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#2237679 - 02/25/14 09:40 PM What piece do you have completely mastered?  
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ChopinLives81 Offline
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Now there are two ways to place this question;

1)Mastered as in you play it perfectly with generally little or no critique from yourself or the general public.

2)Mastered in that you have reached complete control over the piece regardless of it's interpretation.

I'm asking the 2nd version here. I ask this because I realized I have only one piece like that and that's the Prelude to Bach's 2nd English Suite. even though I've forgotten parts of it, I can still play through most of it with not an ounce of uncertainty. I am in complete control of every note and I can feel every stroke and every finger as I play it to the point where I can think about how I want to execute every single one of them. I could read a book while playing this piece and not be distracted.

Every other piece I know there's a level of "i don't think it's good enough" or " I hope this section comes out right" there's always a level of uncertainty.

I'm sure other have at least one piece like this.


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
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#2237691 - 02/25/14 10:12 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I don't think I have anything I'm completely satisfied with.


One111
#2237694 - 02/25/14 10:19 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I have a few, but they still require brushing off the dust for a few days if I haven't played them in a while.

Chopin, waltz in C sharp minor
Handel, Air and Variations from Suite in B flat
Beethoven, second movement of piano sonata Op. 13 "Pathetique"
Rachmaninoff, Prelude in B major Op. 32 no. 11
Mozart, K. 330 (I like 310 more but it makes me work harder!)
Bernstein, Four Anniversaries
Harrison, Reel: Homage to Henry Cowell
And all of Suzuki books 1-4 with the exception of the Bach Partita excerpts -- if it's Bach and I haven't prepared it meticulously for THAT performance, something can always go wrong...

But here's the thing, every piece, even the Twinkle variations in Suzuki book 1, I rethink every so often. Like right now I am working a lot on relaxation and I thought I had relaxation figured out like 16 years ago. So I end up having to completely redo my physical approach to a piece that was solidly "in the bag"... with my previous technique. It ends up sounding better but sometimes it's actually more work than learning something new.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Fauré, Preludes Op. 103
Beethoven trios for an original ballet
Four-hands program of Mozart, Corigliano, Schubert and Barber
And... Nunsense II (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
#2237752 - 02/26/14 12:53 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I am never, ever satisfied. It's unfortunate, because I recognize that there are a few pieces I can play decently, but I just can't bring myself to a place where I don't find a hundred faults.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
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#2237759 - 02/26/14 01:12 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I wouldn't say I've "completely mastered" anything. But I'm playing Bach's Bb Partita, and, for some reason, Minuet I has really come together in a very comfortable way. (Minuet II is a different story.)

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2237769 - 02/26/14 02:01 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Truly satisfied? Nothing, sadly. I've come kind of close with a couple of pieces, maybe about 60%.

I'm too blame for my own ludicrously high standards, of course.


Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frdric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach
#2237788 - 02/26/14 04:28 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Here, as opposed to there
I've never mastered any piece. Ever.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

#2237819 - 02/26/14 06:23 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinLives81
I could read a book while playing this piece and not be distracted.


That makes it sound as if by "mastered", you mean "can play on autopilot". To me, that's not the same thing.



#2237852 - 02/26/14 09:18 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: wr]  
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by ChopinLives81
I could read a book while playing this piece and not be distracted.


That makes it sound as if by "mastered", you mean "can play on autopilot". To me, that's not the same thing.




you can't leave out everything else I said though. that quote is not the whole story.


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
#2237864 - 02/26/14 09:42 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Someone could easily think they've mastered a piece according to their own standards but the same piece could sound terrible to someone more knowledgeable. So to ask a non professional if they've mastered a piece makes relatively little sense IMO.

When posters talk about getting pieces "performance ready" my first thought is performance for who and with what standards. They usually don't mean the standards of an audition for Curtis.

#2237920 - 02/26/14 12:02 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I just posted a piece by Brahms to member recordings and ABF recital before that and I would call it both performance ready and...done...for lack of a better word ha

I have high standards for what I would call mastered, whatever that means, (and who doesn't). But my standards are much lower for performance ready. In this case I've made my last recording, so I'm done with it.

Even though it's probably the hardest piece I play, I would also call it the piece I have mastered the most. In this case mastered means I can start playing it from any measure or any phrase from memory at any time. I know exactly how I would approach any moment of the piece from a technical or interpretive standpoint. Basically I know how I want to tell the story and I can sit down right now and make a reasonable attempt with no prior preparation. I am not at all happy with the way I play it and I think I will try it again in 5 or 10 years and hope I will get closer to Katchen or Varsi or Firkusny. I have my own ideas about the piece and my own vision but it still feels like I'm scratching the surface. But I am happy enough to let it go.

