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Belated London Premiere for Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel on International Women’s Day

As part of its special day of programming for International Women’s Day, BBC Radio 3 broadcasted a live performance of the Easter Sonata, a major piano work which until recently had been attributed to Felix Mendelssohn, but is now proved to be the work of his sister Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata, 3rd mvt  (Read 3509 times)
rhapsody7900
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« on: December 25, 2004, 08:10:11 AM »

Hello, I am having some real technical difficulties with the 3rd mvt of the Moonlight Sonata, I can pretty much play the whole thing to speed except for a couple of specific sections (on which I just croak on every time.)  Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated:

1>  bars 76-83.  I can't seem to speed up the right hand without muddling things, seems especially strange since I can do it fine with the roles reversed for the two hands... (I've even been tempted to play it crossover Tongue ) I've noticed some accent marks in parantheses in my edition on the the beginning of the 4th beat for the right hand, not sure how it helps.

2>  the parallel climb and descent in the 5 bars at the very end... I'm able to play the right notes according to the fingering, but it's just sluggish... I always thought that with enough practice, I would naturally begin to pick up more and more speed - but alas, it hasn't been so.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong (I can go up fast, just can't come down without missing a ton of notes unless I play REAL slow.) 

3>  those darn trills in measures 30, 32, 126, and 128 with the 4-5 fingering... arg!  would it be advisable to play them with 2-4 fingering?  I've read the thread on this forum from a long time ago with some good advice about the arm and wrist, but I think my fingers are just too weak to handle it.

I feel like I'm so close to being able to play this piece amply (technically, anyway..) these small bumps are frustrating.  Thank you so much in advance! Cheesy
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piano sheet music of Sonata 14 (Moonlight)
yamaha
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2004, 03:51:18 PM »

I would also like some help with this movement although I've only just started it. My hands are quite small so those trills are a nightmare for me too!!   Shocked
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richard w
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2004, 01:37:55 AM »

1> It's not that strange that your right hand doesn't do as well as your left hand. Bear in mind that where you had fingers 1 and 2 you now have fingers 5 and 4. Check the fingering you are using, for example bar 75 (if you don't count the 2nd time bar) use 1-4-2-4, and bar 76 use 1-3-2-3. Next, you need to isolate what the difficulty is. Taking bar 75, beats 2 and 3 you have F#-C#-A-C#-F#-C#-A-C# (in case you didn't know what the notes where  Grin). Go through each pair of notes (ie F#-C#, C#-A, A-C#, etc), and work on getting each pair to run smoothly up to or beyond playing speed, both forwards and backwards. If you feel tension, slow down and build the speed maintaining a relaxed feel. If any group is at all awkward work on the pair incorporating as much relaxation as you can, maybe over several days if you need to. Repeat the same with groups of three, and four, etc. Also repeat the same process over beat 4 of one bar and beat 1 of the next, to thoroughly learn the chord changes. When you've done all that, you can start stringing things together. Remember, as much relaxation as possible is the key. If you feel tense, stop and start again slower. Reading this board or other frequently-referred-to sources will give you masses of information on relaxation, as well as how to master tricky sections.

2> Get each hand working, preferably above performance speed (if possible), separately. If you don't do a lot of separate practise, your weaker hand will probably feel rather awkward on its own. Work on it until you eliminate this feeling. Break the section down, and again focus on any difficulties in getting from one note to the next (see my answer to 1>). When you put together, break down into on one- or two- beat segments. When you can do those, try three- or four-beat segments, etc... until you have the whole passage working as you desire.

3> If you have the ABRSM edition you'll have the benefit of Professor DFT's essay, where he gives his method '...by which a small hand can give a fair rendering of these very difficult trills.' For bar 30 he recommends playing

Beat 1: A#(low)-A#(high)-B-A#-G#-A#
Beat 2: B octave.

with fingers

Beat 1: 1-4-5-3-2-3
Beat 2: 1,5

and bar 32

Beat 1: Fx(low)-Fx(High)-G#-Fx-E#-Fx
Beat 2 G# octave

with fingers

Beat 1: 1-5-4-3-2-4
Beat 2: 1,5

or fingers

Beat 1: 1-4-5-4-2?-5
Beat 2: 1,4

If that doesn't read like complete gibberish then I'm a Greek-Orthodox Bishop, if there is such a position, but I tried  Wink. The music goes so fast that you haven't time to fit in a luxurious trill. You've scarcely more than enough time for half a mordent and a turn. If you only have two or three notes of trill for fingers 4 and 5 then its going to look a lot less forbidding. In the end, it will come down to the hand movements you deploy. Practise separately, and slowly build it up until you have just the couple of adjacent bars working hands together. then try playing the section. Again lots of work is involved, and you can deploy the same methods mentioned at 1> and 2> if you have difficulty executing the trill. Once again - avoid tension.

That's what I would do, anyway.  Grin


Happy practising.  Smiley





Richard.
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rhapsody7900
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2004, 10:25:55 AM »

Thanks Richard!  I didn't even think about 1-4-2-4 fingering for bar 75... it's already getting a lot smoother.  That last part's going to keep me busy for a while (you're totally right, the left hand alone feels REALLY awkward), guess I'll have something to do for the rest of my vacation!  Grin Thanks again!
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sirpazhan
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2004, 11:13:33 PM »

The 'parallel climb and descent' at the very end is the best part of the this sonata.  One advise I can give you (and this makes the song a whole lot better) is to emphasize on the 1st finger (left hand) and on the 5th finger (right hand) on both the climb and the descent -- so it sounds like this:

da, da, da, DA! -- da, da, da, DA! -- da, da, da, DA! -- da, da, da, DA! -

and then down the descent -- DA!, da ,da , da --  DA!, da ,da , da --  DA!, da ,da , da

all the way down,, so you don't sound like your playing a wave,, the 3 movement of moonlight is a powerful song,, and should be played that way . I always hear pianist play it soft,, so no feeling,, its sad to hear someone play a 15 min sonata and end it with a spark.  Check out Walter Klein's version of the 3rd movement,, he demonstrates the power (if interested, email me, I have the .mp3)-- so you dont just hear it,, you feel it...

its all timing,, and practice -- I know how frustrating it can be when you play the whole song fast,, and the ending slow.

hope I helped.

-as
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\\\\\\\"I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven\\\\\\\"
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