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#2080925 - 05/11/13 04:36 PM Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th?  
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This summer I've been given a choice between the two pieces to work on. I love both pieces, and they are both notoriously demanding technically and musically. The Liszt has a lot of scaly runs, along with those relentlessly nasty left hand broken octaves. There are a lot of Beethovenesque tremolo chords on the right hand.
The 4th ballade also contains fast chromatic runs. But on the other hand, the spectrum of technical issues in Chopin's 4th include semiquaver sixths, fast chromatic thirds, counterpoint, and and many cross rhythms.

Both pieces are certainly not easy, but the Liszt 2nd ballade looks a bit more straightforward with mostly octave passages and the technical concepts repeat quite a bit. However, I (and I'm sure the rest of us) love the Chopin 4th so much, and so its certainly a matter of heart vs brain for me.

Your thoughts?


Ravel - Une Barque Sur l'Ocean
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#2080981 - 05/11/13 06:11 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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I like the Liszt ballade better, so you should play the Liszt!

#2080984 - 05/11/13 06:16 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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I like the Chopin ballade better, so you should play the Chopin!

#2080989 - 05/11/13 06:26 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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In the spirit of reconciliation, I vote playing the main part of the Chopin, but substitute its notorious coda for that in the Liszt.

That way, you have the best of both worlds (or both composers).

But hang on, wasn't there a parable in the Good Book about such division? wink


"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."
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#2080998 - 05/11/13 06:51 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Originally Posted by Drunk3nFist
However, I (and I'm sure the rest of us) love the Chopin 4th so much, and so its certainly a matter of heart vs brain for me.

Your thoughts?


Life is short. If you think you can handle the Chopin, follow your heart. heart ha


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#2081016 - 05/11/13 07:27 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
...I vote playing the main part of the Chopin, but substitute its notorious coda for that in the Liszt.

Heresy! You can't destroy the Chopin piece like that!


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2081024 - 05/11/13 07:53 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Play the Grieg Ballade or Ballad pour Adelaine if you have a white piano. With almost 10 million YouTube hits, the latter is probably the best of them all.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/11/13 07:56 PM.
#2081076 - 05/11/13 10:27 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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If you have the ability to play either piece, this thread can only be a thread on opinions of others

Therefore,

Play the Liszt. The Liszt Ballade consistently brings me to tears and is one of the pieces of music most dear to my heart. The only reason I'm not playing it now is because I've decided to hold off for as long as I am able, till I know I can do the piece complete justice. The Chopin is fantastic, but to me it can not even hold a candle to the glory of the Liszt Ballade.

But, like I said, that's just an opinion.

Like others have said though, follow your heart.


Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20
#2081094 - 05/11/13 11:23 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Both are amazing pieces, I've played the Liszt a lot, and it's really a piece that brings tears to your eyes. And the Chopin, also fantastic. I'm to learn that next. I'd start with Liszt, as it's more straightforward. And don't do the big cadenza that finishes loud. It doesn't suit the piece IMO.and there is this wonderful melody near the end.

But that's just my opinion, to do the Liszt. Both pieces are equally great. Have fun!

#2081099 - 05/11/13 11:26 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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If you're a champ at alternating chords, and brutal alternating octaves in the left hand, the Liszt is a good fit. Also if you're good at tackling pieces which are very grand in scope - it's a very extroverted piece and requires a good understanding of the whole in order to do justice to it.

If you're better at more finger-ish stuff, like double notes, then the Chopin is easier technically. It's trickier, and possibly a bit more risky, because you need to get the details right. Again, you need to understand the big picture in order to play it well, but here, the devil is in the details.

Overall, I'd say that the Liszt Ballade is significantly easier, especially if you have good bravura technique. It's actually not all that technically difficult...just again, a good musical understanding is required to make it sound coherent. The Chopin has its tricky moments, but again, it's not all that technically difficult, but mostly requires musical maturity to pull off a compelling and successful performance.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2081105 - 05/11/13 11:33 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: TrueMusic]  
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Originally Posted by TrueMusic
The Chopin is fantastic, but to me it can not even hold a candle to the glory of the Liszt Ballade.

But, like I said, that's just an opinion.

It certainly is an opinion, and it goes to show you how subjective things like this are! grin
I completely agree with you, however.







(Just switch the words Chopin and Liszt. grin)




Regards,

Polyphonist
#2081109 - 05/11/13 11:49 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: TrueMusic]  
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Originally Posted by TrueMusic
....The Chopin is fantastic, but to me it can not even hold a candle to the glory of the Liszt Ballade....

Oy grin

Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
....The Chopin has its tricky moments, but again, it's not all that technically difficult....

Double oy. ha

This is simply false -- unless you mean "not counting the hard parts," which are a goodly portion of the piece. (And of course the 'easy' parts are even harder but that's not what we're talking about here.)

And please grin I don't want to hear about how 'the same things aren't hard for everyone.' There isn't anyone for whom this piece isn't technically hard, unless you aren't caring about exactly how well it's played.

