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Author Topic: Liszt Consolation No. 3 Project  (Read 28775 times)
candlelightpiano
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« on: February 09, 2012, 08:09:49 PM »

I am happy to announce that I have completed Consolation No 3 and have posted my video to the Audition Room.  Please join me there:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=45743.0


I wish to thank Megadodd, Starstruck, AJ, and Dire Tonic for the coaching through this lovely piece.  I also wish to thank them and Marg, Zoe and Danhuyle for their support and encouragement.  Thanks to all of you who have followed my progress.

*************************************************************************

Hi everyone:

You may know me as the girl who started the Fantasie Impromptu project. After butchering FI, I'm taking a vacation from it and from the piano in order to re-focus and recharge my batteries and also to have some necessary R & R and to study some piano technique.

I planned to begin learning Liszt Consolation No 3 after my piano vacation but my friends, who joined me for FI, are quite eager to begin this piece so I thought I'd start this topic. This way, those of us who are interested in this piece may get together here and discuss it. I will, of course, post videos of my progress from time to time in order to get feedback as I'm a self-directed struggling piano student.

If you have played this piece before or if you're interested in playing it, do come on board. If you have any suggestions to offer us, please do so. We welcome your guidance.

Choo





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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012, 08:15:35 PM »

Form: A = measures 1 - 18;  A1 = 19 - 35;  A2 = 35 - 43; coda = 44 - 61

This piece is from a set of Six Consolations composed in 1849. The set was inspired by poems of the French literary historian Charles Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869). The mood or character of "consoling" permeates all of the poems. No 3 seems to have been inspired by Chopin's Nocturne Op 27 No 2, also in D flat major. The low D flat in measures 1 - 9 should be played very quietly in each measure (even though tied) since the pedal change makes it lose its continuous sound. Another solution to these measures (1-9) is to catch the lower D flat in measure 1 with the sostenuto pedal (middle pedal) and release the sostenuto pedal on beat 3 of measure 9. The damper pedal would also be used as indicated throughout the measures.


EDITED
I just watched the DVD with Hinson performing and offering performance tips. He suggests that the final 4 notes of the cadenza should be played ad libitum, as often as needed until you can get it to be as quiet as you can - ppp.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2012, 08:18:35 PM »

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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2012, 08:20:14 PM »

TUTORIAL:

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zoecalgary
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2012, 08:46:29 PM »

Here are some tips I found on this piece. From Paul Barton

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/TwUFbRPDOJo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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ajspiano
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2012, 09:34:35 PM »

On fingering - just because your edition has fingering doesnt mean you should use that fingering. Some editions (not for this piece, I mean generally) are edited by non pianists that are actually pompous and ignorant enough to think they know what fingers to use. Which can result in some plainly insane choices of fingering.

Obviously I haven't seen your edition so don't assume it's wrong because I've said this. Just don't go assuming it's right either. Always question your information source. You should have a valid reason for your fingering.

.....

Where did you get the tutorial choo? I didnt watch it all, does she ever play the piece at speed? her hands look terrifying at points during the slow demo. Remember what birba told you about always returning to the 'ball' position? She stretches out over the notes in her LH. It looks uncomfortable.

Her RH thumb is also stuck out to the left of her hand a lot. Big sign of tense playing.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2012, 09:40:09 PM »

AJ:  You're right about that pianist doing the tutorial. I noticed how tense her wrists looked! You see, I'm learning!!!!  I thought to myself, "Gee, she looks stiff!!" Ha ha ha! 

My fingering is from Maurice Hinson. I don't know where Zoe's got hers from. I haven't begun working on this yet but would I use a rotating or rolling LH here? Also, should I use the una corda pedal? Hinson even suggests the sostenuto for the sustained D flat or to just keep playing the tied Ds but since this piece is so quiet, I wondered about the use of the una corda.

ZOE: Thanks for the Paul Barton tutorial. He's great! I enjoyed his FI tutorial very much. I'll watch him in a moment.
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dire_tonic
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2012, 10:31:44 PM »

Hello fellow consolers.  So this is your temporary accomodation for the next few weeks, Choo.

I've seen several compositions covered by whoever is doing the slow-tempo tutorial.  I think the idea behind them is purely to show which notes are being played so that someone who can't read a note of music could follow the fingers and learn it by rote.  I don't think there's any intention to offer a lesson in technique in any of her videos...at least that was my impression.

