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#456254 - 07/15/08 08:15 AM Chopin Ornaments
AlexD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/08
Posts: 5
Can anybody advise me on how to play Chopin’s ornaments in his piece marked Moderato? I had thought that Chopin’s acciaccaturas should be played on the beat, but have just read that in bar 4 the acciaccatura comes before the beat? How would I know this? Is this correct? Also, the G sharp acciaccatura is repeated as part of the spread chord after it, eg spreading from G sharp to E to C sharp. Should the G sharp be played twice with the second G sharp coinciding with left hand? Other ornaments in the piece, eg bars 2, 6 etc have 2 grace notes before the main note. Should these also be before the beat? Should they be played so that the first grace note coincides with the left hand? I’m getting confused. Can anyone help?

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#456255 - 07/15/08 08:37 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
You'll find significantly different opinions and performance practices when it comes to the issue of "before the beat" or "on the beat"—just as with whether trills should start on the main note or the auxiliary. I don't mean to confuse you further, but tastefulness and musical context are sometimes the best guides.
 Quote:
Originally posted by AlexD:
Also, the G sharp acciaccatura is repeated as part of the spread chord after it, eg spreading from G sharp to E to C sharp. Should the G sharp be played twice with the second G sharp coinciding with left hand? [/b]
That's what I would do, though there are differing opinions, too, on whether the first note of an arpeggiated chord—or the last note!—should fall on the beat.
 Quote:
Originally posted by AlexD:
Other ornaments in the piece, eg bars 2, 6 etc have 2 grace notes before the main note. Should these also be before the beat? Should they be played so that the first grace note coincides with the left hand?[/b]
IMHO, no and yes—and, in particular, I would include the f-sharp of the middle voice on the beat, too.

Steven

[Edit: fixed my error!]
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#456256 - 07/15/08 09:26 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
AlexD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/08
Posts: 5
Thank you so much Steven. This is my first ever time posting on a forum! It's so great to be able to get such good advice. I'm always worried that I'm playing ornaments incorrectly but it's good to hear you say tastefulness and musical context are sometimes the best guides! I feel far more confident now learning this piece and happy to know that I've got the right idea with the ornaments. Thank you again.

Alex

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#456257 - 07/15/08 09:50 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Welcome to the PW forums, Alex. I'm glad I could help.

It's valuable to know how something is played by others, too. YouTube can be very useful as a source for hearing professionals and amateurs alike (including the kinds of variations in execution we're talking about here).

Due to the relative obscurity of this particular piece, I couldn't find a single video of it. But ornaments like these appear frequently elsewhere in Chopin, and there will usually be many performances from which to choose of better known compositions.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#456258 - 07/15/08 10:00 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
AlexD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/08
Posts: 5
Hi again. It's a good idea about going onto YouTube. I wouldn't have thought of it! I've just tried to play Moderato again. I'm confident with bar 4 and the spread chord now, but when playing bar 2 etc with the 2 grace notes I'm finding I feel that if I play the first of the 2 grace notes with the left hands notes and middle F sharp that perhaps they should be on the beat? Or if I play the grace notes first they could be before the beat? What do you think?

Alex

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#456259 - 07/15/08 10:12 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by AlexD:
I feel that if I play the first of the 2 grace notes with the left hands notes and middle F sharp that perhaps they should be on the beat?[/b]
Yes! I made a mistake in the earlier message (where I had said "yes and yes") and have corrected it now.

I'm sorry for the confusion! I'm glad you revisited this, as I wouldn't have caught the error otherwise.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#456260 - 07/15/08 10:17 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
AlexD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/08
Posts: 5
Great. I've got it. I'm much happier playing it now and it's good to know I'm playing it correctly. I do love playing Chopin and would love to master the pieces properly. Thank you so much again.

Alex

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#456261 - 07/15/08 10:22 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
8ude Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
Is this the piece you're referring to?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=nojVZQdaW2A

Looks like this rendition plays the grace note before the beat, and plays the LH along with the top not of the arpeggiated chord. I don't have a hard answer as to what is "right" - like Steven said, there are many opinions when it comes to things like this. I think an argument can be made for either way.

My own personal opinion is that I'd play it as in this video - grace note before the beat and play the LH chord along with the top C#. I think the grace note on the beat would sound awkward. Playing the second G# on the beat could work too, though.

Side note - this is the first I've heard this short piece. Charming...
_________________________
What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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#456262 - 07/15/08 10:23 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
I heard some Mannes teachers I highly respect say that the only correct rules for trills etc. are the ones given in the Paderewski editions. I have a high enough opinion of these teachers to believe they are correct in this regard.

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#456263 - 07/15/08 10:36 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by AlexD:
I'm much happier playing it now and it's good to know I'm playing it correctly.[/b]
Well, "correctly" might not be quite the right word to use!

I offered my own reasonably informed opinion, and I think it's a mainstream one. But, as I mentioned before, ornaments in Chopin are something about which even experts can disagree in principle. (And in practice, you might even find that the same pianist executes the same ornament slightly differently in different performances.)

As with any topic of scholarly interest, ornamentation been written about quite a bit—even on this forum! (The archives are searchable, if you're interested in past discussions.)

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#456264 - 07/15/08 10:47 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by 8ude:
Is this the piece you're referring to?[/b]
Wow, you found it! Dang, I'm a bad searcher. I looked for Album Leaf and Albumblatt, but forgot about the French title.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

Top
#456265 - 07/15/08 11:13 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
I heard some Mannes teachers I highly respect say that the only correct rules for trills etc. are the ones given in the Paderewski editions. I have a high enough opinion of these teachers to believe they are correct in this regard. [/b]
I don't disagree, but the problem is compounded by the fact that the notation of ornaments isn't always consistent. Even the Paderewski editions acknowledge this, and their explanation reads more like guidelines than inviolable rules (i.e., with qualifications and equivocal terms like "often" and "sometimes." (It was discussed recently in this thread .)

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

Top
#456266 - 07/16/08 05:29 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
AlexD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/08
Posts: 5
Hi 8ude and Steven,

Thank you so much 8ude for your input. It was really interesting to watch and hear someone play it on YouTube. It is the piece! There’s obviously quite differing opinions in how it could be played. After listening to YouTube and playing it again I have actually changed my mind! I’ve decided to play the 2 grace notes before the beat and play the left hand and middle F sharp with the top C sharp. I had thought I’d read somewhere that Chopin himself had said all his ornaments should be played on the beat, but playing it again, it does seem more natural to play these graces notes before the beat and it sounds much clearer. I’ve decided though to keep playing the G sharp in bar 4 before the beat and to play the second G sharp at the bottom of the spread chord with the left hand rather than how it’s played in the video. Thank you and Steven for your great help. It’s made me realise that perhaps ornaments can be open to interpretation as long as it sounds tasteful. I’m just always worried that someone will say it’s been written somewhere that they should be played differently!

Alex

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#456267 - 07/16/08 08:47 AM Re: Chopin Ornaments
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by AlexD:
It’s made me realise that perhaps ornaments can be open to interpretation as long as it sounds tasteful. I’m just always worried that someone will say it’s been written somewhere that they should be played differently![/b]
And that worry is justified, because tastefulness can be in the ear of the beholder and, well, everyone has an opinion. I think the best armor, therefore, is at least to have an informed opinion.

You might be interested in the writings of Jim Samson, Eleanor Baillie and Alan Walker, all of them commendable contemporary Chopin experts. Also, a recent title by Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger concerned Chopin as a teacher; I haven't read it yet, but have heard good things about it from others.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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