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pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) #1944995
08/18/12 11:08 AM
08/18/12 11:08 AM
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I started a thread a few days ago concerning the use of pedaling in Mozart. Here is a link to it.
thread pertaining to pedaling in Mozart

Unfortunately, the thread was locked by the moderators, which means that new posts cannot be added to the thread. This was due to personal conflicts that arose among 2-3 people in this thread. Other than that, the thread did not drift into inappropriate areas of discussion, and many of the posters provided worthwhile content.

I would like to revisit the issue of pedaling in Mozart (in light of what happened to the previous thread, I feel compelled to add the caveat to try to avoid personal conflicts similar to the one that resulted in the previous thread being locked; the vast majority of posters are well behaved and need no such warning. However, all it takes is 2 sparring posters to get a thread permanently locked) with the following additional issues to consider:

(1) The overwhelming consensus from the thread is that some pedaling is appropriate for playing Mozart. Do you have specific suggestions for how to tastefully pedal types of passages in Mozart such as the surface or shallow pedaling technique recommended by Artur Schnabel as described in the video posted by PianogrlNW:

Contribution from PianogrlNW


(2) The topic of later composers such as Beethoven and Chopin using explicit pedal markings in their scores came up. How closely do you follow the pedal markings when they are explicitly given by composers such as Beethoven and Chopin?

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Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945001
08/18/12 11:20 AM
08/18/12 11:20 AM
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I am working on K576 and have been experimenting with the shallow pedaling, even though my teacher would prefer me to use even less or no sustaining pedal. I like the overall effect. For those who haven't seen the video, Schnabel described Mozart without any pedaling as sounding "dehydrated" and "thin".



Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945009
08/18/12 11:31 AM
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On a related note, what do people think about the idea of finger pedaling(holding typically the lowest note in an Alberti bass down for longer than is indicated)in Mozart?

I have an edition of some Mozart Sonatas by Bartok and there are numerous written out examples of finger pedaling.

Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945015
08/18/12 11:40 AM
08/18/12 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Otis S
[...]
(2) The topic of later composers such as Beethoven and Chopin using explicit pedal markings in their scores came up. How closely do you follow the pedal markings when they are explicitly given by composers such as Beethoven and Chopin?


It really depends upon the individual piano and the reverberation of the room in which the piano is being played. Even the composer's original pedal indications, then, have to be put into the context of the modern instrument in its venue.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945025
08/18/12 11:50 AM
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I use pedal sparingly in Mozart.
And it is usually just a very short quarter pedal to emphasize a note, chord or the closing of a phrase.

As for Beethoven or Chopin, because of the inherent differences between the instruments of their time and today, it is not always possible to exactly follow the pedal markings explicitly given by composers. Of course since they are given by the composers I try to follow them as closely as possible without ruining the integrity of the sound.

Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945082
08/18/12 02:00 PM
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If a composer indicates pedalling, I'd always try that first. But if it doesn't sound right to me (especially with composers whose music pre-dates the modern metal-framed grand), I'd modify it. Beethoven's pedalling instructions for the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata (senza sordini) isn't followed by any pianist I know of who plays it on a modern grand, though most fortepianists follow it to great effect. We need to remember that in many - or most - cases, we are playing on very different instruments to those used by the composers.

I rarely use the sustain pedal in the fast movements in Mozart Sonatas, but do fairly frequently in the slow movements. In the piano concertos, I tend to use the pedal more often, including in the fast movements.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945091
08/18/12 02:33 PM
08/18/12 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Otis S
Unfortunately, the thread was locked by the moderators, which means that new posts cannot be added to the thread. This was due to personal conflicts that arose among 2-3 people in this thread. Other than that, the thread did not drift into inappropriate areas of discussion, and many of the posters provided worthwhile content.


i would like to add that i was surprised -- no, shocked -- that that thread was locked as being "a mess" when IMHO it was one of the most interesting and useful threads in a long time. throwing the baby out with the bathwater is never a good idea.

if a thread should be locked, it should be because it's prosaic, myopic, self-absorbed or a scam/prank. issues with the usual suspects could be handled by the mods with PMs. an Ignore button would fix the rest. IMHO.

Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945113
08/18/12 03:21 PM
08/18/12 03:21 PM
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RE: Chopin's pedaling

The Paderewski edition's "editing committee" said that Chopin's pedal marks were precise; however, because of the difference in modern instruments and the acoustics of the room, one should always modify the pedaling to suit the performance situation. Even the Paderewski edition added quite a few pedal marks to break up long pedals or to connect choppy sections.

