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Joined: Oct 2004
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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 @:
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I don't think I have anything I'm completely satisfied with.


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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

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
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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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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

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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, Frédéric 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
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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."

♪ ≠ $

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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.



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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
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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.

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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

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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."
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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.
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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
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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

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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
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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.

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4'33"


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Well, someone had to say it.


Regards,

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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.


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