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Topic: Choosing a new piece to learn  (Read 2970 times)

Offline thepianolad

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Choosing a new piece to learn
on: March 01, 2021, 10:55:57 AM
Hey I'm interested in learning a new piece and I find that choosing a piece and sticking to it is harder than learning it, so I'm wondering if you might help me choose. I'd say I'm a late intermediate/early advanced pianist. My repertoire already consists of:
- Chopin etudes op 10 no 3 and 12
- Chopin Fantasie Impromptu
- Debussy Clair de lune
- Mozart Rondo Alla Turca
- Some Chopin Nocturnes
(I know, these are very mainstream. )
I am quite an ambitious person so here are the pieces I would like to challenge myself with:
- A Chopin Ballade (preferably no 1, 2, or 4)
- Rachmaninoff Concerto no 2 (movement 1+2)
- Rachmaninoff Prelude in G minor or C sharp minor
- Chopin Etude op 25 no 10, 12
- Liszt Les Jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este
- Ravel Jeux D'eau
Again, I do have some difficult aspirations that are these pieces to add to my repertoire and I am particularly fond of the ballades and concerto especially, I would love to hear other suggestions, Thanks.  :)
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #1 on: March 01, 2021, 12:28:50 PM
Well, the Mozart sonata whence the infamous Rondo alla Turca: I'd do the whole sonata.  You can play that.  I wouldn't just do the one movement:  no offense intended, but to me, it's like a child's piece, to just do that movement.  But it's an interesting sonata, taken as a whole.

Yes, anyone can play the Debussy "Clair de lune," from the Suite:  I'd set your sights a bit higher.  Although I'm guessing the whole suite might be a bit much.  Aren't there some others from Debussy's first book of preludes that grab you?  I don't mean to discourage you from the Clair.lune:  you can play that, but I don't like isolating it from the Ste. Bergam., the rest of which is quite a bit more challenging, both musically and mechanically.

This is just a guess, given your list of desiderata, but maybe think about doing larger pieces instead of just extracted works. 

I don't see any Beethoven (Op. 27/1, Op. 26, Op. 126, to name a few manageable sets) or Haydn, and no Bach at all.  No Scarlatti fils, either:  at a minimum, do the K1 of Scarlatti (it's really a two-part invention, but very fun to play).  Bach's A major English Suite might be a good one:  I like it, anyway, and while it's not exactly easy, it could be a good goal, and it has many captivating bits.  The A minor Engl. Ste. is quite a bit more challenging, by comparison, but it can be played as well.

Obviously, you have your own tastes, but I can't relate to many of your choices. 

But I'd encourage you to branch out a bit. 

Some of the late Scriabin préludes?  Obviously, I have my own sets of things I'm working on, so that's about what I can suggest.
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Offline getsiegs

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #2 on: March 01, 2021, 02:46:24 PM
How many of these do you want to take on at once?
Here was my thought:

-Chopin Ballade 1 (difficult but not quite like #4)
-Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor (I think the concerto might be a bit too ambitious, although I'm totally with you on wanting to learn it  ;D plus this prelude is a great exercise in big chords, octaves, jumps, the countermelodies in the second section)
-Liszt Les jeux d'eau OR Ravel Jeux d'eau (these would both be great exercises in delicacy of sound, mimicking water, sweeping arpeggios, etc. The Liszt is probably more melodic and definitely easier to play and read, but I also love the Ravel so if you really want to challenge yourself then you could go for it).

I would think that this little program provides diversity of style and techniques to work on without being too ambitious. I'd agree that you could throw some Bach or Beethoven in there, but I probably wouldn't either if I didn't have to  ;D

As for new recommendations, I thought of Chopin's Barcarolle Op. 60 or the 2nd Scherzo Op. 31; Debussy Estampes or Images 1.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #3 on: March 01, 2021, 03:03:27 PM
Hey I'm interested in learning a new piece and I find that choosing a piece and sticking to it is harder than learning it, so I'm wondering if you might help me choose. I'd say I'm a late intermediate/early advanced pianist. My repertoire already consists of:
- Chopin etudes op 10 no 3 and 12
- Chopin Fantasie Impromptu
- Debussy Clair de lune
- Mozart Rondo Alla Turca
- Some Chopin Nocturnes
(I know, these are very mainstream. )
I am quite an ambitious person so here are the pieces I would like to challenge myself with:
- A Chopin Ballade (preferably no 1, 2, or 4)
- Rachmaninoff Concerto no 2 (movement 1+2)
- Rachmaninoff Prelude in G minor or C sharp minor
- Chopin Etude op 25 no 10, 12
- Liszt Les Jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este
- Ravel Jeux D'eau
Again, I do have some difficult aspirations that are these pieces to add to my repertoire and I am particularly fond of the ballades and concerto especially, I would love to hear other suggestions, Thanks.  :)

Of the Chopin Ballades, Ballade no 1 is the easiest, so from those, I'd pick that one.
The listed Rachmaninoff Preludes are easier than the concerto, so I would start with those. They should be manageable if you handle your current repertoire well.
Chopin Etudes are always valuable, of the two you listed I personally find no 12 easier (it's not an easy piece before you acquire the technique needed though). I'd consider finding a teacher to support you if you aim to tackle more Chopin Etudes and want to do it well!