It's nice to know what Chopin wrote, but it's not wise to blindly follow all of his marks as written. It's just not practical.


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Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945134
08/18/12 04:44 PM
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I agree.

Here is a must-read which sheds some light on the subject

from an article by Saint-Saens




"We must conclude that the indication "non-legato" finally degenerated into meaning "staccato." In my youth I heard persons advanced in age whose performance on the piano was extremely dry and jumpy. Then a reaction took place. The tyrannical reign of the perpetual "legato" succeeded. It was decided that in piano playing unless indicated to the contrary, and even at times in spite of such indication, everything everywhere should be tied together.[3] This was a great misfortune of which Kalkbrenner gives a manifest proof in the arrangement he has made of Beethoven's symphonies. Besides, this "legato" tyranny continues. Notwithstanding the example of Liszt, the greatest pianist of the nineteenth century, and notwithstanding his numerous pupils, the fatal school of the "legato" has prevailed,—not that it is unfortunate in itself, but because it has perverted the intentions of musical authors. Our French professors have followed the example of Kalkbrenner.

The house of Breitkopf, which until lately had the best editions of the German classics, has substituted in their places new editions where professors have eagerly striven to perfect in their own manner the music of the masters. When this great house wished to make a complete edition of the works of Mozart, which are prodigiously numerous, it appealed to all who possessed manuscripts of Mozart, and then having gathered these most precious documents, instead of reproducing them faithfully, that house believed it was doing well to leave to the professors full liberty of treatment and change. Thus that admirable series of concertos for piano has been ornamented by Karl Reinecke with a series of joined notes, tied notes, legato, molto legato, and sempre legato which are the very opposite of what the composer intended. Worse still, in a piece which Mozart had the genial idea of terminating suddenly with a delicately shaded phrase, they have taken out such nuances and terminated the piece with a forte passage of the most commonplace character.

One other plague in modern editions is the abuse of the pedal. Mozart never indicated the pedal. As purity of taste is one of his great qualities, it is probable that he made no abuse of the pedal. Beethoven indicated it in a complicated and cumbersome manner. When he wanted the pedal he wrote "senza sordini," which means without dampers, and to take them off he wrote "con sordini," meaning with dampers. The soft pedal is indicated by "una corda." The indication to take it off, an indication which exists even now, was written "tre corde." The indication "ped" for the grand pedal is assuredly more convenient, but that is no reason for making an abuse of it and inflicting it upon the author where his writing indicates the contrary."

and for Chopin:

"We come now to the modern epoch. From the time of Liszt, who not only revolutionized the performance of music on the piano, but also the way of writing it, authors give to performers all necessary indications, and they have only to carefully observe them. There are, however, some interesting remarks applicable to the music of Chopin which recent editions unfortunately are commencing to falsify. Chopin detested the abuse of the pedal. He could not bear that through an ignorant employment of the pedal two different chords should be mixed in tone together. Therefore, he has given indications with the greatest pains. Employing it where he has not indicated it, must be avoided. But great skill is necessary to thus do without the pedal. Therefore, in the new editions of the author, no account of the author's indications whatever is observed. Thus in the "Cradle Song," where the author has indicated that the pedal be put on each measure and taken off in the middle of it, modern editions preserve the pedal throughout the entire measure, thus mixing up hopelessly the tonic with the dominant, which the composer was so careful to avoid."


read the whole article as it is quite telling..

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30412/30412-h/30412-h.htm


rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario
Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: acortot] #1945142
08/18/12 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by acortot

One other plague in modern editions is the abuse of the pedal. Mozart never indicated the pedal. As purity of taste is one of his great qualities, it is probable that he made no abuse of the pedal. Beethoven indicated it in a complicated and cumbersome manner. When he wanted the pedal he wrote "senza sordini," which means without dampers, and to take them off he wrote "con sordini," meaning with dampers. The soft pedal is indicated by "una corda." The indication to take it off, an indication which exists even now, was written "tre corde." The indication "ped" for the grand pedal is assuredly more convenient, but that is no reason for making an abuse of it and inflicting it upon the author where his writing indicates the contrary."

and for Chopin:

