Chopin ballades difficulties?

Posted by: njalli

Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 08:36 AM

Can you arrange the Chopin Ballades in Difficulty order from hardest to easiest please laugh

I want to play a chopin ballade soon (not the 4th one its to advanced for me)
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 08:54 AM

I always put them 3124, although I know some people reverse the middle two.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 08:58 AM

IMO, from most difficult to least, I would rank them as follows:

- #4
- #1
- #2
- #3

#1, and #2 could be switched, but I would say 3 is definately the least difficult, and 4 is the most difficult.
Posted by: njalli

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 09:04 AM

Okei thanks, phiebas.. i thougt the same too

but kreisler.. dont you mean that the no. 4 is the hardest one? haven't you reversed the order?
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: njalli
Okei thanks, phiebas.. i thougt the same too

but kreisler.. dont you mean that the no. 4 is the hardest one? haven't you reversed the order?


Not to speak for Kreisler, but I think that's what he meant.
Posted by: limavady

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 12:12 PM

...i think that would be true. even though you asked for difficulty from hardest to easiest it seems more logical to list them from easiest to hardest since that would be the way you'd be studing them.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 12:21 PM

Yes, I got it backwards. Sorry!

4213
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 01:41 PM

Why do you say 2 is more difficult than 1?
Posted by: njalli

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 02:43 PM

Haha i thougt so Kreisler, thanks ! I think i might ask my teacher if she will let me play the 3rd one.. my favorite laugh

But how is the 3rd one compared to Liebestraum? I know that the ballade is a lot longer but is it harder?
Posted by: xtraheat

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 04:02 PM

I would say: 1-4-2-3
Posted by: Fredil

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 04:13 PM

From my personal experience, the Ballade No. 3 is much more difficult than the No. 1...

3-1-2-4
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 04:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Fredil
From my personal experience, the Ballade No. 3 is much more difficult than the No. 1...

3-1-2-4


So, you're saying the 4th is the least difficult, and #3 is the most difficult? Not sure I can agree with that.
Posted by: Fredil

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 04:25 PM

Nonono - sorry, I went and made a silly mistake. :P

4-2-3-1, then, in decreasing order.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 04:58 PM

Ok. I couldn't tell from what you said about 1 being less difficult than 3.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:13 PM

1 is kind of an odd bird. Without the coda and some of the rhythmic quirks (the quintuplet stuff), it'd probably be the easiest. But the coda is a nightmare!
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:15 PM

Wow, this thread is confused.

Hardest--#4 by far!! I don't think I can ever play it perfectly.

Next Hardest--#1 It's musically demanding, must make transitions between sections smooth and seamless, and the two fast sections are very difficult. This is my favorite ballade.

#3 and #2 are difficult in different ways. I think #2 is slightly easier than #3 only because I don't like #2 . I also revere #3 quite a bit because I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music _ever_ written.
Posted by: Fredil

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:20 PM

2 is definitely harder than 3, if for nothing other than the horrific Presto con fuoco.

I think that 1 is, in general, technically more difficult (mainly the coda), but that 3 requires a greater degree of control and virtuosity and is more difficult in general.

xtraheat, what makes you think that 4 is among the easiest?
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:24 PM

This is all very good - but I'd be curious to know the rationale for the various rankings.

What specifically makes 4 more difficult than 3 - from a technical and interpretive standpoint?

Why would 2 be considered more difficult than 1, or 1 more difficult than 2?

Over the past 40 years I've known aspiring pianists who tackled No. 1 while still in high school - whether they were ready to do so or not. In college it seemed that piano majors performed 1, 2 and 3 the most frequently - but rarely did anyone play the 4th.

And of course - we all deal differently with the various technical challenges that are thrown at us. What may be easy for one pianist might be challenging for another.

NOTE: Apparently as soon as I started to write this post - three or four other members submitted statements addressing what I'm asking about. Thanks !
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:37 PM

My rationale for ranking them the way I did:

#4 - Most difficult because it has more of a contrapuntal quality than the other 3, some rhythmic difficulty, is the most lengthy, and the coda is very difficult.

