so I'll save it for last. The easy part to describe is, the passagework is so crystalline and transparent (unless you slosh it all with the pedal, in which case you're not really playing the piece), and so, IMO more so than in any other Chopin piece, the slightest imperfections, especially in evenness, will, ahem, shine through. smile In order to do the piece even half-justice -- or, if you don't want to see it that way, in order not to embarrass yourself -- you need the highest level of technique, aural sensitivity (because without that, even the highest level of technique will somewhat fail you), and poise. In this respect, the piece combines the challenges of playing Mozart with the challenges of Romanticism, and IMO it combines these challenges more than absolutely any other piano piece. (I'm open to suggestions of other pieces that would vie with this Scherzo; I'm sure some pieces of Liszt would be up there. But to me, this piece outstrips them all on this count.)

Now for the aspect that's harder to describe: There are some little brief places which (a) are extremely awkward, and (b) require complex voicing and/or coordination between the hands. Well actually they're not awkward and don't require complex voicing or coordination if you don't care about what's going on and don't care to try to make sense of it. grin
But if you do, the mere 'fingers' aspects are very hard, and even harder if you're trying to make music. The main example that occurs to me is the snippet from 8:29 to 8:32 on here (I'd give measure numbers but don't have them handy):



I'm sure it won't sound like much of anything to most people, but all I can say is, try it! -- and see if you can get it up to some semblance of tempo while feeling like you're making sense of the melodic lines in the treble and bass, and without your brain being scrambled by the subtly clashing voices.
I found it the hardest 3 seconds of Chopin I've ever played, and that includes pieces like the 4th Ballade and the 3rd Sonata.
Posted by: LaReginadellaNotte

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 01:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
....Perhaps he didn't like the 4th Ballade as much as the 3rd Ballade, or perhaps he wasn't interpretively comfortable with the 4th Ballade....

I don't think there's any reason to think that. And BTW I don't know that he gave any more attention to the 3rd than to the 4th.

Actually I think the one he played least was the 2nd.

That was a typo on my part. I meant to say that he might have been less comfortable with the 4th Ballade than he was with the 1st Ballade (the Ballade that he frequently played). Horowitz seldom played the 2nd and 3rd Ballades.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 11:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
They're all staggeringly difficult. Don't buy into this "technically more difficult" or "musically more difficult" talk. They are all staggeringly difficult in both regards. Also, what makes something more difficult than something else, especially with pieces these difficult, is entirely different for you than it is for me.

thumb thumb


While I'm at it, same goes with the Scherzi, although they are a much different kind of piece in character than the Ballades.

Of course, there are more specific issues and comparisons to be made with and between all these pieces that could be discussed, but I'm not in the mood for that right now, hehe. I'm too busy putting my new Tallis Scholars and John Ogdon 17-disc set onto my computer right now! laugh
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 01:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
While I'm at it, same goes with the Scherzi....

Oh -- I thought you had already meant the Scherzi too. ha

But nevertheless, another thumb up. grin
Posted by: spk

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 08:37 PM

How about the Beethoven piano sonatas?

Would someone be able to order them for me from easiest to most difficult?






( j/k everybody)
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 09:12 PM

Originally Posted By: spk
How about the Beethoven piano sonatas? Would someone be able to order them for me from easiest to most difficult?


Check this out........

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import
Posted by: spk

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 09:28 PM

that's hilarious. i was being facetious.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 10:57 PM

Could somebody please number the Beethoven sonatas for me, from 1 to 32? grin
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 11:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
They're all staggeringly difficult. Don't buy into this "technically more difficult" or "musically more difficult" talk. They are all staggeringly difficult in both regards. Also, what makes something more difficult than something else, especially with pieces these difficult, is entirely different for you than it is for me.

And just like all hard pieces, the best way to start learning is to start soon!

Very often the better one gets, the more nuances are found in the music which makes it even more difficult to pull off well. I revisit old pieces that I've played and find that there are new problems each time that I hadn't thought of earlier, so I think that each time I perform something, it gets a bit better in some regard.

And as for the E major scherzo, its hellishly difficult, especially all of those staccato passage which rise up in chords. Though surprisingly, I listened to the section that Mark brought up and found it to be one of the easier parts...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 11:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....I listened to the section that Mark brought up and found it to be one of the easier parts...

I was hoping someone would say that too. grin

I'd love to hear you (or anyone!) play it (at some semblance of tempo, as I said) -- and we'll see if you're doing what I think is there.