"We come now to the modern epoch. From the time of Liszt, who not only revolutionized the performance of music on the piano, but also the way of writing it, authors give to performers all necessary indications, and they have only to carefully observe them. There are, however, some interesting remarks applicable to the music of Chopin which recent editions unfortunately are commencing to falsify. Chopin detested the abuse of the pedal. He could not bear that through an ignorant employment of the pedal two different chords should be mixed in tone together. Therefore, he has given indications with the greatest pains. Employing it where he has not indicated it, must be avoided. But great skill is necessary to thus do without the pedal. Therefore, in the new editions of the author, no account of the author's indications whatever is observed. Thus in the "Cradle Song," where the author has indicated that the pedal be put on each measure and taken off in the middle of it, modern editions preserve the pedal throughout the entire measure, thus mixing up hopelessly the tonic with the dominant, which the composer was so careful to avoid."


read the whole article as it is quite telling..

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30412/30412-h/30412-h.htm
I think the part I quoted just shows that genius composers may not always give very good advice or(as has been documented in detail in the book Off the Reocrd)writings of great pianists or composers can often be at odds with their own performances.

"Mozart made no abuse of the pedal." What does abusing the pedal mean?

It is well known that Beethoven only indicated pedal on rare occasions, but this does not mean that it shouldn't be employed more frequently. Hence "When he wanted the pedal he wrote "senza sordini," which means without dampers" is either very misleading or false.

Chopin also did not indicate pedal for some works or sometimes when he thought the correct pedaling was obvious. So "Therefore, he has given indications with the greatest pains. Employing it where he has not indicated it, must be avoided. But great skill is necessary to thus do without the pedal" is also false. Finally, I doubt many modern day good pianists hold the pedal down for the the entire measure throughout the Berceuse.

Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945146
08/18/12 05:31 PM
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I don't believe Chopin didn't write the pedal where he thought it was obvious, I am personally convinced that he usually wrote it in everywhere, as Saint-Saens mentions

you need to understand that the pedal was seen as a 'gimmick'.. for the dry style of the time it was considered a cop-out

I believe that the key is in the way the actual phrases were constructed rhythmically in those days, they did not draw-out tones like modern pianists, they used a choppy (for our time) dry style... as Saint-Saens also mentions in this article

the 'con sordina' 'senza sordina' indications show the nature of the pedal at the time of Beethoven and before.. the indications are given in the same way that an organist would pull a stop, or a harpsichord player would add or subtract a register.. they did not use the pedal as people do today, do embellish phrases and to make the piano sound 'better'... they used it as an effect to be used in certain parts of the music to create contrast

only later did people like Dussek begin to use the pedal as part of his interpretative style..

Chopin was a classicist, even though he invented many modern piano effects, he always had an air of restraint, which like Mozart perhaps came from being introduced to Royalty at a young age and having to fit-in with the more sophisticated and aristocratic salons, as opposed to today's players who play for ticket-buying music lovers.


rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario
Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: acortot] #1945159
08/18/12 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by acortot
I don't believe Chopin didn't write the pedal where he thought it was obvious, I am personally convinced that he usually wrote it in everywhere, as Saint-Saens mentions

you need to understand that the pedal was seen as a 'gimmick'.. for the dry style of the time it was considered a cop-out

I believe that the key is in the way the actual phrases were constructed rhythmically in those days, they did not draw-out tones like modern pianists, they used a choppy (for our time) dry style... as Saint-Saens also mentions in this article

the 'con sordina' 'senza sordina' indications show the nature of the pedal at the time of Beethoven and before.. the indications are given in the same way that an organist would pull a stop, or a harpsichord player would add or subtract a register.. they did not use the pedal as people do today, do embellish phrases and to make the piano sound 'better'... they used it as an effect to be used in certain parts of the music to create contrast

only later did people like Dussek begin to use the pedal as part of his interpretative style..

Chopin was a classicist, even though he invented many modern piano effects, he always had an air of restraint, which like Mozart perhaps came from being introduced to Royalty at a young age and having to fit-in with the more sophisticated and aristocratic salons, as opposed to today's players who play for ticket-buying music lovers.
Just read Baile's book on Chopin or look at Chopin scores where pedaling was clearly omitted and every decent pianist uses it. I don't think what I said is really a grey area.