I would probably rephrase the question because "completely mastered" is not what I would call this piece. It's really not even close to that. It's hard to use words like this. For example, Schiff tries to explain how he is now ready to attempt Beethoven when retirement is probably just around the corner. He implies that mastery would not have been possible before this. Maybe it never is. And complete mastery? You probably didn't mean it literally.

So I would call the Brahms Op. 76 no. 1 the only piece I can describe in the way I did above. The rest would require significant time and practice. I learned a number of easier pieces last year and played them okay. But because I've only spent a fraction of the time on them and I don't currently practice them they are nowhere near as mature or known to me. The last piece I felt this way about was also by Brahms (118/2) several years ago but I took a few years away from piano after that. I think it would take several months to bring it back to the same level of comfort as the 76/1.

Might have to do with the fact that I started playing it in 2006 shocked

#2237928 - 02/26/14 12:12 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: Pathbreaker]  
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I think I had the Schumann/Liszt Widmung completely mastered, when I made a recording of it for a piano website last year.

However, I did start learning it in circa 1980 (before most of the posters here were born), so I guess that after thirty-odd years, it's ripened, blossomed, matured, flowered, seasoned and just about ripe for picking.


"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."
#2237960 - 02/26/14 01:11 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Mastery? I laugh at the notion of that. Piano music is a wrestling match I'll never win, but at least I'm wrestling with beauty... most of the time

Forrest


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Haydn Hob. XVI: 23 in F major
Debussy Arabesque #1, Reverie
Bach BWV 874, 883
My beliefs are only that unless I can prove them.
#2237976 - 02/26/14 01:41 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I think it's a good thing to believe or acknowledge that one has not mastered any material; it's what drives us to keep going, to constantly pursue the image of perfection. Most (all?) master pianists will never say that they have mastered any repertoire. Perhaps we have some evolutionary mechanism that prevents us from ever being truly and wholly satisfied, so that we continue to pursue that which keeps us sane.

I think a piece is never done, it's just good enough.


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
#2238013 - 02/26/14 03:19 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I don't think complete "mastery" exists - then again, i'm incredibly self-critical. But i do have one piece that might just fit into that category - Mendelssohn's etude op. 104 no. 1. That's the piece that won me my first piano competition, and one of the judges even said afterwards that it was the best interpretation of this etude that they've ever heard. And me being just a humble young piano student, i'm quite proud of it :p


Prokofiev - Toccata
Ligeti - Etude "Der Zauberlehrling"
Rachmaninov - Piano concerto no. 3 mvt 1 (w/ ossia)
Bach - WTC I P&F no. 9 in E-major
Kangro - "Display II - portrait of Mozart)
#2238031 - 02/26/14 04:04 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: Pathbreaker]  
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Originally Posted by Pathbreaker

Even though it's probably the hardest piece I play, I would also call it the piece I have mastered the most. In this case mastered means I can start playing it from any measure or any phrase from memory at any time. I know exactly how I would approach any moment of the piece from a technical or interpretive standpoint. Basically I know how I want to tell the story and I can sit down right now and make a reasonable attempt with no prior preparation. I am not at all happy with the way I play it and I think I will try it again in 5 or 10 years and hope I will get closer to Katchen or Varsi or Firkusny. I have my own ideas about the piece and my own vision but it still feels like I'm scratching the surface. But I am happy enough to let it go.


With my questions intent, you have the right idea with this answer. This is really what I'm referring to. I don't want everyone to confuse what I'm asking with being able to play a piece note-perfect and one-of-a-kind performance. I meant exactly what I described myself and what you have just described.


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
#2238054 - 02/26/14 04:45 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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How can one have mastered a piece and be "not at all happy with the way I play it"? If one hasn't even met their own standards, no less the standards of someone with more knowledge, it seems like a complete contradiction.

#2238131 - 02/26/14 08:01 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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4'33"


[Linked Image]
#2238134 - 02/26/14 08:03 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Well, someone had to say it.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2238136 - 02/26/14 08:10 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Well, someone had to say it.


I meant that's probably the only piece anybody can really play perfectly. I read a book when I was in school, don't know the title or author but at the end there was a room of "perfect" people who never did anything for fear of making a mistake and not being perfect anymore.

I don't know but maybe there's a lesson somewhere in there.


[Linked Image]
#2238194 - 02/26/14 11:04 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Mastered for me means being able to give full and total realization of your musical conception of the piece, with technique being nothing more than the effortless delivery method. In other words, barring what you might call 'freak errors' (the very small random off chance of an error that can never be totally controlled for), every performance will fulfill that realization.