Of course one could argue about what I think is there. ha
But what I'm talking about is playing what I think is there!

But I'm with you on the basic thing about the difficulty of the piece, and, speaking of those rising staccato chord passages, and of scrambling our brain (as I said in the previous post): I have a feeling that people who doubt the difficulty (and the complex difficulty) of the piece haven't much gotten to trying (really trying!) the snippet from 8:57-9:04 on the Rubinstein video:



BTW in re-listening to it for this post, I was horrified to see that it seemed I've been misreading a note for my whole life. shocked

But I re-checked the score, and I wasn't. Either he misread it, or he's playing a variant found in other editions. Gotta check it out.

The note in question: It's at 9:02 in this video....let's see how else to describe it: The top note of the 2nd beat of the 3rd-to-last measure of this phrase; or, the 6th-to-last chord of the phrase. My edition (Joseffy) has F# on top; Rubinstein plays F##.

Let's see other editions on IMSLP....

AHA -- I see the issue. smile

The note appears in the previous measure in the left hand clef, as a double sharp. When it appears in the chord in question -- in the next measure, in the right hand clef, while Joseffy indicates a regular sharp on the note, most editions indicate nothing -- which is how I'm guessing it appears in the manuscript(s).

So....what are we to make of that -- i.e. 'nothing' being indicated on a note in the right hand clef, which according to the key signature would be a regular sharp but which in the previous measure appeared in the left hand clef and was a double sharp?

I think it's pretty clearly a single sharp, and that Joseffy was right to clarify it as he did. But I guess you could argue that the double sharp from the previous measure carries over.
Posted by: wr

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/25/12 11:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano


Very often the better one gets, the more nuances are found in the music which makes it even more difficult to pull off well.


Oddly enough, most of the time, the more nuance I find in a piece, the easier it is for me to play well. Don't really know why that is - maybe it focuses attention more? Maybe the concept of the music is more complete? Maybe the nuances give me more confidence that I truly know the music well? Whatever, it seems to work that way for me.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:00 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano


Very often the better one gets, the more nuances are found in the music which makes it even more difficult to pull off well.


Oddly enough, most of the time, the more nuance I find in a piece, the easier it is for me to play well. Don't really know why that is - maybe it focuses attention more? Maybe the concept of the music is more complete? Maybe the nuances give me more confidence that I truly know the music well? Whatever, it seems to work that way for me.

That's good! And also true for me. But I feel like...I can't really ever perform a Bach work or Mozart work because...I just have no conception of what's supposed to be going on. I think in order to actually "address the difficulties in the work", I would need to grow as a musician first, before attempting to perform it well.

And @Mark_C, when I was playing the piece (poorly in hindsight), that section I found to be alright because it didn't have the same lightness required for the other sections, and because the voicing was a balance between the left hand and the right pinky, which is one the easier voice-balancing configurations, IMO.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....And @Mark_C, when I was playing the piece (poorly in hindsight), that section I found to be alright because it didn't have the same lightness required for the other sections.....

But IMO it does! -- and that's a big part of the difficulty.
I say it does have it, because if you don't play it with that lightness:

-- the accompanying 8th notes will garble up the melodies and the counterpoint; and

-- the dynamic won't leave room for shaping the two melodies.
Posted by: MarkH

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:04 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano


Very often the better one gets, the more nuances are found in the music which makes it even more difficult to pull off well.


Oddly enough, most of the time, the more nuance I find in a piece, the easier it is for me to play well. Don't really know why that is - maybe it focuses attention more? Maybe the concept of the music is more complete? Maybe the nuances give me more confidence that I truly know the music well? Whatever, it seems to work that way for me.


Finding nuance is pretty related to developing an interpretive approach to a piece, because you're finding details that you want to play a certain way, rather than being terrified by the piece as a whole. So it makes perfect sense that when you've thought through all the details, a piece is easier in a sense. But then you have more details that you have to get right, and more ways to fail to achieve your conception of the piece.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....And @Mark_C, when I was playing the piece (poorly in hindsight), that section I found to be alright because it didn't have the same lightness required for the other sections.....

But IMO it does! -- and that's a big part of the difficulty.
I say it does have it, because if you don't play it with that lightness:

-- the accompanying 8th notes will garble up the melodies and the counterpoint; and

-- the dynamic won't leave room for shaping the two melodies.