Exactly the s same for what I said about Beethoven. If pianists only used pedal in the very rare places Beethoven actually marked it, it would sound ridiculous. No half way decent pianist uses pedal only where Beethoven indicated it.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/19/12 08:30 AM.
Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Entheo] #1945198
08/18/12 08:38 PM
08/18/12 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Entheo
Originally Posted by Otis S
Unfortunately, the thread was locked by the moderators, which means that new posts cannot be added to the thread. This was due to personal conflicts that arose among 2-3 people in this thread. Other than that, the thread did not drift into inappropriate areas of discussion, and many of the posters provided worthwhile content.


i would like to add that i was surprised -- no, shocked -- that that thread was locked as being "a mess" when IMHO it was one of the most interesting and useful threads in a long time. throwing the baby out with the bathwater is never a good idea.

if a thread should be locked, it should be because it's prosaic, myopic, self-absorbed or a scam/prank. issues with the usual suspects could be handled by the mods with PMs. an Ignore button would fix the rest. IMHO.


I was surprised it was locked also. Yes, it was rather (unnecessarily) heated at times but it was still very much on topic. Anyway, I'll refrain from getting involved in this thread because I said plenty in the other one and it's time for some new contributors. I look forward to reading what others have to say on pedalling.

Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: ando] #1945203
08/18/12 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ando
I was surprised it was locked also. Yes, it was rather (unnecessarily) heated at times but it was still very much on topic.
Staying on topic doesn't preclude nastiness, arrogance, or name calling. The only reason a thread that's sticks to a discussion of pedaling would get locked is because of the back and forth insults...the "I'm right","No you're the idiot" posting. Which IMO is a very good reason.

It's almost never the ideas in a thread that get it locked(unless the discussion veers into inappropriate topics like religion or politics or contains trolling). It's almost always the tone of the posts.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/18/12 09:03 PM.
Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Otis S] #1945206
08/18/12 09:16 PM
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Yep. Tone and trajectory.

And if it's on topic and there's still discussion to be had, everyone's welcome to create a new topic that resets the tone and resumes the discussion.


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Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: acortot] #1945344
08/19/12 08:10 AM
08/19/12 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by acortot

from an article by Saint-Saens




"We must conclude that the indication "non-legato" finally degenerated into meaning "staccato." In my youth I heard persons advanced in age whose performance on the piano was extremely dry and jumpy. Then a reaction took place. The tyrannical reign of the perpetual "legato" succeeded. It was decided that in piano playing unless indicated to the contrary, and even at times in spite of such indication, everything everywhere should be tied together.[3] This was a great misfortune of which Kalkbrenner gives a manifest proof in the arrangement he has made of Beethoven's symphonies. Besides, this "legato" tyranny continues. Notwithstanding the example of Liszt, the greatest pianist of the nineteenth century, and notwithstanding his numerous pupils, the fatal school of the "legato" has prevailed,—not that it is unfortunate in itself, but because it has perverted the intentions of musical authors. Our French professors have followed the example of Kalkbrenner.

The house of Breitkopf, which until lately had the best editions of the German classics, has substituted in their places new editions where professors have eagerly striven to perfect in their own manner the music of the masters. When this great house wished to make a complete edition of the works of Mozart, which are prodigiously numerous, it appealed to all who possessed manuscripts of Mozart, and then having gathered these most precious documents, instead of reproducing them faithfully, that house believed it was doing well to leave to the professors full liberty of treatment and change. Thus that admirable series of concertos for piano has been ornamented by Karl Reinecke with a series of joined notes, tied notes, legato, molto legato, and sempre legato which are the very opposite of what the composer intended. Worse still, in a piece which Mozart had the genial idea of terminating suddenly with a delicately shaded phrase, they have taken out such nuances and terminated the piece with a forte passage of the most commonplace character.

One other plague in modern editions is the abuse of the pedal. Mozart never indicated the pedal. As purity of taste is one of his great qualities, it is probable that he made no abuse of the pedal. Beethoven indicated it in a complicated and cumbersome manner. When he wanted the pedal he wrote "senza sordini," which means without dampers, and to take them off he wrote "con sordini," meaning with dampers. The soft pedal is indicated by "una corda." The indication to take it off, an indication which exists even now, was written "tre corde." The indication "ped" for the grand pedal is assuredly more convenient, but that is no reason for making an abuse of it and inflicting it upon the author where his writing indicates the contrary."

and for Chopin:

