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Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale... (Read 1453 times)

Offline jimroof

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Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
« on: April 10, 2016, 10:08:31 PM »
There is a 2 bar section in Brahm's Second piano concerto (4th movement) in which the right hand must play a D major scale in thirds at a tempo that is about 104-108 per quarter note, with the scale being septuplet 16 notes... ie., the equivalent of 16th notes being played at about 184 per quarter note.

I am debating how to try to get this even close.  Emanuel Ax seems to be able to do this with ease.  Others are less clean.  

Anyone here venture into these waters and have something to share?  Since this is so rapid, I am thinking that the first three thirds would be 1-3 2-4 3-5, then a very quick move to the G and B with 1-2, the finish the scale with 1-3 2-4 3-5... repeat for for the full 4 octaves.  

The standard fingering for D major thirds seems very cumbersome for the rapid pace this has to happen.  Shoot, 184 is not easy to play SINGLE note scales cleanly, let alone double thirds.  
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 louispodesta

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #1 on: April 10, 2016, 11:37:28 PM »
There is a 2 bar section in Brahm's Second piano concerto (4th movement) in which the right hand must play a D major scale in thirds at a tempo that is about 104-108 per quarter note, with the scale being septuplet 16 notes... ie., the equivalent of 16th notes being played at about 184 per quarter note.

I am debating how to try to get this even close.  Emanuel Ax seems to be able to do this with ease.  Others are less clean.  

Anyone here venture into these waters and have something to share?  Since this is so rapid, I am thinking that the first three thirds would be 1-3 2-4 3-5, then a very quick move to the G and B with 1-2, the finish the scale with 1-3 2-4 3-5... repeat for for the full 4 octaves.  

The standard fingering for D major thirds seems very cumbersome for the rapid pace this has to happen.  Shoot, 184 is not easy to play SINGLE note scales cleanly, let alone double thirds.  

1)  It would be most respectful for you to list measure numbers or composition marks, when asking a question.

2)  Your fingering is the same that I use, which is most effective if you do the following:

3)  My coach, Dr. Thomas Mark (www.pianomap.com), teaches in lesson, the Tobias Matthay principle (also used by Taubman/Golandsky), in regards the physics associated with the playing of double notes.

4)  That means when you strike two notes at the same time, there is an associated push back from the keydip of the piano.  So, if you want to move on to the next set of double notes quickly, then you let the keys push you onto the next set of notes.

5)  This is a version, using single notes, of strike an quick release.  Except, in this instance, it is double notes.

Finally, I had a very well-known teacher who is in his late 70's (a former student of Adele Marcus and Robert Casadesus) actually compliment me when I told him how to use the same technique to play the opening of the 3rd movement of the Schumann Concerto, which you play.
 

Offline jimroof

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #2 on: April 18, 2016, 03:25:28 AM »
Well... as it turns out, many who perform this concerto simply do not play this passage as written.  I just watched 4 performances on YouTube.  I spotted only ONE in which I am convinced the double thirs scale is played with one hand - Grimaut.

Pollini?  Looks and sounds like the left hand as written by Brahms is left out and he plays the D major scale in thirds with two hands.  Emanuel Ax - I cannot hear the left hand but I would not swear he did the same thing as the camera angle does not show conclusively.  Barenboim - visually inconclusive, but I do NOT hear the broken fifths in the left hand until AFTER the scale terminates into the trill.

Zimerman manages to perform as written.  So does Berezonsky.

It looks to me that the real trick here is sneaking that 1/32 in on the G and B in between full hand groups that are in your good old 5 finger position in D and A.  There is a huge tendency for a serious hiccup at that point.

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 perfect_pitch

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #3 on: April 18, 2016, 03:48:17 AM »
Pollini?  Looks and sounds like the left hand as written by Brahms is left out and he plays the D major scale in thirds with two hands. 

Wrong... Not Pollini...

He plays it exactly as written.



You can hear him clearly play the 3rds in the RH while the LH deals with the standard semiquavers. Of all people to cheat - Pollini would be the LAST person to do so.

Offline jimroof

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #4 on: April 18, 2016, 04:01:36 AM »
I stand corrected then.  I guess the open 5ths are just so much easier to hear under the trill than when they are so close to the scale.  I did read that many pianists just play the scale in thirds as they do the first time this thematic material appears.

I think it is doable for me, but to get it even... therein lies the trick.  I can play the 5 finger groupings very quickly, then do a little hiccup getting 1 and 2 on G and B, and a smaller hiccup sliding the thumb over to the A for the second group.

BTW, my favorite YouTube recording of this Concerto right now is Emanuel Ax.  He is built perfectly for Brahms - big and burly and with hands that look like they were borrowed from a bear, but nimble as can be.
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 louispodesta

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #5 on: April 18, 2016, 11:06:19 PM »
Having listened to the Pollini recording (which is always painful for anyone who is devoted to the original performance practice of musicianship), I once again re-state from my original post:

"That means when you strike two notes at the same time, there is an associated push back from the key dip of the piano.  So, if you want to move on to the next set of double notes quickly, then you let the keys push you onto the next set of notes."

