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#1296527 - 10/30/09 09:29 AM To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy  
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Hi. I registered here to post this stupid question.

How would you rank the 4 Ballades, 4 Bcherzos, the Barcarole and the Fantasy (in F minor) in the order of preference? Which piece you like the best, which second best and so on.

Those 10 pieces can be considered a group. Playing them lasts about 7-13 minutes. That makes them bigger than Waltzes, Nocturnes, Etudes etc, but they are not on the same league than Sonatas or Piano Concertos.

If you are to post your opinion, a simple list is just fine for me. Explanations are appreciated but not necessary.

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#1296544 - 10/30/09 09:58 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: StupidQuestion]  
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I don't want to call your question stupid, but when I saw the title of this thread I did think that you were proposing to rank this collection of compositions by difficulty. That would have some practical value that I really don't see in a hypothetical listing by "preference."

I think everyone familiar with Chopin has favored categories of works, preferred pieces within each category, and an opinion about the appeal of the standalone pieces as well. But to try to grade the collective diversity of pieces on a sliding scale of personal allure doesn't quite make sense to me!

Steven

#1296552 - 10/30/09 10:04 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: sotto voce]  
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Steven, would you care to rank them by difficulty? That's what I was hoping for when I clicked on the thread.


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#1296553 - 10/30/09 10:05 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: sotto voce]  
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I agree with Steven that the diversity of preferences would be somewhat useless as that depends too much on personal taste. Ranking by difficulty might make more sense tho that too could be very questionable since what is difficult for one person might present little problem to another.

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#1296562 - 10/30/09 10:19 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Varcon]  
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Originally Posted by Varcon
I agree with Steven that the diversity of preferences would be somewhat useless as that depends too much on personal taste.


"Useless" maybe, but "of interest to some" probably. I think people constantly discuss which pieces they like/dislike and ranking them is another version of this. I would say that trying to put them in a precise 1-10 order is not possible for some, including me.

Faves: Barcarolle, Scherzo #4, Ballade #4
Least faves: Scherzo #2, Ballade #1

#1296570 - 10/30/09 10:41 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: -Frycek]  
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Originally Posted by -Frycek
Steven, would you care to rank them by difficulty? That's what I was hoping for when I clicked on the thread.

I don't know if I'm up to it! All the usual caveats would apply about different people of different backgrounds and skills having different experiences of what's relatively hard or relatively manageable, that's for sure. smile

Even so, there's such a variety of tempi and pianistic devices that such a ranking seems like an arbitrary mixture of hard apples and tough oranges. (Also, despite my familiarity with these pieces, I haven't actively worked on the majority of them; my assessment would be based more on impression than experience).

Another thought occurs to me as well. The OP obviously set the parameter here of these 10 pieces exclusively, but a list of Chopin's compositions that are bigger than the Waltzes, Nocturnes, Etudes and Preludes but not multi-movement works like the Sonatas or Concertos would be a longer one than just these ten; notably missing are the final three Polonaises and the Allegro de Concert.

And what about the Rondos, the Bolero and the Op. 12 Variations? And if we include those early yet lengthy works, perhaps we should include the four Concert Pieces and the Cello Polonaise as well.

Steven

#1296576 - 10/30/09 11:01 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: sotto voce]  
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Quick answer - could elaborate more later:

From most difficult to least - IMO, and mostly on technical merits:

- Fantasie
- 4th Scherzo
- 4th Ballade
- Barcarolle
- 2nd Scherzo
- 1st Ballade
- 2nd Ballade
- 3rd Scherzo
- 1st Scherzo
- 3rd Ballade


Personal preference from like the most to like the least:

- 4th Scherzo
- 3rd Ballade
- Barcarolle
- 2nd Ballade
- 2nd Scherzo
- 3rd Scherzo
- 4th Ballade
- 1st Ballade
- 1st Scherzo
- Fantasie

Last edited by Phlebas; 10/30/09 11:05 AM.
#1296580 - 10/30/09 11:05 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Phlebas]  
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Last edited by Phlebas; 10/30/09 11:05 AM.
#1296582 - 10/30/09 11:07 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Phlebas]  
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This is my difficulty ranking in order of increasing challenge:

Scherzo Op. 20
Barcarolle Op. 60
Ballade Op. 47
Scherzo Op. 31
Scherzo Op. 39
Ballade Op. 23
Fantaisie Op. 49
Scherzo Op. 54
Ballade Op. 38
Ballade Op. 52

A ranking by preference is impossible for me.

Steven

#1296594 - 10/30/09 11:17 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: sotto voce]  
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Preference

Barcarolle
Ballade 1
Ballade 2
Ballade 4

Not that familiar with the rest.

