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Topic: Chopin Prelude No. 24  (Read 7679 times)

Offline stevebob

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Chopin Prelude No. 24
on: January 11, 2011, 05:17:39 PM
At the start of this piece, the second sixteenth note in each LH group has an extra stem that gives it the value of a quarter note.  This notation is discontinued, however, after a number of measures that differs from edition to edition (variously 8 to 15 bars or the first two to three systems ... up to 25 bars in Klindworth’s edition).

What’s the significance of the prolonged duration of this note within each group?  If it demonstrates the the intended manner of execution (i.e., holding down the note between the lowest note and the higher ones as a pivot point for the lateral movement of the wrist), is it also implied that this device continues throughout the piece?

Does this reflect the actual manner in which most contemporary pianists play each figure?  Or is forearm rotation (such that the hand moves in a natural arc) generally preferred?

Any insight or personal experience you can share will be greatly appreciated!
What passes you ain't for you.
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Offline stevebob

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 06:04:20 PM
*BUMP*

Anybody?
What passes you ain't for you.

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 07:06:39 PM
I think it's a good question, but I can't think of any answer that actually makes a difference for how the piece sounds.  It moves fast, it's dense with notes, and to make a big deal out of the second sixteenth note of the beat just seems impractical...

You're probably right that it indicates a kind of execution.  Pivoting on the middle finger is probably the answer!

Walter Ramsey


Offline stevebob

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011, 04:46:02 AM
Thanks for your remarks, Walter.  And you’re correct that my questions have no consequence to how the piece sounds (assuming that pedaling is applied throughout).

I’m surprised that no one else has offered any thoughts on this, though, or shared any experiences about how they’ve managed to create those sounds demanded by the left hand at all.  Chopin’s Preludes are a cornerstone of the ‘standard repertoire,’ so it’s hard to imagine anyone not attempting at least to read through them at some point; it really would be surprising if none of the competent pianists who contribute to this forum has ever learned, or tried to learn, one of the most monumental of the lot.

I’m studying this piece currently, and I’ll be happy to share strategies I’m finding successful if there’s any interest in continuing the discussion.  My interest, by the way, in the relationship here between technique and notation was actually piqued by the parallel between this Prelude and the Etude Op. 10 No. 10:



Clearly what’s prescribed in both pieces is the same:  holding the central note of a broken chord for the duration specified mandates a lateral pivoting of the wrist.  And yet I think it’s equally clear in both cases that such a technique (1) is feasible at practice speeds, (2) is untenable at tempo, and (3) wouldn’t make any audible difference when pedaled.

Yet the notation exists; it's specific and deliberate.  In my original post, I asked about the performance practice of ‘contemporary’ pianists because I wondered if this might be one of those things accounted for by the lighter action and shallower key-dip of the pianos of Chopin’s time.  And most of all, I’m perplexed by no apparent reference to this issue in anything I’ve read about Chopin’s music!
What passes you ain't for you.

Offline _jrg_

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 02:29:13 PM
As far as I know, Chopin used to say his pupils: the longer the note, the louder you have to play it.

Offline kevinr

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 04:08:23 PM
It's probably not of much use for this particular piece, but this is slightly reminiscent of the opening LH of Beethoven's Op 31 No 2 Sonata (Tempest), finam movement:

In that case one is supposed to use fingers 5-4 to jump from D-A then hold down the A with the 4th finger.

Maybe that sort of thing is intended here but I guess it's hardly practicable in view of the spread of notes and the speed and dynamics.

Offline birba

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 04:50:19 PM
I think your intuition is right.  It's a pivot point.  You don't have to hold it down, but I do find that the finger does sort of remain there and acts as an anchor.  And if you close your eyes and sort of imagine the accompaniment without that emphasized A, it does change in character.  It's less dramatic and is JUST an accompaniment.  With that A, it takes on a thicker more dramatic meaning.  Of course, this is all head play, in a way, but keeping that note in mind as you play it does make a difference.

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 09:34:09 PM
It's probably not of much use for this particular piece, but this is slightly reminiscent of the opening LH of Beethoven's Op 31 No 2 Sonata (Tempest), finam movement:

In that case one is supposed to use fingers 5-4 to jump from D-A then hold down the A with the 4th finger.

