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Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query (Read 6651 times)

Offline dignam

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Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
« on: January 02, 2008, 10:09:57 PM »
greetings

I started playing again about a year ago after a nearly 20 year hiatus and am now working on the Rach prelude Opus 23  No.6.  I'm spending a lot of time working on keeping the left hand legato during the long phrases.  I'm starting to put hands together and am naturally drawn to over pedal.  Does anyone have some advice on how to pedal this piece without letting it get muddy? In the first bar is it better to use no pedal at all until the right hand comes it? Bars 23-24 and the chromatic phrases that follow take a particularly light touch on the pedal.

I'd love to get a teacher but I'm in a fairly rural area.  I studied for years but that was years ago. I've read lots of great advice in these forums and that someone can spare the time to help me out.

many thanks in advance

dignam

piano sheet music of Prelude


Offline general disarray

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #1 on: January 05, 2008, 03:44:51 PM »
I wouldn't worry so much about excessive clarity.  It ain't Mozart and I think with Rachmaninov's highly chromatic idiom a wash of complex sound is characteristic of his work.  Those passing chromatic tones flavor the underlying harmony.  They give it that piquancy that makes R's music so recognizable.

Just grasp the basic harmony supporting the melody above and notice that those intervening chromatic notes are really only, well, harmonically decorative.  Sort of destablizing but only momentarily.  They add an edge to otherwise rather conventional harmonic progression.

You want to keep the melody very legato so you're going to need the pedaling.  Changing on the beat will work most often and if you feel "muddiness" is piling up in some figures, just flutter pedal to soften the effect.  You want a wet sound, I think, and not a dry, crystal-clear sound.

Of course, like all interpretation, this is a personal opinion, so others may disagree.  Ultimately, the sound you produce must please you.  I like Rachmaninov a little on the wet side.

Trust your own ear.  This is your prelude and you gotta love playing it.   


" . . . cross the ocean in a silver plane . . . see the jungle when it's wet with rain . . . "

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #2 on: January 06, 2008, 12:50:26 AM »
Hi dignam,

I do understand your concern on pedaling--constant chromatic passing tones and the need to avoid blurring.  It's been a long time since I've played that prelude, but here are a few thoughts: First, much of the piece is very quiet, p or pp.  That alone cuts you a lot of slack with the pedaling.  Also most of the figuration is in the tenor and treble registers which is more forgiving than dealing with pedal in the bass.  Finally, the LH is accompaniment, thus in the background through balancing of the hands, which further mitigates the issue beyond the quiet dynamics.

This prelude is much like a song without words.  So foreground attention is really on the phrasing and etching of the melodic cantilena line through the horizontal voicing of chords and octaves in the RH. Therefore, you mostly need to pedal the cantilena for clarity.  If you are keeping the LH quieter than the RH, and, therefore, less than the dynamics indicated, the LH should take care of itself vis-a-vis the pedaling. 

My recollection is that I employed half pedal releases at times to clear the sonorities as I played, governed by the ear, which is the final arbiter of pedal.  There is one place where damper pedal is not advised at all, and that is starting four measures toward the end (the coda) where you have the double note cadenza; however, the very last measure is all taken in one pedal.  FYI, my own recording of Op. 23, No. 6 is attached below if you're interested.  I could have spent more time polishing the piece, but I believe it will illustrate the comments I've made here.

I hope this is helpful.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline jinfiesto

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #3 on: January 07, 2008, 07:10:32 AM »
I don't have a score of this, so it'd be difficult for me to tell you. Is this the G minor? I think the G minor is the 6th.... Anyways, if you post a copy of the score, or just the section you need, we could probably help you better. Also, if pedaling is a consistent issue, I highly recommend Banowetz's book on Pedaling. Extremely useful book. It'd be worth the investment regardless..

Offline point of grace

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #4 on: January 07, 2008, 03:09:18 PM »
Hey! iīm also studying this prelude.. itīs really amazing!

itīs very important to keep the left hand legato as you said, and about pedal, i think itīs very "personal" (sorry, iīm not an english speaker native!! i cant express myself very well sometimes!! =))
but i donīt use it till the right hand comes it. and i donīt use it during all the piece. just when the right hand plays the melody, and also in the 4th bar., when you have big "jumps" between very far notes from each other.

good luck and enjoy it! if i know how to comment anything else about this piece, iīll do it.
bye!
Learning:

Chopin Polonaise Op. 53
Brahms Op. 79 No. 2
Rachmaninoff Op. 16 No. 4 and 5

Offline dignam

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #5 on: January 09, 2008, 03:59:31 PM »

So many great points raised, Many Thanks to all!

I'm going to investigate the book on pedaling mentioned above.

