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Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2 (Read 1652 times)

Offline ivchks

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Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
« on: January 27, 2016, 11:46:34 AM »
Hello Everyone,

I am studying op27 no.2 and I got stuck in measures 51-52, I have learnt all the notes and memorised them very well. But when I speed it up it sounds messy and overall horrible. Can anyone be so kind to gimme some advices on how should I deal with them or any recommendations? Your helps'd be much appreciated. thx :)

Offline piulento

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #1 on: January 27, 2016, 06:50:01 PM »
One of the key ingredients in playing these kinds of passages is patience of a saint. This might be an obvoius and annoying tip, but just practice it repetitively until you can do it with your eyes closed. This includes:
-Starting out slowly, and gradually going faster and faster (will surely take time).
-Making sure you remember the fingering by heart.
-Paying attention to proper legato playing.
-Most important (and also hardest) - make sure that when you speed up, you're not doing it as an expression of force, but of accuracy. Don't play fast by moving your hand using force, but by using the "natural momentum" of the passage (Chopin is such a genius, he built this part specifically thinking about what will be comfortable for the pianist, take advantage of that). If you play this passage at full speed and it sounds louder that "piano", you should slow down and practice it some more. Imagine Chopin wrote "leggierissimo" next to the passage.
Have fun! It's a wonderful piece.

Offline xdjuicebox

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 05:43:32 AM »
Well, at least it's not some obnoxious polyrhythm haha

What are you having trouble with specifically? I think that might help us answer your question better
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Offline bzzzzzt

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #3 on: February 01, 2016, 08:53:38 PM »
This has been my favourite nocturne ever since I heard Horszowski's live recording at Aldeburgh festival.  The passage you're talking about it the main reason I've never learnt it!

Repeated note groups? Practice in rhythms?
Beethoven 2/3
Chopin 10/9

Offline rustleofspring

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #4 on: February 06, 2016, 04:20:16 PM »
I was interested to read your post about this piece.
I've been 'living with' this Nocturne for a few years now - like you, it's something I always wanted to play, and gradually, as I've improved, so has my ability to play it.
First of all, I wish I'd learnt it from this edition (the fingerings are faultless: I wasted many hours on dud fingerings that had to be painfully changed after I'd learnt the piece, always a nightmare.)
http://imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/f/fd/IMSLP61908-PMLP02305-Chopin-Op27n2rje.pdf
On the subject of editions, I would specifically NOT recommend Cortot's 'Study Edition' of this piece (Salabert). Setting aside the careless typos, the phrasing is overwrought, the practising suggestions are enough to drive one crazy and the fingerings are like crossword puzzles. There is only one exception: in bar 1, LH, he suggests 513124 (and so on). It feels very odd at first, and I haven't seen this fingering elsewhere, but once you've got the hand shape settled, it really helps the LH to flow and relax.
Regarding the fiorature passage you mention (Bar 52 specifically) I find the main problem is that one's RH 'locks' as the repeated four-note motif descends. It feels uncomfortable turning the hand so the thumb can play the G flat (8th note in the sequence), then again to take that pesky E flat near the end. (Out of interest, the edition above suggests playing the G flat with 2 rather than thumb. I tried this a couple of years ago and it didn't make much difference.)
The practising techniques that have helped me most have been
1) Memorise it. (Obviously.)
2) Play bar 51 with a bit of a flourish, if you wish, with the ascending scale played fast, but take a breath at the start of bar 52 and let the fiddly decorations start slowly, quietly and delicately, and gradually speed up as you descend.  A student of Chopin (sorry, can't remember who but I read it in Graham Fitch's blog post on fiorature) said that he usually intended for these passages to start slowly and build up speed. (If you hear it played in time, it is horrible - clunky...)
3) Don't try and play the LH in time, but keep it very light and 'shimmery'. Far from 'holding the things together', a firm accompaniment makes the passage sound wooden.
4) Regarding the RH hand position problem, you haven't got time to turn the hand in for the thumb to reach the G flat and E flat, so you need to play the whole passage fairly high up on the white notes (i.e., hand nearer the piano lid than the edges of the keys, something one usually prefers to avoid). [I should add at this point, my fingers are reasonably slim, I don't know how you'd play this section if your fingers didn't fit.)
5) Try practising the lower three notes of each four-note motif as triplet groups, leaving out the repeated C flat at the top, with a perfectly relaxed hand, fingertips super close to the keys. When those triplets can ripple down the keyboard sounding fluid and light, it's time to add back the C flat, lightly and (with any luck) effortlessly.
6) Finally - it sounds like you have enjoyed working on the piece. Set it aside for a few weeks (or months or years...) and come back to it.

By the way, there's a much worse 'little note' section waiting for you - Etude in C sharp, Op 25 No 7. The difference is, I don't even like it played by the Grand Masters, there's something coarse about the modulation. (Forgive me, Fryderyk.)

Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue (piano solo)
Schubert Impromptu in B flat (D935)
Faure Romance Sans Paroles, Op 17 No 3

Offline ivchks

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #5 on: April 14, 2016, 07:12:43 AM »
wow, thanks so much for everyone's advices, i can play the 2 bars now(kind of), but they dont sound exactly very soft and fluent. If you guys got any recommendations please shout! :) Cheers

Offline ivchks

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #6 on: April 14, 2016, 03:04:20 PM »
I was interested to read your post about this piece.
I've been 'living with' this Nocturne for a few years now - like you, it's something I always wanted to play, and gradually, as I've improved, so has my ability to play it.
First of all, I wish I'd learnt it from this edition (the fingerings are faultless: I wasted many hours on dud fingerings that had to be painfully changed after I'd learnt the piece, always a nightmare.)
http://imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/f/fd/IMSLP61908-PMLP02305-Chopin-Op27n2rje.pdf
On the subject of editions, I would specifically NOT recommend Cortot's 'Study Edition' of this piece (Salabert). Setting aside the careless typos, the phrasing is overwrought, the practising suggestions are enough to drive one crazy and the fingerings are like crossword puzzles. There is only one exception: in bar 1, LH, he suggests 513124 (and so on). It feels very odd at first, and I haven't seen this fingering elsewhere, but once you've got the hand shape settled, it really helps the LH to flow and relax.
Regarding the fiorature passage you mention (Bar 52 specifically) I find the main problem is that one's RH 'locks' as the repeated four-note motif descends. It feels uncomfortable turning the hand so the thumb can play the G flat (8th note in the sequence), then again to take that pesky E flat near the end. (Out of interest, the edition above suggests playing the G flat with 2 rather than thumb. I tried this a couple of years ago and it didn't make much difference.)
The practising techniques that have helped me most have been
1) Memorise it. (Obviously.)
2) Play bar 51 with a bit of a flourish, if you wish, with the ascending scale played fast, but take a breath at the start of bar 52 and let the fiddly decorations start slowly, quietly and delicately, and gradually speed up as you descend.  A student of Chopin (sorry, can't remember who but I read it in Graham Fitch's blog post on fiorature) said that he usually intended for these passages to start slowly and build up speed. (If you hear it played in time, it is horrible - clunky...)
3) Don't try and play the LH in time, but keep it very light and 'shimmery'. Far from 'holding the things together', a firm accompaniment makes the passage sound wooden.
4) Regarding the RH hand position problem, you haven't got time to turn the hand in for the thumb to reach the G flat and E flat, so you need to play the whole passage fairly high up on the white notes (i.e., hand nearer the piano lid than the edges of the keys, something one usually prefers to avoid). [I should add at this point, my fingers are reasonably slim, I don't know how you'd play this section if your fingers didn't fit.)
5) Try practising the lower three notes of each four-note motif as triplet groups, leaving out the repeated C flat at the top, with a perfectly relaxed hand, fingertips super close to the keys. When those triplets can ripple down the keyboard sounding fluid and light, it's time to add back the C flat, lightly and (with any luck) effortlessly.
6) Finally - it sounds like you have enjoyed working on the piece. Set it aside for a few weeks (or months or years...) and come back to it.

By the way, there's a much worse 'little note' section waiting for you - Etude in C sharp, Op 25 No 7. The difference is, I don't even like it played by the Grand Masters, there's something coarse about the modulation. (Forgive me, Fryderyk.)

Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue (piano solo)
Schubert Impromptu in B flat (D935)
Faure Romance Sans Paroles, Op 17 No 3


Thank you so much, i am also having difficulties in playing those nasty double notes, sometimes i dont practise double notes my2/4 3/5 fingers will just "misbehave". any advices for practising them??? thx so much

Offline rustleofspring

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #7 on: April 14, 2016, 06:26:07 PM »
Hi there. Which double notes? Do you mean the Slavonic-style dotted theme, with grace notes? If so, I think the secret is in the fingering/hand movements.
Double notes are hard, but top British teacher Graham Fitch (you can tell I am a fan) has loads of suggestions in his Practising the Piano e-book. Among them: practise each line separately. Practise one line staccato, one legato (then the other way around). Practise one line loud, one soft (then the other way around). Sorry - there is no easy fix, it's one of those problems solved by hard work.
Hope this helps.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 12:58:50 PM »

Thank you so much, i am also having difficulties in playing those nasty double notes, sometimes i dont practise double notes my2/4 3/5 fingers will just "misbehave". any advices for practising them??? thx so much

Do you not have a piano teacher?

With the info we have, (I think you're relatively new to Pianostreet) I cannot properly gauge your piano competence, however here's some thoughts.

I think many questions surrounding technical difficulties on pieces can stem from the fact we are not actually ready for the piece. Definitely, we learn new skills when tackling a piece, whether a rhythm, a technical skill, even down to a finger pattern we've never attempted. Personally, however, I think these are often built upon skills which are refined with more difficult pieces rather than completely new skills.