Finally, is it a big deal to play this particular passage utilizing the proper physics associated with key depression and push back?  No, in my opinion, it is not.



Offline jimroof

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #6 on: April 19, 2016, 03:14:02 AM »
I estimate a light action will have a 'push back' of about 8 ounces and a heavy action might 'push back' 12 ounces.  I have a digital piano that I practice on in my office that has an action that is a tad heavy.  A 12 ounce weight easily depresses a white key from the 'fat part' of the key.

I am having a hard time grasping the idea that a 12 ounce force that I just overcame with probably at least 2 to 3 pounds of downward pressure (playing pianissimo) is going to do anything to propel me to the next spot.  Perhaps you are meaning the natural rebound off the key bed and not the force of the weight of the key? 

I am one of those 'arm weight' guys.  My teacher in college was a student of Lee Luvisi and that probably tells you that relaxation and economy of motion are the name of the game for me. 

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 jimroof

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #7 on: April 19, 2016, 04:17:27 AM »
Just got an EXCELLENT idea for how to play this passage!

Somebody posted a video on YouTube that explained a 'cheat' that the Peters edition contains for this passage.  Instead of playing the double thirds D major scale, the ONLY thirds played are the D and F# and the A and C#.  The starting fingering for the D and F# are 1 and 2.  The scale would look like this in terms of fingering (I will do this vertically for simplicity).

1&2 (1 on D and 2 on F#)
3 (G)
4 (A)
5 (B)
1&2 (1 on A and 2 on C#)
3 (D)
4 (E)

The upper notes are the thirds and the lower notes are the extremely simplified notes that round out the tonic/dominant relationship.

However, that is NOT what I am going to do.  It just gave me an idea...  What I am going to do is play the first three 16th's as thirds - then play ONLY the B with 2, putting me in perfect position to then play the final three notes of the thirds scale.  My initial approach looks like this:

1/3 on D & F#
2/4 on E & G
3/5 on F# & A
2 on B (no third here)
1/3 on A & C#
2/4 on B & D
3/5 on C# & E

I am only dropping ONE note from the scale instead of 5.  But, HERE IS THE BEAUTY of it.

The hand is in perfect position when playing the B with 2 to eventually add the G with 1.  Nothing has to be scrapped and totally learned anew if you want to play every note.  And, I rather suspect that there is so much to be gained from the minor short cut that the scale eventually becomes playing at tempo.

I know I am beating a dead horse here and I might be the only one really interested in this, but I am something of a lunatic when I get something in my head that I am going to do...
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 louispodesta

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto 4th movement D major thirds scale...
«Reply #8 on: April 19, 2016, 11:33:04 PM »
I estimate a light action will have a 'push back' of about 8 ounces and a heavy action might 'push back' 12 ounces.  I have a digital piano that I practice on in my office that has an action that is a tad heavy.  A 12 ounce weight easily depresses a white key from the 'fat part' of the key.

I am having a hard time grasping the idea that a 12 ounce force that I just overcame with probably at least 2 to 3 pounds of downward pressure (playing pianissimo) is going to do anything to propel me to the next spot.  Perhaps you are meaning the natural rebound off the key bed and not the force of the weight of the key? 

I am one of those 'arm weight' guys.  My teacher in college was a student of Lee Luvisi and that probably tells you that relaxation and economy of motion are the name of the game for me. 



I play on a magnificently maintained (that would be me and my tuner-technicians) 1949 Baldwin Baby Grand.  Since its purchase by my late father in 1950, it has had one new set of key tops and one new set of hammers.

Currently, it is maintained by the only Steinway Factory trained tuner-technician in San Antonio (who is the contract tuner-technician for our Symphony).  (Lang Lang only knocked one note out of tune during performance)

Parenthetically, he hates to tune my piano because it has a mind of its own (the pins require a significant amount of force to set each time),  However, I do not get a Steinway push back from playing with normal arm weight.
 
What I get instead is a Baldwin regulated easy push back.  And, I have played extensively on both Baldwins and Steinways.  Earl Wild talked about this specifically in his Memoir (he refused to play on Steinways!)

Additionally (in terms of a big sound), I was taught by my late teacher, Robert Weaver, to project and play for the "back rows."  However, at the same time (as stated before) he taught me the concept of soft slow staccato as it relates to the concept of playing from the surface of the keys in order maintain the balance of total control combined with arm weight.

In the last month, I have applied, once again, this methodology along with the Matthay/Taubman philosophy of rotation and shaping.  And, this has been done with the Rachmaninoff methodology of rapid playing from the surface of the keys (along with alternating light and heavy arm weight).

I now play in a manner which, on a daily basis, is just plain scary.  I turn 65 in August, and I have never played this well.

Put succinctly, any seasoned tuner-techinician can tell you the following:  1)  The instrument/piano (how it was built and then maintained), is directly related to: 2) the OP's original question of how this or any other particular passage is to be played.

Does any one actually believe that Signore Pollini just shows up for a performance and then just sits down and plays whatever instrument is presented to him?  I don't think so!