Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54

Posted by: Polyphonist

Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:13 AM

I'd just like to discuss this piece with whoever's interested, since I'm obsessed with it right now. laugh Favorite passages? Quirky interpretative things? Story to go along with the piece (I came up with a few cheesy ones)? grin

And Mark, if you'd like to rave about the technical difficulty, be my guest. I probably agree with you. ha
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:18 AM

My new favorite story about it is from the recent competition where one of the contestants made an incredibly gauche and bizarre memory lapse right near the beginning -- then, even more unbelievably, did exactly the same thing again a couple of minutes later where it came back and she had another crack at it.

But my favorite thing about it isn't even that it happened, but that hardly anyone noticed and that so many people were shocked when she didn't advance.

But seriously folks....I love this piece. It's unique among Chopin's works in many ways, and an incredible technical challenge, much more than may meet the eye.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
My new favorite story about it is from the recent competition where one of the contestants made an incredibly gauche memory lapse right near the beginning -- then, even more unbelievably, did exactly the same thing again a few minutes later when she had another crack at it.

Ah, yes - I guess she decided she didn't want to play that section today. ha

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
But seriously folks....I love this piece. It's unique among Chopin's works in many ways, and an incredible technical challenge, much more than may meet the eye.

Care to elaborate?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:23 AM

Nah, I already have. grin

OK, OK, I'll say this: You need extremely precise fingerwork, and an ear to hear the slightest unevenness so that you can correct it; plus an ability to shape it all, and to pedal it in a way to give richness and interest to the sound but without losing the precision and clarity.

....and also, an ability not to care that when you play it for people, usually all they'll care about is the "easy" middle part because it's so beautiful, and so all your hard work went to waste. ha
Posted by: Eduard Hanslick

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:29 AM

Poor gal. I hope she didn't read any of our threads. Two bites at the apple, and she bites in the same place both times!

I find this a hard piece to like, but I can't really explain why.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:30 AM

Let's see...favorite sections...I have so many, I can't list them all. The range of colors and emotions in this piece is incredible, perhaps unequaled.

One moment that never fails to bring tears to my eyes (when played well) is the section at bar 865, and the transition into the next section at 873. It's one of the most beautiful passages in Chopin, indeed in all piano music. The harmonies are all so perfect, and then that little gesture at 888-889 - it is not just emotion, it transcends emotion, it is in a way otherworldly. Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
...when you play it for people, usually all they'll care about is the "easy" middle part because it's so beautiful, and so all your hard work went to waste. ha

Not me. I appreciate every aspect of a great performance of this piece.

...and the middle section - it's not "easy." Anyone who thinks it's easy is a deluded blockhead.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Eduard Hanslick
Poor gal. I hope she didn't read any of our threads.

I'm sure our threads are nothing compared to what her teacher must have said to her.
Posted by: Eduard Hanslick

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Eduard Hanslick
Poor gal. I hope she didn't read any of our threads.

I'm sure our threads are nothing compared to what her teacher must have said to her.


Disasters happen. At that point just hug the victim, there's no need for scolding.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Eduard Hanslick
Poor gal. I hope she didn't read any of our threads.

I'm sure our threads are nothing compared to what her teacher must have said to her.

Maybe her teacher liked it, thought it was innovative. grin
Posted by: Eduard Hanslick

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:34 AM

It was definitely innovative.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:41 AM

Let's see - in addition to the passage I talked about above, another amazing place is the passage at 217, and specifically the incredible moment at 225...The 8 bars starting at 217 are like a little shadow, a cloud passing over the sun, and 225 has that amazing "bursting into the sunlight" feeling that only Chopin could have achieved. This passage also happens to be extremely difficult to pull off convincingly.
Posted by: fnork

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 03:03 AM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
...when you play it for people, usually all they'll care about is the "easy" middle part because it's so beautiful, and so all your hard work went to waste. ha

Not me. I appreciate every aspect of a great performance of this piece.

...and the middle section - it's not "easy." Anyone who thinks it's easy is a deluded blockhead.

Following up on the discussion on the middle part, a few words could be said. I recently saw Henri Barda teach this scherzo in a masterclass, and the student played many of the technically difficult parts with some kind of fluency, but clearly hadn't given much thought to the middle part, beyond playing the notes. The entire lesson was devoted to those pages. One of the most fascinating things he had to say was that we pianists always tend to forget about the notes we just struck, and we don't pay enough attention to connecting them (as they decay) with the next notes. Sure, there ain't a lot we can do after having struck a note (though K-U Schnabel would disagree here - there's some talk about it in one of the links in my thread about him), but we have to remember that it's there, and that it must be beautifully connected with what follows. Any idea of legato dies the moment we forget about this. So, what did he tell the student to do? Play the melody, but re-strike the note, as though it would be 8th-note repetitions. It sounds simple, I know, but the effect was quite stunning, and in this simple excercise he made the student aware of the line. Then he did the most extraordinarily beautiful thing...The 2nd time the theme comes, it's in double-notes, more or less a love duet. He tremolated this entire passage in such a way that it sounded like a chorus of guitars/mandolins - just extraordinary! He also pointed out how some harmonies must really be highlighted, but without playing louder. One such instance is when a diminished chord pops up when you're expecting a tonic, towards the end of the middle section - he demonstrated all possibilities Chopin COULD have used, the various traditional cadences that would be appropriate, and then played what Chopin actually did write...and suddenly it was so much more dramatic!


Saint-saens loved this Scherzo, perhaps more than anything else Chopin wrote - or so he said to the young Rubinstein when they met. Rubinstein felt he was a great pianist but that he played it rather too fast...And of course, that upward tonic chordal idea from the opening of the scherzo can be heard in the 2nd movement of S-s's 2nd piano concerto.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 03:10 AM

Originally Posted By: fnork
One such instance is when a diminished chord pops up when you're expecting a tonic, towards the end of the middle section.

Can you give a bar number for this? Good post, by the way.
Posted by: fnork

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 03:21 AM

Strangely, none of the imslp scores had barlines. Go to page 80 here, look at the last line:

http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks....54_Joseffy.pdf

Now, that diminished chord is a surprise on so many levels! Note that the bass note sounds the same, although it is re-spelled - from C to B#...the thing to remember is that this very diminished chord comes again in Fortissimo two pages later (just before some fast flourish brings us back to the opening theme), BUT while there's still some C's in the bass, the lowest bass note has been altered to B, giving us a dominant 9th chord. Meanwhile, the first appearance of the diminished chord is what leads us back from a dominant to F major back into C# minor...The second time, it leads us back to E major. Very clever way of using diminished chords, chords that which after all can have many different bass notes under them...
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 09:17 AM

Haven't we talked about this piece like twice in the past few months?

All I will say is that I think 99% of pianists play this the wrong way.
Posted by: pianorigami

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 10:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
My new favorite story about it is from the recent competition where one of the contestants made an incredibly gauche and bizarre memory lapse right near the beginning -- then, even more unbelievably, did exactly the same thing again a couple of minutes later where it came back and she had another crack at it.

Daneshpour, right?
It really was a shame, because she's a great artist. I probably would've supported her. She's taking competitions by storm, too! She was in the Rubinstein and played some wonderful Scarlatti smile
Posted by: Tim Adrianson

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 10:59 AM

Polyphonist, my general reaction to the Op 54 Scherzo was that it was not nearly as good as his other Scherzi -- although light and mercurial, it always felt to me like it went on and on, as if Chopin couldn't really figure out how to end it. That reaction, however, doesn't square at all with other late Chopin compositions, starting with Op 40 or so -- which are without exception complex and deeply thought through -- everything from his "top drawer", so to speak. And so I tend to agree with JoelW that probably 99% of pianists "play it wrong", meaning that they approach it with an insufficient regard to exhibiting the structural cohesion connecting the seemingly disparate episodes. I can't remember the pianist who provided this, and "turned my head around" regarding this piece, but that it IS possible to present this composition as "all of a piece", like other harmonically complex but focused late Chopin works.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 11:08 AM

It's my favourite scherzo, and maybe my favourite Chopin work. It's also absurdly difficult... my favourite performance is Richter in that Chopin recital video from the 70s in the great hall in Moscow.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 11:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
I tend to agree with JoelW that probably 99% of pianists "play it wrong", meaning that they approach it with an insufficient regard to exhibiting the structural cohesion connecting the seemingly disparate episodes. I can't remember the pianist who provided this, and "turned my head around" regarding this piece, but that it IS possible to present this composition as "all of a piece", like other harmonically complex but focused late Chopin works.


