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Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes (Read 26735 times)

Offline jorley

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Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
« on: April 29, 2012, 08:06:07 AM »
I have heard many people saying Chopin's Nocturne Op 48 no 1 in C minor is a very hard piece, but is it really that hard? The Octave part sounds hard but I don't think it is as hard as it sounds, and the doppio movimento is supposed to be extremely hard, but doesn't sound that hard in my opinion. My question is, how hard is this Nocturne compared to some of Chopin's Etudes and other major works? Is it as hard as any of these, and if so, which ones is it comparable to in difficulty? I think it is the greatest Nocturne written by Chopin..

Thanks

Offline birba

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 08:14:53 AM »
the most difficult part of this nocturne is the end with the repeated chords.  It's very difficult to guage the sonority, light repeated  chords with the cantilena above it in a forte context.  But to put it on the same level as the etudes is another thing.  I guess there are a few etudes that aren't as difficult as that nocturne, though.

Offline chrisbutch

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #2 on: April 29, 2012, 01:37:00 PM »
It's one Chopin piece which is harder to bring off convincingly on a modern piano than it would have been on Chopin's. The challenge is to pedal sufficiently to maintain the line, but not so much that the repeated triplet and then semiquaver chords become over-resonant. With the shorter sustain of Chopin's piano this would have been a lot easier.   

Offline beebert

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 02:14:39 PM »
It's difficult to say what is easier and what is not, but I would say that the general person would have an easier time learning Op 10 no 3, Op 10 no 5, Op 10 No 9, Op 10 No 12 Op 25 No 1, Op 25 No 2, Op 25 No 7, and maybe some more.

Offline teccomin

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 06:33:04 PM »
Sustaining a musical line on top of a row of chords at pianissimo is not easy.

Offline danny_i

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #5 on: May 10, 2012, 02:23:09 AM »
I have heard many people saying Chopin's Nocturne Op 48 no 1 in C minor is a very hard piece, but is it really that hard?

Yes, it is a very hard piece, compared to the other nocturnes, it is very difficult to play convincingly. The doppio movimento is especially challenging since the original melody has to sing over the fast repeated chords. The mood of the piece is extremely broad, and much more serious than other nocturnes. It's almost tragic. I think it is very easy to screw up a performance of this piece by focusing on the technical aspects, when the musical/interpretation aspects are substantially more challenging.

My question is, how hard is this Nocturne compared to some of Chopin's Etudes and other major works?

I don't think you can compare it to any Etudes. A performance of a Chopin etude that is up to tempo and note perfect is very memorable, whereas an up-to-tempo and note perfect performance of this nocturne can still fall flat.

This is a very musically delicate and mature piece. An effective performance, in which the performer plays legato octaves and achieves a bel canto tone throughout the doppio movimento is absolutely spine-chilling. I have performed it a couple of times and I was always unsatisfied with my performance.

Offline tchristec

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #6 on: May 20, 2012, 04:10:11 AM »
Hello!

I have never posted before but I really wanted to join this discussion as I have recently been working on several Chopin etudes and I also just performed this nocturne at a small recital at my school.  This nocturne is my all time favorite of Chopin's nocturnes and it was the first nocturne I ever played.  I began studying this piece just because I loved it so much, it really spoke to me.  However when I began studying I didn't realize how hard it actually was.  I think not knowing that it was supposed to be hard helped me somehow psychologically.  I am no musical expert; I'm not even a music major, so I may be way off base when I say this but from my limited experience what I think is an outstanding performance of any of Chopin's etudes demonstrates that the pianist has a firm grasp of the particular technique that is addressed in each study as well as bringing out the musical beauty, genius, and emotion that is unique to Chopin's style.  I say firm grasp rather than mastery because I think mastery is a process and one always try to further improve. 

I feel the same way about this nocturne.  At my recital I gave the best performance I was capable of at that time but if I were to perform this nocturne now I see how it has vastly improved, even within a month.  I think one difficulty of this nocturne is that while with etudes, the pianist must exhibit a very refined technique, with this nocturne the technique must be so refined and honed that instead of it (technique) taking the center stage it rather enriches and embodies the emotion and soul of this piece.  Every time I play this piece I find something that I can further improve.  One element that was mentioned was the pedaling of this piece.  Just yesterday I spent about 15 minutes just working out the pedaling of the last 4 measures.  Despite that I still feel like these 4 measures need work even though technically they may be the easiest part of the piece.

