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Trying to play Beethoven on modern pianos at the speed indicated by Czerny. (Read 658 times)

Offline torandrekongelf

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Currently working on the Presto Agitato from the Moonlight Sonata. I am in a dilemma regards to tempo.

I want to stay true to the historical tempo of the movement given by Carl Czerny and Ignaz Mocheles which is a very fast 92 halfnotes per minute.

There is a lot of debate whether these metronome markings are correct or not, which is another discussion. I do however think they are. But for the sake of the argument lets agree they are and their metronome marks is the best source we have for how fast Beethoven wanted us to play his sonatas.

The instruments of the time had a lighter touch and a smaller tone than todays pianos and also narrower keys, which is why I believe they could play faster and still make all the notes clear.

I have tried playing the Presto Agitato at that speed and its physically demanding and since the tone is fuller I find the arpeggios to get a bit blurred and not as clear as I have hoped.

Do you think, that because of this, it's justfiable to play it a bit slower? I am torn of trying to follow Czernys and Mocheles instructions and actually trying to make proper music.

Offline dogperson

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IMHO
Rather than trying to play at a specified mm, the first criteria should be musicality and the presto agitato third movement should sound faster than the second ‘allegretto’ movement.  Keep a strong tempo contrast between the two.

Offline pianoannieq

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Hi Torandrekongelf,

Speed is not all there is to music. There's no need to justify a slower tempo. Many excellent recordings go slightly slower but still have lovely phrasing and tone; take a listen to some on Youtube :)
I hate music (and sarcasm) :)

Beethoven Sonata 18
Liszt Rhapsodie Espagnole
Prokofiev Sonata 4 op.29
Scriabin Piano Concerto

Offline pianoman53

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If you've seen Wim winters,  you might have heard of  adolf Marx, who was a prominent writervabout music. He puts it very well: Tempo in itself doesn't do much, as the instrument, the room and the interpretator's own thoughts are much more important. Don't go obsessed about a number, because that's not what music is about.

This was also the time when technique became a thing, and fast playing was still "new", so that's reflected too.

By the way,  czerny have a few different editions. All of which have different tempi, so he clearly didn't worry too much about it either.