#1 - Some difficult passagework, some rhythmic problems, and the code is hard.

#2 - Presto con fuoco section difficult and tiring.

#3 - Definately not easy, but without the killer codas of the other 3.

It is subjective, though.
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:43 PM

Per AZNpiano - "#3 and #2 are difficult in different ways. I think #2 is slightly easier than #3 only because I don't like #2 . I also revere #3 quite a bit because I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music _ever_ written."
___________________________________________________

Its funny that you should say that. I think #3 is the least interesting - perhaps because I've been familiar with it for the longest period of time. I'm currently playing #2. The most challenging part of this Ballade (for me, at least)is the dramatic contrast between sections. The final presto is almost impossible to play up to speed on a piano with a heavy action due to the repeated notes in the top voice!! Its much more manageable on an instrument with a lighter action !! Ashkenazy's performance of this Ballade blows me away !!
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:46 PM

Phlebas - The Presto con fuoco section in No. 2 is intense, but blessedly short!

Thanks for your response !!
Posted by: Fredil

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:55 PM

carey, the Presto con fuoco of the Ballade No. 2 is not short. The initial playing of it is, but the recapitulation lasts about one and a half minutes, far longer than the Presto con fuoco of the Ballade No. 1.

I would consider the entire ending segment of the Ballade No. 3 to be a Presto con fuoco of sorts. It's hard and fast enough. shocked
Posted by: gerg

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 05:57 PM

I love #3 and #2. Not to diminish in any wise the famous #1 and #4, each rich with its own opulence and inspired artistry, but the Op. 47 and Op. 38 are my personal favorites.

Op. 47 is a current project of mine, in my opinion the most gay and whimsical of the set. It requires a fast and delicate touch beginning m. 116. The notes are "easy"; the artistry is not. The tumultuous C#-minor section beginning m 172 is likely saved from comparison difficultywise to the other Ballades' codas only on account of its brevity. It demands a variety of technical skills, but I share in the consensus that it is the easiest of the set.

Op. 38 I've played with, though not seriously. It is a future love-interest amongst the Ballades. I've given it the nickname "the Bipolar Ballade" (with apologies to Monsieur Fryderyk) on account of its clear-cut circumscription. The presto con fuoco, fast, angry though mercifully patterned runs proceed a tonal torrent leading to the LH runs. This, to me, evokes the desperation of the battlefield, with banners flying, war horses thundering, and casualties lying prostrate bleeding in the grass. I've not played through the lovely A-theme though can imagine a delicacy of voicing each finger perfectly is paramount.

Cannot comment on Op. 23 or Op. 52 other than to express my profound reverence for anyone who can play them.
Posted by: gerg

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 06:00 PM

The ending of Op. 47, i.e. the section marked by final return to Ab major, is not all that difficult for anyone who has played Chopin for awhile. It can be thought of as a sort of grandiose Valse. The preceding sections demand much more of the pianist, not only in sheer strength but in sensitivity.
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 06:13 PM

Friedl - My bad !! I was referring specifically to the "Agitato" section (the final 36 measures of the Ballade) - not the Presto con fuoco - which begins 28 measures earlier. The Agitato is (in my opinion) the most challenging section of No. 2.
Posted by: LaReginadellaNotte

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 06:14 PM

Do you find the f minor Ballade to be the most technically demanding, or simply the most interpretively demanding? I know that the double note passages are very difficult, but the double notes of #2 and the Coda of #1 are also hard- although perhaps not as hard as #4's Coda.
Posted by: gerg

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 06:19 PM

I've heard that but have never approached the Op. 52 in F-minor so am unqualified to answer. Others who are far more knowledgeable have on this thread rendered a general difficulty opinion, and the consistency of that consensus would incline me to believe the answer to both of your questions is "yes."

Does anyone who plays Op. 52 have an opinion on its difficulties in interpretive vs. technical demands?
Posted by: xtraheat

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 06:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Fredil

xtraheat, what makes you think that 4 is among the easiest?