So far, then, it's Choo, Zoe and me attempting this?  It'll be interesting to see how many travellers are picked up on the way...
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ajspiano
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2012, 10:52:07 PM »

I've seen several compositions covered by whoever is doing the slow-tempo tutorial.  I think the idea behind them is purely to show which notes are being played so that someone who can't read a note of music could follow the fingers and learn it by rote.  I don't think there's any intention to offer a lesson in technique in any of her videos...at least that was my impression.

I felt this was the case too..

However, I can't play like that because it hurts, not because i'm more susceptible to bad movement, but because I'm acutely aware of when my hand/arm is doing something that is uncomfortable. If she knew what she was doing she wouldn't do it either, when you are used to good movement bad movement feels so unnatural that its like getting slapped in the face.

I wouldn't be able to do this kind of thing for more than a short demo of about 30 seconds before i felt like I was in the pits of hell. Comparatively to my normal expectation of playing, which is an infinite amount of time without feeling any fatigue at all.

And... I don't feel that it is necessary to put your body in a compromised position in order to demonstrate which note to physically play.. particually that RH thumb thing..  how does that make it any easier to see what she's doing?

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dire_tonic
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2012, 11:12:29 PM »

I felt this was the case too..

However, I can't play like that because it hurts, not because i'm more susceptible to bad movement, but because I'm acutely aware of when my hand/arm is doing something that is uncomfortable. If she knew what she was doing she wouldn't do it either, when you are used to good movement bad movement feels so unnatural that its like getting slapped in the face.

I wouldn't be able to do this kind of thing for more than a short demo of about 30 seconds before i felt like I was in the pits of hell. Comparatively to my normal expectation of playing, which is an infinite amount of time without feeling any fatigue at all.

And... I don't feel that it is necessary to put your body in a compromised position in order to demonstrate which note to play.. particually that RH thumb thing..  how does that make it any easier to see what she's doing?



Hi, AJ.  Pits of hell...lol!  That's a long way short of a recommendation!  Fortunately, being able to read our scores we can avoid running the risk of picking up her bad habits.

Meanwhile, it's reassuring knowing you're there to offer guidance on our efforts.
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2012, 11:15:22 PM »

AJ you're right about the fingering issue. I always make sure it works for me. The second copy of the score I got had some better fingering but some of it I questioned. I'll have to watch this closely in the beginning when I am just learning notes.

Plus ya that one lady looks awkward! And it does look painful. I see I am reaching out for notes with my LH too. I need to watch I keep my hand in a neutral position.
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ajspiano
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2012, 11:33:46 PM »

I see I am reaching out for notes with my LH too. I need to watch I keep my hand in a neutral position.

Maybe because you are trying hard to maintain legato, you feel you must have a physical connection between the keys?

In the score I looked at the pedal is marked over the whole bar - will the pedal not make it sound legato even if you were to play the keys with a staccato touch? why do you need to hold the keys down if you are feeling like that means stretching out?

^staccato would not be the right touch, i'm just making a point.

EDIT: It would also be possible to play a comfortable physical legato, the explanation of how to do it without stretching would have to be a bit more extensive though..
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megadodd
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2012, 11:35:22 PM »

I like the first low Db notes sound more like big church bells. Just sayin'
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
candlelightpiano
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2012, 12:39:14 AM »

MEGADODD: Welcome to our new topic and yes, I also like it that the first low Db sounds like big church bells!

AJ and ZOE:  I'll check out the piece on the piano tonight so that I know what you're talking about - the stretch, I mean. What is a neutral position, Zoe? As you can see, I didn't have enough piano lessons!!!!   Roll Eyes

Zoe posted the link to Paul Barton's tutorial and I just watched it - WOW!!  It looks like we're back to polyrhythms again - FI deja vu!! But anyway, since it's such an important tutorial, I'm posting it here again and thanks so much for finding it, Zoe.



For a FULL PAGE VIEW:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/TwUFbRPDOJo



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ajspiano
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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2012, 12:47:30 AM »

What is a neutral position, Zoe?

shake your hands/arms about a bit.. to get any built up tension out..  then let your hands and arms fall to your side (you should stand up) completely relaxed, from the shoulders to the fingers. Your hand will be in complete alignment with your arms, your fingers will be in their natural curved position.