I guess what I am trying to say is that like what others have said, I too never feel completely satisfied with my performance of this piece, but when I perform for others I just hope that I can communicate the message of this nocturne.  I think with a piece like this it is important to let it age, kind of like wine I guess, because it can only get better right?  I dunno I may be crazy and way off topic and I also know next to nothing about music compared to so many others here but I just wanted to put in my two cents.

One last thing.  The ending, doppio movimento;  The melody must must must sing out just as clearly, if not more, than when it is first introduced in the beginning.  This is a challenge as you know because of the pp chords that are played in the same hand.  One etude that might help is op. 10 no 3 as it addresses this issue to some degree.  Although I have never fully studied 10 no 3 so perhaps someone with more experience would know more.

If you are thinking about studying this nocturne please don't be discouraged by the notion that it is "difficult".  At the very least you can learn this piece and let it simmer :)  I hope I wasn't way of base with what I have said as I am not a music major, just a long time passionate player so I guess I have not formal education besides lessons.

Offline iratior

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #7 on: May 20, 2012, 04:32:44 AM »
I'll venture some opinions on the difficulties, but emphasize that everyone is entitled to their opinions as to what is difficult or easy and nothing has to be "cast in concrete" on the subject.  One thing I notice, having studied both 48/1 and 25/10, is that the octaves in 25/10 are not so hard as those in 48/1, even though 25/10 has way more of them.  The octaves in 48/1 just involve harder leaps.  By some standards, I have to wonder if 48/1 should even be regarded as playable.  I mean, the doppio movimento would seem to need the eighth notes going at 360 per minute, just like 25/10's fast parts.  But there is a sixteenth-note septuplet of chords in the doppio movimento;  to be absolutely consistent about the tempo would seem to require that they be played at 840 per minute.  840 per minute chords?  As if that weren't nightmarish enough, they have to be played with the melody part of them louder than the harmonization, and the whole has to be part of a long crescendo.  In general, I don't like to take any liberties whatever with the tempo of a piece, unless the composer explicitly directs an acceleration or ritardando.  Going past 750 notes per minute shows no mercy!

Offline kalirren

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #8 on: May 22, 2012, 06:43:42 PM »
My main difficulty with this piece is choice of tempo.  How to trade off the sixteenth notes in the C major section with the eighth notes in the doppio movimiento?  The former have to sound slow enough to be chthonic, and the latter have to sound fast enough to be tumultuous.  Yet the difference in their tempo is only half a measure of accelerando away.

Quote from: iratior
...the doppio movimento would seem to need the eighth notes going at 360 per minute, just like 25/10's fast parts.

360/minute on the eighth-note triplets in the last section?

That means you're playing the Lento at 60 quarter-notes per minute.  I think that's -really- fast.  I always imagined starting the Lento at about 40-45 quarter-notes/min, slowing down to <40 for the C major section, and hitting 80-90 quarter-note/min at the doppio movimiento.  Even the septuplet in perfect tempo hits only 630 BPM, which is hard, but solidly doable.
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Offline virtuoso80

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #9 on: May 22, 2012, 09:45:02 PM »
I love this Nocturne. I remember the first time I heard it played, I went and sought out the music to try it. As it's been said, the octave part is not the difficulty, it's the recapitulation of the melody with the chord triplets. I sight-read through the octaves without a problem, but then I got to the recap...yeesh!

Offline iratior

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 01:05:41 PM »
I see kalirren's point.  If doppio movimiento means double the time of the original lento, then yes, if the original lento were at roughly 40 to 45 quarter notes per minute, the septuplet of chords would be 560 to 630 per minute, so doable.  I was thinking the doppio movimiento meant double the time of the intermediate section, and there, the benchmark I had was that a good tempo for the sixteenth-note double octaves would seem to be the same as for those in the fast sections of 25/10, because of the similarity of the very tumultuous moods of the pieces at those points.  Still, for Chopin to have called a 40-to-45-quarter-note-per-minute tempo just "lento" seems a bit like an understatement.

Offline nanabush

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #11 on: May 24, 2012, 04:42:17 AM »
The issue with comparing the octave etude to this nocturne is that the nocturne JUST has the octaves... the octave study has notes voiced in between them.  Who cares if there are jumps in the Nocturne octaves (have you seen the 3rd Scherzo?!)... if you can keep relaxed, the leaps shouldn't be nearly as bad as playing any form of octaves while having to sustain a melodic line in between them (as in the octave etude).
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Offline iratior

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #12 on: May 24, 2012, 08:46:28 AM »
Hi, nanabush!  There are indeed those melodic lines in the octaves etude!  I hadn't thought about that, but for some reason, they never gave me any trouble, so I wasn't thinking about them!  Why they didn't give me any trouble is anybody's guess;  maybe because I do lots and lots of Bach and get used to having fugue voices being played while other stuff goes on!  The leaps are another story;  they're hard for me!