It's not impossible, it's just very, very difficult, and requires extraordinary effort and discipline. Most of us will have trouble mustering the concentration and careful practice required, because we are just dying to make some music after so many grueling hours even if isn't perfect. This is my experience. But I will never keep pushing for this, and I get closer and closer with some pieces. I just may be able to get closer sooner if I could be even MORE focused...


Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frdric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach
#2238195 - 02/26/14 11:06 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Definitely, The Wood-Chuck. Yes, I can say without any doubt that I have mastered this piece. It is completely memorized and ready to perform. Here is the entire score if you want to learn it:
[Linked Image]

(Nostalgia time: this was the first piece of music I was assigned at my first piano lesson. smile )


Best regards,

Deborah
#2238197 - 02/26/14 11:10 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Well I tried to read between the lines because it seemed well established that the word mastered is not useful.

#2238211 - 02/26/14 11:38 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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No, I don't have one. *Sigh* No matter how well I might have learned a piece, I still wonder if I couldn't have balanced that texture a little more, had a bit more evenness and clarity in a passage or a clearer and stronger understanding and connection with the music. Maybe someday.

#2238214 - 02/26/14 11:48 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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What the chappie really means is ... what piece have you memorized to such an extent that your fingers (mostly) find all the notes, however the ham rendition ... no need to try to bluff yourself you're sounding like Ashkenazy.
regards, btb

#2238217 - 02/26/14 11:53 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: btb]  
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Originally Posted by btb
What the chappie really means is ... what piece have you memorized to such an extent that your fingers (mostly) find all the notes, however the ham rendition ... no need to try to bluff yourself you're sounding like Ashkenazy.
regards, btb
Really, It seems like the original post is asking for a mastery that's more so beyond that. Strike that, I just notices the little to no in the first requirement. I guess I'll post. White Peacock, Barber nocturne, maybe the Brahms Op.76 No.2, and the Prelude from the D minor Prelude and Fugue in book two. There are a couple of smaller more lyrical pieces I could add to the list that I don't care to recount.

Last edited by MikeN; 02/27/14 12:05 AM. Reason: correcting thoughts
#2238704 - 02/27/14 07:13 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Master? Hmmm. Tough one. There are songs I feel comfortable with. Vivaldi's "Spring" comes to mind as a song I feel I can get through fairly well. But I am reluctant to use the word "master." Fur Elise makes me crazy. I hit the notes, but there is always that uneasiness that I'll tank a note. And my version just doesn't seem to "flow" like others I've heard. Still working on it.

Mike

#2239227 - 02/28/14 08:19 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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The only piece I've ever "mastered" by my interpretation of the word is the Brahms Op.118/2. It also happens to be my favorite piece so this has something to do with it. Everything else is a work in progress, work abandoned, or a work played ok.

#2239249 - 02/28/14 09:15 PM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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There are several for me. Rachmaninoff Preludes Op. 3, no. 2, Op. 23, nos. 1,3,4,5,6,10. Op. 32, nos. 2, 5, 10 and 12. Also the complete Opus 3 is very solid, as well as several transcriptions.
Chopin: Ballades 1 and 3, several Preludes, Waltzes, Nocturnes, Fantasie, 2 Polonaises, Scherzo no. 2.
Beethoven: Several Sonatas (Moonlight, Pathetique, 81a, 90 All movements)
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque complete, both Arabesques
Brahms: 2 Rhapsodies, several Intermezzos
Schumann: Romance in F#
Grieg: Sonata in E minor Op. 7 all movements, Peer Gynt Suite (complete)
Mozart: A couple of Sonatas and Fantasy
Schubert: Impromptu Op. 90 nos. 1-4 (complete)
Haydn: 2 Sonatas
Bach: Partita no. 2 in Cm (I prefer transcriptions of Bach's works, truthfully)

That's it off the top of my head. I am very comfortable with all of the above. While my memory isn't what it used to be, all of the above can be played with the score on the piano, but I seldom look up for the majority of them. Still, I must have the music there to feel completely comfortable (there are exceptions to this rule, however). My current coach says there's nothing wrong with that either. Maybe that's why I like her so much. haha

#2239374 - 03/01/14 05:14 AM Re: What piece do you have completely mastered? [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinLives81
2)Mastered in that you have reached complete control over the piece regardless of it's interpretation.

"Complete control" is a bit difficult to define.
The way you describe it, it seems to me like you say you play it automatically, without thinking about it.
I'd prefer saying that "mastered" in that sense means that the piece has entered your muscular memory.

There are a few pieces I have played so often that they may fit in. Like the Schubert Impromptu op.90/2, or maybe Mozart's Rondo KV485. And maybe some other pieces I have played for years and play them every now and then.


Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
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