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Topic: Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2-Tremolo trills bars 168-173  (Read 1884 times)

Offline wallyjazz

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Best fingering, suggestions for hand position, use of left hand to play first note of sextuplet mm. 168-169-yea or nay, touch/rotation, pedaling.

Offline jimroof

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2-Tremolo trills bars 168-173
Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 11:22:48 PM
I use 2/3-5 wherever it is humanly possible.  A fairly high hand position helps me out a good bit.  I picked that idea up both from what I seemed to be gravitating towards and from watching Andre Watts play this on YouTube. 

The last trill, for me, has to be 2/4-5 and it is the one that just gives me fits.  The answer there, for now, is to make as much racket with the left hand as possible so the pitiful weak finger flailing on the E and F are pretty much covered up... 

Look closely at many performers with this last trill/tremolo.  Not all of them even hide the fact that they are doing something else altogether.  I have seen some where the right hand seems to just tremolo between a cluster of Bb, E and F and the lower E for the thumb.

I also think this is one of those things that just takes time and training.  I started a slow learning process of the Second about a year ago after having not studied seriously for quite a while.  No rush.  No huge amounts of mind-bending practice sessions.  Just a half hour a day on average.  I wanted to learn it in 2 years in a way that is steeped in the score. 

This section you point out is one of the toughest.  The others are the contrary motion 'arpeggios' earlier in the first movement, the D major right hand scales in thirds in the fourth movement and measures 215-231 in movement 2.  The latter is not so difficult as it is difficult to play musically.  OK... it is hard to play ANY way, but Brahms is asking the pianist to do so MANY things that are really hard to play, and then we have to get it so well under control that it can be done musically.

Hope this helps.
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Offline louispodesta

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Re: Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2-Tremolo trills bars 168-173
Reply #2 on: March 26, 2017, 11:24:37 PM
I use 2/3-5 wherever it is humanly possible.  A fairly high hand position helps me out a good bit.  I picked that idea up both from what I seemed to be gravitating towards and from watching Andre Watts play this on YouTube. 

The last trill, for me, has to be 2/4-5 and it is the one that just gives me fits.  The answer there, for now, is to make as much racket with the left hand as possible so the pitiful weak finger flailing on the E and F are pretty much covered up... 

Look closely at many performers with this last trill/tremolo.  Not all of them even hide the fact that they are doing something else altogether.  I have seen some where the right hand seems to just tremolo between a cluster of Bb, E and F and the lower E for the thumb.

I also think this is one of those things that just takes time and training.  I started a slow learning process of the Second about a year ago after having not studied seriously for quite a while.  No rush.  No huge amounts of mind-bending practice sessions.  Just a half hour a day on average.  I wanted to learn it in 2 years in a way that is steeped in the score. 

This section you point out is one of the toughest.  The others are the contrary motion 'arpeggios' earlier in the first movement, the D major right hand scales in thirds in the fourth movement and measures 215-231 in movement 2.  The latter is not so difficult as it is difficult to play musically.  OK... it is hard to play ANY way, but Brahms is asking the pianist to do so MANY things that are really hard to play, and then we have to get it so well under control that it can be done musically.

Hope this helps.
Thank you for your insightful analysis and comments.  I, too, used to have trouble with this passage until I remembered what the composer/pianist Hank Hemsoth taught me about performing another composer's music.

In and around 1981, he taught me (in regards the Schumann Concerto) that composition occurs in the mind and, therefore the notes on the page are a very rough physical representation of the actual sound that the composer conceived.  Simply put, no composer sees in their mind's ear a printed page with notes and bar lines on it.

As I have often stated as part of my Youtube video predicate, that in the 19th Century original performance practice (like Brahms) was anything but note perfect pianism.

The music critic who reviewed his first performance of the D Minor Concerto "cleaned it up" by stating (paraphrase) that although Herr Brahms missed quite a few notes, he played with the dexterity of someone who could hit all the right ones.

Therefore, it finally dawned on me that this particular passage should be (and was originally played) as a "shake" and not a succession of trills.  Think about it, if you are a publisher, how would you let the musical world know that the great Brahms could not or did not play it as a super 4-5 finger or 3-5 succession of finger trills.

And, do I have a recording of Wilhelm Backhaus playing it as written?  Yes, I do.  However, I also have a link to a live recording of the pianist Carl Friedberg who studied the entire repertoire (minus the Paganini Variations) under the composer himself.

He was a also a student of Clara Schumann, and he was a faculty member at Juilliard 23 years.  And, at the time of this "live" recording, he was 81 years old and had played and taught this piece longer than anyone alive.

Enjoy.



 

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