Hi, Tim. I want to invite you to listen to this performance. I think it is the most likely to "turn your head around" on this piece.

You might find pleasure in the judicious and incredibly wise use of rubato in this performance.

Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 11:21 AM

(judicious) smile


I'll let better pianists handle the scherzo, I'll just do the grammar. ha
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 11:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
(judicious) smile


I'll let better pianists handle the scherzo, I'll just do the grammar. ha


Oh my, how embarrassing. Too much Government homework... grin
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 01:18 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
I tend to agree with JoelW that probably 99% of pianists "play it wrong", meaning that they approach it with an insufficient regard to exhibiting the structural cohesion connecting the seemingly disparate episodes. I can't remember the pianist who provided this, and "turned my head around" regarding this piece, but that it IS possible to present this composition as "all of a piece", like other harmonically complex but focused late Chopin works.


Hi, Tim. I want to invite you to listen to this performance. I think it is the most likely to "turn your head around" on this piece.

You might find pleasure in the judicious and incredibly wise use of rubato in this performance.

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

Here is another recording which is a good counterpoint to the more youthful interpretation by Bunin, being more reflective in nature.

This is the Richter recording I mentioned above.

Posted by: Ian_G

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 01:38 PM

I, too, love this piece and count among my favorite Chopin. Seems to be a trend.

Here are my two favorite recordings:

Horowitz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvoJD-fJIEI

Godowsky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFprBOe-AVw
Posted by: PrestoConFuocco

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/28/13 02:49 PM

Definitely chopin's best scherzo, though underrated by most.
Most of chopin's scherzos (Or even romantic scherzos in general...) lack the playfulness a scherzo, by definition, requires.
But this scherzo really captions the original essence the scherzo was designed for - energetic and angry, but still playful and "cynical".
It's kind of cheesy to say, but I love the calm middle section. I think it has one of the most beautiful melodies chopin ever composed. I also like the ending very much, it really sends out the rich musical color E major has.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/30/13 05:22 PM

I have never heard a performance of this piece that I thought was great. It's one of my favorite works of all time, and I'm incredibly picky about all aspects of it. If you're playing in an audition or competition that I'm judging, this scherzo is one piece you do NOT want to be playing. ha
Posted by: PrestoConFuocco

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/30/13 05:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I have never heard a performance of this piece that I thought was great. It's one of my favorite works of all time, and I'm incredibly picky about all aspects of it. If you're playing in an audition or competition that I'm judging, this scherzo is one piece you do NOT want to be playing. ha


That's one of the key aspects of a favorite piece - you're never satisfied with anyone's preformance of it smile
(Take me with Chopin's etude in B minor, for example.)
Posted by: Dwscamel

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/30/13 06:03 PM

Here is the last recording Godowsky ever made - supposedly he died of a stroke during the session.

It was my first time hearing this scherzo, and my favorite parts were the slow middle section and the E major scale at the end:

http://youtu.be/pFprBOe-AVw
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/30/13 06:15 PM

I've probably played this piece thousands of times, since I was quite young and could barely manage to fake it.. there are still a couple of passages that consistently slip away from my memory. I would say it's almost unavoidable, given the piece is nearly 1000 bars, but I keep practicing it and it never stays correct in my head!!!

I'm always torn between accenting the lightness and bringing out the musical lines.. it's quite a challenge to do both, and I don't know if I will ever find the right solution.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 06:55 PM

I absolutely adore this delectable work. I only formally studied the Bb minor Scherzo, but I did read through the E major... wow, and yeah...

Lately on this board there seems to be some criticism of Ashkenazy, imagine that?, glad to know so many folks here play better than he does. (Why not listen to his recording of the last movement of Prokofiev 8? In comparison, Berman sounds so uncomprehending.)

Ashkenazy is the best I have heard. You can find it on yt.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 07:03 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Lately on this board there seems to be some criticism of Ashkenazy, imagine that?, glad to know so many folks here play better than he does.

Here we go again with the "you have to be better than someone before you can criticize them" fallacy. Personally, I'm not a fan of Ashkenazy's Chopin at all. I won't go into detail on why this is so, because the thread would go too far off track. If you'd like to start a different thread on the subject, Jason, I will post my thoughts there.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Lately on this board there seems to be some criticism of Ashkenazy, imagine that?, glad to know so many folks here play better than he does. (Why not listen to his recording of the last movement of Prokofiev 8? In comparison, Berman sounds so uncomprehending.)

Ashkenazy is the best I have heard. You can find it on yt.
But in your comment you criticize(as you commonly do)another pianist with considerble reputation who I'd assume plays far better than you do.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 07:40 PM

Well Poly, my good mate, who is to say which of us is right or wrong? I think Ashkenazy's Chopin E Major surpasses even Rubinstein.

Or am I not hearing properly... that is always a possibility. Perhaps my training in organ and church music is merely foolish here.

Good that we got that settled.
Posted by: Damon

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 10:23 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan

Lately on this board there seems to be some criticism of Ashkenazy, imagine that?, glad to know so many folks here play better than he does. (Why not listen to his recording of the last movement of Prokofiev 8? In comparison, Berman sounds so uncomprehending.)


So happy that you are better than Berman...
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 11:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: argerichfan

Lately on this board there seems to be some criticism of Ashkenazy, imagine that?, glad to know so many folks here play better than he does. (Why not listen to his recording of the last movement of Prokofiev 8? In comparison, Berman sounds so uncomprehending.)


So happy that you are better than Berman...


smirk


...argerichfan, the old "let's see you do better" argument is not an argument.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 08/31/13 11:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Lately on this board there seems to be some criticism of Ashkenazy, imagine that?, glad to know so many folks here play better than he does.

Here we go again with the "you have to be better than someone before you can criticize them" fallacy. Personally, I'm not a fan of Ashkenazy's Chopin at all. I won't go into detail on why this is so, because the thread would go too far off track. If you'd like to start a different thread on the subject, Jason, I will post my thoughts there.


I think that would be an interesting thread... listing pianists and explaining in detail why we like or dislike their playing.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 12:13 AM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Well Poly, my good mate, who is to say which of us is right or wrong? I think Ashkenazy's Chopin E Major surpasses even Rubinstein.

Who said I'm a fan of Rubinstein's? (Don't get me wrong, I love him in general, but his performance of this scherzo doesn't satisfy me.)
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 12:31 AM

What's your preference?
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 06:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Damon

So happy that you are better than Berman...

Where did I say that I am better than Berman? I was simply commenting that IMO Ashkenazy's recording of Prokofiev 8 is superior to Berman. Follow the recordings with the score and see what you think.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 07:25 AM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

So happy that you are better than Berman...

Where did I say that I am better than Berman? I was simply commenting that IMO Ashkenazy's recording of Prokofiev 8 is superior to Berman. Follow the recordings with the score and see what you think.
You criticized some posters for criticizing Ashkenazy, and said that they couldn't play as well as Ashkenazy and thus shouldn't criticize him. But then you criticized Berman in the same post.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 04:21 PM

trying to avoid all the antagonism here, my humble thoughts about the 4th scherzo: I think it's the best of the 4, the most difficult it is surely, not only technically (very difficult indeed!), but also and foremost musically, in lesser hands it can sound repetitious, with a rather dull-sounding barcarolle/nocturne-ish trio and a superficial scale to sum up things..But it's so much more! The essence of the 2nd mov. of St Saens 2nd pico is there, Moszk. and the likes found a lot of inspiration here, Chopin invented a new technique, no where in the etudes can one find such broken chord sequenses, and the lightheartiness of the piece is a rare thing among the later works, quite difficult to catch, a gem, and a milestone, and a hard one to perform, the hardest of the 4. I prefer this to the others.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 06:43 PM

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
...my humble thoughts about the 4th scherzo: I think it's the best of the 4, the most difficult it is surely, not only technically (very difficult indeed!), but also and foremost musically, in lesser hands it can sound repetitious, with a rather dull-sounding barcarolle/nocturne-ish trio and a superficial scale to sum up things..But it's so much more!

Wonderful post, dolce! (I really should have quoted you in entirety.)

Poly, any comments?

Maybe I'll be forgiven for preferring Ashkenazy, though I didn't seriously think anyone here thought they played it better... I was just letting off some steam because, well, I do admire Ashkenazy. (Not in all composers of course, but his Chopin has always been very special to me.)
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 07:22 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Poly, any comments?

Maybe I'll be forgiven for preferring Ashkenazy, though I didn't seriously think anyone here thought they played it better... I was just letting off some steam because, well, I do admire Ashkenazy. (Not in all composers of course, but his Chopin has always been very special to me.)