Mm, all true, but I find that section is pretty straightforward , because the speed helps create the lightness, the pedal and the bass octave make the articulation of the inner voice less important (it's not so transparent), and aside from how awkward the fingering gets, once the appropriate balance is achieved, it's alright. I have a live recording, but it's not great (in terms of performance), but also because I made some note mistakes at that very section...

I'll try it again when I take another look at this piece (maybe sometime soon?), and I'll share my thoughts then.

Back to the Ballades, they're all hard to conceptualize and keep coherent, because the form is IMO, not all that tight. It's important to make the codas seem like the inevitable product of the tension underlying the rest of the pieces, which is difficult because Chopin introduces new material in all of them.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:36 AM

Mark, about that note: I hear it. He 'sharpens' one of the melodic notes in that phrase at 9:02. I've never heard it like that before. Though, Rubinstein is known for playing different versions of things.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....but also because I made some note mistakes at that very section...

Do you realize how ironic that is, after you said that you didn't see what's so hard about it?

We make 'note mistakes' there not because the notes per se would be hard, but because of everything else about the passage (as per the things we said) that makes the passage complex. If we don't appreciate those things and don't care about them, then I suppose it wouldn't be hard -- but we wouldn't be doing what's there. And once we're conscious of what's there and we want to do it, the notes become hard too.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Mark, about that note: I hear it. He 'sharpens' one of the melodic notes in that phrase at 9:02. I've never heard it like that before. Though, Rubinstein is known for playing different versions of things.

Joel: See my edit. It seems that what he's doing is just a certain kind of interpretation of the notation.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....but also because I made some note mistakes at that very section...

Do you realize how ironic that is, after you said that you didn't see what's so hard about it?

We make 'note mistakes' there not because the notes per se would be hard, but because of everything else about the passage (as per the things we said) that make the passage complex. If we don't appreciate those things and don't care about them, then I suppose it wouldn't be hard -- but we wouldn't be doing what's there. And once we're conscious of what's there and we want to do it, the notes become hard too.

Yep, pretty ironic in hindsight actually!

I actually found a second recording I made...slower than the live performance by a minute, and again - in hindsight - I wasn't ready for the piece, nor did I appreciate its difficulties at the time.

Here's a link with that disclaimer in mind...
https://www.box.com/s/aqad5t4kcgl560jlj1c4
Posted by: btb

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:59 AM

Thanks Mark for the Rubinstein playing of the Scherzo 4 (which is no joke!) ... staggering performance ... Chopin needed 20 pages (according to my edition)
to write down this racy work ... after attempting the first page of S4 (going at 20 mph) I’m off to the quack to mend my fingers ... but I do like Rubinstein’s masterly use of rubato ... somehow slows the mighty express down around the curves.

PS To keep on subject ...
I have only played through the first Chopin Ballade ...
which is a piece of cake ... except for the tricky fast bits.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 01:08 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
Thanks Mark for the Rubinstein playing of the Scherzo 4 (which is no joke!) ... staggering performance ... Chopin needed 20 pages (according to my edition)
to write down this racy work....

26 in the Joseffy. eek

Yes, I counted, and cursed. ha

How many other people do that -- i.e. see how many pages the score is when they start working on a piece, and keep on checking as you go along to see what fraction of the way you are? And, sort of curse when you see how far there still is to go?

(And being relieved when you see how much is sort of repetition....) grin

Anyway I'm always glad they didn't make there be fewer pages by making the print smaller.... ha
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 01:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
How many other people do that -- i.e. see how many pages the score is when they start working on a piece, and keep on checking as you go along to see what fraction of the way you are? And, sort of curse when you see how far there still is to go?

(And being relieved when you see how much is sort of repetition....) grin
I do that constantly.

And I do that as a composer as well (*ashamed emoticon here*)... This is why I went back working on miniatures... To avoid checking the "200 bars and counting" thing...
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 01:31 AM

I do most of the time... grin
Click to reveal..
But this doesn't make us normal - or does it? laugh
Posted by: asthecrowflies

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 11:45 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
Thanks Mark for the Rubinstein playing of the Scherzo 4 (which is no joke!) ...


Actually, all of the Scherzos ARE jokes. Literally. smile
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 11:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: btb
[...]Chopin needed 20 pages (according to my edition)
to write down this racy work....

26 in the Joseffy. eek

[...]How many other people do that -- i.e. see how many pages the score is when they start working on a piece, and keep on checking as you go along to see what fraction of the way you are? And, sort of curse when you see how far there still is to go?
[...]