This is the 'ball holding' birba talked about. It is neutral, there is no deliberate movement in any direction. It is just where it naturally wants to be.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2012, 01:06:53 AM »

Thanks for the explanation, AJ. I tried it and understand now. Now I see why Birba always wanted me to go back to the shape of a ball!!   Smiley  Looks like I have a lot of learning left to do!
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2012, 02:00:00 AM »

AJ thanks for the correct explanation of neutral position. I had also read somewhere that you want to make sure your fingers (usually it's the thumb or your pinkie finger) are not extending or reaching for a note prior to playing it. It's like first you get your hand over the note then you play it. I still do the reaching part and have to remember to move my hand/arm slightly as necessary. It's one tip that I work hard to remember because it is the greatest creator of tension for me...usually followed by a stumbling series of wrong notes!

I liked that Paul Barton video too. He had some good practice tips and I'm sure I'll have to use every one!

AJ not sure if you watched Paul's video but he also says to play with a different touch and somewhat detached. I think my tension comes from the reaching in anticipation of upcoming notes. I think my hand is really small.

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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2012, 02:49:44 AM »

Zoe: I just played through the first page, LH separately first. I tried to remember to rotate every note, like AJ showed in his vid for FI. I only worked at it about 20 mins since I'm still on piano vacation. Since I have a tension problem, I think I may just make a video playing it HS, LH only, in the next few days, for the first page, and get feedback from all of you before I continue with the rest of the piece.  Thanks for your tip, Zoe. I'll try and remember not to reach for notes. I know I'm really, really bad about that.   Sad
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ajspiano
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2012, 03:07:42 AM »

I have not yet watched the Paul Barton video - will take a proper look later.

As far as you're hand position - Alan fraser has some cool ideas that I found pretty interesting relation to your natural hand position. He has a whole thing about skeletal structure and arc shapes found in the hand.

Bare in mind I havent read his book yet, but put simply, and largely from my own thoughts and conclusions on the idea, when your hand is in the right position its structure is self supporting. Similar to if you take an egg and try to crush it end to end between your fingers its shape provides strength and its difficult to break - where as if you applied pressure either side in the middle it would break easily.

You can create that kind of natural structural strength in your hand/arm when its positioned well, and it allows you to transfer great power to a key with minimal effort. When you stretch out, and reach to notes you not only put tension in your hand by stretching but also break a lot of the structural points of strength meaning that it takes you much more effort to get a powerful sound. The power exits the mechanism at the weak point, rather than at the fingertip into the key. - Birba's hand position in many of his demos has been an outstanding example of this idea i think. He transfers a great amount of power, but with control because his hand is in a very strong and yet natural/comfortable shape.

^all brief explanation remember - obviously you have to spread the hand to play chords for example.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2012, 04:33:12 AM »

Since you mentioned it, I went to take a look at one of his demos again. It's true. He has immense power in his hands and he doesn't stretch out for notes but instead rotates toward them (for example, in the cascading section just before the middle section of FI) and in the chromatic measures, he moves his whole hand toward the note instead of stretching out his pinky. Birba, if you're reading this, I hope I have described your hand movement correctly!   Grin
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megadodd
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« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2012, 09:37:38 AM »

I'm not much for HS practice when starting a new piece, though I must admit THIS is one of few exceptions.
For this piece to be played great you need absolute control of the left hand, learn the notes, so that when you wake up at 4:30 in the morning all "where am I?" you should be able to play it in the air hearing the piano in your head. And with absolute relaxation.
Let the arm weight make the sound, not the fingers, the create a more crystal sound, except in the base, it dosn't sound so crystalish, you get what I mean though.

Since you've worked on Chopins Impromptu the polyrythms isn't something new, which is good. I hope they feel natural, because this piece should sound so natural and easy as it can sound. Even though it has some ornaments that are a little tricky at first.
Make your wrist move, and stroke the keys, don't bash them like one do with Mozart and Bach, use the whole upper part of the finger to play the notes, not the tips.

I don't think Horrowitz version is very good, but it's soothing for sure, it just sounds a little indifferent to me. I prefer Lang Langs version out of all I've heard on youtube.

The biggest challange for me, if I remember correctly with this piece was getting the left hand as soft as humanly possible, with the notes almost not sounding, finding the balance for just enough weight on the keys to make the hammers hit the strings.
And the singing right hand, without producing a harsh sound.

