Friday, June 14, 2013
Reflections on Some Famous Pieces
In this post I'll be giving my opinion about some pieces I studied lately, based on my own experience in learning them.
Revolutionary Etude: This is an outstanding piece, the first time I heard it I thought I was hearing the best music in the world. I was way more musically inexperienced back then so I guess I exaggerated a little bit. But nonetheless it sounds very impressive for the musical and unmusical ears alike! You'll have to be a very highly experienced pianist to tackle it, and it's no cakewalk for even the most talented of pianists, and most just can't pull it off without a load of preparation and hard work! The left hand continuously plays scales and awkward arpeggios, with the right hand playing big brutal chords which have to be timed exactly at the right beat. So as much as it sounds tempting, I recommend you leave the whole set of Chopin Etudes for later, them being among the most difficult the piano repertoire has to offer.
Preludes op.28 nos.4 and 20: These are probably the easiest of the preludes in this set of 24 preludes. They have beautiful sad melodies, no.4 expresses grief and no.20 is more melancholic. If you are a good sight reader you should learn them in no time. As for technical obstacles, there is nothing to work on except the stretto measures in no 4 and the pianissimo large chords in no 20, which are prone to breaking.
Moonlight Sonata: The title clearly has no relation to the music what so ever. Beethoven himself was furious when that title was given out on his masterpiece that he almost withdrew it from publication! When I first heard the first movement I thought it sounded like a funeral march, but when I played it and realized the constant triplet rhythm across the whole movement, I felt like it was a clock ticking, with the third movement in Presto tempo being like a race with time, where one is running out of it. The second movement is basically a tension reliever between the other two emotionally consuming movements. The first movement is technically easy but will not sound impressive without high musicality. And by impressive I mean touching the very bottom of one's soul. The second movement can be sight read by an intermediate/advanced player. The third movement, however, needs a decent amount of dexterity before attempting to play it. Its fast arpeggios on mostly black keys and subtle dynamic changes challenge even the most capable pianists.
Piano Sonata K 545: This has been labelled by many as "The easiest piano sonata" although I totally disagree. The sonata is easy but it's not the easiest out there! Also, difficulty is a relative matter, it might seem easy for some pianists, but it is also considered a troublemaker for many. The problem with Mozart in general is that his music is scandalous: If you miss a note or hit a wrong little one, the audience goes frowning at you. So you will need good clarity production from those fingers, well calibrated dynamics and a lot of practice to play it without displeasing the ears. Also mind the rhythm, as it may get tricky in parts of the first movement. The second movement is easy to play, the third being fast and energetic, needing agile and seamless movements of the hand and fingers.