Remember, I'd like to keep this thread on track. Please start another thread if you wish to discuss this.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 07:27 PM

He was asking if you had any comments on Dolce's post (I think...)
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
He was asking if you had any comments on Dolce's post (I think...)

Exactly. thumb
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 07:47 PM

And to add my opinion, I totally agree with his opinion - it's a really tough piece to play well. Though certainly it's beneficial to learn it early...before the fear of its musical difficulties becomes too overwhelming!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 09:35 PM

Ah, I see what you meant. It was a little unclear. smile

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I think it's the best of the 4,

Agreed, although this is subjective.

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
the most difficult it is surely, not only technically (very difficult indeed!), but also and foremost musically,

Also agreed. It's the most difficult, by far, musically and technically. And the range of technique required is enormous - fast scales, double octaves, lightning-quick silvery passagework, various double notes, handling multiple melodies (polyphony), etc, etc.

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
Chopin invented a new technique, no where in the etudes can one find such broken chord sequenses,

Yes, you're right. I never really thought of it this way, but it's true that this is the first place where this technique is used. By the way, you meant blocked chord sequences, not broken. smile

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
and the lightheartiness of the piece is a rare thing among the later works, quite difficult to catch, a gem,

Yes, it is unlike the majority of Chopin's output, and consequently stands out as a shimmering masterpiece even among late Chopin, some of the greatest repertoire ever written for the piano.

The purity and beauty of this work really can't be expressed in words.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 09:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
Chopin invented a new technique, no where in the etudes can one find such broken chord sequenses,

Yes, you're right. I never really thought of it this way, but it's true that this is the first place where this technique is used. By the way, you meant blocked chord sequences, not broken. smile


Very interesting. I'm tempted to compose an etude for this technique.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 10:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

The purity and beauty of this work really can't be expressed in words.

Quite true, but I might add the 'Missa Solemnis'. No words AT ALL for that! blush
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 10:19 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

The purity and beauty of this work really can't be expressed in words.

Quite true, but I might add the 'Missa Solemnis'. No words AT ALL for that! blush

We could mention a variety of works to go into this category. Sections of Bach's Goldbergs and Beethoven's Diabellis, the latest Beethoven Sonatas, many late Chopin works, some things by Rachmaninoff (Vespers and the 3rd (or 2nd, Jason grin) piano concerto), etc.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 10:21 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
Chopin invented a new technique, no where in the etudes can one find such broken chord sequenses,

Yes, you're right. I never really thought of it this way, but it's true that this is the first place where this technique is used. By the way, you meant blocked chord sequences, not broken. smile


Very interesting. I'm tempted to compose an etude for this technique.

Please do! I'd love to see it. smile

How about this; I'll write one too. grin
I'm sending you a PM.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 10:22 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Very interesting. I'm tempted to compose an etude for this technique.

.....although maybe about 90% of Mendelssohn consists of that. ha


I know, it doesn't really.....
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 10:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Very interesting. I'm tempted to compose an etude for this technique.

.....although maybe about 90% of Mendelssohn consists of that. ha


I know, it doesn't really.....

Well, yes, there's some of it in Mendelssohn, and some in Liszt (you know the passage I'm thinking of grin), but Chopin was the first to use it in the way...well, in the way that he used it. grin You know what I mean, even though one can't really put it into words.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/01/13 10:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
...even though one can't really put it into words.

Nor could I ever put Hilary into words, but I digress.

Posted by: albumblatter

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 12:11 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hWixwdOWT8

Murray Perahia playing a bit of Scherzo 4 and talking about it! Quite short, but quite lovely.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 05:49 PM

Does anyone think it's harder than opp. 52, 58?
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 06:42 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Does anyone think it's harder than opp. 52, 58?

Having studied all three, there are a few things that make it hard to compare:

Op. 52 culminates at a "point" - the coda. This makes structuring, pacing, and continuity difficult (since no sections repeat exactly). It means that the furious technical demands at the end are harder because of the emotional intensity, plus it has to be played well in order "climax" the piece appropriately.

Op.58 has multiple movements and is a lot longer. There are more varieties of moods, structuring (especially the first movement) remains difficult, and pacing of the performer's energies is important so you don't get too tired by the time the finale starts. Each movement has their own technical and musical difficulties, but at least there is a break between each movement.

Op. 54 has a lot of repetitions with very slight variations each time, so while the primary theme is easy to clarify to the listener, it has to be played well in conjunction with the other material to sound meaningful, instead of repetitive. There's also the lightness which is hard to bring off, but at least formally it's more workable than the other two works.

This isn't including any of the technical difficulties, but in my experience, in terms of hitting the notes and the importance in hitting the correct notes, you could say that op. 54 and op. 58 are a bit harder than op. 52.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 06:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Does anyone think it's harder than opp. 52, 58?

Having studied all three, there are a few things that make it hard to compare:

Op. 52 culminates at a "point" - the coda. This makes structuring, pacing, and continuity difficult (since no sections repeat exactly). It means that the furious technical demands at the end are harder because of the emotional intensity, plus it has to be played well in order "climax" the piece appropriately.

Op.58 has multiple movements and is a lot longer. There are more varieties of moods, structuring (especially the first movement) remains difficult, and pacing of the performer's energies is important so you don't get too tired by the time the finale starts. Each movement has their own technical and musical difficulties, but at least there is a break between each movement.

Op. 54 has a lot of repetitions with very slight variations each time, so while the primary theme is easy to clarify to the listener, it has to be played well in conjunction with the other material to sound meaningful, instead of repetitive. There's also the lightness which is hard to bring off, but at least formally it's more workable than the other two works.

This isn't including any of the technical difficulties, but in my experience, in terms of hitting the notes and the importance in hitting the correct notes, you could say that op. 54 and op. 58 are a bit harder than op. 52.


Thanks for the insightful post, Kuan.

What strikes me about the ballade's coda is the thirds. They scare me. Perhaps it's just a weakness in my technique right now. What was the hardest part for you? (note-hitting wise)
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:00 PM

The thirds, but I sort of suck at them. However think of the clarity you need: IMO, the coda of the ballade is sort of an apocalyptic climax where everything is falling apart - it's less of a sin to fudge the thirds while delivering that musical statement, than it is to screw up the thirds in the fourth scherzo.

However, the primary difficulties in the 4th ballade are musical, not so much technical. And most of the sections aren't all that bad technically (though Mark_C will certainly disagree with me!)
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:00 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Does anyone think it's harder than opp. 52, 58?

Having studied all three, there are a few things that make it hard to compare:

Op. 52 culminates at a "point" - the coda. This makes structuring, pacing, and continuity difficult (since no sections repeat exactly). It means that the furious technical demands at the end are harder because of the emotional intensity, plus it has to be played well in order "climax" the piece appropriately.

Op.58 has multiple movements and is a lot longer. There are more varieties of moods, structuring (especially the first movement) remains difficult, and pacing of the performer's energies is important so you don't get too tired by the time the finale starts. Each movement has their own technical and musical difficulties, but at least there is a break between each movement.

Op. 54 has a lot of repetitions with very slight variations each time, so while the primary theme is easy to clarify to the listener, it has to be played well in conjunction with the other material to sound meaningful, instead of repetitive. There's also the lightness which is hard to bring off, but at least formally it's more workable than the other two works.

This isn't including any of the technical difficulties, but in my experience, in terms of hitting the notes and the importance in hitting the correct notes, you could say that op. 54 and op. 58 are a bit harder than op. 52.


Thanks for the insightful post, Kuan.

What strikes me about the ballade's coda is the thirds. They scare me. Perhaps it's just a weakness in my technique right now. What was the hardest part for you? (note-hitting wise)

For me, the double notes in the coda are definitely the hardest part - the first four bars, just for starters, are very difficult because of the necessity to articulate both voices within the double notes - then, of course, there are the thirds, and then those crazy passages up with double notes and down with the octaves in the LH, and then the last page or so with the cascading unison passages is very difficult to get accurate, and since you're totally exhausted by now (I would usually program this at the end of a concert) that makes it even harder.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
The thirds, but I sort of suck at them. However think of the clarity you need: IMO, the coda of the ballade is sort of an apocalyptic climax where everything is falling apart - it's less of a sin to fudge the thirds while delivering that musical statement, than it is to screw up the thirds in the fourth scherzo.