And remember the legato octave technique, it's very important not to play all the octaves with 1-5 fingers.
This are good things to think about when starting the Consolation I think, and it will be funny to discuss more subtle things when you know all the notes and have a general idea of how you want the piece to sound, good luck. Keep us up to date.
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
candlelightpiano
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« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2012, 04:54:55 PM »

Thank you, Megadodd, for your excellent tips. I have a digital piano and I'm wondering how to get to ppp with it. I may have to turn the volume down. Would that be considered cheating? Also, I have the touch on medium now. Perhaps soft may be better to allow the arm weight to make the sound. I'll give it a try. I'll go listen to the Lang Lang version. Well, this piece ought to help me learn to relax with the LH, particularly. I hope you keep visiting. Your advice is much appreciated.
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2012, 05:00:20 PM »

Megadodd, thanks for sharing your insights with this piece.  Hmm...getting my LH to play not just soft but ppp! Now that will be a big challenge for me. I have trouble controlling dynamics especially in the LH. But I am determined and I will take it slow. For now I'll be spending time just on bars 1-19 hands separate.  In Paul's video he says try practicing with playing a regular volume as this will help you play ppp when you want to. I'm not sure if this works but for just getting the LH under control that's what I'll end up doing anyway.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2012, 05:37:17 PM »

Zoe:  Are you using a digital piano, too? Same here. The LH is going to be a huge challenge for me. I tried to allow my arm weight to make the sound but I also turned the volume down on my digital and used a light touch instead of medium. Zoe, the polyrhythm here will be great practice for FI. I think this piece is challenging for an Intermediate level, actually.

EDIT:  I'm going to practice like Paul Barton suggests for the first 5 mins of his recording - LH chords, RH play all the notes, including tied notes till I get to the octaves.  I think it will help me develop the rhythm for it.


I watched Lang Lang and he was very good but his expression just cracked me up!!  Grin Grin  Here's Barenboim's version.

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starstruck5
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« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2012, 06:41:37 PM »

Barenboims' version is very fine I think.

I quite like this version -I think Choo would look good in this hat as well - Grin

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zoecalgary
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« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2012, 06:54:16 PM »

Hi Choo, yes this piece is going to be a big challenge for me! I'm probably way in over my head but I'll spend some time on this every day as a learning exercise. For now just trying to get the LH working to bars 19 and then maybe record it for comments. For now I'm even ignoring those deep bass notes and just focusing on keeping my hand fairly relaxed on the rest of the notes.

I have an acoustic upright that I try to play on as much as possible. I just got the digital and only use it when I need to stay quiet or try not to drive everybody crazy when repeating small sections for a million times!!  The touch on my acoustic is quite heavy which I'm ok with. It's just that usually I'm too loud with LH or play so soft I get no sound at all. And this drives me crazy. I could blame it on the piano (which is partially a factor I do think) but really I have this problem on my teachers piano and others I have tried in stores, etc. Though this digital has a heavier touch than most it is still not quite the same as the acoustic. The best thing on the digital is the consistency of the keys. On my acoustic some of the keys feel a bit different. My tuner did adjust as best he can but it's just a factor of the piano I think. (It's not very high end nor very tall) I've heard you can have more control on a larger upright or a grand. Not using that as an excuse though because for now I'll just take any control!

I saw the Lang Lang version and to be honest though I liked his playing I had trouble watching him too!! It's likes he's way over the top and almost putting on an act! I didn't say anything before because I thought I'd probably take lots of heat. So I just laughed when I saw your note. I really liked the version you posted from Barenboim!
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2012, 06:57:04 PM »

I quite like this version -I think Choo would look good in this hat as well - Grin

ROFL!!!!!  Yes, but I think, for this piece, the occasion calls for a saucy hat with veil!!!  Don't you think? It's a consolation, after all! I should shop for one on EBay! Ji Yong was great, by the way. At least, he didn't make me want to die laughing watching him.

Dire Tonic - I'm waiting for your version so we can post it here along with Horowitz, Barenboim and Ji Yong! You're a fine pianist.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2012, 07:05:16 PM »

Zoe: I just tell it like it is!!  Kyle is always telling me that my LH is too loud, too, and he is right. At first, I thought it was the digital piano but when Birba played on his keyboard the middle section of FI, his LH definitely wasn't overwhelming. So it's me, not the piano. But I think for this piece, I should lower the volume on my digital and play on soft touch. But when it gets louder nearer the end, what do I do? I guess I could quickly adjust the volume and hope no one is watching!!!!  Ha ha ha!! Maybe I'll play in the dark!!   Grin Grin

