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In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein (Read 4610 times)

Offline YeShallBeGods

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Hey there,

I'm currently working on learning the final movement of the Waldstein; it's coming along quite well, with one lonely exception: the double glissandi near the end of the movement, in the prestissimo section.

Simply put: how on earth do I do these things?  :-\

In my many years of playing, this is actually the first piece that has ever called for a glissandi) and the fact that it is a double one is not helping... quick thoughts:

--I believe my hand size is big enough for this; I can easily play 9ths, though 10ths are a little more tricky.
--my fingers just feel like they are being gratted against the keys; it's quite painful, it's not a fast and steady sound, and it's nowhere close to what it needs to be.

I would really appreciate if someone could provide a step-by-step guide to doing a double glissando: do I hold my hand high or low, how do I position my thumb and fifth finger, how do I get a light and quiet sound, how do I avoid tearing my fingers to pieces?

This is the only part of the piece that's holding me back, and I know it's simply because I have no experience with this technique (and normally I'd ask my teacher, but I won't have a lesson for little awhile, and I'd like to make progress in the meantime)....

Major major thanks in advance :)

piano sheet music of Sonata 21 (Waldstein)


Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #1 on: February 04, 2005, 10:25:34 AM »
Errr, is there one in Waldstein? I just see octaves, do you have a different version? What bar.
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Offline jeff

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #2 on: February 04, 2005, 11:54:48 AM »
bar 465. if you can do octaves really fast, or if you play this prestissimo section a bit slower than usual, you could avoid having to do octave glissandi there. i've seen someone just play those octaves with both hands, just as a scale. i've also heard of rudolf serkin playing this live, and as this particular passage was coming up, licking the fingers of each hand. :D wish i could have seen that.

i don't really have much other specific advice about doing octave glissandi. i think two important factors could be a steady forearm and flexible fingers

Offline YeShallBeGods

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #3 on: February 04, 2005, 05:25:20 PM »
Errr, is there one in Waldstein? I just see octaves, do you have a different version? What bar.



It's just the octaves, but my understanding (from my teacher, who even went so far as to confirm this with other professors at the university) is that there are three main ways to do them:

1. Just play them as octaves: the problem with this is that they are brutally fast; I'm nearly certain my techinque is not up to the level to do this, and my teacher agrees.

2. Divide them into both hands. Problem with this is that you have to leave out notes (mainly the left hand glissandi, since you have notes in the right hand), and turn them into single scales at times... this is the option if I can't do it the other two ways, but it is technically wrong.

3. Do the double glissandi.


I'm still hoping for some tips and/or step-by-step on how to do these things; if I can't pull them off as glissandi, they'll have to be cut down, and then.... ugh...

Thanks in advance :)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #4 on: February 05, 2005, 12:28:44 AM »
I would just play the octaves. They are not fast enough to call for glissando. thats what i reckon anyway.
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Offline DarkWind

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #5 on: February 05, 2005, 12:59:40 AM »
My teacher plays them as glissandi, as that was the way it was meant. And by god, it is beautiful.

Offline pskim

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #6 on: February 05, 2005, 03:39:24 AM »



3. Do the double glissandi.



They are octave glissando, not double.  Doubles are thirds. 

Anyway, I play them as written, in ocatve gliss.  The way to do an octave gliss is to use your thumbnails and also bend your thumb inward.  And stretch your other fingers out, especially your pinkies and play the notes from your finger print part of the finger, the meaty part.  Your thumb should be pressing down on the keys and your thumb nail should glide down on the keyboard.  If you don't use your thumb nail expect to have some bloody keyboards and thumb.  As for the pinky, you don't need too much pressure to make the notes play.  Just let it slide along the keys and adjust the pressure to make the sound come out.

Offline keys

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #7 on: February 05, 2005, 03:44:11 PM »
I play them as octaves, my friend plays them as scales. Both are acceptable. I wouldn't attempt the Octave gliss unless I had the chance to try the piano first, that sort of thing doesn't agree with all pianos.