"We come now to the modern epoch. From the time of Liszt, who not only revolutionized the performance of music on the piano, but also the way of writing it, authors give to performers all necessary indications, and they have only to carefully observe them. There are, however, some interesting remarks applicable to the music of Chopin which recent editions unfortunately are commencing to falsify. Chopin detested the abuse of the pedal. He could not bear that through an ignorant employment of the pedal two different chords should be mixed in tone together. Therefore, he has given indications with the greatest pains. Employing it where he has not indicated it, must be avoided. But great skill is necessary to thus do without the pedal. Therefore, in the new editions of the author, no account of the author's indications whatever is observed. Thus in the "Cradle Song," where the author has indicated that the pedal be put on each measure and taken off in the middle of it, modern editions preserve the pedal throughout the entire measure, thus mixing up hopelessly the tonic with the dominant, which the composer was so careful to avoid."





Interesting how often he talks about the composer's intenetions. Hmmm. Ah, but he's dead now.



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Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: stores] #1945371
08/19/12 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by stores


Interesting how often he talks about the composer's intenetions. Hmmm. Ah, but he's dead now.


You really want to ruin this thread for everybody, too? I know sarcasm and contempt aren't against forum policies, but it's like pedaling - even if the notes are right, letting them all ring in an open pedal is just as disagreeable as if the notes were wrong.

Your comments are seriously over-pedaled. Nobody even cares if you're right anymore because the character of the sound is so disagreeable. You cannot defend good taste by writing with bad taste.

Food for thought....carry on, everyone...


"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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Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: pianoloverus] #1945659
08/19/12 05:31 PM
08/19/12 05:31 PM
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acortot Offline
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
]Just read Baile's book on Chopin or look at Chopin scores where pedaling was clearly omitted and every decent pianist uses it. I don't think what I said is really a grey area.

Exactly the s same for what I said about Beethoven. If pianists only used pedal in the very rare places Beethoven actually marked it, it would sound ridiculous. No half way decent pianist uses pedal only where Beethoven indicated it.


As far as Chopin, nobody that I have ever heard has followed the instructions accurately. The fact that Chopin went to great length to write it in my opinion SHOULD be quite an important and interesting aspect of the music artistically..

He was not wrong, because he wrote the music, and he did not write it by accident. There isn't anyone out there who executes Chopin following his dynamics, pedal and phrase legato..

In my mind this is quite the artistic opportunity. It seems though that classical pianists understand only the modern style and emulate that.

Chopin's piano was quite dark and velvety when new, but at the same time focused-sounding. The pedal was a bit less efficient than today's pianos but not in the same measure as the pianos of Beethoven..

Beethoven's pianos were too different from the modern piano to use his pedal instructions, as the pedal on the modern piano makes quite a mess because of the longer sustain and power of the notes

Chopin's piano was smaller-sounding than a Steinway, soft and woody by comparison but it's pedal was much closer to the modern piano.

I would suggest the 'half-pedal' where there is no pedal marking for new pianos.

It is almost impossible to not use the pedal on modern pianos because of the size of the dampers

but the important thing is to consider the directions within the context of the time IMO


rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario
Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: acortot] #1945694
08/19/12 06:24 PM
08/19/12 06:24 PM
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pianoloverus Offline
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pianoloverus  Offline
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New York City
Originally Posted by acortot
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
]Just read Baile's book on Chopin or look at Chopin scores where pedaling was clearly omitted and every decent pianist uses it. I don't think what I said is really a grey area.

Exactly the s same for what I said about Beethoven. If pianists only used pedal in the very rare places Beethoven actually marked it, it would sound ridiculous. No half way decent pianist uses pedal only where Beethoven indicated it.


As far as Chopin, nobody that I have ever heard has followed the instructions accurately. The fact that Chopin went to great length to write it in my opinion SHOULD be quite an important and interesting aspect of the music artistically..
OK. I guess you know more about playing Chopin then all the great pianists and great teachers of the last 100+ years.



Re: pedaling in Mozart (& composers such as Beethoven & Chopin) [Re: Kreisler] #1945784
08/19/12 08:58 PM
08/19/12 08:58 PM
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LadyChen Offline
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Originally Posted by Kreisler


You really want to ruin this thread for everybody, too? I know sarcasm and contempt aren't against forum policies, but it's like pedaling - even if the notes are right, letting them all ring in an open pedal is just as disagreeable as if the notes were wrong.



+1

You are a wise man, Kreisler wink.

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