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Topic: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"  (Read 1811 times)

Offline rtheunissen

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Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
on: August 03, 2022, 10:20:49 AM
Dear people,

Does anyone have experience with this tenth prelude by Debussy? To me, it doesn't seem to be that difficult. However, RCM does rate it as an ARCT level which makes me wonder what the difficulty with this piece is. I would love to learn it, as it is a beautiful piece and in my mind, it's less popular than "La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin". I would say that this would make it a better piece for an audition that I'm planning to do.

So does anyone have an idea about this, or is it really not as difficult as the RCM makes it seem?

Kind Regards.

Offline bwl_13

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #1 on: August 03, 2022, 03:16:03 PM
I think it depends on your experience with creating certain sounds effects. I haven't played this piece but specifically the mouv. passage with the 8va basso arpeggios in the left hand sounds ridiculously difficult to balance. The main difficulties seem to be with voicing chords and creating sound effects, although there may be spots that are more awkward than they look on paper.

The RCM placement could probably be a grade 10, but I have a feeling if people on their ARCT exams played this piece well consistently and frequently it would likely be bumped down (something to think about). La Fille (Grade 9) is clearly far easier but it has some challenges (like the parallel fourths). In Grade 10 there's the Arabesques (I think both of them) and Clair de Lune as well as some preludes and children's corner.

I don't think the piece is impossible or all that difficult, just that if you do play it, especially for an audition, consider what they're looking for.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline stringoverstrung

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #2 on: August 17, 2022, 11:04:45 PM
The pedalling my dear.

You really need to know the concept of sound you want to bring for every line and then you need to be able to get that out of that particular piano on that day with the pedal as provided on your performance piano.
My experience is that certain low bass notes spoil the fun if the piano is not big enough or not good enough (metal brggggghhhhh).
Other dangerous traps are:

- to not sound too "standard" or recording like;
- to play it too slow or with low intesity -> sleeping audience



Offline michaellmc

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #3 on: October 20, 2022, 02:38:22 PM
As always it will be different for everyone based on your experience, but ultimately I don't think it presents any crazy issues. The hardest part for me was memorizing it just because some parts are so atonal and seemingly random until you've heard it several times (and I am also more of a Romantic and prior performer so perhaps that's why). If you can do Girl with the Flaxen Hair, this is not much harder, just a little longer.

Good luck!

Offline lelle

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #4 on: October 24, 2022, 08:19:05 PM
Anything is difficult to play with mastery. In terms of mechanics it's not super hard.

Offline hmoll53

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #5 on: October 25, 2022, 06:37:56 PM
Main difficulty lies in creating sonorities and layering overtones, technically it's a lot easier than other Debussy and 20th century pieces listed in exam rep for that level
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 symphonicdance

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #6 on: October 30, 2022, 01:58:44 PM
It is not level of the difficulty of the piece being important, but rather the player.  Think about how Träumerei played by a Grade 6, Grade 8, Grade 10, ARCM, LRCM, FRCM, major competition winner and legendary pianist may sound.

Offline krncandi

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Re: Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie"
Reply #7 on: November 03, 2022, 02:59:34 AM
It is not a difficult piece really. It's mainly carrying the sonorities and the pedaling that makes it tricky but technically this is not a difficult work. It is a piece I just enjoy sight reading when I need to take a break from practicing as it's very relaxing to study on the side and play
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