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#2038642 - 02/24/13 07:07 PM Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress
gooddog Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5442
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I've had a few folks ask to hear how it's progressing. Since it's a work in progress, I'd appreciate some constructive criticism. I know some of the pedaling sounds a little thin and that's because I've been experimenting with some of Chopin's markings. The mike is near the bass so the treble might sound a little weak and my piano is due for a tuning. (You might also hear the clothes washer.) Oh, and there's the big memory lapse (eek) 3 pages from the end.

Edit: I finally got the link working without a password:


Edited by gooddog (02/24/13 08:19 PM)
Best regards,


#2038758 - 02/25/13 12:33 AM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
Cinnamonbear Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 4342
Loc: Rockford, IL
Very expressive and fluid playing! My only constructive criticism would be to keep a shot of instant forgiveness at the ready to recover immediately from little slips. I heard the "grrrr" come into your hands afterward, and if you can brush it off as soon as it happens, you can maintain your compelling line of excellence. I enjoyed it from start to finish! Very nice music, Deborah!
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

#2038953 - 02/25/13 10:57 AM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1574
Nice job, Deborah -- very musical! For this Ballade, I especially liked the fact that you did NOT indulge in virtuoso fluorishes -- although the other Ballades need some of that, I really don't think this one does. I also liked your attention to "the details" -- shading, precise use of pedal, consistency in rhythm and dynamics, etc. I believe you had mentioned that you're working with a teacher of some repute -- speaking for myself, his feedback and nurturing are sure paying dividends! Thanks for sharing this!

#2038962 - 02/25/13 11:18 AM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
gooddog Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5442
Loc: Seattle area, WA
@Cinnamonbear - Wow. What great advice. I never noticed the "grrr" in my hands after a mistake! I'll watch out for it! I almost re-recorded it to eliminate the flub, but now I'm glad I left it in!!

@Tim. Thank you. I too feel that this Ballade is more gentle than the others. Rhythm control has been something I've been trying to conquer for over 2 years. I'm glad I'm pulling it off. Mark is an amazing teacher, very detail oriented, and he has opened my ears to voicing and pedal shading. I feel very blessed.
Best regards,


#2039108 - 02/25/13 03:28 PM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
Hakki Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 3575
Very good for a work in progress. Good pedaling, phrasing and attention to details. Bravo!

One thing I would like to say is about the grace notes.
Almost throughout the piece you seem to rush while playing the grace notes. IMO, you can take these in a more relaxed manner.

I hope you post a second version as you make more progress. Thanks for sharing


#2039197 - 02/25/13 06:01 PM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
gooddog Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5442
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Thank you Hakki. I've been struggling to get the right sound with those grace notes. They are quite short in all of the recordings I've listened to, so I don't think I'm rushing the grace notes themselves. What I think I'm doing is rushing into them too quickly. The counting is tricky there and as you said, the sound isn't relaxed. I'll work on it.

Overall, I feel like it's choppy in terms of broader phrasing and I can't figure out how to overcome that. I feel like it's missing cohesiveness. Suggestions?
Best regards,


#2039903 - 02/26/13 10:46 PM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
DameMyra Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 2153
Loc: South Jersey

Really great job. Great attention to detail.

I love the opening which is very difficult to pull off. Very rhythmically solid with a great sense of pulse. Bars 25 - 33 were great. I heard both the crescendo and diminuendo, which a lot of pianists ignore. One odd thing happens with the rhythm at Bar 42. (Not sure if what it was.) Personally, I wouldn't ritard so much Bars 48 - 50. I would go right back into tempo. Which will help when the secondary theme comes in. That might help with the cohesiveness.

I agree with Hakki about the grace notes; they feel too fast. (It's interesting but you attack them a little slower when the secondary theme comes back in A-flat later on.) It is really excellent when the f minor theme comes in at a FF (Bar 81). You get such a big full sound. The A-flat section at Bar 116 is absolutely lovely. For all the rubato, you still keep the pulse. The mezzo voce section in c-sharp minor could start a little faster. Just dive into it. Your tremolos were wonderful and very exciting. (Whatever that tempo is, is how you should start that section. I know, easier said than done.)