Maybe that sort of thing is intended here but I guess it's hardly practicable in view of the spread of notes and the speed and dynamics.

That's a good point, I have never even thought of that before.  In the Tempest last movement the tempo is considerably slower, and the held "A" actually sounds like some kind of distant horn.  Also the range is reduced in the Beethoven, augmented in the Chopin so it is harder to grab onto one note in the thick of things...

Walter Ramsey


Offline nearenough

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #8 on: February 01, 2011, 04:28:19 AM
Thanks for pointing this note value on the last prelude and that it should be played with some empahasis and held a bit longer. It doesn't seem to be impossibly difficult to execute.

Offline the romantic

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 04:12:37 PM
This is interesting!  I learned this piece a few months ago.  Well, I should say that I started learning it!  I have a Henle Urtext edition which doesn't have the lengthened note you mention.  I found that the best fingering for me was 5 3 1 5 1, and not releasing the 3 until the moment I had struck the last 1.  I don't have a teacher so this might not be what is recommended but using the 3 as an anchor felt natural to me.

I'd be interested in the strategies you found success with!  I learned the entire piece and got over my obstacle of synchronising the hands during an ascending run.  But after some weeks of practice I still couldn't play the ascending runs at a good speed, and I haven't been back to it for a while.  :(

Next up - Mephisto Waltz #1 hahaha.

Offline stevebob

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #10 on: February 03, 2011, 09:25:33 PM
This is interesting!  I learned this piece a few months ago.  Well, I should say that I started learning it!  I have a Henle Urtext edition which doesn't have the lengthened note you mention.  I found that the best fingering for me was 5 3 1 5 1, and not releasing the 3 until the moment I had struck the last 1.  I don't have a teacher so this might not be what is recommended but using the 3 as an anchor felt natural to me.

I'd be interested in the strategies you found success with!  I learned the entire piece and got over my obstacle of synchronising the hands during an ascending run.  But after some weeks of practice I still couldn't play the ascending runs at a good speed, and I haven't been back to it for a while.  :(

Next up - Mephisto Waltz #1 hahaha.

Earlier in the thread I alluded to a correlation between the type of hand movement I find feasible and the speed of execution.  I’ll elaborate a bit about that.

At the slowest practice speed, it’s possible to hold down the central prolonged note for its nominal value because the wrist can be constrained to moving on the horizontal plane; at progressively faster speeds, the proportion of lateral wrist movement decreases in favor of the increased forearm rotation necessary to allow the fully-extended hand to form an arc between the fifth finger and the thumb.

So, while I do employ that middle note as a pivot/balancing point or fulcrum in any case, it will inevitably be held for a shorter duration as faster speeds require a different type of hand motion.

Regarding those various “runs” written in small notes, I’ll share something that I found to help.  Normally I would never use the Chopin editions of Karl Klindworth because they are so over-edited; however, for this prelude he suggests precise subgroups for aligning the notes of each roulade with the notes played by the left hand.  Those exact divisions will obviously be allowed to blur (i.e., even out) when played at tempo, and this edition really made the whole synchronization process effortless for me.  It’s available at IMSLP.

Thanks for sharing, the romantic, and best wishes for your continued progress when you return to this terrific piece.

Thanks for everyone else who responded, too!
What passes you ain't for you.

Offline the romantic

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Re: Chopin Prelude No. 24
Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 08:14:32 AM
Regarding those various “runs” written in small notes, I’ll share something that I found to help.  Normally I would never use the Chopin editions of Karl Klindworth because they are so over-edited; however, for this prelude he suggests precise subgroups for aligning the notes of each roulade with the notes played by the left hand.  Those exact divisions will obviously be allowed to blur (i.e., even out) when played at tempo, and this edition really made the whole synchronization process effortless for me.  It’s available at IMSLP.


Thanks Steve, I had a look at that.  I think I did something similar in the end.  Aligning notes until my right hand became familiar enough with the run that I was allowed more freedom in the timing of the left hand.  Unfortunately my ultimate problem is the more fundamental one of building up speed in my scales.
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