Oh, I look forward to your video of just your LH. I'll make one, too, and I'm sure yours will be better than mine. There's one thing I know - I'm just not a good pianist!!  I'll watch yours first before I make mine and if yours looks really good, I'll just forget mine and enjoy yours.  Smiley
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2012, 07:16:46 PM »

Choo, I say it like it is too! But over on PW I have discovered people get themselves all tied up in knots over the silliest things!! Like people aren't allowed to have their own opinions or something! Perhaps the folks here are more willing to just enjoy everybody's comments and of course enjoy a good laugh once in awhile. I was telling my husband about Lang Lang yesterday and well ya...the words 'corny' were among them to describe his playing. Like really! HaHa

P.S. If you wait for my recording you may be waiting for awhile. But I will try to get it out soon in case I'm doing something so wrong I have to go back and need major 'fixes'! And who wants that!!
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2012, 07:52:33 PM »

I've heard about PW and their strange policies. Some folks here were talking about them in the PF area just a couple of weeks ago. I think they're definitely more liberal here because I've read all kinds of things, especially down in Anything But Piano. That's why I'm a big fan of this forum. The members here are a lot more fun and helpful, too.  

You're right about posting our practice videos sooner rather than later. Okay, I'll try and record something today or tomorrow.  No one should be surprised with my performance, especially if they followed my "progress" on FI!  Sad  
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megadodd
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« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2012, 09:17:28 PM »

Don't worry candlelight, progress is something one make slowly but surely, rather than fast and sloppy!
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
costicina
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« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2012, 09:26:58 PM »

Don't worry candlelight, progress is something one make slowly but surely, rather than fast and sloppy!
I subscribe enterely!!!
I'm so glad to see you are again motivated, excited, positive, Choo...But I'm not surprised, I was sure it was going to happen!!! You're a brave girl  Wink
Marg
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2012, 09:37:17 PM »

Thanks for your undying support and encouragement, Megadodd and Marg!

Megadodd, do you think it's a good idea for me to turn the volume of my digital piano down for the ppp? And to play with a light touch rather than medium or hard?  It's really, really hard to get the volume down to ppp if I have it at the highest, which is very loud. And I wondered if the light touch would help to allow the arm weight to make the sound.

Marg, I'm still down in the dumps, though I know you probably wouldn't know it from reading my silly posts.  Grin 

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« Reply #33 on: February 10, 2012, 10:24:18 PM »

Choo, I'd be inclined to set the touch control so that its full dynamic range can be realised by your playing style.  If you make it too easy to play quietly then your not training yourself to play with the touch required to achieve p/pp/ppp - although ppp is pretty difficult.

The digital I use sometimes (an old Kawai) has a touch control.  With the control off (LED light is off) I can all too easily get pp and even ppp without exercising particular care in the way I play.  I don't know if you'd agree but I suspect this is a bad idea in the long run.  When you come to play your acoustic grand, you run the risk of being heavy handed and you won't then have a controller to help you out.

The overal volume level is a different issue though and doesn't (or at least shouldn't) relate to the different timbres you can achieve from your instrument by varying your touch.
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2012, 10:59:02 PM »

Choo, I would leave the volume on your DP right in the middle of it's range. Though sometimes I turn mine up a bit from there to block out the kids in the background I usually leave my volume at the middle setting.  I figured then I can tell when I play softer (or try to anyway!) and when I play louder. I have my touch set to medium and usually just leave it there as well.

I'll try recording what I got for LH sometime this weekend too. It won't be very much I'm afraid but it's a start.
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megadodd
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« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2012, 11:15:22 PM »

These are just my thoughts, not rules by any means.

Candlelight, dynamic changes are always relative to how you play the rest of the piece.
I dug my old sheets out just now for this piece, on a grand I would use una corda pedal for the first 6 bars. As digital pianos don't have una corda pedal (I asume), just play this as soft as the piece will ever get. These 6 bars are the lowpoint, only to play this soft, in the last 4 bars aswell, otherwise, the effect of the ending measures are taken away.
When the audience thought it couldn't get any more relaxing, you prove them wrong.

On the 4th beat in the 7th measure, I have written piano, so I would release the una corda and putting weight on my right hand for a singing tone (the F), by singing, I mean stroking the key, also keeping in mind, that all the (joints?) in the fingers are bent, with a relaxed wrist. With just enough force from the arm to keep your hand up from not falling down on the ground.
It's terribly hard to describe.