#2081112 - 05/12/13 12:09 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
The Chopin has its tricky moments, but again, it's not all that technically difficult [...]


Maybe, if you play it like a chump.

#2081116 - 05/12/13 12:16 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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@Joel - Sorry, I've played it, recorded it, posted it here, and you're free to bash my recording and my opinion too, but only after you've listened to my performance okay? Don't be rude.

And @Mark - if you mean technique for the sake of serving the music, it is very difficult. However, in terms of hitting notes...there are harder pieces out there. The majority of the work for the 4rd ballade lies after getting the notes down, putting the phrasing together, and constructing the music. The notes are not the issue.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2081118 - 05/12/13 12:22 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
....there are harder pieces out there.

I'd say 'Not that many,' but even if so, that's pretty far from how you put it before. It's very, very hard -- just technically, even before we get to musically.

Quote
The majority of the work for the 4rd ballade lies after getting the notes down....The notes are not the issue.

You're wrong that "the notes" aren't an issue. Sure, perhaps the greater challenge is with 'the music' -- but again, that's very different from the piece being "not that technically hard." "The notes" are very much an issue (ALSO), except for the very very most skilled players -- and even for them, it's still simply false to say that it's "not all that technically difficult."

My reaction when people say stuff like that is exactly what Joel said. I don't recall your recording of it -- pardon if I actually heard it and just don't remember. Are you saying that we wouldn't find anything in it that challenged you very much technically, and that you played it like something that's "not all that technically difficult"?


P.S. I found it, and I'm gonna go listen, but won't say anything about it unless you say "yes" to the above. smile

Last edited by Mark_C; 05/12/13 12:34 AM.
#2081120 - 05/12/13 12:33 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Here's a more concise way of thinking at it.

With a difficult etude, say Chopin's op.10 no.4, I'd have to put a lot of keyboard time into it. Phrasing is not as much of an issue. Clarity, speed, and temperment are the most important aspects and the MECHANICAL issue s most important.

With the 4th ballade, I put more work into the piece away from the piano, studying the score, voicing, phrasing, thinking of shaping, building of musical climaxes, tempo relationships, polyphonic treatment, variation in the first three pages, treatment of voicing in the coda, balancing the textures in the first part of the coda so the harmonic rhythm wasn't chaotic, treatment of "your favourite two bars in the entire piano literature", the climax close to the end, figuring out how to build from the "ocean etude-like" section to those chords, voicing of those soft chords....

The point is, that's all musical difficulty which I spent a lot of time dreaming about while walking around, in class, or with a score in hand. What did I do while practicing? Well I put a lot of work into those thirds in the coda, the sixths in the middle, and the polyphonic treatment of the first theme. Those sections carry the most risk in a performance. However, other things sorted themselves more easily. I didn't have to spend excessive time trying to get things into my hands compared to working on an etude.

Long story short: technically difficult pieces need a lot of time at the keyboard. Ballade 4 took a lot of work away from the piano, because the notes worked out more quickly.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2081124 - 05/12/13 12:38 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
@Joel - Sorry, I've played it, recorded it, posted it here, and you're free to bash my recording and my opinion too, but only after you've listened to my performance okay? Don't be rude.

And @Mark - if you mean technique for the sake of serving the music, it is very difficult. However, in terms of hitting notes...there are harder pieces out there. The majority of the work for the 4rd ballade lies after getting the notes down, putting the phrasing together, and constructing the music. The notes are not the issue.


Sorry, didn't mean to offend. And if definitely wasn't directed at you personally. I meant that anything his hard to play WELL. Even the simplest pieces out there require a lot of work to make sound fantastic, let alone the 4th ballade. gulp

#2081125 - 05/12/13 12:38 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Kuan: You're changing it. smile

I have no problem with anything you've been saying, except that the piece isn't that technically difficult, and that "the notes" aren't an issue.

#2081126 - 05/12/13 12:38 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Adding to this: the benefit of working on larger pieces (like the two ballades) are that technical mishaps don't break the performance. There is time to ease into the music, and to get warmed up. If you screwed up a section, it's okay, because the whole may survive.

Compared to a shorter etude or something along those lines, if you mess up a section, then you're pretty much toast, since that's most of the piece right there. Sure, if you smudge the coda of the 4th ballade, or mess up the alternating chords in the Liszt, it's not the best, but if you do the same in a smaller piece then that's it.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2081127 - 05/12/13 12:42 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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I've played Liszt's 2nd Ballade, and it doesn't seem technically difficult until you start working on it ha, but the Chopin is a devil in difficulty. I would say learn the Liszt now to get used to playing a long emotional piece. It'll help you pull off the Chopin in the future.


Donald Lee III
BM '16 James Madison University
MM '18 Cincinnati Conservatory of Music


#2081128 - 05/12/13 12:45 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Kuan: You're changing it. smile

I have no problem with anything you've been saying, except that the piece isn't that technically difficult, and that "the notes" aren't an issue.