Well, if one is counting - and why would one? - it's 23 pages in the well-printed Henle. It would make more sense (if one is counting - and why would one?) to count the number of measures, wouldn't it?

Regards,
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 12:13 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
....It would make more sense (if one is counting - and why would one?) to count the number of measures, wouldn't it?

Don't think I don't do that too. ha
Posted by: kuifje

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 01:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: BruceD
....It would make more sense (if one is counting - and why would one?) to count the number of measures, wouldn't it?

Don't think I don't do that too. ha


Or the number of notes.

I'm in way over my head learning the 4th ballade, i'm on page 11 (of 18 Joseffy). I may be on 25% of the notes. smile

So far nothing I won't be able to play in about 5 years, but its the coda i'm worried about if i will ever be able to do it.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 02:01 PM

Originally Posted By: kuifje
....its the coda i'm worried about if i will ever be able to do it.

No problem -- just throw your hands up in the air after those fortissimo chords, people will applaud....Stand up and take your bows, and you don't need no coda. ha
Posted by: kuifje

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 02:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: kuifje
....its the coda i'm worried about if i will ever be able to do it.

No problem -- just throw your hands up in the air after those fortissimo chords, people will applaud....Stand up and take your bows, and you don't need no coda. ha


That's actually plan B. I do it with the Barcarolle too. I think I will ultimately be able to manage that coda, but until i do I stop just after the fermata with as big a bang as possible.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 02:31 PM

Originally Posted By: kuifje
That's actually plan B. I do it with the Barcarolle too. I think I will ultimately be able to manage that coda, but until i do I stop just after the fermata with as big a bang as possible.

Cool! Now maybe you can come up with a way not to play "that measure" in the Db major Nocturne.... grin
Posted by: kuifje

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 02:41 PM

hahaha!

I was just thinking about that! I mean, i love Chopin, but I hate it when he does that. With "that", i mean writing a beautiful, perfectly playable nocturne, and then putting in a measure like that.

Actually I put a lot of work in that measure, and i think i can play it now at about 3/4 speed, which is good enough, i mean, it is still fast and sparkling.

Also i wonder, selling sheet music was a big source of income for him right? So wouldn't it have been in his interest to write easier music, or provide alternatives? Or were the amateur pianists of his time so much better than now? Or did they buy his works even if they couldn't play it?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 03:04 PM

Originally Posted By: kuifje
....Also i wonder, selling sheet music was a big source of income for him right? So wouldn't it have been in his interest to write easier music, or provide alternatives? Or were the amateur pianists of his time so much better than now? Or did they buy his works even if they couldn't play it?

The simplest answer is that people like Chopin weren't heavily motivated in their composing by money. And in Chopin's case, I think he had pretty much all the money he wanted from giving piano lessons to countesses. smile

Also maybe he figured people would buy the sheet music before turning to that page. ha
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 04:05 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: btb
[...]Chopin needed 20 pages (according to my edition)
to write down this racy work....

26 in the Joseffy. eek

[...]How many other people do that -- i.e. see how many pages the score is when they start working on a piece, and keep on checking as you go along to see what fraction of the way you are? And, sort of curse when you see how far there still is to go?
[...]


Well, if one is counting - and why would one? - it's 23 pages in the well-printed Henle. It would make more sense (if one is counting - and why would one?) to count the number of measures, wouldn't it?

Regards,


I do that too of course, and I actually prefer it. smile But Mark_C said "checking as you go along to see what fraction of the way you are" (the italics are mine), so it is basically the same.
Posted by: square-39

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/26/12 07:55 PM

"Every piece is difficult. The more you know, the more difficult it gets, so every piece is difficult."

Vladimir Horowitz
Posted by: btb

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/27/12 02:46 AM

My reason for mentioning the number of pages to my Schirmer’s Edition (21 pages to the Scherzo 4) was intended to indicate that poor old Fred had his time cut out (at that hectic Presto pace) to squeeze in 872 measures .

While listening to the work, I was turning pages rather fast ... (as though trying to get done before the house burnt down).

My guess is that Chopin wanted to spread the score to capture those slowing rubato passages ...so masterfully captured by Rubinstein.

My quack says that, after my attempting to play the giddy piece ... not only is the fifth metacarpal bone (RH pinky) cracked ... but my back has been put out ... necessitating traction.

You chaps have been warned!

