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Topic: Chopin waltz op 70 n 1  (Read 1142 times)

Offline joe falchetto

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Chopin waltz op 70 n 1
on: March 19, 2021, 09:29:27 PM
I am currently studying this waltz - in fact in a sense I am almost done, but, except for the central, slower part, I am nowhere near the really fast 264 for a quarter note speed, possibly original metronome indication by a Chopin. I am probably around 120? I measured it once and it was quite humbling so I forgot the exact number but assume right now I can't even do half that speed, and I can't do 264 even with separate hands.

Now, I restarted playing the piano a few months ago, and other pieces I could/can play by Chopin are Waltzes op 69 n 2, op 64 n 1 (it was decent but surely not in a minute), op 18, Nocturne op 9 n 2. So, at my level that speed may not be achievable, or may not be wise to try too hard.

Still, without fixating on 264 I'd like to try in the next couple of months to see where I can get it. Currently the bottleneck with hands together is the fact that I have to look at the hands from time to time since this thing is quite jumpy. This already slows me in the first half of the brilliant part, ending with a G hold for 3/8 where the rhs is not so jumpy; it gets even worse in the second half of the brilliant part since both hands are very jumpy.

Perhaps I need to decide on one hand to focus and learn to play the other one without looking? How do I choose? I have never worked on trying to really push the speed of a piece so I am not sure of the specific kind of technical work needed. So far it has improved in speed by just playing it and studying it normally, but I think that is tapering off.

My teacher likes how I am currently playing it but is not exceedingly keen on me to go into a specific work to speed it up, so he is not providing much specific advice. Still, I'd like to give it a try. Again just to give an idea of my current level, he suggested me to study Schubert Improptu op 90 n 2 as one of my next pieces.

Thanks in advance!

Offline lelle

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Re: Chopin waltz op 70 n 1
Reply #1 on: March 19, 2021, 11:41:01 PM
Where are you getting the 264 from? When I look in the score in the below video, it looks like the middle section is quarter note = 96?

Offline joe falchetto

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Re: Chopin waltz op 70 n 1
Reply #2 on: March 20, 2021, 10:18:51 AM
My description was probably confusing, indeed my problem is not with the central part, which is slower, but right at the beginning - I translated the 3/4 = 88 into the corresponding speed for a 1/4 note which probably added to the confusion.

This initial fast part has two "subparts", one ending at about 14 seconds which is repeated at the end and a second one about 14-27 seconds in the video, which ends with a molto ritardando.

As I wrote, I have speed problems with both subparts, but more so with the 14-27 seconds one  which I consider more jumpy (both hands, whilst in the 1-14 seconds part the right hand does not jump much).

The speed in that video is definitely more than I can achieve right now. Here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI1NA2ECOww  is a beautiful execution by Rubinstein, I thought it was much faster than the one in the video posted above, but actually there is not so much difference. Of course I am not deluding myself into thinking of playing it at that level!

Offline joe falchetto

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Re: Chopin waltz op 70 n 1
Reply #3 on: March 20, 2021, 11:03:32 AM
By the way, don't know what I drank when I thought I cannot manage half the speed. I have just checked with a metronome. For the first half of the fast part, tempo referring to a 3/4 note, so target value of 88,

Left hand: 84
Right hand: 62
Hands together: 56

These are "theoretical" speeds: I can manage for some measures, but I'll most likely make bad mistakes if I try to execute it at that speed. Also, I would find it very hard to put in any personal interpretation.

Offline lelle

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Re: Chopin waltz op 70 n 1
Reply #4 on: March 20, 2021, 08:19:37 PM
I undestand what you mean now. Here are some tips that came to my mind:

Leaps:
For the right hand you will be helped by a good legato. If you can really feel securely anchored to the keyboard, as if you were walking with your fingers from key to key (it's a smooth movement that feels easy and elastic, without clenching/tensing your arm or putting a lot of forceful pressure on your fingers), you will become able to play a lot of the right hand without looking, because you'll "feel it" in your hand. I'm thinking especially about the second "subpart" you mentioned. Everything that is not a real jump that you can't physically bind should be playable without looking, through "walking" and "feeling it in the hand" with some work and the right technique.

Then you can mainly concentrate on looking in a way that is the most optimal for the leaps, where often both hands will have to make a position shift at the same time. I think I generally would be looking at the largest leap (often the left hand), and sort of feel the jump in the right hand through feeling where I am on the keyboard through my fingertips combined with looking through the corner of my eye. You can sort of also super-quickly (without tensing up or moving jerkily) look to the left and move the left hand to its spot before it needs to play, and then super-quickly look to the right and position the right hand where it needs to be. With pratise you'll be able to do it as if it is second nature. All of these are just some tips you can experiment with.

Speed:
None of the professional recordings I like (Rubinstein, Cortot etc) play it at 88, but more like 75-80 ish, so don't beat yourself up if you cant do it at 88... it's pretty damn fast :P

The basics of speed is moving efficiently, and not unnecessarily tensing any muscles, as the faster you go, the more even tiny amounts of tension will hinder you. Developing awareness and control over you body for this, together with the speed and responsiveness of your fingers, simply takes a lot of time unless you are one of the lucky few who are born doing it naturally without being taught. Basically what this means is that you should be able to press and hold down any key or set of keys with any finger or combination of fingers while your entire arm (shoulder/elbow/wrist) stays completely relaxed and elastic like rubber, no stiffness/rigidity anywhere, and have it stay in this state even while you play complicated passagework. There are many ways you can work on this but I think it's best if your teacher helps you with developing technique as there is a lot of room for misunderstanding if one tries to communicate it over text.

Hope this helps and feel free to ask more questions!

Offline joe falchetto

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Re: Chopin waltz op 70 n 1
Reply #5 on: March 21, 2021, 10:03:59 PM
Thanks a lot for the advice lelle :) I will experiment with the things you suggested, see where it takes me and what works and then maybe report and ask for more.
 

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