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Topic: Learning Single Movements Vs. Complete Works  (Read 799 times)

Offline bwl_13

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Learning Single Movements Vs. Complete Works
on: August 30, 2022, 04:32:46 AM
I've been thinking about this a little bit today after I saw a reply on an old thread here: "By the way, you should always learn all the movements of a sonata". My instinct is to agree, although I also think it a little pretentious considering the contrast in how movements were treated during the classical period (2nd movement of Beethoven 7 being encored on the premiere as an example). Personally, I feel incomplete if I haven't learned all the movements to a sonata. I wouldn't play the first two movements of Beethoven's Op. 109, even if I could technically handle them. However, I don't really know where this ends.

There are also suites, which also contain movements, but people seem to feel it's more acceptable to play a single movement from Mirroirs in a program moreso than Beethoven's adagio cantabile. Moreover, there are pieces like the Appassionata which have bridges between movements, or even more extreme, the Liszt sonata.

I guess I can answer my own question by saying it's a case by case basis, although I'm curious how people feel. It also comes down to why somebody is studying a piece. Students can greatly benefit from picking and choosing certain movements to help them with specific skills, but if that piece is to be played in a public performance, perhaps the rest of the work should also be prepared. I definitely don't think that just because a student can't handle the Pathetique, they shouldn't approach the Adagio Cantabile.

My personal philosophy comes down to whatever feels right, and at the moment that means learning entire sonatas but not needing to learn entire suites. However, after just typing that, I'm considering Gaspard. I wouldn't likely want to learn Le Gibet on its own. If I were to approach it, it would be all three movements.

What do most people think about this? Additionally, what new challenges come from learning an entire sonata vs their individual movements? This is fairly unstructured and rambling, but I'm trying to come to a personal understanding.
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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Re: Learning Single Movements Vs. Complete Works
Reply #1 on: August 31, 2022, 01:42:46 PM
I think it's up to each person to decide. I mean it entirely depends on why you play the piano, what your goals are, what's important to you, right?

Like if you are an amateur who's just playing for fun, and you like the 2nd movement of the Pathetique more than the others, or that's the only one that's within your graph, why would it be wrong if you just played the 2nd movement?

I think in the case of sonatas, in many cases they are constructed so that the movements form a narrative, and therefore playing just one movement is like reading just one chapter. If you are an amateur just playing for yourself, why not read your favorite chapter over and over if that's what you like? If you are a professional who intends to have the "job" of presenting the narrative of the work to the public, then you play all the movements.

At the same time, I don't think there is anything wrong to select just one movement to play as an encore.

I also think if you are a beginner/intermediate student it's fine to study just one movement that you like or will benefit you, and when you get to advanced level it's good to study the whole work since part of the craft you are developing at that point is to build a narrative and playing a wide variety of characters of music.

Just my opinion though. I hope this makes sense.

Offline bwl_13

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Re: Learning Single Movements Vs. Complete Works
Reply #2 on: September 03, 2022, 07:19:24 PM
I think it's up to each person to decide. I mean it entirely depends on why you play the piano, what your goals are, what's important to you, right?

Like if you are an amateur who's just playing for fun, and you like the 2nd movement of the Pathetique more than the others, or that's the only one that's within your graph, why would it be wrong if you just played the 2nd movement?

I think in the case of sonatas, in many cases they are constructed so that the movements form a narrative, and therefore playing just one movement is like reading just one chapter. If you are an amateur just playing for yourself, why not read your favorite chapter over and over if that's what you like? If you are a professional who intends to have the "job" of presenting the narrative of the work to the public, then you play all the movements.

At the same time, I don't think there is anything wrong to select just one movement to play as an encore.

I also think if you are a beginner/intermediate student it's fine to study just one movement that you like or will benefit you, and when you get to advanced level it's good to study the whole work since part of the craft you are developing at that point is to build a narrative and playing a wide variety of characters of music.

Just my opinion though. I hope this makes sense.
It definitely does. I also think it depends heavily on the period the piece was written in, since early Haydn sonatas or Mozart sonatas are more loosely connected than say the large Beethoven middle-late sonatas.

I also wonder how suites work. Are they meant to be played together? I often see movements being played on their own, Clair de Lune, Une Barque sur l'Ocean etc.
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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