Offline danhuyle

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #13 on: May 25, 2012, 10:40:46 AM »
There's some Chopin Etudes that are faster to learn than Nocturne Op48/1. Just because you learn one piece faster than the other doesn't necessarily mean it's easier than the other piece. Some pieces that do take longer to learn, on the technical side of things, may be easier in the long run than those pieces that are faster to learn.

I've always felt that Nocturne Op48 No1 is an example one of those that take long to learn on the technical side. It's starts easy, then gets harder as you progress. For the musical side of things, I haven't got that far so I'm not going to say anything.
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Offline jorley

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #14 on: February 05, 2013, 08:18:37 PM »
But if you compare the Nocturne Op 48 1 to other pieces by Chopin, what pieces would you say are about the same difficulty as Op 48 No 1?

Offline perprocrastinate

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #15 on: February 06, 2013, 03:04:40 AM »
But if you compare the Nocturne Op 48 1 to other pieces by Chopin, what pieces would you say are about the same difficulty as Op 48 No 1?

̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶d̶/̶r̶e̶m̶o̶t̶e̶l̶y̶-̶s̶e̶m̶i̶-̶"̶e̶d̶u̶c̶a̶t̶e̶d̶"̶ ̶g̶u̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶a̶y̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶E̶t̶u̶d̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶C̶-̶s̶h̶a̶r̶p̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶o̶r̶,̶ ̶O̶p̶.̶ ̶2̶5̶/̶7̶.̶ ̶B̶o̶t̶h̶ ̶p̶i̶e̶c̶e̶s̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶c̶r̶u̶c̶i̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶c̶e̶n̶t̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶r̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶v̶o̶i̶c̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶u̶l̶t̶i̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶m̶e̶l̶o̶d̶i̶c̶ ̶l̶i̶n̶e̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶c̶l̶a̶r̶i̶t̶y̶.̶

And as always, someone please slap me if I'm wrong.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #16 on: February 06, 2013, 03:19:37 AM »
And as always, someone please slap me if I'm wrong.



Just for trying.  :P
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Offline beebert

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #17 on: February 06, 2013, 06:57:01 AM »
I'm going to take a wild/remotely-semi-"educated" guess and say his Etude in C-sharp minor, Op. 25/7. Both pieces are crucially centered around voicing multiple melodic lines and clarity.

And as always, someone please slap me if I'm wrong.
technically, the nocturne is far harder, for sure.

Offline jeffkonkol

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #18 on: February 09, 2013, 02:12:50 AM »
agree with beebert.

the etude is wonderful, and a great voicing piece.  It's technically difficult sections really are restricted to 4-5 measures... and those measures are fairly free flowing with little dynamic restrictions.

while I don't agree that the octaves in 48-1 are harder than 25-10 (unless you ignore the held inner notes in 25-10, which is kind of skipping the study) ..... the doppio is really difficult.  You have to voice a completely independent melody with your right pinky.  you have some measures of 4 over 3 going on.   The left hand must be kept whisper quiet if you are going to stay within the dynamic confines, yet it moves too much to be done comfortably without some bouncing.

on top of all of that... it is written to be played with rather heavy pedal.  The pedals on modern pianos are much better than what chopin had to work with.... which kind of forces one to have to flutter pedal the whole section.  Maybe that is just an issue in my head and my ear... but pedaling through the doppio is very difficult for me.

anyways.... love the piece.  It is probably smack dap in the middle of the etude difficulty curve.

Offline chopianologue

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #19 on: February 24, 2013, 05:29:14 PM »
I always see this nocturne as a musiquality etude.
Like op.10 no.3 - no.6
and op.25 no.7

It's really harder than some technical etudes like 10/9, 10/12, 25/9

Hardness(for me)

48/1 > 25/7(it's really hard to play perfectly) > 10/12 > 25/9 > 10/3 > 10/6 > 10/9

