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Topic: Most technically challenging works you've learned/are learning  (Read 2248 times)

Offline hmoll53

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Just bored and new to this website, so I thought I would start with a discussion. I'm more or so looking into the technical difficulty of things, since musicality isn't really a topic to measure on.
Some pieces I've learned that were the most difficult for me
Scriabin - Sonata 2, 4 and 5
Chopin - Ballade 1 and 4
Rachmaninoff - Concerto No.1
Mozart - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Some pieces I'm learning that are difficult
Ravel - Scarbo
Barber - Sonata
Rachmaninoff - Concerto No.3
Hot Cross Buns

What are some pieces you find difficult that you are learning or have learned? Any discussion would be widely appreciated  :D
Some Current Repertoire:
Scriabin: Sonatas 2,4 and 5
Chopin: Ballade 1,4, Scherzo 1
Rachmaninoff: Concerto 3
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Barber: Sonata
Beethoven: Appassionata

Offline lelle

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Chopin Etudes! My forever project.

I have also worked on some of the Liszt Etudes.

My goal is to be able to comfortably play Gaspard de la Nuit or all the Chopin Etudes, but I'm not quite there yet.

I don't need to play all the crazy Godowsky, Alkan, operatic paraphrase stuff or the hardest Liszt pieces. The musical results are not worth the effort for me.

Offline hmoll53

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Chopin Etudes! My forever project.

I have also worked on some of the Liszt Etudes.

My goal is to be able to comfortably play Gaspard de la Nuit or all the Chopin Etudes, but I'm not quite there yet.

I don't need to play all the crazy Godowsky, Alkan, operatic paraphrase stuff or the hardest Liszt pieces. The musical results are not worth the effort for me.

I'd say Gaspard is pretty doable if you can handle any of the Chopin Etudes comfortably. Chopin Etudes are so beautiful too, especially Op.10 No.1 for me.
I think it's completely understandable to not believe Godowsky etc. to be worth the time and effort, some of them are almost unmusical imo anyways.
Some Current Repertoire:
Scriabin: Sonatas 2,4 and 5
Chopin: Ballade 1,4, Scherzo 1
Rachmaninoff: Concerto 3
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Barber: Sonata
Beethoven: Appassionata

Offline nightwindsonata

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For me it would be Beethoven Sonata Op. 31 No. 3, Chopin's Op. 25 No. 6, and Liszt's transcription of Beethoven's song "Adelaide." All of these are fairly middle-of-the-road (except maybe the Chopin, which borders on ridiculous) as virtuoso music goes, but my projects for this coming year (first year of my Master's in music) will probably be a leg up. Currently working on Beethoven's Op. 111 Sonata (oh boy that is a piece of work!), a bunch of Liszt, and the Ravel G major Concerto.
1st-year Master's Program:
- Ravel Piano Concerto
- Liszt Ricordanza
- Liszt 3 Liebestraums
- Liszt 3 Sonnets

- Rhapsody in Blue
- Dante Sonata
- Schubert Sonata D.780
- Mozart Piano Quartet in Gm

Offline bwl_13

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I haven't had a load of experience of super advanced rep, but I've just started work on Beethoven Op. 53 in preparation for fall and that's been quite the piece.

Chopin's second scherzo is probably the most challenging work that I've been able to play at a near performance level, although Beethoven's Op. 90 is challenging in musical ways. The alberti tenths in the first movement are extremely difficult technically however.

I've done some sampling of Chopin etudes, Op. 10/1 probably being the hardest.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline jamienc

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Islamey. Played it for my final doctoral recital at USC along with Prokofiev Sonata 6 and the Beethoven G major Rondo. Did the whole Op. 10 set of Chopin for masters degree at IU way back, which wasnít easy eitherÖ

Other notable mentions are Carnaval, Ballades 1-4 on one concert (with the Beethoven Sonata 10 for violin and piano), Pictures at an Exhibition, Rach 2 and 3. At the moment it is Appassionata and Chopin Op. 25 for this school year. Not sure why, but the Appassionata connected really quickly for me so itís basically performance ready after a month and a half or so. Same thing with the Ballades last year. No. 4 took about two months but I was practicing it for like 2 to 3 hours a day.