Okay revised: the 4th Ballade is less mechanically challenging than some other pieces in the piano repertoire. However, its musical difficulties are without question some of the most difficult in the entire literature.



Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2081146 - 05/12/13 01:38 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Kuan: You're changing it. smile

I have no problem with anything you've been saying, except that the piece isn't that technically difficult, and that "the notes" aren't an issue.

I agree totally with Kuan. I can't imagine anybody who's played a lot of Chopin having great difficulty here, even with the supposedly notorious coda. Are chromatic minor thirds really such a big deal? Those scales and all the other patterns fit my hand very well. You don't want to hear that what's difficult for one person is not for another? It's the truth, sorry. And 'There isn't anyone for whom this piece isn't technically hard, unless you aren't caring about exactly how well it's played.' is absurd. Sorry. You treat your own opinions like fact, while you treat others' opinions as, well, opinions.

#2081153 - 05/12/13 02:17 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Originally Posted by Drunk3nFist
[...]Your thoughts?


Decide for yourself.


BruceD
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#2081160 - 05/12/13 02:44 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Goomer Piles]  
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Originally Posted by Goomer Piles
....You don't want to hear that what's difficult for one person is not for another? It's the truth, sorry.

Not in this case. smile

Quote
And 'There isn't anyone for whom this piece isn't technically hard, unless you aren't caring about exactly how well it's played.' is absurd....

Not in this case. smile

Sort of similarly to what I posted to Kuan, if you want to post a recording of yourself playing the piece and feel it shows that at least for you the piece isn't particularly hard technically, then you would perhaps have some basis for doubting what I said. (Only 'perhaps' because it could mean that your technique is just extraordinary and you don't appreciate how this is for the other 99.9%.) If not, your doubt is only theoretical, and rhetorical; or, if you think otherwise, maybe you can say what basis you do have for thinking the piece isn't that hard technically.

You think what I'm saying is outrageous....but I have to tell you, the thing you're supporting -- that the 4th Ballade isn't that hard technically -- is pretty far out there.

#2081220 - 05/12/13 07:12 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Goomer Piles]  
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Originally Posted by Goomer Piles
You don't want to hear that what's difficult for one person is not for another? It's the truth, sorry. And 'There isn't anyone for whom this piece isn't technically hard, unless you aren't caring about exactly how well it's played.' is absurd. Sorry. You treat your own opinions like fact, while you treat others' opinions as, well, opinions.
Exactly.

#2081227 - 05/12/13 07:33 AM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: DonaldLee]  
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Originally Posted by DonaldLee
I've played Liszt's 2nd Ballade, and it doesn't seem technically difficult until you start working on it ha, but the Chopin is a devil in difficulty. I would say learn the Liszt now to get used to playing a long emotional piece. It'll help you pull off the Chopin in the future.


Good advice. The Chopin I consider musically a far superior composition (deeper structure, greater development), and it would deserve the developed technical skills it requires before one seriously tries it. Liszt's 2nd is a much more straightforward piece and technically less demanding it seems to me. Less is lost if one makes a hash of it. So start with the Liszt, and once accomplished then consider the Chopin as a well-deserved reward lateron.

Last edited by Frankni; 05/12/13 07:33 AM.

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#2081460 - 05/12/13 04:49 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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For the people that think the Liszt is a "better" piece than the Chopin, or that the Chopin is a "better" piece than the Liszt, what is the reasoning behind this? What aspects of one are better than the other? What does one lack that the other has? I think that both are masterpieces, and both should be appreciated as such.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2081464 - 05/12/13 04:52 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
For the people that think the Liszt is a "better" piece than the Chopin, or that the Chopin is a "better" piece than the Liszt, what is the reasoning behind this? What aspects of one are better than the other? What does one lack that the other has? I think that both are masterpieces, and both should be appreciated as such.

Precisely.


Jason
#2081495 - 05/12/13 05:52 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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As technical problems seem to be of major interest ( see OP) I would say: neither of these pieces...The musical value is so much more than the the pianistic challenge, look for some other stunning showpieces. As for the musical interest of these pieces I would say: Chopin beats Liszt, not only here, nerely everywhere.


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
#2081509 - 05/12/13 06:18 PM Re: Should I learn Liszt's 2nd ballade before Chopin's 4th? [Re: Drunk3nFist]  
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Oh, by the way, about the Chopin: to develop the technique required to play it well, I recommend you learn the following etudes (in no particular order), or at least passages from them, since the Ballade contains techniques used in each one of these (contrapuntal texture, left hand passagework, thirds, sixths, octaves, and arpeggios respectively).

Etude, Op 10 No 6
Etude, Op 10 No 12
Etude, Op 25 No 6
Etude, Op 25 No 8
Etude Op 25 No 10
Etude, Op 25 No 12
(It's interesting to note that the Ballade contains a four-bar passage near the end which is extremely similar to this last Etude.)


Regards,

Polyphonist
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