If you really are struggling with the double notes, it may be worth visiting a couple of simpler pieces that have double notes and see how you get on with them and gauge where your level of skill is. The worst case scenario is you work on your double notes, by learning some new pieces, you learn the pieces, you can go back to the Chopin piece and you have a skill for life!

One simple piece that comes to mind for me, is from the OP.100 Burgmuller etudes; 'La Petite Reunion'. I have attached a snippet.

I too originally struggled with the double notes you're referring too, however, to start, I could play it, not completely at speed, maybe 75%. For me it was a case of refining my ability for a slightly faster speed, rather than really build up a core technical ability in double notes.

Maybe post an audition of what you have so far, so people can make a better judgement. Often we find when somebody says "i've learnt something" - they really haven't. so when somebody says "i'm struggling with something" then, in my mind, it really hasn't been learnt at all and needs some real work, if not put aside for a reality check.
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Offline jimroof

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #9 on: April 15, 2016, 01:46:07 PM »
Hello Everyone,

I am studying op27 no.2 and I got stuck in measures 51-52, I have learnt all the notes and memorised them very well. But when I speed it up it sounds messy and overall horrible. Can anyone be so kind to gimme some advices on how should I deal with them or any recommendations? Your helps'd be much appreciated. thx :)

For one week, work with the RH alone and try this...

1. Play is with NO pedal, at whatever tempo it takes to play it EASILY and EVENLY. 
2. Do this for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night - over and over.
3. Slowly increase the speed, but NEVER to the point of it becoming sloppy and resist the urge to cover up problems with the pedal.  Keep it NO pedal for this practice.

As you practice it this way, keep your fingers CLOSE to the keys and move as efficiently as possibly from key to key.  You want to eliminate as much wasted motion as possible.  Even if this seems stupid and pedantic - do it anyway.  After a few days of this kind of practice, start to introduce left hand TAPPING rhythm on your leg, bench or fall board. 

If this is the only part of the piece that is giving you trouble then you can play it.  You just need to be patient as you train your BODY to do it.  Did you know that pianist's fingers are NOT really controlled by the brain when we play?  Our finger motions are controlled by a series of learned reflexes that emanate from the spinal cord and base of the brain.  The higher brain controls these learned reflexes, but the physical act of playing is NOT a higher brain function.  When we say we have 'learned something', a lot of that learning is actually more like programming our reflexes.

This takes time and patience and understanding part of the process can help you get there.
Chopin Ballades
Chopin Scherzos 2 and 3
Mephisto Waltz 1
Beethoven Piano Concerto 3
Schumann Concerto Am
Ginastera Piano Sonata
L'isle Joyeuse
Feux d'Artifice
Prokofiev Sonata Dm

Offline ivchks

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #10 on: April 16, 2016, 02:58:57 PM »
Do you not have a piano teacher?

With the info we have, (I think you're relatively new to Pianostreet) I cannot properly gauge your piano competence, however here's some thoughts.

I think many questions surrounding technical difficulties on pieces can stem from the fact we are not actually ready for the piece. Definitely, we learn new skills when tackling a piece, whether a rhythm, a technical skill, even down to a finger pattern we've never attempted. Personally, however, I think these are often built upon skills which are refined with more difficult pieces rather than completely new skills.

If you really are struggling with the double notes, it may be worth visiting a couple of simpler pieces that have double notes and see how you get on with them and gauge where your level of skill is. The worst case scenario is you work on your double notes, by learning some new pieces, you learn the pieces, you can go back to the Chopin piece and you have a skill for life!

One simple piece that comes to mind for me, is from the OP.100 Burgmuller etudes; 'La Petite Reunion'. I have attached a snippet.

I too originally struggled with the double notes you're referring too, however, to start, I could play it, not completely at speed, maybe 75%. For me it was a case of refining my ability for a slightly faster speed, rather than really build up a core technical ability in double notes.

Maybe post an audition of what you have so far, so people can make a better judgement. Often we find when somebody says "i've learnt something" - they really haven't. so when somebody says "i'm struggling with something" then, in my mind, it really hasn't been learnt at all and needs some real work, if not put aside for a reality check.

thx for the cm, i do have a piano teacher, she does think I can handle this piece. However she suggested me not to use the 2/4 and 3/5 combination as it is very difficult to get right and hard for many people since 2/4 and 3/5 are not really suitable for everyone. I just used it anyway because it is much faster and more convenient. I am starting to practice them using 1/3 and 2/4. Thx for the kind comment :)

Offline ivchks

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Re: Chopin Nocturne op27 no.2
«Reply #11 on: April 16, 2016, 03:00:44 PM »
And yes,  you guys are right LOL I am relatively new in this forum, I will try to get a recording for you guys and maybe give some comments :)  I just don't know where to put one up, any advices'd be welcomed :) cheers