Back on track~
On bars 28 (my edition) Liszt writes mf espressivo. Mezzo forte, pretty straight forward, just relative to your dynamic range from the start, espressivo has always been an abstract word for me, what is "expressive"? How does one play expressively? It's induvidual though, what you think is expressive. This bugged me alot, lol.

Then Liszt wants dolcissimo in bars 31 and forward, I made this dolcissimo start, piano, and in bar 32 I put a crescendo to land in mezzo forte in bar 33, and since it's a romantic piece the next bar is directly pianissimo, and then back to mezzo forte building up towards the climax with the octave chords.

So what I wanted to say with all this, spacing out, depending on how one would make the climax (I did it fortissimo) this piece ranges from ppp to ff and when you want the finished product, make sure you decide what your climax is, and what your lowest point in terms of volume is.

Being able to make beautiful phrases leading up and down in different ways are really fun to play with and in the end find one that you love and are proud of.
The piece was very rewarding for me I remember, I'm having plans of making it my encore piece on my next recital, so have to pick it up again!

One other thing that you have to watch out for!
Don't fall into the trap of letting it get to your heart while practicing, it's too easy, and there will not be alot of work done for that time as you get exhausted afterwards overwhelmed by emotions.
It's bad for productivity.
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
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« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2012, 12:16:23 AM »

DT:  I've always had the volume on the highest, no matter what time of day I may be playing. I've only considered lowering the volume for this piece because it requires such softness. And I've always used the medium touch for everything. I didn't know I could take the control off, actually. Perhaps as Zoe has suggested for this piece, the middle volume would be best, allowing me to work to achieve as ppp as I possibly can (I'm heavy handed so that's going to be quite a task but a good one as I have to be as relaxed as possible to achieve ppp or even pp or p) and to keep it at medium touch.
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2012, 12:23:28 AM »

Choo just a word of caution. Check that if you can turn the touch setting off on your piano that it doesn't default to fixed touch. This means all the notes will sound at the same volume (I'm just saying cause that's what mine does).
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2012, 12:28:32 AM »

Thank you so much, Megadodd! It's really thoughtful of you to dig out your old sheet music for us and to go through it and provide us with practice notes for the whole piece! That's tremendous!  

My DP has a una corda pedal so I'll use it as you suggested. Maurice Hinson, the editor for my score, explains espressivo as "more personal involvement," whatever that means!! He advises that we take more time there - poco rubato. And dolcissimo as not metronomic, he says.

Did you also say that the LH fingers should stroke the keys in ppp? I need to re-read your earlier post but I thought you said that too.

Well, this piece will be a challenge for me as it requires total relaxation, which isn't my strength.   Sad  I don't know if you followed my FI blog but tension is my biggest challenge. (I'm trying not to use negative words like "problem.") However, if I can get to total relaxation for this piece, it would be a huge win for me.

Thanks so much once again.

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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2012, 12:30:11 AM »

Choo just a word of caution. Check that if you can turn the touch setting off on your piano that it doesn't default to fixed touch. This means all the notes will sound at the same volume (I'm just saying cause that's what mine does).

Gosh! I didn't even know this existed! I'll take a look but I'll probably leave it on medium as I've been using that touch all this while. Thanks for the warning.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #40 on: February 11, 2012, 02:12:29 AM »

Make your wrist move, and stroke the keys, don't bash them like one do with Mozart and Bach, use the whole upper part of the finger to play the notes, not the tips.

Megadodd:  Was Horowitz playing like that? The fingers of his LH seemed quite flat against the keys. His LH seemed to hardly move compared to Paul Barton's.  Well, I'll do my best to to relax as much as humanly possible and see how soft I can make the LH, just practicing the LH separately. Since tension is such a problem for me, I'll be happy if I could just play the LH relaxed even if I don't end up playing the whole piece.

Also, when are you planning on playing this piece for your encore? That sounds exciting! Perhaps when you're ready, you could post your recording here. I'd love to watch you play it. Thanks so much once again for being here for us.
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zoecalgary
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« Reply #41 on: February 11, 2012, 04:36:02 AM »

Megadodd I agree with Choo. It would be wonderful if you post a video of your playing! It is so beautiful. You are right about getting pulled into this piece the more you play it.  I wish I had the skills to work through it faster but alas I will just have to take my time!