Offline corecase

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #20 on: March 10, 2013, 08:06:11 AM »
That's an interesting question.  IMHO, it depends on the pianist.  Some pianists find it easier to adapt to or even master a specific technique (which Etudes are generally comprised of); Op. 48 No. 1 requires the pianist to play with lots of feeling and emotion - the pianist needs to LIVE the piece, not simply play the notes, in order for it to sound right.  Generally speaking, I feel like etudes require less emotion and more technical mastery - they'll sound right as long as you play them at the right speed and with accuracy of notes/technique.  This Nocturne (and nocturnes in general) is (are) powerful, because it gives the pianist the ability to REALLY grab the audience members' souls and cause them to fall into an almost trance... if played well.  Sure you can go ahead and compare this nocturne to each and every etude one by one and decide which is more difficult to simply memorize or play the right notes to, but playing Op. 48 No. 1 and grabbing people's souls (like it's meant to do) is a different story.  ;)
Repertoire:
Beethoven Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement
Chopin Etude in E Major Op. 10 No. 3
Chopin Etude in C# Minor Op. 10 No. 4
Chopin Waltz in C# Minor


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Offline maestro57

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #21 on: March 14, 2013, 12:43:03 AM »
I have heard many people saying Chopin's Nocturne Op 48 no 1 in C minor is a very hard piece, but is it really that hard? The Octave part sounds hard but I don't think it is as hard as it sounds, and the doppio movimento is supposed to be extremely hard, but doesn't sound that hard in my opinion. My question is, how hard is this Nocturne compared to some of Chopin's Etudes and other major works? Is it as hard as any of these, and if so, which ones is it comparable to in difficulty? I think it is the greatest Nocturne written by Chopin..

Thanks

Hi jorley,

Firstly, I apologize that I cannot give you insight on the comparisons between Chopin's Nocturne Op. 48 No. 1 and his Etudes (because I haven't played his Etudes) but I will chime in with my experiences with this Nocturne specifically. I hope you don't mind!

In my opinion, Valentina Lisitsa interprets and plays this piece the absolute bestest. Hands down. Have a listen to this particular rendition of hers:


Why do I like her version so much? The "Lento" movement is played at a good "Lento" pace - as intended by Chopin - and has just the perfect amount of rubato placed at appropriate moments. I believe this lento pace and rubato additive helps - is required, rather - in exuding the emotion needed to play this piece. (A lot of other pianists play this in what I call metronome-time - too march-like.) Also, Lisitsa plays the Doppio movimento really, really well. It is roughly double the speed of the lento movement, as it should be, and she beautifully brings out the melody in those rapid, four-note chords.

Eons ago, I reached level/grade 9 with Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music and took a long, a many-year-long break, from the piano... almost to the point where I thought there would be no hope attempting to play again (and this is on top of me already being a terrible pianist to begin with!). Then I somehow heard this Nocturne and fell in love with it. I went out and bought the book of Nocturnes and started to take a crack at it. It was all smooth sailing, kind of, until I got to the Doppio movimento. It was difficult at first, I must admit - specifically trying to bring out the melodic notes in those four-note chords. So, I cheated and omitted a note here and there, in the chords, to make it easier. I'd say it was an excellent sacrifice, as I can now play this and have it sound decent. That might help you, too. People here might scold me for giving you such sinister advice. A lot of people have a problem with pianists omitting notes when playing, but people don't seem to have a problem with the great Mr. Vladimir Horowitz omitting (or even adding!) notes when playing. If Horowitz can do it, so can we!  ;D

So, coming from a terrible pianist who took a long hiatus from the piano and then still being able to tackle this piece, I'd say its not "that hard". I know you can do it!

Offline ade16

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #22 on: April 09, 2013, 03:23:51 PM »
There are hidden and very subtle difficulties in Op.48 no.1 It is not all about the octaves in the middle section, though they are nevertheless difficult to pull off convincingly. It is not all about technique, it is also about expression. I have heard some pretty mechanical performances. This was one of the pieces I played in my final recital for my music degree at London University over thirty years ago. My piano teacher and I discussed pieces appropriate in demonstrating a robust technique, expressive capablitites etc. I can assure you this piece is more difficult than many think. Tackling a piece is not the same as pulling off a convincing performance in front of an audience, or examiners for a music degree for that matter. I thought I played it very well, along with the rest of my repertoire and got a 2:1.

I agree with another post, the last section for example is very difficult to pull off in terms of marrying a fast moving triplet accompaniment with a melody line (reprise of first section)that actually comes through cantabile. Also, occasional fours against threes, seven against three etc
have to be precisely executed so that it does not sound like a muddle. Do not underestimate the challenges in this lovely Nocturne.