The thirds in the scherzo are actually incredibly easy if you know the secret. Take the them with 14/23 instead of traditional thirds fingering.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:15 PM

Oh yeah I already know that laugh . They're the easiest part in that section I think!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:17 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
The thirds, but I sort of suck at them. However think of the clarity you need: IMO, the coda of the ballade is sort of an apocalyptic climax where everything is falling apart - it's less of a sin to fudge the thirds while delivering that musical statement, than it is to screw up the thirds in the fourth scherzo.


The thirds in the scherzo are actually incredibly easy if you know the secret. Take the them with 14/23 instead of traditional thirds fingering.


What "traditional thirds fingering?" How could you possibly think of taking them with anything but 14/23?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:20 PM

25/13
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:22 PM

Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh

No. Nothing is a Pogorelich piece.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh

And ironically...I don't think he's recorded it! (or performed it).

I do like Bunin's rendition of the 4th Ballade. Zimmerman is good, but very clean... I forgot who else I liked, but I think that my own performance is a good reflection of what I like in the piece. It's ego, but if I didn't have anything to say then I wouldn't have learned it!
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh

No. Nothing is a Pogorelich piece.


In your insignificant opinion. wink
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
25/13

That sounds like a great way of making the thirds unecessarily difficult AND destroying the effect to boot.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh

And ironically...I don't think he's recorded it! (or performed it).

I do like Bunin's rendition of the 4th Ballade. Zimmerman is good, but very clean... I forgot who else I liked, but I think that my own performance is a good reflection of what I like in the piece. It's ego, but if I didn't have anything to say then I wouldn't have learned it!

What do you think of Rubinstein, Richter, Ashkenazy, etc.? Personally, I think no rendition of this piece will ever satisfy me. No human being can fully understand it. It is not of this world.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:34 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh

No. Nothing is a Pogorelich piece.


In your insignificant opinion. wink

In my insignificant opinion in your even more insignificant opinion.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Hahaa, but overall the point still stands: the 4th ballade is dramatic and can afford some mistakes to get the overall musical effect correct. However, with the Scherzo, hitting right notes is part of the musical effect - crystal clarity and breathtaking lightness.


True. The ballade is a Pogorelich piece. laugh

And ironically...I don't think he's recorded it! (or performed it).

I do like Bunin's rendition of the 4th Ballade. Zimmerman is good, but very clean... I forgot who else I liked, but I think that my own performance is a good reflection of what I like in the piece. It's ego, but if I didn't have anything to say then I wouldn't have learned it!


It's a shame if you ask me.

What I particularly like about Bunin's is that when the piece picks up, he really picks it up. You know, when it starts to get a little cooky in the right hand - cross rhythms between hands too. Most people dilly-dally through that I feel. Bunin really brings intensity to it by upping the tempo and keeping it loud. And he only gets more and more intense throughout the coda. His interpretation I feel is closest to what the music calls for.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:36 PM

@Poly:

I didn't listen to the piece as extensively as I did to the Liszt sonata. However, I remember being a bit turned off by Richter, but I enjoyed Rubinstein. Ashkenazy, I haven't listened to his performance. I should start listening to him more! It's that I'm put off from his Scriabin sonata recordings - his tone is brutal in those. I admire his recording of Rachmaninoff's second symphony so I don't doubt his musical credentials.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
@Poly:

I didn't listen to the piece as extensively as I did to the Liszt sonata. However, I remember being a bit turned off by Richter, but I enjoyed Rubinstein. Ashkenazy, I haven't listened to his performance. I should start listening to him more! It's that I'm put off from his Scriabin sonata recordings - his tone is brutal in those. I admire his recording of Rachmaninoff's second symphony so I don't doubt his musical credentials.

I think Rubinstein's coda steps over the barrier of how many notes you can miss and still retain all the music. Other than that, he is one of the best. Zimmerman's coda is perfect note-wise, but it is too sterile and doesn't get enough passion and drive. In fact, the coda is the place where most renditions fail, technically or musically.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 07:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
@Poly:

I didn't listen to the piece as extensively as I did to the Liszt sonata. However, I remember being a bit turned off by Richter, but I enjoyed Rubinstein. Ashkenazy, I haven't listened to his performance. I should start listening to him more! It's that I'm put off from his Scriabin sonata recordings - his tone is brutal in those. I admire his recording of Rachmaninoff's second symphony so I don't doubt his musical credentials.

I think Rubinstein's coda steps over the barrier of how many notes you can miss and still retain all the music. Other than that, he is one of the best. Zimmerman's coda is perfect note-wise, but it is too sterile and doesn't get enough passion and drive. In fact, the coda is the place where most renditions fail, technically or musically.


Perfectly said, Poly. It's hard to think something so divine came from a human. I know nobody agrees, but I think Chopin had the greatest musical mind out of them all. The quality of his output is so consistent it's astonishing - rivaling Bach and Mozart in my opinion. The only reason why Chopin wins is because I find his music to be the most moving. All of this being just my [insignificant] opinion. smile

If you want drive and pristine accuracy, watch Bunin's. If you haven't already, you might be in for a treat.

Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....the primary difficulties in the 4th ballade are musical, not so much technical. And most of the sections aren't all that bad technically (though Mark_C will certainly disagree with me!)

....and I wouldn't be the only one. grin

Your view is an extreme minority view. It might be close to a minority of 1.

And in fact, part of the quite great technical challenge is this thing you said, but for whatever reason you're not counting it a whole lot:

Quote:
The thirds, but I sort of suck at them.

It does not cease to amaze me how a lot of people say that 'whatever' piece "isn't that hard" -- even though there are parts of it that give them a lot of trouble.

My 'favorite' example of that is Chopin's F minor Fantaisie.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:05 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
...I think Chopin had the greatest musical mind out of them all.

He was up there, certainly - close behind Bach and Beethoven in my opinion, and this Ballade and his Opus 58 Sonata are some of the greatest works ever written, in any genre. However, I think a VERY few compositions do come closer to the divine, such as Beethoven's late string quartets or his last piano sonatas. Only a very few. smile
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....the primary difficulties in the 4th ballade are musical, not so much technical. And most of the sections aren't all that bad technically (though Mark_C will certainly disagree with me!)

....and I wouldn't be the only one. grin

Your view is an extreme minority view. It might be close to a minority of 1.

I think the point he's trying to bring across is that its musical difficulties (one might say impossibilities!) far surpass its technical ones, although I fail to see how anyone could consider even just the notes of the coda "not all that bad." Maybe Kuan is cheating on the inner voices, and in bars 223-226. grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:10 PM

The A major prelude is the hardest piece ever written. laugh
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:13 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
The A major prelude is the hardest piece ever written. laugh

No, that would be Schumann's Opus 15 No 7. laugh
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
The A major prelude is the hardest piece ever written. laugh

No, that would be Schumann's Opus 15 No 7. laugh


Speaking of this piece, I used to hate it. I thought it was cheesy. Not anymore though. The ending totally makes the piece for me.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 08:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
...I think Chopin had the greatest musical mind out of them all.

He was up there, certainly - close behind Bach and Beethoven in my opinion, and this Ballade and his Opus 58 Sonata are some of the greatest works ever written, in any genre. However, I think a VERY few compositions do come closer to the divine, such as Beethoven's late string quartets or his last piano sonatas. Only a very few. smile


Nobody could write anything so beautiful yet so simple as the prelude-like opening to the fourth ballade. How the heck did he create that melody?! It blows me away.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....the primary difficulties in the 4th ballade are musical, not so much technical. And most of the sections aren't all that bad technically (though Mark_C will certainly disagree with me!)

....and I wouldn't be the only one. grin

Your view is an extreme minority view. It might be close to a minority of 1.

And in fact, part of the quite great technical challenge is this thing you said, but for whatever reason you're not counting it a whole lot:

Quote:
The thirds, but I sort of suck at them.

It does not cease to amaze me how a lot of people say that 'whatever' piece "isn't that hard" -- even though there are parts of it that give them a lot of trouble.

My 'favorite' example of that is Chopin's F minor Fantaisie.

We will have to respectfully disagree laugh

As for my comment about my bad thirds - well, that's why I said they were hard!

As per Poly's comment, well I meant the entire coda was hard, but the thirds especially so. I don't think I faked the section that you referenced, but the octaves are much easier than the rising figures. Rushing is an issue (with all of my playing....sigh) with the entire coda.

And I don't think that I'm an extreme minority view. If anything the minority is 2; stores agrees with me. (well, at least he did last time we were arguing about this).
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:38 PM

What exactly is the argument here?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:47 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
What exactly is the argument here?