#1296597 - 10/30/09 11:21 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Phlebas]  
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Phlebas -

I find it interesting that you rank the Fantasy as being the most difficult. I've performed the Fantasy and find it easier than several of the other compositions on the list - all of which, with the exception of Ballade No. 2, I have yet to learn. (I've dabbled with most of them, however.)

Just curious - is your ranking based on your personal experience in performing each of these pieces - or is it simply based on your perception of their difficulty?



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#1296598 - 10/30/09 11:27 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
Phlebas -

I find it interesting that you rank the Fantasy as being the most difficult. I've performed the Fantasy and find it easier than several of the other compositions on the list - all of which, with the exception of Ballade No. 2, I have yet to learn. (I've dabbled with most of them, however.)

Just curious - is your ranking based on your personal experience in performing each of these pieces - or is it simply based on your perception of their difficulty?



It's based on some personal experience (I've played the 2nd Ballade, 4th Ballade, and 3rd Scherzo), having read through the others a lot, etc.
Also, it's based what I would find difficult.

If you've played the Fantasie, then I would defer to you, but I think it is difficult to perform well - keep it structurally together, etc. I also think the passagework is fairly difficult. I would think the Fantasie takes some more stamina - compared to some of the others on the list. Did you find that to be the case?





Last edited by Phlebas; 10/30/09 11:32 AM.
#1296613 - 10/30/09 11:44 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: StupidQuestion]  
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I was simply asking for opinions. There is no question mark at the end of the name of the topic, because there was no space for it. This kind of listing might be stupid and empty and whatever, but it is something I have always done.

These 10 pieces are also considered a kind of a group by the Chopin Competition bosses. At the stage II, a contestant must play one piece out of these 10 pieces.
Also, I don't know the Rondos or Bolero so I cannot include them here.

I myself cannot answer much to my own initial question. Ballade 3 and Barcarole are my two faves, and Ballade 4 might be 3rd favourite, although I'm quite sick about it right now.
Scherzo 1 is easily the weakest imo, but I cannot evaluate much the rest of the pack.

#1296623 - 10/30/09 12:00 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: StupidQuestion]  
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I've played only about half of these, (couple of ballade and scherzi) but of all I've played, I have to say that the Barcarolle has remained the most challenging for me technically and musically, and is also my favorite. I think the Barcarolle is hard to play well.

I think for me, the Barcarolle may be the best thing Chopin ever wrote. There are a couple of sections in there that make me weep!


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#1296629 - 10/30/09 12:20 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: StupidQuestion]  
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I like the first Scherzo, the third Ballade, and the Fantasy the best but I'm usually in the minority when I say that. frown

I didn't think the Fantasy looked as difficult as the ballades. I wanted to learn it senior year... now I'm having second thoughts!


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Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12
#1296648 - 10/30/09 01:11 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: akonow]  
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Originally Posted by akonow
I didn't think the Fantasy looked as difficult as the ballades. I wanted to learn it senior year... now I'm having second thoughts!

Don't have second thoughts! I share carey's surprise that the Fantaisie's difficulties are frequently overrated. While the connecting passages with the triplet figures that ascend and then descend in consecutive measures were a challenge for me, as was nailing the spots with fairly large octave jumps in contrary motion, I had no other significant problems.

Stamina doesn't seem like an important issue because the duration of the piece is offset by such a variety of textures; furthermore, the Lento sostenuto is a well-placed opportunity to relax and recharge. And of course the piece is difficult to play well—like every other one in that group. smile

I said I wouldn't rank them by preference, but I'll concede that the Fantaisie would be very near the top of my list. I think it contains some of Chopin's very finest music, and learning it was consistently absorbing and rewarding. Believe me, it's a lot of fun to practice and to play.

Steven

#1296653 - 10/30/09 01:21 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Sparkler]  
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Originally Posted by Sparkler

I think for me, the Barcarolle may be the best thing Chopin ever wrote. There are a couple of sections in there that make me weep!


I remember a master class with Fialkowska where she more or less said that she felt the last pages of the Barcarolle were the greatest passages Chopin wrote.

#1296724 - 10/30/09 03:32 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: pianoloverus]  
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I'm with sparkler on this one. Come to think of it, the Barcarolle is probably my favourite Chopin piece. And with this piece, i enjoy such different interpretations as Sofronitsky's from Zimerman's can be, something that doesn't happen to me with that many works.

#1296729 - 10/30/09 03:39 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: izaldu]  
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My favorites are the 1st Ballade, 3rd Scherzo, and Fantasy.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1296732 - 10/30/09 03:42 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Per Phlebas - "If you've played the Fantasie, then I would defer to you, but I think it is difficult to perform well - keep it structurally together, etc. I also think the passagework is fairly difficult. I would think the Fantasie takes some more stamina - compared to some of the others on the list. Did you find that to be the case?

Phlebas - I concur completely with Steven's response above.