However, do not be put off learning it. I absolutely agree that it is, like so many other challenging pieces of music, something that you can leave for a while (I liked the analogy of a good wine!) and revisit afresh. I first learned this piece when I was 14, and I have gone back to it several times with a renewed enthusiasm, not to mentioned improved technique. I have played the piece for forty years and am still refining my performance. This is maybe verging on being obsessive, but I am still not completely satisfied that I have done all I can with it. Chopin himself said that time is the greatest teacher!

Offline birba

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #23 on: April 09, 2013, 05:01:37 PM »
I've been practising this piece now for about a week.  I started on the doppio movimento, of course, as this is the most difficult.  I'm tempted to listen to valentina's rendition.  But I don't think I will until I have the nocturne down pat.
The difficulty in the doppio movimento are the repeated chords.  Keeping them light so they don't overpower the melody.  Playing it slow is a cinch.  But it has to go fast and agitato.  I'm really impressed by those here who say it's easy-  It's probably easy for valentina, too -  :-[

Offline birba

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #24 on: April 09, 2013, 05:05:16 PM »
As far as omitting notes in the doppio movimento, I think it's inevitable at times.  But INADVERTANTLY,  not INTENTIONALLY.

Offline ade16

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #25 on: April 09, 2013, 06:55:12 PM »
It really does pay in the long run to practise the Doppio movimento painstakingly slowly and precisely, hands separately to start with, focussing from the outset on bringing the melody line out in a cantabile style. Do not be tempted to play it any faster than you can comfortably play it at any given point in the practice process. Very gradually build up the speed, maybe over weeks rather than days.
(Of course this is fairly obvious and nothing new, but the timescale for mastering a piece of any length really does depend on how much practice you can fit in each day, and how many other pieces you are learning at the same time, not to mention the efficiency of your practice. Building up a new recital will inevitably mean having several pieces on the go. It is important to do at least some practice on every piece each day. The danger otherwise is that a neglected piece will lose momentum and deteriorate.)

Choice of fingerings in the right hand of Op.48 no.1 in particular is also crucial so that extra 'weight' can be given to those notes which constitute this melody line. All the same notes need to come out clearly in the Doppio Movimento as in the original version of the melody in the first Lento section.

Indeed it is helpful to learn this slow section first so that you gain a perfect feel for how the melody notes are placed, and where the all important rests come. Then you can emulate this in the Doppio M. section. In this faster section, your right hand 5th finger will do a lot of the work (but not all of course) with regard to weighting the notes to bring out a cantabile tone. Try the suggested fingerings given, but adjust them according to what feels natural and comfortable for you. What edition are you using? I have the Paderewski edition in front of me now, but I am familiar with Urtext and others. The fingerings are invariably Chopin's own suggestions. He, like Beethoven, was pretty meticulous in this regard, but Chopin had fairly small hands and knew that fingering suggestions were just that, suggestions, and by no means set in stone. Getting the fingerings right for you (remember, feeling natural and comfortable to you) at the very outset is crucial; so that, even when you increase the tempo you are still in control of both that beautiful melody line and the agitato accompaniment.

Always feel free to experiment with alternative fingerings in any piece, but then stick to your final choices in all future practice, rather than swapping about as this just causes confusion in the memorisation process. I always have a pencil and eraser on my piano for this purpose as I occasionally change my mind in terms of finger choices. But eventually I make myself stick to my final selections, knowing that I have explored a range of suitable alternatives.

Appropriate and consistent fingerings in Op.48 no.1 will avoid the issue of missing out notes, particularly in the complex texture of the Doppio Movimento.

I hope this helps in some way, however small. If I can help in any other way as your practice evolves over the next days and weeks just say! Good luck. This is a wonderful piece which is very close to my heart. I first heard it when I was 6 on an LP my father regularly listened to of a Chopin recital  by Stefan Askenase, teacher of a few great pianists including Martha Argerich.

Offline danhuyle

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #26 on: April 10, 2013, 06:24:25 AM »
Now that I've actually played Nocturne Op48 No1, I can rightfully say that to practice the Doppio Movimento, play as slow as possible.

If you can interpret the material at the beginning, then you'll have an easier time interpreting the doppio movimento. What's more important is bringing out the melodic line than playing fast and it sounds like nothing.
Perfection itself is imperfection.

Currently practicing
Albeniz Triana
Scriabin Fantaisie Op28
Scriabin All Etudes Op8

Offline jeffkonkol

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Re: Nocturne Op 48 no 1 difficulty compared to Etudes
«Reply #27 on: August 21, 2013, 10:11:18 AM »
Sorry to necro this thread, but since I restarted my work on this piece (which inevitably brought me back to this rather productive discussion) I was curious to see how the others in the thread who were working through this were doing?