Well, it might not be totally clear. smile

As I saw it, what Kuan was saying (essentially) was that the 4th Ballade 'isn't that hard technically.'

Which, as I said (more gently than this), is completely absurd.

BUT, he has "deniability" on it. ha
Because, he didn't 'really' say that. He said the difficulties are more musical than technical, and "most of the sections aren't all that bad technically."

If we look at those things narrowly, arguably he's right.

But I wasn't looking at it narrowly; I was trying to look at it meaningfully. ha

Like, how is it meaningful, if we think we're saying something of any interest and importance, to really only mean that "most of the sections" of the piece aren't that hard technically, if some of them are extremely hard? Why is that worth saying if you only mean it narrowly?

(Kuan, take it!) grin
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:47 PM

He things I'm under-appreciating the technical difficulty of the 4th Ballade.

Back to the OP, the 4th scherzo is (no questions here), extraordinarily difficult!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
He thinks I'm under-appreciating the technical difficulty of the 4th Ballade.

Exactly.

Quote:
Back to the OP, the 4th scherzo is (no questions here), extraordinarily difficult!

Exactly. smile
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:50 PM

@Mark - let me try for tomorrow....waking up at 6am is difficult for somebody like me!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
@Mark - let me try for tomorrow....waking up at 6am is difficult for somebody like me!

Actually I think we're pretty done! smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
What exactly is the argument here?

Well, it might not be totally clear. smile

As I saw it, what Kuan was saying (essentially) was that the 4th Ballade 'isn't that hard technically.'

Which, as I said (more gently than this), is completely absurd.

BUT, he has "deniability" on it. ha
Because, he didn't 'really' say that. He said the difficulties are more musical than technical, and "most of the sections aren't all that bad technically."

If we look at those things narrowly, arguably he's right.

But I wasn't looking at it narrowly; I was trying to look at it meaningfully. ha

Like, how is it meaningful, if we think we're saying something of any interest and importance, to really only mean that "most of the sections" of the piece aren't that hard technically, if some of them are extremely hard? Why is that worth saying if you only mean it narrowly?

(Kuan, take it!) grin


My two cents:

I'm sick of people comparing technical and musical difficulty as if they're mutually exclusive. They're not. They're intertwined. Any chump can play the coda to the ballade and make it sound bad. It's playing it musically well that makes the technical challenges hard. Technical difficulty and musical difficulty go hand in hand.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:55 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
....Any chump can play the coda to the ballade and make it sound bad.....

Well, not really. Most people (who play the piano) can't even play the notes -- including even most people who are reasonably advanced.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:57 PM

Ehh, I think my primary argument for saying that it's meaningful knowing that there's only one ridiculously difficult part of the piece is that you don't have to practice as many fiddly bits, and more of the piece (by more, I mean musically, not the notes) is learned thinking and taking time to understand the work.

Does it matter in performance if 10% of the piece is impossible as opposed to 80% of it? Not really, if you've already prepared it and are ready to play it.

But if you're learning it...well it might be possible to get it going more quickly if there are only a few bits that are technically difficult. The fingers don't need time to learn the rest.

Other example: that nocturne. You know that there's one bar that's a devil, and once you learn it, you can do the rest of the piece relatively easily. You can spend time thinking about the music, as opposed to thinking about the notes.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 10:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
....Any chump can play the coda to the ballade and make it sound bad.....

Well, not really. Most people (who play the piano) can't even play the notes -- including even most people who are reasonably advanced.


You're implying that they're trying to make it sound good. If a reasonably accomplished pianist takes a stab at the coda without any intention of making it sound good, the notes won't be that hard to hit because 1) the tempo will be down 2) it will be sloppy 3) there will be no attention to musical detail.

It's the process of making those notes sound as best as possible that makes them hard to hit. Really, go try it. Go slap out scherzo 4 without any serious intent. It will sound awful, but it won't be hard.. then try to play it as best as you can. That's when it becomes hard.

Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:00 PM

@Joel - my last post of the night, but in some ways they can be separated. Think of something abstract like managing climaxes: your fingers aren't going to help you make the coda of the ballade seem inevitable and terrible. It's how you play the other 10 pages leading up to it, in a thoughtful manner, that will make the coda that much more musically effective. Playing the the coda in a tremendously technically proficient and musical way doesn't mean much if the rest of the piece didn't bring you to that point.
Posted by: stores

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:02 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
What exactly is the argument here?

Well, it might not be totally clear. smile

As I saw it, what Kuan was saying (essentially) was that the 4th Ballade 'isn't that hard technically.'

Which, as I said (more gently than this), is completely absurd.

BUT, he has "deniability" on it. ha
Because, he didn't 'really' say that. He said the difficulties are more musical than technical, and "most of the sections aren't all that bad technically."

If we look at those things narrowly, arguably he's right.

But I wasn't looking at it narrowly; I was trying to look at it meaningfully. ha

Like, how is it meaningful, if we think we're saying something of any interest and importance, to really only mean that "most of the sections" of the piece aren't that hard technically, if some of them are extremely hard? Why is that worth saying if you only mean it narrowly?

(Kuan, take it!) grin


My two cents:

I'm sick of people comparing technical and musical difficulty as if they're mutually exclusive. They're not. They're intertwined. Any chump can play the coda to the ballade and make it sound bad. It's playing it musically well that makes the technical challenges hard. Technical difficulty and musical difficulty go hand in hand.


Technical and musical difficulties do NOT go hand in hand. You'll come to learn that with more experience. I'm safe in saying that, because any musician WITH a good bit of experience will tell you that they are not intertwined.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:03 PM

Originally Posted By: stores

Technical and musical difficulties do NOT go hand in hand. You'll come to learn that with more experience. I'm safe in saying that, because any musician WITH a good bit of experience will tell you that they are not intertwined.


The above is a statement with no factual arguments.

You are wrong, stores. At least, in a way. When I say they are intertwined, I mean this:

A passage becomes physically harder the more you attempt to make it sound better. If the musical difficulty is to play fast and loud, that is also the technical difficulty. Not just fast and loud though. Minute control is very difficult technically. If a run calls for quick, fleeting phrasing, and the pianist cannot deliver, s/he will likely resort to using a rubato to compensate for lacking technique. (this is very common in scherzo 4) Therefore, the musical challenge of that phrase is intertwined with the technical challenge.

See?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Ehh, I think my primary argument for saying that it's meaningful knowing that there's only one ridiculously difficult part of the piece....

You just lost your deniability. ha

The coda is absolutely NOT the only ridiculously difficult part of the piece (even speaking just technically).

And sorry, but I won't be too interested in itemizing the various others. I'll just let this stand as is. Whoever gets it does, whoever doesn't doesn't. smile

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: stores

Technical and musical difficulties do NOT go hand in hand. You'll come to learn that with more experience. I'm safe in saying that, because any musician WITH a good bit of experience will tell you that they are not intertwined.


The above is a statement with no factual arguments.

You are wrong stores. At least, in a way. When I say they are intertwined, I mean this:

A passage becomes physically harder the more you attempt to make it sound better. Pristine phrasing is a technical challenge in itself.

You are right.
At best, it's arrogant semantics.
At worst, it's.......well, let's just say worse. grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:23 PM

Quote:

The coda is absolutely NOT the only ridiculously difficult part of the piece (even speaking just technically).

And sorry, but I won't be too interested in itemizing the various others. I'll just let this stand as is. Whoever gets it does, whoever doesn't doesn't. smile

Where does the coda actually start? When the right hand goes cooky or after the soft chords?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:24 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=Mark_C]
The coda is absolutely NOT the only ridiculously difficult part of the piece (even speaking just technically).

And sorry, but I won't be too interested in itemizing the various others. I'll just let this stand as is. Whoever gets it does, whoever doesn't doesn't. smile

Where does the coda actually start? After the soft chords?

Yes, I don't see how one could consider it to start anywhere else.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:25 PM

Well now I'm confused. Looking at Hakki's earlier post of this Liszt TE
I just don't see how musical and technical difficulties are NOT going hand in hand here... at least if you wish to observe Liszt's careful dynamic markings.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=Mark_C]
The coda is absolutely NOT the only ridiculously difficult part of the piece (even speaking just technically).

And sorry, but I won't be too interested in itemizing the various others. I'll just let this stand as is. Whoever gets it does, whoever doesn't doesn't. smile

Where does the coda actually start? After the soft chords?

Yes, I don't see how one could consider it to start anywhere else.


