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Topic: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?  (Read 1067 times)

Offline droprenstein

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Rachmaninoff's second sonata is my favorite solo piano piece, but I'm not such an idiot to play it right now. I want to be able to play it as soon as I can, though. From a technical standpoint, what pieces can I play that will help build up to this goal?
For some context, my current repertoire is:
Scriabin Sonata no. 1 1st movement
Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableaux Op. 39 No 1 and 4 (just started learning these)
Liszt Transcendental Etude No 2
Chopin Ballade 3
Chopin Etude 10/1 and 25/10

Offline lelle

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #1 on: November 10, 2022, 02:35:53 PM
Honestly, if you can master the currently listed rep, Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata shouldn't be too much trouble IMO.

Offline droprenstein

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #2 on: November 11, 2022, 05:18:56 AM
Honestly, if you can master the currently listed rep, Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata shouldn't be too much trouble IMO.
Have you played it before?

Offline lelle

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #3 on: November 11, 2022, 09:10:09 AM
No, but I had a classmate who did back when I did my bachelor+master in piano, so I got to hear and watch him play it several times during the process of learning it. He played some of the repertoire you listed + other things of similar level before and after studying the sonata. That's why I added the qualifier "if you can master  the current repertoire" :) if you are struggling with the listed pieces, and can't play them in tempo with technical and musical finish, the sonata is probably going to be a struggle too.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #4 on: November 11, 2022, 03:06:19 PM
You can't go wrong with studying some Rachmaninoff etudes and preludes to familiarize yourself with his style and technical devices, in addition to fundamentals that are a given that you know (passagework, chords and so on).

Offline swilliams002

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #5 on: November 14, 2022, 04:35:20 PM
You could also try some Medtner pieces - the sonatas, Tales, various pieces. While it's definitely not true that Medtner is just a poor copy of Rachmaninoff (as some people idiotically claim), certain pieces of his can certainly help you with Rachmaninoff's works due to their similar textures, harmonies, and rhythms.

I haven't played or studied Rach's second sonata, so this is merely a speculation. But it's worth a try. Rachmaninoff's and Medtner's textures are certainly more similar than say, Rachmaninoff and Chopin. As far as Scriabin, I have no idea, since I generally avoid his music whenever possible.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline hmoll53

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #6 on: November 20, 2022, 08:58:36 PM
Try learning the entire Scriabin 1 and know it to a point where you can play through the whole thing and feel comfortably proficient at it. Scriabin's 1st has good technical challenges that also appear in Rachmaninoff's 2nd, and I don't think it's much easier than Rachmaninoff's 2nd Sonata, the only thing more challenging is the complexity of the Rach in comparison to the Scriabin's 1st
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 ahinton

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #7 on: November 20, 2022, 09:17:40 PM
it's definitely not true that Medtner is just a poor copy of Rachmaninoff (as some people idiotically claim)
Rachmaninoff himself would have been horrified at any such suggestion, regarding Medtner as he did as one of the finest living composers! Sorry that you avoid Scriabin; you presumably have your reasons (although I for one am curious as to what these might be) but, for me, there is no avoiding Scriabin!
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline anacrusis

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #8 on: November 20, 2022, 09:32:42 PM
Rachmaninoff himself would have been horrified at any such suggestion, regarding Medtner as he did as one of the finest living composers! Sorry that you avoid Scriabin; you presumably have your reasons (although I for one am curious as to what these might be) but, for me, there is no avoiding Scriabin!

Personally I find some of Scriabin's pieces a bit interchangeable and samey, but when he's good he's - mmmh, chef's kiss!

Offline dinoimeri

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #9 on: December 21, 2022, 10:31:09 PM
Hello, droprenstein.

Judging by your current repertoire, I wouldn't be so hesitant as to try learning Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata.

Having played both the First and the Second Sonatas by Rachmaninoff, I can tell you that the latter is not as difficult as it sounds. It is written in a very natural pianistic style and I think probably the bigger challenge is learning and memorising the score, as well as giving an authentic interpretation.

If you have already mastered the works you've listed, I don't think learning this Sonata would be a tremendous endeavour. Just go for it and be patient and persistent when learning the notes.

All my best,
Dino

Offline bachmoninoff

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #10 on: December 23, 2022, 08:45:49 PM
Hello, droprenstein.

Judging by your current repertoire, I wouldn't be so hesitant as to try learning Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata.

Having played both the First and the Second Sonatas by Rachmaninoff, I can tell you that the latter is not as difficult as it sounds. It is written in a very natural pianistic style and I think probably the bigger challenge is learning and memorising the score, as well as giving an authentic interpretation.

If you have already mastered the works you've listed, I don't think learning this Sonata would be a tremendous endeavour. Just go for it and be patient and persistent when learning the notes.

All my best,
Dino

Hi Dino,

Have you played Scriabinís 5th piano sonata? If so, how would it compare to the difficulty of Rachmaninovís 2nd sonata? I know they are both very different but Iím just curious I guess.

Yours,
Bachman
Bach - WTC no.16 Bk 1
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 7
Chopin - op. 10 no. 7 & op. 25 no. 6
Liszt - Mephisto Waltz no. 1
Prokofiev - Piano Sonata no. 2
Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto no. 2

Offline dinoimeri

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #11 on: December 23, 2022, 10:09:34 PM
Hi Dino,

Have you played Scriabinís 5th piano sonata? If so, how would it compare to the difficulty of Rachmaninovís 2nd sonata? I know they are both very different but Iím just curious I guess.

Yours,
Bachman

Hi, Bachman.

I did play Scriabin's 5th, as well as 2nd and 4th. I hope to do 9th one day, but I am far from that now in my opinion!

In many ways I find Scriabin's 5th more challenging. Compared to Rachmaninoff, I would say the only thing that's easier is concentration-wise because of the length. Performing Rach 2 can be quite a drain, both emotionally and mentally. So, in that sense I would say Scriabin is easier.

But, actually learning Scriabin was far more challenging for me. The text and the music is much more abstract, difficult to memorise, there are quite a lot of rhythmical changes, a very specific sound. To me, it was not very naturally written pianistically speaking as much as Rach 2, but again this might be an individual thing.

By the time he wrote his Second sonata, I think Rachmaninoff already became much more pragmatic as a composer. There are similarities between parts, many repeating patterns which makes it a lot easier to learn than many of his earlier works such as his First sonata which is a hell to learn! Every repetition of a theme is written in a slightly different way and then you mix them all the time, not remembering which one where it is!  :o ;D

All in all, I always find Scriabin more difficult than Rachmaninoff in many ways.
Best regards, looking forward to hearing your experience and thoughts about these works?

Dino

Offline pianopro181

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Re: What pieces to play to build up for Rachmaninoff's 2nd sonata?
Reply #12 on: January 08, 2023, 10:16:45 PM
Rachmaninoff's second sonata is my favorite solo piano piece, but I'm not such an idiot to play it right now. I want to be able to play it as soon as I can, though. From a technical standpoint, what pieces can I play that will help build up to this goal?
For some context, my current repertoire is:
Scriabin Sonata no. 1 1st movement
Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableaux Op. 39 No 1 and 4 (just started learning these)
Liszt Transcendental Etude No 2
Chopin Ballade 3
Chopin Etude 10/1 and 25/10

Just play more Rachmaninov Etudes. You should try to nail most of the hard ones as well as some of the harder lesser known Preludes. Also do some of his arrangements like the Partita.
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