Thanks again everyone.


Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #6 on: January 09, 2008, 10:15:32 PM »
The Gm is No. 5.  No. 6 is in E flat.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline kamike

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #7 on: January 12, 2008, 03:47:50 AM »
I'm learning this prelude, as well.  I've found that keeping the LH quiet, and half-pedal at places works well.   Some pedal with the LH is important to bring out the development of the cadence structure.  A lot of this probably depends on the instrument, too.  Experiment.  I have been using the pedal in the coda.  Pedal usage may also depend on the environment in which you are playing (acoustics, audience, etc.).

Offline minstrel

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #8 on: January 13, 2008, 05:12:30 AM »
I was thinking about this over dinner, and even experimented with the first page.. It might be the case that you are hearing a lot of blurring because you are not playing the piece at tempo (my guess as you are learning the piece). It's possible that when you play at tempo, blurring will be much less perceptible, or less of an issue. 

Offline point of grace

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #9 on: January 17, 2008, 07:12:39 PM »
I was thinking about this over dinner, and even experimented with the first page.. It might be the case that you are hearing a lot of blurring because you are not playing the piece at tempo (my guess as you are learning the piece). It's possible that when you play at tempo, blurring will be much less perceptible, or less of an issue. 

totally... try it very slow at first, and with separate hands

and you can do itttt!!!
=)
Learning:

Chopin Polonaise Op. 53
Brahms Op. 79 No. 2
Rachmaninoff Op. 16 No. 4 and 5

Offline jinfiesto

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #10 on: January 20, 2008, 04:30:38 AM »
Oh ok. I don't know why I didn't realize this was the E flat. A friend of mine used to play it a lot. Umm, minstrel's probably right, that you don't have it up to speed. Although, if it's still a problem, consider some sostenuto tricks, or a shallower pedal.

Offline dignam

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #11 on: February 12, 2008, 12:17:17 AM »

Thank you Rachfan and Minstrel for your comments, I've been bearing them in mind as I work through this.  Music is my avocation but I try to work at it daily.

I have had to take the hands separately again in parts to get the tempo right and I'm a long way from done.  But I don't care, its all in the journey and it's for my own pleasure now.

I would be most grateful if anyone can help with fingering on the last four bars. The right hand seems to fall naturally but I'm having a hard time getting the left hand fingering smooth. 

thanks all, this board is a great resource for me.

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #12 on: February 12, 2008, 05:05:05 AM »
Hi dignam,

As you probably know, fingerings depend greatly on the size and shape of one's hand.  So a fingering that works famously for one pianist, might not be the best for another.  You could try this for starters.  Don't reject anything immediately.  Work with it for awhile, because what might seem awkward at first may soon become facile. 

Starting in the fifth measure toward the end with the E flat B flat double notes in the LH played with 5-2, try this starting with the next B flat: 2, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 5, 3, 2. 

4th measure to end: 1, 5, 4, 3, 1, 4, 3, 1, 5, 1, 3, 1, 5, 3, 4, 2. 

3rd measure to end decending: 1, 2, 5, 4, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 4, 5.   

2nd measure to end: start with 1 (don't worry about this--notice that the prior measure ends a phrase with a lift-off enabling you to rapidly reposition the hand to get the thumb on the C flat), so, therefore 1, 2, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3.   

Last measure: 5, 1, and on the roll 5, 3, 2, 1.  You can get the top E flat in the treble clef by crossing over with the LH 3 to do the job.

Throughout the entire cadaza have the soft pedal down, as it is all played pp.  At the peak of the ascension, pause slightly before commencing the descent.  No damper pedal is used (to assure lightness and clarity) until the last measure.  Be absolutely sure to catch the the low E flat in the LH on the downbeat in that pedal and hold the pedal down right on through the roll to the top E flat, and through the long fermata.

I hope that helps.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline dignam

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #13 on: February 12, 2008, 04:26:26 PM »

Rachfan,

Tremendous help, many thanks.

 :)

Offline rachfan

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #14 on: February 12, 2008, 10:20:03 PM »
Hi dignam,

You're very welcome.  I worked out the fingerings sitting at the PC last night, not at the piano.  But I believe they are what I used when studying and recording the piece.  Hopefully they'll give you better security in playing that coda.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline munners

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Re: Rachmaninoff Opus 23 No.6 pedal query
«Reply #15 on: March 03, 2015, 05:35:49 PM »
Apologies if someone has mentioned this before but this prelude is dominated by the melody. You should pedal according to what the right hand is saying and only change if the LH makes it absolutely necessary.

Hear the melody clearly and make sure you place the emphasis on your 4th & 5th fingers on the RH to obtain a clear singing legato line.
Good luck with it.