Who said Scherzo 4 was easy?
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/27/12 07:33 AM

Where is the original poster?
Posted by: im@me

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/28/12 01:09 PM

The reason I ask was purely curiosity, i'm tackling the 1st and 3rd
Posted by: DameMyra

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/28/12 01:27 PM

Working on the 3rd right now. Some awkward bits especially for a small hand.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/28/12 01:37 PM

Originally Posted By: DameMyra
Working on the 3rd right now. Some awkward bits especially for a small hand.
I'm working on it too and I have small hands. I've got some great workarounds. Where are you having problems?
Posted by: DameMyra

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/28/12 05:27 PM

Originally Posted By: gooddog
Originally Posted By: DameMyra
Working on the 3rd right now. Some awkward bits especially for a small hand.
I'm working on it too and I have small hands. I've got some great workarounds. Where are you having problems?


Deborah,

I've sent you a PM.

Sharon
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/29/12 01:43 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
...
My quack says that, after my attempting to play the giddy piece ... not only is the fifth metacarpal bone (RH pinky) cracked ... but my back has been put out ... necessitating traction.
...

I hope you are joking. Hard to tell sometimes.
Wasn't there a critic who wrote, in a review of Chopin's newly published Etudes, that the pianist attempting them should be sure to have a surgeon standing by?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/29/12 01:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
....Wasn't there a critic who wrote, in a review of Chopin's newly published Etudes, that the pianist attempting them should be sure to have a surgeon standing by?

A guy named Rellstab.
This is the only thing I know about him. I've been pretty content not to know more. ha
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/29/12 01:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
....Wasn't there a critic who wrote, in a review of Chopin's newly published Etudes, that the pianist attempting them should be sure to have a surgeon standing by?

A guy named Rellstab.
This is the only thing I know about him. I've been pretty content not to know more. ha


He's also the one who supposedly gave the "Moonlight" sonata its name.
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/29/12 01:51 AM

Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
....Wasn't there a critic who wrote, in a review of Chopin's newly published Etudes, that the pianist attempting them should be sure to have a surgeon standing by?

A guy named Rellstab.
This is the only thing I know about him. I've been pretty content not to know more. ha


He's also the one who supposedly gave the "Moonlight" sonata its name.

Strike two!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/29/12 01:55 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Strike two!

ha

But actually.....all things considered, ultimately, wasn't that nickname a GOOD thing?

I think anything that reasonably (or at least not unreasonably) smile popularizes classical music is good, and there's no doubt that this nickname has done that. And after all, it was such popularization, although different types of it, that pulled me into classical music: Popular songs that were based on classical pieces (partiularly "Till the End of Time," from Chopin's Ab Polonaise) and the use of classical music in cartoons were what did it for me.
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 12:22 AM

That's an interesting question, meriting its own thread.
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 12:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Strike two!

ha

Popular songs that were based on classical pieces (partiularly "Till the End of Time," from Chopin's Ab Polonaise).......


Mark - I'm a tad older than you - and I wasn't aware this song existed until you mentioned it here......thanks !!!

A rendition by Perry Como.......
http://youtu.be/KFXA_-2cIYU
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 01:00 AM

Originally Posted By: carey
A rendition by Perry Como.......
http://youtu.be/KFXA_-2cIYU

....and how about Doris Day:



And actually it wasn't directly from the song that I got into this music, but.... As a kid I went to summer camp for a few years, and y'know, they had this thing called "color war" -- don't know if it still exists at kids' camps. The camp would be divided into two teams and over the course of a few days there would be various sports events, and then it would end with a "sing" where each team would do songs that had been written by the counselors. One of the songs that my 'team' did was based on "Till the End of Time," and somehow it absolutely grabbed me despite the complete wrecking of the polonaise rhythm, which of course is a pretty basic thing. When I got back home to my piano lessons, I asked my teacher what this thing was. She bypased the whole "Till the End of Time" thing (which I didn't learn of till years later) and just said it's from the Chopin polonaise.