Iím turning 50 soon and I feel like I donít have much time left considering my perspective when I was a grad student. Thatís probably why Iím blasting through all this repertoire Iíve always wanted to play but didnít think was attainable.

Oh, and I forgot Scriabin Op. 42/5Ö used it as an encore for the Russian program when I played Pictures. Holy mackerel what a crazy bit of 5 pages that thing is.

Offline hmoll53

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Islamey. Played it for my final doctoral recital at USC along with Prokofiev Sonata 6 and the Beethoven G major Rondo. Did the whole Op. 10 set of Chopin for masters degree at IU way back, which wasnít easy eitherÖ

Other notable mentions are Carnaval, Ballades 1-4 on one concert (with the Beethoven Sonata 10 for violin and piano), Pictures at an Exhibition, Rach 2 and 3. At the moment it is Appassionata and Chopin Op. 25 for this school year. Not sure why, but the Appassionata connected really quickly for me so itís basically performance ready after a month and a half or so. Same thing with the Ballades last year. No. 4 took about two months but I was practicing it for like 2 to 3 hours a day.

Iím turning 50 soon and I feel like I donít have much time left considering my perspective when I was a grad student. Thatís probably why Iím blasting through all this repertoire Iíve always wanted to play but didnít think was attainable.

Oh, and I forgot Scriabin Op. 42/5Ö used it as an encore for the Russian program when I played Pictures. Holy mackerel what a crazy bit of 5 pages that thing is.

I played Scriabin 42/5 as well but never finished it.That piece is like the textbook definition of how to tense up hands. The bell like bass on the third page is so satisfying to play though...
Some Current Repertoire:
Scriabin: Sonatas 2,4 and 5
Chopin: Ballade 1,4, Scherzo 1
Rachmaninoff: Concerto 3
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Barber: Sonata
Beethoven: Appassionata

Offline jamienc

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I played Scriabin 42/5 as well but never finished it.That piece is like the textbook definition of how to tense up hands. The bell like bass on the third page is so satisfying to play though...

Totally! That melody is one of my favorites in all of music. When I was learning it, I thought to myself, ďThis is his most beautiful melody, but he makes you go through hell to get to it!Ē

Offline lelle

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I'd say Gaspard is pretty doable if you can handle any of the Chopin Etudes comfortably. Chopin Etudes are so beautiful too, especially Op.10 No.1 for me.
I think it's completely understandable to not believe Godowsky etc. to be worth the time and effort, some of them are almost unmusical imo anyways.

For me it's the opening figuration in Ondine with the repeated chords that's the main difficulty. I can't do it quick enough yet. And ofc Scarbo is just hard. Scarbo is probably the main difficulty actually :D

Offline lelle

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Islamey. Played it for my final doctoral recital at USC along with Prokofiev Sonata 6 and the Beethoven G major Rondo. Did the whole Op. 10 set of Chopin for masters degree at IU way back, which wasnít easy eitherÖ

Other notable mentions are Carnaval, Ballades 1-4 on one concert (with the Beethoven Sonata 10 for violin and piano), Pictures at an Exhibition, Rach 2 and 3. At the moment it is Appassionata and Chopin Op. 25 for this school year. Not sure why, but the Appassionata connected really quickly for me so itís basically performance ready after a month and a half or so. Same thing with the Ballades last year. No. 4 took about two months but I was practicing it for like 2 to 3 hours a day.

Iím turning 50 soon and I feel like I donít have much time left considering my perspective when I was a grad student. Thatís probably why Iím blasting through all this repertoire Iíve always wanted to play but didnít think was attainable.

Oh, and I forgot Scriabin Op. 42/5Ö used it as an encore for the Russian program when I played Pictures. Holy mackerel what a crazy bit of 5 pages that thing is.

Did you perform Op 10 live? Sounds terrifying haha :D

Offline jamienc

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Did you perform Op 10 live? Sounds terrifying haha :D

Sure did, and sure was!

