What are your difficult passages?

Hey Everyone, Let's talk about difficult passages.

 

What are you playing this week that is making you sweat and work hard?

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  • I will start things off:

     

    Rachmaninoff 1st piano concerto: 3rd movement opening!!

    Weinberg: Violin Sonata No.5, solo piano fugue from the last movement

    Like 1
  • Really too many to list, but what has bugged me for the past few years:

    Chopin Ballade No. 1, especially the piu animato section in the middle (mm 138-179) and the coda. 

    Goldberg Variations, especially Nos. 1, 5, 17, 20, 26.

    Like 3
    • Harriet Kaplan I hear you on the ballade! No good tips though. I found the left hand there through 144 more difficult than the right. Perhaps it would be helpful to really focus on the alignment of quarters in the left with the proper eighth in the right? Make sure you are hitting those at the exact same time. Might help. And that right hand between 150 and 153 needs a lot of slow right hand alone work, really making those lower melody notes stand out. Good luck!

      Like 1
      • Khaled
      • Khaled
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Harriet Kaplan Agree about the piu animato section in the Chopin Ballade. I performed this Ballade many times and I worry about this section more than the coda! When I try to focus too much on the left hand, the right hand doesn't come out with the right articulation and vice versa.

      Like 1
  • Chopin etude op. 10, no. 3 measures 46-50. Now that I type this I think to myself 鈥渋t鈥檚 only 5 measures鈥ome on!鈥  

    Like 3
      • GerryM
      • GerryM
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Susan Rogers Yep. I've heard it said "It's just a repeating downward sequence of broken diminished seventh chords, what's the big deal?". Uh, for me it is a big deal. I keep waiting for the pattern to "click" with me, and then I'll just be able to rattle it off with no problem. Unfortunately I've been waiting for about 30 years for that to happen. In the meantime, it's metronome "click" for me on that section...

      Like 1
    • GerryM good idea - out comes the metronome tonight! Thanks!

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    • Don Allen
    • Don_Allen
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Beethoven Les Adieux, the passage beginning at measure 13 of the first movement Allegro. A variant occurs in the development that is also difficult. I suspect this will not come as a surprise to anyone who has studied this great sonata.

     

    The a-minor Fugue of Book 1 of the WTC is a monster. Memorizing this work is one of its great difficulties, much less memorizing both books, as Andras Schiff, Glenn Gould and others in that elite company have. I remember reading somewhere that Schiff played both books from memory at Tanglewood when quite young.

     

    Some of the Chopin Etudes are part of my ongoing work -- c#-minor, f-major and c-minor from Op. 10 and the fearsome g#-minor from Op. 25. I thought the lesson by Jeffrey Biegel on the latter was extremely good, as was his performance.

    Like 1
    • Don Allen I just started the f major etude after watching the Jarrod Dunn master class a week ago - the next day I kept hearing a tune in my head and realized it was that etude so I had to start it. 

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      • Ted
      • Ted
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Don Allen  I played that sonata in college, but that passage still gives me trouble 20 years later.  I've probably spent more time on it than on the rest of the first movement combined.  

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      • Don Allen
      • Don_Allen
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Ted I think we're in good company. I've spoken with Garrick Ohlsson about it and while he's certainly a lot more successful with it than I am, he admitted that he worries about it when performing and "smudged it" (his phrase) when I heard him play it some years ago (I'd be very happy with his "smudge"). I got a fingering from John O'Conor, who told me that it took him a long time to find something that worked for him. Lastly, I heard Murray Perahia play the work in recital in Boston and he made an absolute hash of all three instances. Very unusual for him, since he's usually so solid technically. But then, I've heard other top people, like Andras Schiff and Richard Goode, play "the passage" and its variant flawlessly at ambitious tempi.

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  • Chopin鈥檚 second waltz in A flat (op34, no1). I鈥檓 trying to use 354 fingerings on those turns, such as at bar 34. Not sure that鈥檚 most efficient. Seems to work better with a little more curve to the fingers. Feels like I need a little more oomph on that 3 finger to make it come out fast and clean. Also just trying to come up with an overall interpretation of the piece as I鈥檝e heard so many radically different versions.

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    • Update: I watched Rebecca Penneys鈥 tonebase lesson on this waltz and noticed she was playing these turns with 353, and she made it look so easy. Tried it out and with just a little practice it definitely is the right choice!

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    • trevor
    • trevor
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    the quasi cadenza from Images - Reflets dans l'eau (Debussy) 

    Like 1
      • GerryM
      • GerryM
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      trevor Trevor I am right there with you! I was going to post that and you beat me to it. I, too, am challenged by Reflets dans l'eau in the quasi cadenza, particularly meas 24-31, getting those runs even, light, sounding like flowing waves. Practicing it a lot. Any suggestions will be appreciated! 

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      • trevor
      • trevor
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      GerryM I'm in the same boat from m24, playing it quietly and ultra fast while keeping the LH melody singing is tricky. I just spent another practice session on it. Today I experimented with a more "flat finger" in the RH approach to minimize movement. Practice with metronome, playing quietly and slowly ticking up the metronome RH-only. Then, hands together "beat to beat", stopping at the important points where the LH melody and the RH flourish line up. 

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      • GerryM
      • GerryM
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      trevor Thanks! Good advice. I'm going to have to take my time increasing the speed- when I try to progress too quickly things tense up. I'm also using Dominic's advice about fast arpeggios- moving my elbows and wrists to try to play this legato won't work because it will just be too fast for that. He discussed this in his livestream about technique and arpeggios. So, I'm trying to have my wrists and elbows relaxed, but pretty quiet, repositioning the entire hand for each section of the run. 

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  • I鈥檓 tidying up two of the Bach P&F bk 1 (2 and 6). I find tge fugues particularly difficult:

    a) to memorise

    b) to get to reasonable speed. 
    the d minor prelude also presents difficulties in getting up to speed.

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  • Chopin Prelude 21. Just started it a week ago but trying to learn at a faster/more disciplined pace then usual for me. The last 2 tonebase monthly challenges have helped my learning abilities for sure (having to go from piece selection to recording in just a few weeks). I don鈥檛 like to go too long without learning Chopin and was inspired to learn this after hearing Fei-Fei鈥檚 great lesson on Tonebase. 

    Like 1
  • This passage from Scarlatti Sonata K113, starting with measure 96, it is always tricky to do these hand crossing leaps at tempo.  For some reason, this is so hard to get perfect every time in quick tempo.  Similar passage in the first part is even harder. I have to remember what the next note is in the treble played by the left-hand cross-over otherwise I lose track. I can do it slow tempo fine. This is a fast piece. So, my solution is to start slower and accelerate which does seem to have a dramatic effect. Not sure if Scarlatti would approve, though. 

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    • Khaled
    • Khaled
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    The only passage that made me stop practicing a piece was in Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 in the latest section before the cadenza. To do these leaps accurately and at the right virtuositic speed required was just insane.

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    • Khaled Hi. I鈥檓 not very familiar with this piece but wondering if this advice in leaps from Edna Golandsky may be helpful to you?

      https://pianomarvel.com/article/how-to-leap-with-freedom-in-chopins-etude-op-25-no-3

      Like 1
      • Khaled
      • Khaled
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Andrew McMillan Thanks Andrew. This is a very interesting article actually! The passage I am talking about is this. I really like what the article is mentioning about the idea of rotation and how it optimizes the hand positions to move towards the leaps easily.

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    • Khaled Hi again. I鈥檓 glad you found the article helpful. Did you see the link to the video at the end of the article? Andrew

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  • Bach Chromatic fantasy, in the fugue bars 55-59 and 103-106. 

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