Also, my teacher said similar things to you about volume and dynamics in a Piece. I'm doing a study for my exam (that unfortunately I find kind if boring) an it starts piano and reach just mf at it's climax. She said if I start too loud I would end up going to Forte when I really shouldn't. So it is all relative.

I'd like to also thank you for posting your notes and thoughts on this piece. Can't wait to hear you playing.
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megadodd
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« Reply #42 on: February 11, 2012, 10:42:53 AM »

Argh, it would be great to record the piece but I have no equipment for recording!
Just my mobile phone, and it dosn't really make a ... great way of imitating the grand piano sound so to speak.

A little about relaxation which is very important.

First of all, this is not a short process, but it might not be as far away as you think either.

If you are ever tense, the tone you produce will be more harsh than if you are relaxed, and it's alot easier to produce even touch between all the notes- I'll try to explain my way of getting relaxed in words, as best as possible.

First of all, we have to take a few steps back.
Lower your stool, if you sit aligned with your forearms with the keys.
Take it down a little bit. (this is just for the purpose of practicing to play relaxed)

Now lift your arms in the air, with your hands dangling totally relaxed, making your arms look somewhat like a swan. When you feel, you have no control in you wrist, there is no tension. Let them fall to the keys, not minding what notes they hit, they just fall to the keys, and probably it will sound aweful.
When doing this, if you are totally relaxed when your hands hit the keyboard, your arms should fall down further than you hands.
Where you totally relaxed everytime doing this for 10-20 times? Did you feel tension in your shoulders? Straighten your head, rising it from the elbows making you feel like the queen of england.

When this has been done a few times, and you feel there was no tension, especially in your elbows, wrist and anywhere in the hand, let's move on.

Now place one of your hands on the keys, preferably the left, if this is what you experience most trouble with.
Remember though, when you let your hands fall on the keys in the last step, the hand should probably fall in a very comfortable position, which creates no tension in the hands somewhere.
See if this is the way you placed your hand on the keys now that you are going to begin step 2.

You are going to play, C D E F G. Do this very, very slowly- not cheating anywhere, it might cause tension, and we do this to learn the wrist what tension does NOT feel like.
When you play the first note, the C with your pinky (left hand), move your wrist up, and then down, halfway down, you play the note. And the up and down, halfway down, the D, same with all the rest.
Halfway down should be aligned with the keys, so that down is somewhere below the keys. Where you are as most relaxed and just want to hang. But with the wrist constantly moving up and down in a non choppy way, just slowly, like the sand moving in the desert, from one side to the other. It can never be tense, hense if we tense it up it will be hard to move it constantly.
Again, slowly, not the way you think is slow, more slow than that.

Now after doing this for a long time, learning the wrist to relax, try playing the same notes without as much movement, because one can't play like that in real life.
If you can do this without getting tension anywhere in your hand, again, slowly. You are on the right track, now you get a feel for how it should feel in your wrist and hand when you are playing. In an exagurated way, probably.

The point of all this and to be as relaxed in your wrist does apply to almost all aspects of piano playing. To be able to have more accuracy and speed, achieve great tone, and not damaging yourself and be able to play pieces without getting exhausted. Some czerny etudes are impossible to play without a relaxed wrist, in opus 740 I think, there is a etude for left hand flexibility, I used to be all tense in it, and it wore me out after 2 pages out of 4 or 5. And I mean really wore out, I couldn't move.
So it is really important to learn to be relaxed in your wrist for numerous reasons, as most know but don't take seriously until a good teachers shows you that you are in fact not relaxed, even though you might think so.
This is hard to learn over the internet.
As it's highly induvidual problems.

Next to this excercise, we can use the first bar in the Consolation, without the low Db note, just play the left hand first bar. Very slowly, and the trick now is to have the hand in it's relaxed position all the time, since the notes are more spread out than the hand can handle to be totally and utterly relaxed in, we need to move the hand for each note, so that we never spread the fingers basically. Also note, this is just an excercise to learn to be relaxed, not how one plays.
Do this, so moving from, (I can't remember what notes) so let's say, F to the Ab and we use for example fingers 5 and 4 we need to move the hand, because if we spread the 5th from the 4th finger, the hand is going to tense. And so with the next, and so on.
Apply the wrist up and down movements now, for say, 20 times in super slow motion.

When this has been done the the whole first bar left hand, now use your wrist in sideway motion to hit the notes in a relaxed state. This is more like how one plays, it's always good to move the wrist when practicing to know that you are relaxed. And if you feel you tense up, slow down.