Lol yeah.. scratch that. I don't know what I was thinking. In that case, Mark is absolutely right. When the main theme is revisited, introducing a cooky right hand and the cross-rhythms, it is VERY hard to play that the right way. Not to mention the euphoric part that follows (with the scales in the left hand). The entire piece from the "cooky right hand" segment onward is just demonically hard.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:27 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
[quote=Mark_C]
The coda is absolutely NOT the only ridiculously difficult part of the piece (even speaking just technically).

And sorry, but I won't be too interested in itemizing the various others. I'll just let this stand as is. Whoever gets it does, whoever doesn't doesn't. smile

Where does the coda actually start? After the soft chords?

Yes, I don't see how one could consider it to start anywhere else.


Yeah lol scratch that I don't know what I was thinking.

I suppose one could say that the entire piece is the coda. whome
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:34 PM

By the way, now that we're on the subject, near the end of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's D minor sonata, there is a passage that closely resembles (and was clearly inspired by) bars 195 - 200 of the Ballade. And it has the same climactic feeling to it, and is at the same point in the emotional arc of the piece. And the meter is similar as well.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
By the way, now that we're on the subject, near the end of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's D minor sonata, there is a passage that closely resembles (and was clearly inspired by) bars 195 - 200 of the Ballade. And it has the same climactic feeling to it, and is at the same point in the emotional arc of the piece.


I am only familiar with the second sonata. How does the first compare?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:38 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
By the way, now that we're on the subject, near the end of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's D minor sonata, there is a passage that closely resembles (and was clearly inspired by) bars 195 - 200 of the Ballade. And it has the same climactic feeling to it, and is at the same point in the emotional arc of the piece.


I am only familiar with the second sonata. How does the first compare?

How about you listen to it, and judge for yourself? It's heresy not to have heard it, in any case. grin

It truly is an amazing work, and vastly underplayed and underappreciated compared to the second.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
By the way, now that we're on the subject, near the end of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's D minor sonata, there is a passage that closely resembles (and was clearly inspired by) bars 195 - 200 of the Ballade. And it has the same climactic feeling to it, and is at the same point in the emotional arc of the piece.


I am only familiar with the second sonata. How does the first compare?

How about you listen to it, and judge for yourself? It's heresy not to have heard it, in any case. grin

It truly is an amazing work, and vastly underplayed and underappreciated compared to the second.


Well of course I will, right now! Just thought I'd ask.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:41 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
....In that case, Mark is absolutely right....

Thanks, but actually Mark was absolutely right even before you got that clarified. ha

There are very difficult technical parts even before that.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
....In that case, Mark is absolutely right....

Thanks, but actually Mark was absolutely right even before you got that clarified. ha

There are very difficult technical parts even before that.

As early as measure 58 the piece becomes very difficult, especially if you have any ambition to play it well. ha
Bringing out the inner voices there satisfactorily while retaining the melody is a huge task.

Anyone who thinks this piece is anything short of extraordinarily difficult is playing it badly, period. I'm sure Zimmerman, Bunin, and Rubinstein would not presume to contradict me here.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
As early as measure 58 the piece becomes very difficult, especially if you have any ambition to play it well. ha
Bringing out the inner voices there satisfactorily while retaining the melody is a huge task.

....and that's a great example of why Joel was right about what Stores said, and why Stores was wrong about what Stores said. grin

(Especially putting it as he did.)
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
As early as measure 58 the piece becomes very difficult, especially if you have any ambition to play it well. ha
Bringing out the inner voices there satisfactorily while retaining the melody is a huge task.

....and that's a great example of why Joel was right about what Stores said, and why Stores was wrong about what Stores said. grin

(Especially putting it as he did.)

Just a minute - I never said anything about what stores said.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Just a minute - I never said anything about what stores said.

Sometimes we know not what we say. ha
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Just a minute - I never said anything about what stores said.

Sometimes we know not what we say. ha

Point out to me where I said anything about that issue.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/03/13 11:57 PM

That things of yours that I quoted in that post!

If you don't get it, maybe you're misunderstanding what we're referring to.

And if you still won't, this is also something I won't be particularly interested in saying more about.

(If you're really interested, just follow back the last few posts between me and Joel. It won't be hard to see.)
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 12:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
That things of yours that I quoted in that post!

If you don't get it, maybe you're misunderstanding what we're referring to.

And if you still won't, this is also something I won't be particularly interested in saying more about.

(If you're really interested, just follow back the last few posts between me and Joel. It won't be hard to see.)

Well, it doesn't seem very polite to hint that you disagree with me, and won't tell me what it is you disagree with.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 12:03 AM

Yikes!

I AGREED with you!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 12:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Yikes!

I AGREED with you!

Well, it seems like what you said once is true, Mark. "Misunderstandings lead to more misunderstandings." grin
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 12:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Well, it seems like what you said once is true, Mark. "Misunderstandings lead to more misunderstandings." grin

Yeah. Actually the quote was "Many misunderstandings come about from misunderstandings."

(right here)

But I'm glad for it to be remembered, even wrong. ha
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 12:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Well, it seems like what you said once is true, Mark. "Misunderstandings lead to more misunderstandings." grin

Yeah. Actually the quote was "Many misunderstandings come about from misunderstandings."

(right here)

But I'm glad for it to be remembered, even wrong. ha

grin
Posted by: stores

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 04:28 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: stores

Technical and musical difficulties do NOT go hand in hand. You'll come to learn that with more experience. I'm safe in saying that, because any musician WITH a good bit of experience will tell you that they are not intertwined.


The above is a statement with no factual arguments.

You are wrong, stores. At least, in a way. When I say they are intertwined, I mean this:

A passage becomes physically harder the more you attempt to make it sound better. If the musical difficulty is to play fast and loud, that is also the technical difficulty. Not just fast and loud though. Minute control is very difficult technically. If a run calls for quick, fleeting phrasing, and the pianist cannot deliver, s/he will likely resort to using a rubato to compensate for lacking technique. (this is very common in scherzo 4) Therefore, the musical challenge of that phrase is intertwined with the technical challenge.

See?


No, I'm not wrong. Do you even play the piano? I know Mark agreed with you, but that means nothing. He would agree with Satan, to disagree with me.
Whether you realise it, or not, what you wrote above pretty much proves my point.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 04:43 AM

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: stores

Technical and musical difficulties do NOT go hand in hand. You'll come to learn that with more experience. I'm safe in saying that, because any musician WITH a good bit of experience will tell you that they are not intertwined.


The above is a statement with no factual arguments.

You are wrong, stores. At least, in a way. When I say they are intertwined, I mean this:

A passage becomes physically harder the more you attempt to make it sound better. If the musical difficulty is to play fast and loud, that is also the technical difficulty. Not just fast and loud though. Minute control is very difficult technically. If a run calls for quick, fleeting phrasing, and the pianist cannot deliver, s/he will likely resort to using a rubato to compensate for lacking technique. (this is very common in scherzo 4) Therefore, the musical challenge of that phrase is intertwined with the technical challenge.

See?


No, I'm not wrong. Do you even play the piano? I know Mark agreed with you, but that means nothing. He would agree with Satan, to disagree with me.
Whether you realise it, or not, what you wrote above pretty much proves my point.


"Do you even play the piano?" LOL

No, nope.. I don't.

And I think Mark is a pretty honest guy around here. You two butt heads often because more times than not the discussion is opinion based, and yours frequently differ from Mark's. He's not 'out to get you' so to speak. That's just how I see it at least.

By the way, you still have done nothing but make statements with no facts supporting them. Good luck trying to win arguments that way.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 06:29 AM

No response to my post about structuring climaxes?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 06:39 AM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
No response to my post about structuring climaxes?


I don't really have anything to say in particular because I agree with what you said.
Posted by: Cheeto717

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 02:27 PM

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: JoelW
What exactly is the argument here?

Well, it might not be totally clear. smile

As I saw it, what Kuan was saying (essentially) was that the 4th Ballade 'isn't that hard technically.'

Which, as I said (more gently than this), is completely absurd.

BUT, he has "deniability" on it. ha
Because, he didn't 'really' say that. He said the difficulties are more musical than technical, and "most of the sections aren't all that bad technically."

If we look at those things narrowly, arguably he's right.

But I wasn't looking at it narrowly; I was trying to look at it meaningfully. ha

Like, how is it meaningful, if we think we're saying something of any interest and importance, to really only mean that "most of the sections" of the piece aren't that hard technically, if some of them are extremely hard? Why is that worth saying if you only mean it narrowly?