In general, I find you benefit more in the long run from picking the easier pieces first and working your way up to the more difficult ones, than fighting with very hard pieces for a long time.

Offline musicus15

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #4 on: January 03, 2022, 06:52:31 PM
I was going to read your request, but was dissuaded by the first word "hey."

Hey I'm interested in learning a new piece and I find that choosing a piece and sticking to it is harder than learning it, so I'm wondering if you might help me choose. I'd say I'm a late intermediate/early advanced pianist. My repertoire already consists of:
- Chopin etudes op 10 no 3 and 12
- Chopin Fantasie Impromptu
- Debussy Clair de lune
- Mozart Rondo Alla Turca
- Some Chopin Nocturnes
(I know, these are very mainstream. )
I am quite an ambitious person so here are the pieces I would like to challenge myself with:
- A Chopin Ballade (preferably no 1, 2, or 4)
- Rachmaninoff Concerto no 2 (movement 1+2)
- Rachmaninoff Prelude in G minor or C sharp minor
- Chopin Etude op 25 no 10, 12
- Liszt Les Jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este
- Ravel Jeux D'eau
Again, I do have some difficult aspirations that are these pieces to add to my repertoire and I am particularly fond of the ballades and concerto especially, I would love to hear other suggestions, Thanks.  :)
David Rubinstein

Offline fretlesss

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #5 on: January 12, 2022, 07:02:07 PM
If you can share a video of yourself playing one of those pieces, it would provide a much better starting point for those who would like to reply to your question

Offline bwl_13

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #6 on: January 12, 2022, 08:54:57 PM
I'm going to continue spreading Beethoven propaganda on this forum and recommend a few of my favourite sonatas from the early period:
Op. 13
Op. 26
Op. 28
Op. 2/1
Op. 10 (any of them, 3 is very hard though)

I second whoever it was that said to learn the rest of the Mozart sonata, even if I prefer pretty much all of the 32 Beethoven sonatas to it. It's a good idea to learn some longer works and practice performing more mentally/focus draining pieces.

Chopin Ballades are all hard, though No. 3 seems to be generally considered the easiest (if that's even possible). I haven't played any of them yet, but No. 2 and 4 definitely seem the MOST difficult, while 1's Coda is obviously demanding. The Chopin Etudes you listed are contentious as far as difficulty goes. 25/12 should be fine, 25/10 would require a lot though.

Mainstream doesn't matter in my opinion. Play what you love. The Rach Preludes should be right up your alley, and I'd also recommend G and G Flat major to those. Absolutely stunning lyrical miniatures and the G Flat is especially underperformed (it's trickier than I initially thought as well, I'm studying it currently). Rach Concerto could be tackled after the Preludes.

I'm not speaking firsthand here either, since I haven't played most of these pieces but I have also spent more time than I care to admit lurking in threads about difficulty, so I think I've got a general idea of how to approach them.

P.S. Don't neglect your Bach. I know there's personal taste, but Bach is extremely useful in learning a good musical foundation and sets you up nicely for pretty much every composer since. I didn't play Bach for a while and I'm paying the price...
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline fretlesss

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #7 on: January 12, 2022, 11:00:43 PM
I'm going to continue spreading Beethoven propaganda on this forum and recommend a few of my favourite sonatas from the early period:
Op. 13
Op. 26
Op. 28
Op. 2/1
Op. 10 (any of them, 3 is very hard though)

I second whoever it was that said to learn the rest of the Mozart sonata, even if I prefer pretty much all of the 32 Beethoven sonatas to it. It's a good idea to learn some longer works and practice performing more mentally/focus draining pieces.

Chopin Ballades are all hard, though No. 3 seems to be generally considered the easiest (if that's even possible). I haven't played any of them yet, but No. 2 and 4 definitely seem the MOST difficult, while 1's Coda is obviously demanding. The Chopin Etudes you listed are contentious as far as difficulty goes. 25/12 should be fine, 25/10 would require a lot though.

Mainstream doesn't matter in my opinion. Play what you love. The Rach Preludes should be right up your alley, and I'd also recommend G and G Flat major to those. Absolutely stunning lyrical miniatures and the G Flat is especially underperformed (it's trickier than I initially thought as well, I'm studying it currently). Rach Concerto could be tackled after the Preludes.

I'm not speaking firsthand here either, since I haven't played most of these pieces but I have also spent more time than I care to admit lurking in threads about difficulty, so I think I've got a general idea of how to approach them.