I don't think that it is one of the easiest, I think that is the 2nd hardest, and "about" the same difficulty as the first one. However, while the 4th has short difficult sections throughout, the 1st one has a couple of sustained virtuosic parts that I found more difficult than anything in the 4th.
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 08:18 PM

2 is the hardest, no question. It's awkward, difficult to interpret (well they all are but especially this one). It's not as pianistically written as the other three, even No. 4 and that makes it hell. After playing them all, that's what I think. Most people think I'm crazy..

From hardest: 2, 4, 1, 3.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 01/04/10 09:10 PM

I think it depends on the person, actually. For me, 1 and 3 are easy(er) to understand musically, 2 and 4 are (even more) difficult to understand musically. This is my personal breakdown, and may not apply to you or anyone else:

Click to reveal..

Ballade 4: I happen to have no trouble with any of the technical difficulties Ballade 4 throws out there, so I would not rank it the hardest. My biggest problem with Ballade 4 would be the musicality of it.

Ballade 3 has some tricky "chord-arpeggios" near the end that happen to be my technical weakness, but like I said above, musically I think it's not very difficult.

Ballade 2 is the ballade I have studied and that I currently perform. For the life of me, I cannot get the very final arpeggios of Ballade 2 clean at the tempo I want it (heck, the entire Ravel Toccata is easier for me than the final arpeggios of Ballade 2, and believe me, I can handle the roughest spots of the Ravel Toccata pretty well). The accuracy is usually a "hit or miss" sort of deal, and I've gotten lucky so far!

Ballade 1 also has those chord-arpeggios in the coda section. Musically, it doesn't seem too awfully difficult to understand, but it presents more of a technical challenge than Ballade 3, and is a toss-up against Ballade 2.


AngelinaPogorelich, I would be very inclined to agree with you.
Posted by: bkthugs10214

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 05:27 PM

Speaking of, does anyone have Cortot's edition of ballades in english?
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 09:34 PM

For me working on No. 1, I can only comment on it.

It is most of all, a fairly easy piece.

But it has its challenges in there! For playing piano for almost 10 years, this song still proves to be a big challenge in those hard parts! Especially and most of all, the Presto Con Fucco (coda as I believe some call it)

The rest of it is coming together fairly well. Still needs work of course. But the first 1-4 or 5 pages is going pretty good and will soon start to become more clear and sound better.

___
I am still trying to open up with my new teacher. It has been 9 years with my first teacher! I was held back soo much and couldn't really let out my potential. But it is starting to really come together!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 09:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
For me working on No. 1, I can only comment on it.
It is most of all, a fairly easy piece.....

...........NOT. smile

Absolutely not.
If anything truly truly believes it's "easy," I can just about guarantee you that you're not doing a lot of what most people would feel the piece needs.

Because doing that is very, very hard.

If you mean just sort of playing the notes, especially if it's below the usual tempos, well okay, maybe. But I didn't think that's what we're talking about.

Just to give one example: Those scales at the end.
I can see that someone might say, it's just scales.

It's not.

To do any semblance of the musical and dramatic things that are needed with those scales is very, very hard. Even for the very most advanced pianists it's not "easy" -- it's still always a challenge.

Stuff like this makes my skin stand on end. ha
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 09:56 PM

Ok let me rephrase. ha

It has its easy sections. smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 09:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
Ok let me rephrase. ha
It has its easy sections. smile

Fair enough. smile
I'd still cringe a little at that, because IMO even the "easy" sections are extremely challenging, if we want to make something beautiful and interesting of them.

But at least it doesn't make my skin stand on end. ha
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 10:16 PM

Haha.

I have found it a challenge at first. But after really sitting down and working through it, I found it very, patternous (new word!) and -everything- fits together just so perfectly.
Posted by: Butters109

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 10:24 PM

It's deceptively difficult. There are a few parts that I still can't get just right, even after a lot of work. Those last two scales are VERY difficult if you want to play them at speed, the last one especially... keeping both hands totally in sync, and keeping them a tenth apart is a real challenge. The octaves... not so much (at least to me). The presto con fuoco part of the coda is also extremely hard to play at tempo. The scherzo-ish section is also very difficult to play at speed while remaining light. There are a few other really tricky spots that take a lot more time than you'd expect... and they have to be surrounded by all of these extremely delicate passages that really push your musicality.