Offline pianiststrongbad

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #8 on: February 05, 2005, 05:19:07 PM »
I ran into this problem last year in Beethoven's first concerto.  The only reasonable solution i came up with is to lick the tip of your pinky before you do it, bend your thumb inward a little bit, and just go.  That is about all there is to it.  I thought the hardest part about this was trying to control the speed of the glissando though.  I found that it was easier to go really fast than slower.  Licking your pinky does help though. 

Offline aquariuswb

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #9 on: February 07, 2005, 02:53:40 PM »
It totally depends on the piano. Pianos back in LvB's days had much lighter action, remember, so he could probably do these with no trouble at all. On today's pianos, it's probably going to be hit or miss... personally, I can't do these octave gliss., because when I bend my right thumb inward as necessary, I get a sharp pain in the thumb joint. I can do it with my left hand; it's just my right thumb! My suggestion is work on it for a little while on your piano. If you don't get the hang of it quickly, try playing them as regular octaves as quickly as you can. Perhaps you don't have the technique to play them fast enough to keep up with, say, a Pollini recording, but if you slow the whole prestissimo down I bet you could do it, and the more you practice it, the faster / more accurate you'll get. I do NOT recommend playing them as two scales, though, as you would have to not play certain notes. Good luck! (Wish me luck too, I'm working on Waldstein as well)
Favorite pianists include Pollini, Casadesus, Mendl (from the Vienna Piano Trio), Hungerford, Gilels, Argerich, Iturbi, Horowitz, Kempff, and I suppose Barenboim (gotta love the CSO). Too many others.

Offline r.schaefer

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #10 on: February 08, 2005, 10:39:20 AM »
I do NOT recommend playing them as two scales, though, as you would have to not play certain notes. Good luck! (Wish me luck too, I'm working on Waldstein as well)

I play it as two scales with all the notes. It's difficult but it can work!

Offline aquariuswb

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #11 on: February 09, 2005, 12:06:50 AM »


I play it as two scales with all the notes. It's difficult but it can work!

I don't see how that is possible, but if it is, please enlighten me! ...There are chords in the right hand when the left hand does the octaves... how do you play the octaves as two separate scales (with two separate hands) and still hit the chords? Doesn't seem possible to me, but if there's a way I'd love to hear it.
Favorite pianists include Pollini, Casadesus, Mendl (from the Vienna Piano Trio), Hungerford, Gilels, Argerich, Iturbi, Horowitz, Kempff, and I suppose Barenboim (gotta love the CSO). Too many others.

Offline SDL

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #12 on: February 09, 2005, 12:28:01 PM »
You must play these glissandi - it doesnt produce the effect with the octaves being played fast, and you cant slow the prestisissimo right down because that would be changing what the composer wanted because of a playing difficulty (which is a BIG no no).  If anything the next best thing is work them in as legato scales (RH & LH) - BUT I really think you should try practicing the glissandi.  The advice earlier is good advice about the thumb inwards and the fleshy pinky - I played this sonata as part of a 2nd year recital exam.

Best of luck
"Never argue with idiots - first they drag you down to their level, then they beat you with experience."

Offline aquariuswb

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #13 on: February 09, 2005, 05:05:11 PM »
You must play these glissandi - it doesnt produce the effect with the octaves being played fast, and you cant slow the prestisissimo right down because that would be changing what the composer wanted because of a playing difficulty (which is a BIG no no).

Really? Well I have a recording of Horowitz doing it, and he most definitely is not doing glissando, and he most definitely slows it down a bit when he gets to that part -- but it still sounds great to me!

If anything the next best thing is work them in as legato scales (RH & LH) - BUT I really think you should try practicing the glissandi.

Wrong, because then you can't play the right-hand chords during the left hand octaves... I'd say it's a BIGGER no-no to drop those chords than it is to change the glissando effect into staccato octaves.

BUT I really think you should try practicing the glissandi.  The advice earlier is good advice about the thumb inwards and the fleshy pinky - I played this sonata as part of a 2nd year recital exam.