(Kuan, take it!) grin


My two cents:

I'm sick of people comparing technical and musical difficulty as if they're mutually exclusive. They're not. They're intertwined. Any chump can play the coda to the ballade and make it sound bad. It's playing it musically well that makes the technical challenges hard. Technical difficulty and musical difficulty go hand in hand.


Technical and musical difficulties do NOT go hand in hand. You'll come to learn that with more experience. I'm safe in saying that, because any musician WITH a good bit of experience will tell you that they are not intertwined.


Goodness gracious...I could not disagree more.

the 3rd and 4th scherzi are, in my opinion, better compositions than the first two which I believe suffer from structural weaknesses. Even the great Chopin masters can't avoid the feeling of repetitiveness. Again, this is obviously just my opinion.

He "fixes" this in the 3rd scherzo with a much more compact piece which I find to be extremely effective. It also has a mind blowing coda which is one of my absolute favorite endings of Chopin. This along with gorgeous and powerful main themes makes this a staple in my repertoire.

The 4th, while matching the first two in duration (maybe surpassing it, I'm not quite sure) surpasses the first two as far as sheer quality of content. It is a masterpiece on par with the 4th ballade, barcarolle, sonatas, and I'd even put it on the same pedestal as other monumental piano pieces like the Hammerklavier, Bminor sonata (Liszt), Goldberg Variations, etc.

It's one of those pieces that make you wonder what planet Chopin came from lol!
Posted by: Cheeto717

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 05:12 PM

May I submit my personal favorite performance of this incredible piece.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CNYX7OkceA
Posted by: pianist.ame

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 08:50 PM

Am studying it now... and it's my first big Chopin work

As my teacher said it is technically not as difficult as the rest however musically it is much harder to hold together...not saying that it isn't technically challenging either; there are a few passages which are not that easy to play perfectly& really get a grasp off.

I love it though esp. that minor section in the middle and at the end of that section right before I goes back to the main subject I always get this feeling as if I'm soaring.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 09:24 PM

Originally Posted By: pianist.ame
As my teacher said it is technically not as difficult as the rest...

Then your teacher is delusional.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 09:44 PM

Although I wouldn't have put it how he did.... ha .....Polyphonist has it right about the piece.

Originally Posted By: pianist.ame
....there are a few passages which are not that easy to play perfectly& really get a grasp off.....

Just about everything in the outer sections is very hard to play.

UNLESS, we don't care about tempo, or evenness, or clarity.

Not to mention just plain accuracy. (Unless we don't care about tempo or evenness or clarity.) grin

But don't get me wrong: It's great that you're studying the piece. But there's a lot that you aren't realizing about it if you really think what you said.

Are you sure you didn't somehow misunderstand your teacher??
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 09:47 PM

pianist.ame,

Good luck with it. I studied it for a while but decided to put it on the shelf. The descending staccato chords are the hardest part of the entire piece - too hard for me.
Posted by: Immortal Beloved

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 11:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I'd just like to discuss this piece with whoever's interested, since I'm obsessed with it right now. laugh Favorite passages? Quirky interpretative things? Story to go along with the piece (I came up with a few cheesy ones)? grin

And Mark, if you'd like to rave about the technical difficulty, be my guest. I probably agree with you. ha


What a cretin you are.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 11:19 PM

As much as I hate to waste a post just with "huh," I have to say (on Poly's behalf, not that he needs my help):

HUH????
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/04/13 11:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Immortal Beloved
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I'd just like to discuss this piece with whoever's interested, since I'm obsessed with it right now. laugh Favorite passages? Quirky interpretative things? Story to go along with the piece (I came up with a few cheesy ones)? grin

And Mark, if you'd like to rave about the technical difficulty, be my guest. I probably agree with you. ha


What a cretin you are.


Get out.
Posted by: Okay

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 12:40 PM

I think the technical/muscial duality is non sense. Of course we cannot split into 2 mutually exclusive concepts. A different belief may come from the confusion between technical and mechanical concepts.

Mechanical skills are the ability to play scales, arpeggios, thirds, jumps, octaves with minimal effort ... this is just a subset of technical skills. And certainly not the larger part.

But how to play the first 2 lines of the fourth ballade, if you are not backed by amazing technical skills ?
Phrasing the upper part just naturally, managing perfect legato, leaving the background in the background, producing constantly a transparent sound, giving to the bass just the good weight ... this is just horrific. What a technical mastery is needed to do justice to this unreal music...
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 12:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Okay
I think the technical/muscial duality is non sense. Of course we cannot split into 2 mutually exclusive concepts. A different belief may come from the confusion between technical and mechanical concepts.

Mechanical skills are the ability to play scales, arpeggios, thirds, jumps, octaves with minimal effort ... this is just a subset of technical skills. And certainly not the larger part.

But how to play the first 2 lines of the fourth ballade, if you are not backed by amazing technical skills ?
Phrasing the upper part just naturally, managing perfect legato, leaving the background in the background, producing constantly a transparent sound, giving to the bass just the good weight ... this is just horrific. What a technical mastery is needed to do justice to this unreal music...

Good insights. Probably stores is confusing velocity with technique.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 01:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Okay
I think the technical/muscial duality is non sense. Of course we cannot split into 2 mutually exclusive concepts. A different belief may come from the confusion between technical and mechanical concepts.

Mechanical skills are the ability to play scales, arpeggios, thirds, jumps, octaves with minimal effort ... this is just a subset of technical skills. And certainly not the larger part.

But how to play the first 2 lines of the fourth ballade, if you are not backed by amazing technical skills ?
Phrasing the upper part just naturally, managing perfect legato, leaving the background in the background, producing constantly a transparent sound, giving to the bass just the good weight ... this is just horrific. What a technical mastery is needed to do justice to this unreal music...

Good insights. Probably stores is confusing velocity with technique.


stores doesn't get confused. He's always right.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 06:57 PM

Anybody want to mention favorite passages? I've discussed a few myself-

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
...One moment that never fails to bring tears to my eyes (when played well) is the section at bar 865, and the transition into the next section at 873. It's one of the most beautiful passages in Chopin, indeed in all piano music. The harmonies are all so perfect, and then that little gesture at 888-889 - it is not just emotion, it transcends emotion, it is in a way otherworldly. Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
...another amazing place is the passage at 217, and specifically the incredible moment at 225...The 8 bars starting at 217 are like a little shadow, a cloud passing over the sun, and 225 has that amazing "bursting into the sunlight" feeling that only Chopin could have achieved. This passage also happens to be extremely difficult to pull off convincingly.


Anyone?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
...One moment that never fails to bring tears to my eyes (when played well) is the section at bar 865, and the transition into the next section at 873. It's one of the most beautiful passages in Chopin, indeed in all piano music. The harmonies are all so perfect, and then that little gesture at 888-889 - it is not just emotion, it transcends emotion, it is in a way otherworldly.


Yes, this it was stunning learning these passages. Once you uncover ever little harmony you see it in a new light. One of the best spots in the piece.

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
...another amazing place is the passage at 217, and specifically the incredible moment at 225...The 8 bars starting at 217 are like a little shadow, a cloud passing over the sun, and 225 has that amazing "bursting into the sunlight" feeling that only Chopin could have achieved. This passage also happens to be extremely difficult to pull off convincingly.


I like this description. I love how the "burst of sunlight" happens at the very top of the run. It's minor all the way up to the top then BOOM, sudden change of character. And not the mention that left hand chord at the end. What is the theoretical name for this chord? (inverted dominant7 with a 6th?) I used it quite often in my two miniatures. It's my favorite kind of chord.

Quote:
Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


wink
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:35 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Quote:
Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


wink

?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Quote:
Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


wink

?


?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:37 PM

This is one of my favorite Chopin pieces, up there alongside Opus 52, 58, 60, 62, and maybe a few others.

Come to think of it, that would be an interesting thread - favorite pieces for each composer - we could learn a lot about people's personalities from that. laugh Maybe I'll start it. smile
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:37 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Quote:
Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


wink

?


?

Never mind.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Quote:
Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


wink

?


?

Never mind.


I was just curious why you were curious. I winked because I agree -- and you probably know my sentiments on Chopin's ranking with other composers.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Quote:
Schumann, Liszt, or Brahms, while all great composers in their own right, could never have written this passage.


wink

?


?

Never mind.


I was just curious why you were curious. I winked because I agree -- and you probably know my sentiments on Chopin's ranking with other composers.


Well now, don't be too hasty - there are also passages in those other composers' works that Chopin couldn't have written. Personally, ...

