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Topic: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?  (Read 15297 times)

Offline werq34ac

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Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
on: September 19, 2011, 12:22:21 AM
It's probably my favorite Chopin piece of all time but I've been avoiding learning it because I didn't want to ruin the piece by learning it when I wasn't ready for it yet.

Anyway, I looked it up, and it's only grade 8? I find that very hard to believe.. Personally, I've played Chopin Ballade 3, Etudes 10/1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, and Etudes 25/1, 12, so I have a decent amount of Chopin experience. Plus all that Chopin I've read through for fun.. (pretty much all the waltzes, preludes, most of the nocturnes, some of the polonaises, various pieces, some of the other etudes, a few mazurkas, all the ballades (not very well..), scherzo 2, fantasie, fantasie-impromptu, berceuse, barcarolle (I couldn't help reading through it..), that's all that comes to mind for now..
In addition to all that Chopin, I've played several grade 8+ pieces, like La Leggierezza, L'isle Joyeuse, Alborada del Gracioso, a few Beethoven Sonatas, Rach prelude g minor, Beethoven concerto 1, Rach 2,



SO my question is, would I be ready to play this piece? I mean musically, technically it's no problem for me.
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid
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Offline keyboardkat

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #1 on: October 03, 2011, 02:17:36 PM
I first learned this piece in 1969, and I've played it in concerts many, many times.    Technically it's no problem?   It is if you are conscious that you have to "bring out" the upper voice in all those double thirds and sixths, and you have to maintain absolute control of tone color, dynamics and voicing in that middle section in F-sharp major.   I used to end the piece pianissimo, because I thought it suited the character of the piece better, but more recently I've gone with Chopin's own fortissimo ending.   A lot of that depends on what came before, how you planned and played the rest of the piece.

And please note, it also helps a lot if your old enough to have lost several loves!  THEN you have something to say with this piece!

Offline keyboardkat

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #2 on: October 03, 2011, 02:22:29 PM
Also, before beginning the piece, I silently press down a C-sharp major chord in the bass, then hold those dampers up with the sostenuto pedal, while simultaneously holding down the soft, or shift pedal.   Thus, those low strings will add a little resonance when you play the opening measures and will continue to sound when you change the damper, or right, pedal.  Of course, with the shift pedal down, one string out of every three in the treble is not struck by the hammer, and only resonates to the other two.  It is the least percussive sound an acoustic piano can make.  Together with the bass strings being held open with the sostenuto pedal, the total effect is amazingly beautiful if done right.

Offline werq34ac

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 12:47:21 AM
Points taken. Yes I understand that I need to bring out the upper voices of the thirds and sixths (but thank you for reminding me). As for maintaining absolute control of tone, color, dynamics, and voicing, we shall have to see whether I am capable of that.

Musical maturity I don't think I have ever lost a loved one, let alone several. However, performers are actors and I feel like I have an idea of the pure grief and sorrow over losing a loved one. Though it's interesting you mention that since I always thought of the piece as more of a joyful piece.

The thing you mention with the pedals in the beginning is quite interesting, I will be sure to try it (unfortunately, we only have an upright at home, so I will have to try it out at the local music school or something)
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid

Offline keyboardkat

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 02:14:05 AM
I was not speaking of losing a loved one in the sense of a death in the family, but rather in the sense of losing a romantic involvement (which can sometimes feel just as bad). 

I don't know whether it was Hans von Bulow or who it was, but someone suggested that the Chopin Barcarolle represented two lovers in a boat.  After all, the word "Barcarolle" means "boat song,"  and the melody is almost always in double notes.

I try to make the third-to-last page ecstatic, and then the second-last page, with all those modulations and inner voices, to seem like smoke rising after the fire burns down.  Then the last page can be as intimate as can be.

Offline werq34ac

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #5 on: October 11, 2011, 02:35:43 AM
Very interesting, thank you for your insight into this wonderful piece.
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid

Offline werq34ac

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #6 on: January 18, 2012, 04:22:31 AM
Reviving this dead thread...

So I asked my teacher about learning this for college auditions, and he shot me down without any hesitation. He says that it's more difficult than the 4th ballade! Comments?

He also recommended listening to Argerich and Lipatti's recordings of this piece =D both of which were fantastic.
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid

Offline quantum

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #7 on: January 18, 2012, 01:31:29 PM
You could learn it if you really wanted to.  Your teacher can't stop you from doing that.  However, there is merit to his argument. 

I'd say deciding to use this piece for college auditions is a bit risky if you don't already play it and know what you can do with it.  For something as important as a college audition it is wise to pick music you are comfortable playing, and even more so be able to communicate your ideas of. 

Have you tried out the piece yet?  You may have a better idea of what is involved if you work on some parts of the piece.  Don't just pick the whole first page.  Select small sections of varying material from beginning to end. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline werq34ac

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #8 on: January 18, 2012, 09:37:40 PM
You could learn it if you really wanted to.  Your teacher can't stop you from doing that.  However, there is merit to his argument. 

I'd say deciding to use this piece for college auditions is a bit risky if you don't already play it and know what you can do with it.  For something as important as a college audition it is wise to pick music you are comfortable playing, and even more so be able to communicate your ideas of. 

Have you tried out the piece yet?  You may have a better idea of what is involved if you work on some parts of the piece.  Don't just pick the whole first page.  Select small sections of varying material from beginning to end. 

Technically speaking, it's not an issue for me at all (I read through the entire thing). I'm guessing that I lack the musical maturity in order to play it.

And yes, he did mention that there is no need to play incredibly difficult pieces at an audition so why on Earth would someone do it unless they can play it incredibly well.

Thus, I'm playing Scherzo 1 instead.


Audition repertoire (it seems like)
Bach Prelude and Fugue C# major from book 1
Beethoven Sonata either Op. 2/3, 28, or 78
Chopin Scherzo 1
Liszt La Leggierezza
Ravel Alborada del Gracioso
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid

Offline prongated

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #9 on: January 19, 2012, 02:40:27 AM
Technically speaking, it's not an issue for me at all (I read through the entire thing). I'm guessing that I lack the musical maturity in order to play it.

And yes, he did mention that there is no need to play incredibly difficult pieces at an audition so why on Earth would someone do it unless they can play it incredibly well.

Well, your program as it stands is quite an impressive one!

Personally I find the biggest technical challenge in Barcarolle is to make it sound good - lyrical, beautiful lyrical sound all the way through, including the big, chordal recap. More often that not, I always find it frustrating to hear it played (or perhaps chopped is more appropriate) by pianists because they don't have a good sound for it - even in international competitions.

Offline werq34ac

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Re: Chopin Barcarolle Op. 60- is it really only grade 8?
Reply #10 on: January 19, 2012, 02:44:48 AM
Well, your program as it stands is quite an impressive one!

Personally I find the biggest technical challenge in Barcarolle is to make it sound good - lyrical, beautiful lyrical sound all the way through, including the big, chordal recap. More often that not, I always find it frustrating to hear it played (or perhaps chopped is more appropriate) by pianists because they don't have a good sound for it - even in international competitions.

Yeah that's what I was worried with the piece. Evenness of tone especially with the double notes. I did notice that whilst reading through my playing was a "choppy." I'm assuming that that issue can be practiced away, but I could be wrong. If pianists fail to even it out at international competitions, it must truly be difficult.
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid
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