Offline hmoll53

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For me it's the opening figuration in Ondine with the repeated chords that's the main difficulty. I can't do it quick enough yet. And ofc Scarbo is just hard. Scarbo is probably the main difficulty actually :D

Yeah, I've sight read all 3 and played Scarbo specifically. Ondine is a horrible choice to open a competition or audition when you aren't familiar with the piano (The chords are so quiet that if you mess up, you're done...) Le Gibet is also certifiably musicially insane if you want to play it well.
Some Current Repertoire:
Scriabin: Sonatas 2,4 and 5
Chopin: Ballade 1,4, Scherzo 1
Rachmaninoff: Concerto 3
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Barber: Sonata
Beethoven: Appassionata

Offline lelle

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Sure did, and sure was!

How did it go? I dream of doing that one day, but some of the Etudes (Op 10 no 2 in particular) are not technically secure enough to not fall apart when I'm dealing with nerves. My hands tend to get slightly more tense in those scenarios and then Op 10 no 2 just falls apart immediately haha :D

Offline lelle

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Yeah, I've sight read all 3 and played Scarbo specifically. Ondine is a horrible choice to open a competition or audition when you aren't familiar with the piano (The chords are so quiet that if you mess up, you're done...) Le Gibet is also certifiably musicially insane if you want to play it well.

Why play just Scarbo but not the others? :O are you planning on playing the full collection?

Offline jamienc

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How did it go? I dream of doing that one day, but some of the Etudes (Op 10 no 2 in particular) are not technically secure enough to not fall apart when I'm dealing with nerves. My hands tend to get slightly more tense in those scenarios and then Op 10 no 2 just falls apart immediately haha :D

It went well! There were some tough spots as usual in all performances, but overall it was a success. I know you will find many posts about the etudes here on this board that mention the fact that some individuals find particular etudes more difficult or easier than others find them. Everyone has a different approach to playing them and brings to them a unique technical application. With 10/2 I never really had many problems with it. It just seem to fit the way I played. But then again I would turn around and play the F major No. 8 and had a hell of a time trying to make that work. The trick with 10/2 is to use 5 and 3 in the right hand as much as possible so that you donít have to rely on 4 so much.

Offline hmoll53

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Why play just Scarbo but not the others? :O are you planning on playing the full collection?
I did Scarbo first so I could feel safe about the technique aspect of the set. I have other projects that are time consuming right now and I plan learning the whole suite some times soon  ;D
Some Current Repertoire:
Scriabin: Sonatas 2,4 and 5
Chopin: Ballade 1,4, Scherzo 1
Rachmaninoff: Concerto 3
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Barber: Sonata
Beethoven: Appassionata

Offline kc_gracie

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I would say the hardest pieces (overall) I have learned would be Beethoven Op.111 and Op.57, Chopin Ballade No.4, and the Corsellis arrangement of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (this one is an absolute beast).

Currently I am working on the Liszt Dante Sonata and that is really challenging, but it is still so much fun to work on. I am also working on Vers la Flamme by Scriabin, starting at the end, and, while difficult, I actually don't think this will be too terrible in comparison to other things I have worked on or learned before.

Despite any of these so called hardest pieces I have learned, I think I have learned more difficult pieces for me at the time I was learning them (on my road towards where I am today). For example, when I was much younger, I had gone through a phase where I wanted to quit and was struggling with growing up, playing sports, and all of the things that happen when you are a very young teenager. I had just lost interest in the pieces I was learning, wasn't exploring a lot of music, and just was kind of ready to move on. My teacher saw this, and we began working on other pieces to try and keep my interest intact. It was only somewhat effective, so my teacher challenged me and pushed me to learn the first movement of the Pathetique sonata by Beethoven. I was good enough to learn it, but only if I really devoted myself. It was quite difficult for me and I had to practice a lot for a few months. It taught me how to practice and showed me I could learn difficult things. It increased my appreciation for music and that was literally the piece that pushed my to be obsession. Moral is, that was definitely the hardest piece I ever learned, even though today I could pretty easily breeze through it.

-KC

Offline symphonicdance

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In Steve Job's style......  There is no most technically challenging work, there is always a new, more technically challenging one coming up  ;D

Looking at fellowship exam syllabus of ABRSM (UK), Trinity (UK), RCM (Canada) and others, amateurs can always find new technically challenging works for them to explore.