The point is, if you want to get out of the piece what was intended, its enormously difficult. It may not be so hard to pick it apart and play each part separately, but forming all of those parts into a cohesive idea with few technical mistakes is a large undertaking.
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/24/10 10:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Butters109
It's deceptively difficult. There are a few parts that I still can't get just right, even after a lot of work. Those last two scales are VERY difficult if you want to play them at speed, the last one especially... keeping both hands totally in sync, and keeping them a tenth apart is a real challenge. The octaves... not so much (at least to me). The presto con fuoco part of the coda is also extremely hard to play at tempo. The scherzo-ish section is also very difficult to play at speed while remaining light. There are a few other really tricky spots that take a lot more time than you'd expect... and they have to be surrounded by all of these extremely delicate passages that really push your musicality.

The point is, if you want to get out of the piece what was intended, its enormously difficult. It may not be so hard to pick it apart and play each part separately, but forming all of those parts into a cohesive idea with few technical mistakes is a large undertaking.



Thats what makes Chopin just that amazing to play, hear and feel. smile
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 01:10 AM

Reminder..... we need to stop using the "S" word when referring to a piano composition smirk
Posted by: Googlism

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 01:17 AM

I have yet to see a set of compositions that parallel the popularity of Chopin's ballades. Some could argue that the two sets of his etudes are good as well, but there are some in there that are less popular and less heralded. Same with the nocturnes.
Posted by: carey

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 01:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Googlism
I have yet to see a set of compositions that parallel the popularity of Chopin's ballades. Some could argue that the two sets of his etudes are good as well, but there are some in there that are less popular and less heralded. Same with the nocturnes.


While that may be true, there are only four Ballades compared to the 24 Etudes and approximately 20 Nocturnes.

And yes - some could argue that the Etudes and Nocturnes are good as well. smirk
Posted by: Chopin4life

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:09 PM

So would most of you say that the Ballades, if you took away the coda from each, are about the same difficulty?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:16 PM

I don't think that's exactly true, but anyway why would we talk about how it is "taking away the coda"? I really don't get it.....
Posted by: Hedgeman26

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:16 PM

Have to strongly agree with Mark C and Butters...to play No. 1 with authority and beauty is far from an easy task. To just roughly play through for family and friends without too much concern for accurate dynamics, speed, and preciseness is one thing (can still manage to be a decent performance to untrained and non-critical ears)...but to get to actual performance quality is a whole other ballgame and can be very daunting to play with a critical audience in the background. Requires just so much musicianship. Anyways, just feel like there are ALWAYS small parts of any piece that can be thought of as "easy", and just cringe when I hear a piece is easy "except" for this section or that section. It can sometimes be just one or two "small" sections that take a piece from modestly playable to brutally difficult, and therefore the piece as a whole would have to be preoperly described as "brutally difficult". Not "easy" except for the...you get my point. Actually, I take that back...I don't think there is anything easy about the Kapustin concert etudes I am slowly, and I am mean slowly, trying to learn (if I could perform them at 1/10 Hamelin's quality I would feel some sort of success). It's like staring up at Everest and letting out a long sigh...at least for a humble amateur like myself.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Hedgeman26
......To just roughly play through for family and friends without too much concern for accurate dynamics, speed, and preciseness is one thing (can still manage to be a decent performance to untrained and non-critical ears).....

That's the impression I've had of what people often mean here when they talk about how hard a piece is -- and I can't relate to it.

Quote:
.....but to get to actual performance quality is a whole other ballgame.....

That's what I think it means. Otherwise we're not talking about how hard the piece is, we're talking about how easy it is to sort of play the piece.

Quote:
.....It can sometimes be just one or two "small" sections that take a piece from modestly playable to brutally difficult....