Clearly, playing them glissandi would be ideal -- but some of us are unable to do so due to physical limitations (not technical limitations, I mean physical limitations of our hands -- when I curve my right thumb in as such, I get a sharp pain that would be stupid to try to reproduce)... furthermore, the pianos of LvB's days had much lighter action than pianos do now, and many of today's pianos have actions that are too stiff to do the octave glissandi on -- period.

You played this sonata as part of your 2nd year recital exam? You're telling me you played the Waldstein after just 2 years of piano playing? Either you are the most talented person in this forum or you are lying.
Favorite pianists include Pollini, Casadesus, Mendl (from the Vienna Piano Trio), Hungerford, Gilels, Argerich, Iturbi, Horowitz, Kempff, and I suppose Barenboim (gotta love the CSO). Too many others.

Offline SDL

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #14 on: February 11, 2005, 11:41:05 AM »

You played this sonata as part of your 2nd year recital exam? You're telling me you played the Waldstein after just 2 years of piano playing? Either you are the most talented person in this forum or you are lying.

You misunderstood or assumed me to be from the US (2nd year = age 2 perhaps??).  I meant I played it in my 2nd year music degree exam recital, and when I wrote it  I obviously thought it was obvious to not assume anyone would think age 2 for a recital with the "Waldstien" especially since I mentioned it was a 2nd year exam.

Lots of professionals do things out the ordinary but they seem to get away with taking liberties (Horowitz you mentioned) - because they are well known and revered anyway.  It doesn't mean its necessarily right (Im talking in general not necessarily your example).   

Artur Rubinstein also said he played the winter wind etude in a concert and started on the wrong note (by mistake) and all subsequent notes were wrong, and he covered it with loud LH.  He laughs about the rapturous applause he received afterwards. 

The thing is students/unknowns dont get away with taking liberties in works (just a fact) and probably shouldn't anyway unless you really know what you are doing musically (referring to exams).  Also can you pull it off as well Horowitz maybe did (I havent heard it) and still get the effect that Beethoven wanted?? Composers write things in a way for a reason (its their art) and its up to a performer's integrity to adhere to this as much as possible within the boundaries of notation (ie whats on the page).  (I was taught this on my Masters' Piano Performance degree).

Some people miss notes out because their stretch is too small.  I dont think this is necessarily bad as long as its not a fundamental change (ie chopin 10-2 missing bottom notes in R.H).

I don't know whether or not you are managing this glissandi problem in an alternative way, but wish you the best of luck - its a great work.  The other option is to not play the things you physically can't do if its causing you injury - theres plenty of great repetoire out there.
"Never argue with idiots - first they drag you down to their level, then they beat you with experience."

Offline r.schaefer

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #15 on: February 11, 2005, 05:06:54 PM »


I don't see how that is possible, but if it is, please enlighten me! ...There are chords in the right hand when the left hand does the octaves... how do you play the octaves as two separate scales (with two separate hands) and still hit the chords? Doesn't seem possible to me, but if there's a way I'd love to hear it.

First bar: first octave played with one hand; the other notes as 2 scales
third bar: jump from the scale to the chord: it works!!!!!!!
                first octave: one hand hand again; other notes 2 scales
4th bar: right hand: g, h, d; left g
                                a and h: scale with both hands
                                df: right hand; cc octave in left
                                d,e,f: scale in both hands
5th bar: gg: left hand octave, right hand ce
..................

I've got to use this method because my piano has a really heavy action and octave glissando doesn't work :-(
To hold the chords and make it sound more like glissandi i use right and left pedal.

                                 
               

Offline johnnypiano

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Re: In desperate need of help with the double glissandi in the Waldstein
«Reply #16 on: February 18, 2005, 06:55:55 PM »
Very tricky.  They're too slow for glissandi and the passage is too short -  it's difficult to stop after such a short stretch.  I heaard Rubinstein do them as octave scales.  I find the glissandi in Ravel's Alborado much easier than the Beethoven example.