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#1296733 - 10/30/09 03:42 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Kreisler]  
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...and on the subject of the third scherzo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl9MvizSf78


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1296737 - 10/30/09 03:46 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Kreisler]  
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Thats the best version of the 3rd Scherzo I've heard in my opinion. The only piece on the list I've learnt it the 2nd Scherzo (I'm almost finished with it now) and that for me was pretty damn hard! My favourites are the 4th and 1st ballade, and the 2nd and 3rd Scherzo.


"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." - Frédéric Chopin

"Hats off gentlemen, a genius!" - Schumann on Chopin

"Chopin is the greatest of them all, for through the piano alone he discovered everything" - Debussy on Chopin


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#1296748 - 10/30/09 04:01 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Chopin4life]  
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I like the Barcarolle, Ballades 1, 3, and 4 and Scherzo No. 3.

The Fantasy bores me. Scherzo No. 2 is cool, but _way_ overplayed.

The most daunting one of the group is Ballade No. 4 in terms of technique and musicality required to pull it off. I don't think I'll ever come around to learning that one. That's the one I revere more than love.

There are passages in Scherzo No. 3 that're insane (the fast octaves--yikes!).


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#1296777 - 10/30/09 04:35 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
Per Phlebas - "If you've played the Fantasie, then I would defer to you, but I think it is difficult to perform well - keep it structurally together, etc. I also think the passagework is fairly difficult. I would think the Fantasie takes some more stamina - compared to some of the others on the list. Did you find that to be the case?

Phlebas - I concur completely with Steven's response above.


Thanks. I'll have to read through it some more to see if I change my mind.

I've seen people play a very good Barcarolle, or 4th scherzo, and seem overwhelmed by the Fantasie.

#1296875 - 10/30/09 08:45 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: Phlebas]  
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From beginning to end, the Barcarolle stands alone in my estimation (except perhaps for the 3rd Sonata) as the most wonderful composition of Chopin. It took me months to get it under my fingers, but I was so happy listening as it gradually took shape that I never got tired of practicing it. I also agree with others that a list of personal preferences in this group of some of his greatest works isn't very useful, so I'll stick with my list of difficulty, starting with the least challenging:

-- Fantasie
-- 3rd Ballade
-- 1st Scherzo
-- 2nd Scherzo
-- 2nd Ballade
-- Barcarolle
-- 1st Ballade
-- 3rd Scherzo
-- 4th Scherzo
-- 4th Ballade


Phil Bjorlo
#1296894 - 10/30/09 09:23 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
The Fantasy bores me.


Agh! The pain!!! wink

I have to admit I thought it was boring at first too but that's because I didn't listen to the whole thing.


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Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12
#1296937 - 10/30/09 11:11 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: akonow]  
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Originally Posted by akonow
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
The Fantasy bores me.

I have to admit I thought it was boring at first too but that's because I didn't listen to the whole thing.

Dang, there's no accounting for what we find fascinating or boring.

Chopin's Fantaisie is one of my earliest musical memories. My grandmother would take me to rummage sales, where I would pick out 78-rpm records and bring them home to play on my portable record player (the kind that had a cartridge that flipped over with one stylus for 33 and 45 rpm and a different one for 78).

I loved the piece from the first time I heard it, and tried to convince my mother that the major-key theme occurring three times sounded more like butterflies than that "Butterfly Etude" on a different 78. My little neighborhood friends were less than delighted, and the stage was set for suffering social stigma in sandbox society.

Fifty years later, I'm still loving the Fantaisie—and rummage sales, thrift stores and swap meets, too, though eBay makes it so much more convenient—and still enduring the ongoing ostracism of an outcast outsider. smile

Originally Posted by akonow
Agh! The pain!!! wink

Memories ... may be beautiful, and yet ....

Steven

#1296946 - 10/30/09 11:22 PM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: sotto voce]  
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Originally Posted by sotto voce
My little neighborhood friends were less than delighted, and the stage was set for suffering social stigma in sandbox society

There, there. I prefer Chopin to sandboxes anyway! On a side note, it does seem that a lot of the people I've spoken with seem to have been ostracized for their love of classical music while I haven't had so much as a "classical music is boring" out of even my acquaintances. Oh well, that's another topic for another day...


Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12
#1297014 - 10/31/09 01:57 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: akonow]  
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Originally Posted by akonow
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
The Fantasy bores me.


Agh! The pain!!! wink

I have to admit I thought it was boring at first too but that's because I didn't listen to the whole thing.


Well, I played the Fantasy in high school. It's not a technically-demanding piece. Chopin wrote stuff that's more interesting. Much more interesting.


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#1297022 - 10/31/09 03:06 AM Re: To rank the Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, Barcarole and Fantasy [Re: AZNpiano]  
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I've personally felt that it could be his magnum opus.


Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiestücke Op 12
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