P.S. Don't neglect your Bach. I know there's personal taste, but Bach is extremely useful in learning a good musical foundation and sets you up nicely for pretty much every composer since. I didn't play Bach for a while and I'm paying the price...

We clearly have similar tastes (i.e. early Beethoven sonatas). I wouldn't even try to tackle anything serious (Chopin ballads, Rach's preludes) in the romantic and modern periods  before studying at the very least some Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven sonatas (smth like, Mozart 330/331/332, Beethoven up to Op27, Haydn late sonatas) and WTC I.

Can't agree more with the comment about Bach. You should be able to deconstruct/learn/play with fluency and clear voicing.

Fun fact: Rachmaninoff was playing Bach as a warm up exercise before every concert he ever gave (from his memoirs)

Offline bwl_13

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #8 on: January 12, 2022, 11:17:24 PM
We clearly have similar tastes (i.e. early Beethoven sonatas). I wouldn't even try to tackle anything serious (Chopin ballads, Rach's preludes) in the romantic and modern periods  before studying at the very least some Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven sonatas (smth like, Mozart 330/331/332, Beethoven up to Op27, Haydn late sonatas) and WTC I.

Can't agree more with the comment about Bach. You should be able to deconstruct/learn/play with fluency and clear voicing.

Fun fact: Rachmaninoff was playing Bach as a warm up exercise before every concert he ever gave (from his memoirs)
Glad to hear it!

The WTC has been used in teaching so many great pianists it's almost unreal. I've heard of people learning to sing fugues in solfege or transposing them on the spot. I believe Chopin also held both WTC Books close to him, and Beethoven learned them all by 11?
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline 2pac_lives

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #9 on: January 14, 2022, 12:10:08 PM
I was going to read your request, but was dissuaded by the first word "hey."

My, aren't you helpful.
rach prlds c#m, g#m, cm, moment mx 3
scriabin prds, etds (a bunch)
chopin prds, etds (several)
liszt un sospiro
schumann (some)
bach concerto Fm
schubert impromptus (3)
hot cross buns backwards

Offline fretlesss

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #10 on: January 14, 2022, 03:47:41 PM
Glad to hear it!

The WTC has been used in teaching so many great pianists it's almost unreal. I've heard of people learning to sing fugues in solfege or transposing them on the spot. I believe Chopin also held both WTC Books close to him, and Beethoven learned them all by 11?

I believe, this is the proof of the latter statement:

from March 1783 issue of Magazin der Musik: Beethoven is a boy of eleven years and of most promising talent. He plays the clavier very skillfully and with power, reads at sight very well, and — to put it in a nutshell — he plays chiefly The Well-Tempered Clavier of Sebastian Bach, which Herr Neefe put into his hands. Whoever knows this collection of preludes and fugues in all the keys — which might almost be called the non plus ultra of our art — will know what this means.

Christian Gottiob Neefe, organist at the electoral court in Bonn, gave Beethoven his first lessons in composition.

Facsimile of the above: https://digitalcollections.sjsu.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3A3602#page/2/mode/2up

Offline lelle

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #11 on: January 14, 2022, 04:09:36 PM
I believe, this is the proof of the latter statement:

from March 1783 issue of Magazin der Musik: Beethoven is a boy of eleven years and of most promising talent. He plays the clavier very skillfully and with power, reads at sight very well, and — to put it in a nutshell — he plays chiefly The Well-Tempered Clavier of Sebastian Bach, which Herr Neefe put into his hands. Whoever knows this collection of preludes and fugues in all the keys — which might almost be called the non plus ultra of our art — will know what this means.

Christian Gottiob Neefe, organist at the electoral court in Bonn, gave Beethoven his first lessons in composition.

Facsimile of the above: https://digitalcollections.sjsu.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3A3602#page/2/mode/2up

Fascinating, thanks for sharing that!

Offline bwl_13

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Re: Choosing a new piece to learn
Reply #12 on: January 16, 2022, 07:35:24 AM
I believe, this is the proof of the latter statement:

from March 1783 issue of Magazin der Musik: Beethoven is a boy of eleven years and of most promising talent. He plays the clavier very skillfully and with power, reads at sight very well, and — to put it in a nutshell — he plays chiefly The Well-Tempered Clavier of Sebastian Bach, which Herr Neefe put into his hands. Whoever knows this collection of preludes and fugues in all the keys — which might almost be called the non plus ultra of our art — will know what this means.

Christian Gottiob Neefe, organist at the electoral court in Bonn, gave Beethoven his first lessons in composition.

Facsimile of the above: https://digitalcollections.sjsu.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3A3602#page/2/mode/2up
Well researched! I can only hope to gather sources rather than spout anecdotes I hear online. Regardless, better that it's true rather than false
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5
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