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Topic: How 'finger-y' do you play (Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata)?  (Read 2379 times)

Offline virtuoso80

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I owe a whole lot to a zen-like teacher I had in college who taught me about relaxation and playing from the arm. He would say things like, "You're finding it hard because you think it's hard, but it isn't." This kind of modern, arm-motion playing is super important and useful for modern pieces, but when we go back to the classical era, sometimes I wonder if I should adopt a different style.

I've been working on the Waldstein Sonata, and am thinking I want to commit to finishing it and getting it performable. Most of my work has been with my typical 'lazy' fingers, letting my arms float my hand through it in that wonderful fatigue-and-injury-resistant way...

...but then I hear something like this:

God, that articulation sounds good. And unless I'm missing something, you can't get that without a engaging the fingers a little more. I did some slow work with a metronome, picking my fingers up and trying to get that rapid-fire articulation going. I suppose it's doable, but I'm still conflicted because it still somehow seems 'wrong' to me. So I remain unsure which way to go.

What so you think? Is there a conflict or am I actually missing something? Also, I welcome comments about the general approach to how you play (more from the arm, etc.)
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Offline jeu_perle

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Re: How 'finger-y' do you play (Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata)?
Reply #1 on: March 13, 2016, 08:06:35 PM

I've been lurking here for a while and I just couldn't resist signing up to respond to your post. The choice between finger-strength and arm-weight schools of technique is so interesting to discuss.

After a certain point, I'm unable to see how relaxation will produce certain dry, scalelike figurations. My head says that some sort of significant finger motion has to be involved. I find myself using the arm more and more like a sort of rudder in thin textures, setting directions and flow; although I'd still not use finger strength for a loud, strong passage.

The choice is partly dependent upon where you stand on the technique/results continuum - is anything okay as long as you get the right sound, or are there conditions? Is the way the body is used also part of the performance?

P.S. Pletnev's interpretation of the Waldstein is an experience. The thrill of the fast tremolo opening is something I hope I can someday recreate.

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: How 'finger-y' do you play (Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata)?
Reply #2 on: March 13, 2016, 08:49:11 PM
While your teacher is good to teach playing with minimal effort, in Waldstein you're going to have to use the fingers for speed. That said, you should still be loose. Play from the nail joint, with curved, round fingers. You can also break down the runs into finger patterns if that helps, and practice crossovers isolated and then adding bit by bit to help get it really fluid.
Cheers. Beast of a sonata.

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