Offline lelle

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I did Scarbo first so I could feel safe about the technique aspect of the set. I have other projects that are time consuming right now and I plan learning the whole suite some times soon  ;D

Cool! That sounds like a pretty smart approach actually :)

Offline flyusx

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Beethoven's Op90 and Chopin's Op55No2 come to mind. I'm not sure if Beethoven's Op10No3 counts.
Currently Working On
Beethoven Sonate №7

Offline bwl_13

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Beethoven's Op90 and Chopin's Op55No2 come to mind. I'm not sure if Beethoven's Op10No3 counts.
Why wouldn't it count? That piece is very challenging both musically and technically
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline lelle

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Why wouldn't it count? That piece is very challenging both musically and technically

Beethoven Op 10 no 3 is hard, man. Both musically and technically challenging to hold together.

Offline flyusx

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Beethoven Op 10 no 3 is hard, man. Both musically and technically challenging to hold together.
Yeah, that's what I thought. I got through the first and fourth movements, I'll probably tie the second and third soon. However, quite a few rankings that I personally disagree with place it under the easier section.
Currently Working On
Beethoven Sonate №7

Offline bwl_13

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Yeah, that's what I thought. I got through the first and fourth movements, I'll probably tie the second and third soon. However, quite a few rankings that I personally disagree with place it under the easier section.
Just because it's not as famous doesn't mean it's not difficult. Most reasonable rankings have it fairly high.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline thorn

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The final piece of Bartok's Out of Doors. I planned to learn the whole set during undergrad but had to give up thanks to that piece- the LH is atrocious  :'(

Offline faa2010

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Re: Most technically challenging works you've learned/are learning
Reply #25 on: August 06, 2022, 11:47:05 PM
It may sound silly, but Beethoven sonatas are very challenging for me, because they are long pieces, some parts need to be played faster, and the slower sections have a challenge in sightreading.

Normally my issues and what it is a big challenge to me are pieces or sections which require to be played faster like the B section of Chopin's …tude op 10 no 3, the last section of his Nocturne op 48 no 1, and currently I am with Debussy's Pagodes which I already know by heart, but I can't play faster (I am at 60 bpm while the last part is the double of slower).

Offline krncandi

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Re: Most technically challenging works you've learned/are learning
Reply #26 on: August 13, 2022, 11:21:44 PM
Hardest pieces I've learned are Balakirev's Islamey, Los Requiebros from Goyescas by Granados, Carnaval by Schumann, Toccata by Prokofiev, Piano Sonata by Bartok, and Hungarian Rhapsody no. 9 by Liszt.
The 9th rhapsody is criminally forgotten or overlooked. But imo is the best one of the set and easily the most difficult one. Los Requiebros is incredibly hard and uncomfortable for the hands. Really absurd positioning of the fingers and wrist, and just some wildly complex writing. Had serious struggles with this work.  The others are all well known to be very difficult of course

Offline sdphins

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Re: Most technically challenging works you've learned/are learning
Reply #27 on: August 24, 2022, 02:27:30 PM
Chopin Ballade 4(That coda!) Rach 2, and Waldstein

Offline cuberdrift

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Re: Most technically challenging works you've learned/are learning
Reply #28 on: September 07, 2022, 11:51:48 AM
I'd say the Schumann concerto is the hardest I've performed. I managed to record the Kapustin finale etude at the speed that Hamelin did and Art Tatum's arrangement of Massenet's Elegie though both were rather sloppily executed. Those two are probably the hardest solo works I've been able to play at speed.

I tried taking on the infamous Paganini-Liszt etude no. 4 (1838 version) but haven't yet really been able to put it up to standard. That must be the most challenging solo work I have tried learning.

Offline visitor

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Re: Most technically challenging works you've learned/are learning
Reply #29 on: October 01, 2022, 01:51:29 AM
One of the hardest pieces to date was the David Amram piano sonata, cool piece especially once the basic learning was done but holy flying bat guano, learning it was bollocks.
 

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