After this I could go into how to strengthen your fingers, especially every pianist experience a weak 4th finger. And you may now know it is weak until you know how to test it's strenght.
Fingerstrenght is also used to create fine tones.

But anyway, let's get into that later on. Most importantly is the relaxations of the wrist and hand. Remember that this does not come after 1 day, but not after 1 year either, and ones you got it, it's like riding the bike.

I hope this is helpful, and remember that you have to know how it feels to play totally relaxed, but still have control, apart from relaxed and just flabbing about.
It's a fine line, and I really wish I could just physically take your hand and show you, it would take 15 minutes, apart from writing this, not knowing if I express myself in a good way or if some things are mistaken or missleading.
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
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« Reply #43 on: February 11, 2012, 05:18:58 PM »

Thank you, Megadodd, for taking me step by step through a relaxation process. I'll print it out so that I can read it as I practice it. I've never been given such a step by step plan before so this is absolutely great! Last night, I even drank some wine before practice, though I'm not practicing much as I'm still on vacation. But I tried playing the LH of Consolation as relaxed as I could. I noticed my third finger was tense (curled) when I recorded myself to see how I looked so I tried to be more relaxed again. I'll go through your steps and let you know how it feels tonight. Are you teaching while you're doing a music Major? From all your advice here, I can tell that you're a very fine teacher. Thanks once again.

I'm unable to lower my stool so I'll have to use an armless chair that's lower. I guess it should work ok.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #44 on: February 11, 2012, 05:31:45 PM »

I wish I had the skills to work through it faster but alas I will just have to take my time!

I think that as far as this piece is concerned, for me, anyway, my goal is to learn to play it relaxed, as relaxed as I possibly can. However far I get into the piece or however long it takes to play the complete piece is not important. Both hands relaxed because it will benefit FI and every other piece I get into. I have a feeling that if I can play this entire piece completely relaxed that I would have made significant progress in my piano performance so thanks so much, Megadodd, for taking time to be here with us and guiding us through this.
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megadodd
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« Reply #45 on: February 11, 2012, 06:57:30 PM »

No I'm not a teacher, yet. But I'm aspiring to become one some day!
I just love to dream about the day when I get to shape someones piano play. And so I experiment alot with techniques that might be helpful in the future.
It's great to hear you think I can become a good teacher!

Also I wouldn't limit myself to relaxation practice just at the piano, do circular wrist motions on your computer desk, immitate playing the piano. I'm doing thirds everywhere I go, at the computer, when I'm walking to the store, I'm playing thirds trills on my arm- I think this goes with anything technique wise. Imagining playing the piano somewhere else, ofcourse just a limited selections of techniques can be practiced away from the piano. But if you got nothing better to think about, why not?!

I like to drink wine while practicing aswell! There will be some tonight I tell you. The cheapest wine you can get!
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
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« Reply #46 on: February 11, 2012, 07:44:46 PM »

MEGADODD: I never expected you to come up with a step by step relaxation routine to help me. That's so cool! You definitely have the makings of a fine teacher. You have tremendous knowledge about the musical and technical aspects of a piece, you take time to explain the music and to share your practice tips with us, you are also incredibly positive and encouraging, both wonderful qualities of an outstanding teacher.  

Great idea to continue practice off the piano. I'll let you know how I felt after doing the relaxation exercise. Thanks once again.

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zoecalgary
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« Reply #47 on: February 12, 2012, 12:23:08 AM »

Megadodd you are a good teacher! Thanks for the great instruction and tips on relaxation.  I have not yet tried them as I am down with a cold/flu thing that's been brewing for the last week. But I will try everything you suggested.
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candlelightpiano
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« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2012, 05:02:09 AM »

Here's my first video. I did Megadodd's relaxation exercise prior and I never felt more relaxed at the piano. I didn't feel any tension either. Thanks so much, Megadodd. I hope my playing reflects that.  I'm not sure if this is how the LH should be played and would appreciate your feedback. I wasn't thinking of playing it at ppp when I was playing it. My focus was on being as relaxed as possible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbYC7bVAB0E&feature=youtu.be

Megadodd:  Before you play CDEFG (for the relaxation exercise), should you sit at regular piano stool height?
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dire_tonic
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« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2012, 09:44:02 AM »

Choo, that looks and sounds really good!  Megadodd's advice is paying off...
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