My favorite example of that is Chopin's D-flat major Nocturne. It's not that hard, except for "that measure." ha
Posted by: Chopin4life

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I don't think that's exactly true, but anyway why would we talk about how it is "taking away the coda"? I really don't get it.....

There's nothing really to get. I was just wondering if the difficulty of the coda sort of defines the piece's difficulty in technical terms. Looks like it doesn't smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:30 PM

Right -- I don't think it does, but I could imagine people would think the opposite, especially for the 1st and 4th. But I think there's much in those pieces besides the codas that is more difficult than the other ballades.
Posted by: Hedgeman26

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:38 PM

"That's what I think it means. Otherwise we're not talking about how hard the piece is, we're talking about how easy it is to sort of play the piece." - Mark C

Exactly, to just play through FI for instance took me about 2 weeks, but to bring to performance quality (have recital in couple of weeks) with proper resepct given to every little nuance in dynamics has taken me an additional 2 months and I finally feel I am not just "faking" it (which by the way is very easy to do with FI and most non-critical listeners would hardly notice).

Anyways, guess I am getting off topic a bit, so back to the original question...I would place #4 at the top of "most challenging" ballade list, imo.
Posted by: Chopin4life

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Right -- I don't think it does, but I could imagine people would think the opposite, especially for the 1st and 4th. But I think there's much in those pieces besides the codas that is more difficult than the other ballades.

OK, thank you. One of the reasons I thought this was because someone said on this thread (can't remember who):

'#3 - Definately not easy, but without the killer codas of the other 3'

I guess they didn't mean it how I interpreted it.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 12:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Hedgeman26
.....to just play through FI for instance took me about 2 weeks, but to bring to performance quality (have recital in couple of weeks) with proper resepct given to every little nuance in dynamics has taken me an additional 2 months....

Pardon my ignorance but what's "FI"?
Posted by: Hedgeman26

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 01:01 PM

Sorry Mark...Fantasie Impromptu. Feeble attempt to save some typing time...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 01:05 PM

Cool......and no problem, these days everything has an abbreviation, especially newly-invented medical conditions that have medications and TV ads. smile
Posted by: Hedgeman26

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 01:14 PM

LOL, exactly...yeah everything in this world seems to keep getting smaller, and smaller. Have first recital in 10 years coming up in a few weeks and trying to put together decent program. Gave up piano for tennis about 10 years ago out of high school...I don't live with regrets but man I wish I would have kept it up. Started up again with a brilliant teacher (ex-concert pianist) a few months back in Houston and just loving every minute of it. Never thought I could be this passionate about a hobby...truly a life long journey. Glad I found this forum as well, although I do spend most of my time just lurking.

Best,

David
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 05:07 PM

I think probably you're better off for having done the tennis too......but welcome back to piano. smile
Posted by: Googlism

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 02/25/10 05:32 PM

I think the reason why many people try and view pieces as easy and some sections and hard in others is to gauge the true difficulty of the piece.

If you were to compare the 1st Ballade to the Revolutionary Etude, which I know is unfair, but in the view of difficulty, the etude is difficult throughout the whole piece while the Ballade is technically passable for 1/2 or 3/4 of the piece.
Posted by: Classical Music

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 03/19/14 09:05 PM

I am currently learning Chopin Ballade #2 and I have also attempted to play the other three Chopin Ballades and my order from easiest to hardest is: 2-3-1-4 or 2-1-3-4 (My opinion). Many people say that #2 is really hard. It does seem hard at first, but once I got used to it, #2 will seem easier than the other ballades. The slow part is extremely easy for me. I also feel like #3 and #1 can be switched because #3 seems kind of confusing to me throughout the whole piece, but without any really hard parts or the coda. #1 has some easy parts with many difficult parts, which overall, I find most annoying for my fingers to play. #4 is just difficult. My fingers get really tired and some notes just feels and looks impossible to play.
Posted by: compianist1

Re: Chopin ballades difficulties? - 03/20/14 04:07 AM

I utterly agree