P.S. In later years, through the internet I was able to find the counselor who had put together that song (and also did a lot of other terrific musical stuff at the camp) and let him know how wonderfully influential he had been for me. And BTW in his rendition of the song, he brought the melody closer to the original Chopin. (If not the rhythm.) grin
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 10:02 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: carey
A rendition by Perry Como.......
http://youtu.be/KFXA_-2cIYU

....and how about Doris Day:


Mark - I would normally do this through a PM - but since you don't accept them.... smile

Funny you should pick the 1945 Doris Day version with Les Brown. In 1945, in NYC my Mom dated Les Brown's brother, Clyde "Stumpy" Brown who played trombone in Les' band. A few years later in Los Angeles, Stumpy would stop by our house to visit - driving a little British made MG sports car (open top - two seater). Nice guy. (His nickname apparently had something to do with the fact that he wasn't very tall.)

Now - back to Chopin. I've been working on the A-flat Polonaise myself and hope to record it in the next few weeks. Finally mastered the LH octaves in the middle section. Fingering was the key.

Cheers !!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 01:06 PM

Originally Posted By: carey
Mark - I would normally do this through a PM - but since you don't accept them.... smile

Funny you should pick the 1945 Doris Day version with Les Brown. In 1945, in NYC my Mom dated Les Brown's brother, Clyde "Stumpy" Brown who played trombone in Les' band. A few years later in Los Angeles, Stumpy would stop by our house to visit - driving a little British made MG sports car (open top - two seater). Nice guy. (His nickname apparently had something to do with the fact that he wasn't very tall.)....

That's part of why I don't like PM! ha

(You would have wanted to keep that from the rest of the people here?) smile
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 01:33 PM

I just had the pleasure of reading a marvelous performance analysis of the 3rd Ballade. I found this unexpected treasure in a used book store and only this morning did I find the time to read the section on the Ballade. The book doesn't cover a vast amount of repertoire, but the Ballade #3 section I just read was extremely helpful. It analyses the technical and interpretive challenges in the piece, measure by measure. I just finished marking up my score and sat back and said, "Wow." :

"Piano Repertoire, A Guide to Interpretation and Performance" by Bela Siki, Schirmer books, 1981
Posted by: DameMyra

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 02:08 PM

Thanks for the info Deborah. I just checked and they have it at my university library. I will definitely take a look.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 02:39 PM

Originally Posted By: DameMyra
Thanks for the info Deborah. I just checked and they have it at my university library. I will definitely take a look.
smile
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 06:20 PM

Back on topic - the 4th ballade is indeed very difficult, but for me, it doesn't pose the same amount of risk as the 1st ballade - the technical difficulties seem "under the hands", compared to the G minor's difficulties being "under the arms" with all of the jumps and leaps.

I'd say that the 4th scherzo is more technically difficult due to the lightness required, but it has less complicated figurations than the two ballades, and it repeats more.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 06:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Back on topic - the 4th ballade is indeed very difficult, but for me, it doesn't pose the same amount of risk as the 1st ballade - the technical difficulties seem "under the hands", compared to the G minor's difficulties being "under the arms" with all of the jumps and leaps.

I agree.

I make some distinctions that some people might not: While I consider the 4th ballade extremely hard, including that the musical and conceptual challenges are of the highest order, I agree it doesn't feel as 'risky' or 'scary' as other Chopin pieces including the 1st ballade. And to make another such distinction.... smile

Quote:
I'd say that the 4th scherzo is more technically difficult due to the lightness required, it has less complicated figurations than the two ballades, and it repeats more.

We're at least pretty close on that too. The scherzo certainly has fewer complex figurations, and they are maybe also less complex -- but I'd say it's more 'tricky' to play with adequate pianism and musicianship, and that fewer people can do it.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 10:47 PM

Mark, you said that little bit towards the end of scherzo 4 is the most difficult Chopin you have ever played? I'm just wondering which run in scherzo 4 is most difficult for you?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 10:55 PM

I don't think any one "run" stands out; I think many of them -- all of them actually -- are very hard in terms of the aspects I mentioned. If I had to mention one....well it's not really a "run" either, but, the part with the brief complex running 8th note figure in the L.H., with the 8th notes then getting transferred to the R.H. and the L.H. then has the leaping figure with a bit of a melody within it. It's the passage starting at 1:57:
(and the repetition in the recap)

Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 11:01 PM

Ahh, with the weird left hand 'octave turns' and the ascending right hand?

1:58?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8X1Rs_LNeQ


I've heard going up is quite a bit harder than coming back down.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin Ballades - 12/30/12 11:05 PM

Yes -- I edited it to give the details while you were posting.

As to whether going up or down is harder, I don't even know what that means. ha
Every bit of the passage is extremely hard. Saying what part is harder or easier is splitting hairs, like wondering which of two great pizzerias is better. grin