The c-charp minor section at Bar 176 is wonderfully played. Virtuosic, yet very musical. The coda from Bar 183 needs to be a little steadier. You have a tendency to rush the downward chromatic scales ever so slightly. Not concerned about the "flub" at all. Bars 209 through 212 were amazing. So difficult to get legato and clean. And it sounded glorious when the main theme comes in at Bar 213.

Exciting, musical. Great job and it will only get better.
Private Piano Teacher

#2039909 - 02/26/13 11:10 PM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
JoelW Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 5795
Loc: USA
This is my favorite ballade of his. You did well. I think it's more difficult than most people give it credit for. I especially liked the staccatos you added in certain places during the scherzando-like section. The grace notes do seem a little rushed. That shouldn't be a hard fix. Work on that final descending run. It's awkward, I know. Good job overall.

#2039915 - 02/26/13 11:35 PM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
gooddog Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5442
Loc: Seattle area, WA
@DameMyra: This is just the kind of specific information I was looking for. Thank you for taking the time to look so carefully. I'm going to print out your comments and bring them to the piano. The weird rhythm thing you are hearing at bar 42 is a deliberate hesitation. I feel as if the music is saying, "la, la, la...no wait and let me think a second, la, la, la, no wait... etc. My teacher agrees but if you think it sounds odd, I'll reconsider it. I can't wait to hear your ballade!!!

@JoelW - The staccatos you are referring to are me attempting to play with Chopin's exact pedal markings. I'm glad you liked it but I'm still refining it. Darn graces notes. I'll work on it. The descending run is the victim of tension and I know I've got to focus on it.

Thanks to you both for your valuable advice.
Best regards,


#2040500 - 02/28/13 01:25 AM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
MarkH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 919
Loc: Seattle, WA
Hey Deborah,

This is coming together nicely! I just listened through it quickly, and wanted to focus on the things that jumped out the most at me:

I feel like you're rushing the quarter note that opens the melodic line of the piece in the first measure (and in most other places where this melody occurs - m5, m37, etc). When I count along with you, I guess it IS technically being held for a quarter note's time, but I feel like playing that line completely in time makes it lose some of its dramatic quality. I visualize, at the start of all of the ballades, the dramatic arm sweeping and vocal innuendo of a bard, drawing in an audience with expectation of drama and love and sadness and heroism in the story to follow. I feel like that is lost the way you're just plunging in. Take some time with that whole figure to allow the music to build momentum.

The octaves in measure 14 are great! Really nice timing and dynamics!

The diminuendo you do from measure 29 through 36 is really great and quite striking! (Though I have the same comment about taking a little longer on the figure in 36 - even through it's a dotted quarter tied to an eighth, followed by eighth notes, I think its rhythmic origin comes from that very first figure, and it should likewise be played with a little more space and gesture, especially in the last two eighth notes, that you are already playing exactly in tempo, which causes that original figure in the following measure to start completely in tempo also).

I agree with Dame Myra about the pauses in m42, or at least the very first one. The second one was OK I thought.

Throughout the piece, when you play wide arpeggios or arpeggiated runs, I like the way you're playing them a little more slowly and delicately than most virtuosos do. It makes them sound more harp-like:)

When the left hand ostinato pattern begins in m183, you're playing it a tick faster than the previous material. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, or just because you're slightly more comfortable with it, but if you intend to do that, I think you need to prepare the transition differently, because it doesn't sound intentional the way you're currently doing it.

All of my stuff about the timing of that original figure could just be a difference of philosophical opinion, and if so, of course, take it with a grain of salt:)

Looking forward to hearing this live again in March!

#2040667 - 02/28/13 09:48 AM Re: Chopin Ballade #3 - work in progress [Re: gooddog]
gooddog Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5442
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Mark, thank you for taking so much time to comment. I'm at school now, without my score, but I'll look at your suggestions very carefully later.

March? I was thinking of playing a movement or two of the Mozart K457. Hmmm. (For those of you "out of the loop", Mark and I belong to a once-a-month, adult piano group. It's so enjoyable to spend time with other classical piano fanatics!)
Best regards,



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