...but that's subjective, of course. grin
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
This is one of my favorite Chopin pieces, up there alongside Opus 52, 58, 60, 62, and maybe a few others.

Come to think of it, that would be an interesting thread - favorite pieces for each composer - we could learn a lot about people's personalities from that. laugh Maybe I'll start it. smile


Yes, make that thread. I've been hoping someone would today. How ironic.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
This is one of my favorite Chopin pieces, up there alongside Opus 52, 58, 60, 62, and maybe a few others.

Come to think of it, that would be an interesting thread - favorite pieces for each composer - we could learn a lot about people's personalities from that. laugh Maybe I'll start it. smile


Yes, make that thread. I've been hoping someone would today. How ironic.

Why don't you make it? grin
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 08:44 PM

All right, all right, I gave in and made it. Let's see what happens.
Posted by: stores

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 09:26 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW

stores doesn't get confused. He's always right.


+1 I'm glad you realise this.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 09:28 PM

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: JoelW

stores doesn't get confused. He's always right.


+1 I'm glad you realise this.

And very humble and open-minded he is too, Joel. grin

I love how you put a "+1" after a sarcastic post against yourself. ha
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/05/13 09:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: JoelW

stores doesn't get confused. He's always right.


+1 I'm glad you realise this.

And very humble and open-minded he is too, Joel. grin

I love how you put a "+1" after a sarcastic post against yourself. ha


Hahaha
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/09/13 11:01 PM

Working on this piece again...and it's one of those pieces where I find different tempi work in different sections. It feels like the staccato quarters need to be quicker than the section with the running eighths in the right hand...hmmm

Another piece had this issue....Scarbo.

Otherwise, it's coming back surprisingly quickly, though again I find that section with the right hand flying all over the place to be much more difficult than those rising and falling staccato chords.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/10/13 12:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....it's one of those pieces where I find different tempi work in different sections.

Right off the bat, this seems very, very wrong.
(Not counting the middle section of course.)

Quote:
It feels like the staccato quarters need to be quicker than the section with the running eighths in the right hand...hmmm

Pardon my offering this counter-theory grin ....but the way I hear that is, you're playing the running-8th-note parts too slow.

Which is understandable, because they're HARD.
This is a very hard piece.
Which is what we've been saying, isn't it.... smile

Quote:
Another piece had this issue....Scarbo.

I don't know Scarbo well enough to be sure but I'd guess the same comments as the above could be made for that too.

Quote:
Otherwise, it's coming back surprisingly quickly....

Uh......uh.........uh.........maybe not that quickly. grin

Quote:
....though again I find that section with the right hand flying all over the place to be much more difficult than those rising and falling staccato chords.

I did the above comments before seeing this.

And y'know, those staccato chords are very hard too. If you don't have trouble with that, you're doing great. But, it sounds to me like the other sections are harder than you've ever given them credit for being.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/10/13 06:25 AM

Trust me with the tempo parts, you can't play Scarbo with the same tempo throughout (nobody does), and I work with the metronome a lot. I do need to speed up those eighths though...

I prefer not to think of how hard things are supposed to be when I work, because what's the point really? I know what effect I want, have a method to get there, and the rest is just practice.
Posted by: pv88

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/12/13 06:10 AM

@Kuanpiano,

This may be a little OT, however, I see that you are now "working on" Chopin's 3rd sonata which is a personal favorite of mine and can be considered to be one of Chopin's greatest masterpieces.

It happens to be one of those works I will never tire of hearing with all of its heartfelt soaring melodies, deft passagework, and, the powerful and climactic final movement which is certainly beyond words.

I would encourage others here (including the OP) to post their own recordings of these pieces (including the 4th scherzo in this thread) so that we get the full spectrum of what Chopin has to offer which might also better demonstrate the discussions of the score.

As of now with a dominant R.H. injury (primarily due to overuse with the mouse and typing at the computer) I cannot post any recordings although listening to these pieces will have to do.

Extra note:

Here's an excellent recording (very underrated in my opinion) of the 3rd sonata by Emil Gilels:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yHIkXz98kY

Now, back to the 4th scherzo... even though my favorite has always been the 3rd!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/12/13 04:03 PM

Originally Posted By: pv88
....I would encourage others here (including the OP) to post their own recordings of these pieces (including the 4th scherzo in this thread) so that we get the full spectrum of what Chopin has to offer which might also better demonstrate the discussions of the score....

Not to be a party pooper or debbie downer grin ....but except for performances by the uppest echelon of pianists (of whom we might have some here, to be sure), I think the main thing we'd learn from people's performances of the 4th Scherzo is how hard it is and what we can't quite do. I doubt we'd get anything like what you're saying from most performances.

Signed,
One who has actually ventured to perform the piece smile
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/12/13 06:02 PM

Originally Posted By: pv88
@Kuanpiano,

This may be a little OT, however, I see that you are now "working on" Chopin's 3rd sonata which is a personal favorite of mine and can be considered to be one of Chopin's greatest masterpieces.

It happens to be one of those works I will never tire of hearing with all of its heartfelt soaring melodies, deft passagework, and, the powerful and climactic final movement which is certainly beyond words.

I would encourage others here (including the OP) to post their own recordings of these pieces (including the 4th scherzo in this thread) so that we get the full spectrum of what Chopin has to offer which might also better demonstrate the discussions of the score.

As of now with a dominant R.H. injury (primarily due to overuse with the mouse and typing at the computer) I cannot post any recordings although listening to these pieces will have to do.

Extra note:

Here's an excellent recording (very underrated in my opinion) of the 3rd sonata by Emil Gilels:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yHIkXz98kY

Now, back to the 4th scherzo... even though my favorite has always been the 3rd!

Thank you for the post, pv88! It's actually a funny story, I have the Gilels recording on my phone...and I was working while listening to music 2 or 3 months ago....and it started playing. I was totally taken aback by it...and then I started working on it. Gilels is my favourite, he's one of the few that doesn't play the first movement so brutally...I was listening to another pianist on youtube who brought out the contrast between the primary material and the second subject a bit too much...it sounded like Prokofiev's 6th sonata.

Hopefully I'll have it up to performance standard, because I have a peformance coming up in less than a month and it needs to be ready! When I get a recording ready, I will definitely share it.

As for the fourth, I'm coming back to it again, and am hoping to do a better job with it this time. I will post a recording when it's ready too. And yes, I have performed it before, so some things are coming back pretty quickly!

@Mark - I think there are some things that can be grasped by amateur performances. For example: is the "mood" of the piece joyful and optimistic, or should the overall mood be more ... mature, reminiscing about happier times? There are many approaches to the piece which can be conveyed to the listener despite not having a perfect technique. I know that both of us have musical ideas despite not being supreme technicians! (well, I'm not one for sure)
Posted by: pv88

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/12/13 09:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Thank you for the post, pv88! It's actually a funny story, I have the Gilels recording on my phone...and I was working while listening to music 2 or 3 months ago....and it started playing. I was totally taken aback by it...and then I started working on it. Gilels is my favourite, he's one of the few that doesn't play the first movement so brutally... [etc]

Hopefully I'll have it up to performance standard, because I have a peformance coming up in less than a month and it needs to be ready! When I get a recording ready, I will definitely share it.


@Kuanpiano,

Thanks for your reply as I agree that Gilels really does the 3rd sonata some real justice in regards to a tempo that is not too quick in the first movement and everything is performed with attention to detail and sound. Far too many pianists appear to race through it as if it were an "Etude" and this inevitably just destroys the musical content. It is nice to hear this piece played moderately but with a great sense of feeling and nuance.

Also, another great performance of the 3rd sonata would be the one by Van Cliburn and since there is no recording of this posted at YouTube here's a link of the reissued CD that contains it:

Van Cliburn - CD recording

Also, even better, here is the original LP disc for the above:

Van Cliburn - LP disc

Note the image of the back cover with the extra notes which even has several illustrations from the score itself.

I currently own many of the original Cliburn LP's.

Do look forward to your recording!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Chopin E major scherzo Opus 54 - 09/12/13 09:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
@Mark - I think there are some things that can be grasped by amateur performances. For example: is the "mood" of the piece joyful and optimistic, or should the overall mood be more ... mature, reminiscing about happier times? There are many approaches to the piece which can be conveyed to the listener despite not having a perfect technique. I know that both of us have musical ideas despite not being supreme technicians! (well, I'm not one for sure)

I, for one, am not too crazy about listening to any amateur recording of any late Chopin, especially this piece. In fact, there are very few recordings of this that I will listen to at all, probably 3 or 4 in total.