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#2241986 - 03/06/14 01:23 AM Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation?  
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It's great to have different interpretations of songs for our enjoyment, but I came across this passage in Ludwig Van Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas:

Originally Posted by William Behrend
The beginning of the [third movement] involuntarily gives the impression of a rising wave, which at its highest part "shows its teeth" and breaks (in the FF chords); but in Beethoven's directions, the accuracy and carefulness of which are, as a rule, worthy of note and observance, there is no crescendo sign. Moreover, piano virtuosi may be heard performing this part with literal exactness; the ascending passages p and the chords with a sudden, violent force. The former view, however, seems more reasonable and attractive, regarded artistically and psychologically, and the author is able to state with satisfaction that an Anton Rubinstein performed the passages in question in this manner.


So, opiniatively, which sounds better? The sudden crashing chords, or a growing wave of noise?

For those who may not be familiar with the piece:



(If anyone has a favorite version, post that too!)


Poetry is rhythm
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#2242004 - 03/06/14 02:13 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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A piano sonata is not a song.


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#2242025 - 03/06/14 03:21 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.

Cry me a river.

I like Lisitsa on this piece, extremely smooth and natural. Her finale is incredible as well.

Kovacevich is good too.


Last edited by Atrys; 03/06/14 03:31 AM.

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#2242034 - 03/06/14 04:00 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Carey]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1



"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

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#2242036 - 03/06/14 04:15 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1

In fact, if we consider that the art of piano playing consists in making the piano "sing", then we are indeed playing "songs"... crazy

#2242060 - 03/06/14 06:47 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+100


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)
#2242069 - 03/06/14 07:34 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: natty_dread78]  
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Originally Posted by natty_dread78
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1

In fact, if we consider that the art of piano playing consists in making the piano "sing", then we are indeed playing "songs"... crazy


Making the piano "sing" is just a part of the art (and depending on repertoire choices, may not even be required) - and it is certainly not applicable to the opening of the last movement of the "Moonlight", which is theoretically the subject of the discussion.


#2242077 - 03/06/14 07:54 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Atrys]  
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Originally Posted by Atrys
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.

Cry me a river.

You know, I just might.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2242085 - 03/06/14 08:07 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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Brandonburg 5 is my favorite song.

#2242086 - 03/06/14 08:08 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


Well, if phantomFive thinks it is, who are you to say it is not? Really, of all the nerve...

I mean, words don't actually mean anything outside of what the person using them thinks they mean, do they? If I and a few of my ignorant and badly educated friends want to call that thing by Beethoven a "butter dish", well, that's what it's called.

And speaking of butter dishes, I really like the butter dish in g minor by Medtner.




#2242090 - 03/06/14 08:16 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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I like to imagine, in my heart of hearts, that the truly great pianists don't care if one uses the word 'song' in place of 'piece' (a term used on this forum without prejudice). After all, 'song' is fairly descriptive of the experience of music, while 'piece' could refer to a gun, or a sexy person, or a ...

#2242096 - 03/06/14 08:42 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: prout]  
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Let me remind people what that great orator, Humpty Dumpty, said (in a rather scornful tone):

"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."


"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."
#2242107 - 03/06/14 08:59 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: prout]  
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Originally Posted by prout
I like to imagine, in my heart of hearts, that the truly great pianists don't care if one uses the word 'song' in place of 'piece' (a term used on this forum without prejudice). After all, 'song' is fairly descriptive of the experience of music, while 'piece' could refer to a gun, or a sexy person, or a ...

"butter dish"??



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#2242109 - 03/06/14 09:01 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Let me remind people what that great orator, Humpty Dumpty, said (in a rather scornful tone):

"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."


and we all know what eventually happened to him........ wink


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#2242113 - 03/06/14 09:06 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by prout
I like to imagine, in my heart of hearts, that the truly great pianists don't care if one uses the word 'song' in place of 'piece' (a term used on this forum without prejudice). After all, 'song' is fairly descriptive of the experience of music, while 'piece' could refer to a gun, or a sexy person, or a ...

"butter dish"??


Eh?, or Huh?, depending on your country of origin.

#2242116 - 03/06/14 09:13 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: natty_dread78]  
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Originally Posted by natty_dread78
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1

In fact, if we consider that the art of piano playing consists in making the piano "sing", then we are indeed playing "songs"... crazy

But using the word "sonata" as opposed to "cantata" indicates that the piece is to be played, not sung.

#2242119 - 03/06/14 09:31 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: the nosy ape]  
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Originally Posted by the nosy ape
Originally Posted by natty_dread78
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1

In fact, if we consider that the art of piano playing consists in making the piano "sing", then we are indeed playing "songs"... crazy

But using the word "sonata" as opposed to "cantata" indicates that the piece is to be played, not sung.

Details, details........who needs them ?? grin


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#2242121 - 03/06/14 09:36 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: the nosy ape]  
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Originally Posted by the nosy ape
Originally Posted by natty_dread78
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1

In fact, if we consider that the art of piano playing consists in making the piano "sing", then we are indeed playing "songs"... crazy

But using the word "sonata" as opposed to "cantata" indicates that the piece is to be played, not sung.


Correct, but why do we get our knickers in a knot when everyone here knew at the onset precisely what the OP meant?

#2242211 - 03/06/14 12:52 PM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: prout]  
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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by the nosy ape
Originally Posted by natty_dread78
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.


+1

In fact, if we consider that the art of piano playing consists in making the piano "sing", then we are indeed playing "songs"... crazy

But using the word "sonata" as opposed to "cantata" indicates that the piece is to be played, not sung.


Correct, but why do we get our knickers in a knot when everyone here knew at the onset precisely what the OP meant?

Because song. Didn't you know? wink


To the OP, I'm not sure the examples provided are the best differentiators of the two interpretations you're describing. Lisitsa, on the other hand, displayed the crescendo style brilliantly.

I think this is all about personal taste. What you like is what you like. I don't like it when a line doesn't move at all, so I prefer at least some dynamic alteration rather than a static p. But whether that would get to the level of necessitating a crescendo marking depends on how well the performer pull off their interpretations. I've heard this piece both ways, and like it both ways. I'm not sure I could even begin to say whether one way was more "effective" than the other, because I'm not sure effectiveness is really the right word for me to use. smile


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.
#2242449 - 03/06/14 11:36 PM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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I understand why some people would like the crescendo, but so very many composers wrote music like that with crescendos that go right where you'd expect them to. Beethoven, on the other hand, often has these craggy sharp dynamic edges and that is one of the things that make his music so unique. I like the sf that comes out of nowhere.


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#2242479 - 03/07/14 01:52 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
I understand why some people would like the crescendo, but so very many composers wrote music like that with crescendos that go right where you'd expect them to. Beethoven, on the other hand, often has these craggy sharp dynamic edges and that is one of the things that make his music so unique. I like the sf that comes out of nowhere.

It's a good point, but I think there's enough room to create both effects. I don't think we need to say the crescendo goes from p to mf, and then the sf is just a natural continuation of the crescendo. A nuanced movement of the line might be interpreted as a slight crescendo, but it may never get beyond mp from p (or you might start closer to pp, to create a bigger effect). Then, you've got the sf, and it's still a pretty big impact.


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.
#2242536 - 03/07/14 07:35 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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Originally Posted by phantomFive

So, opiniatively, which sounds better? The sudden crashing chords, or a growing wave of noise?



I don't think the "sudden crashing chords" should even be all that crashing - they are relative to the overall piano marking, not "as loud as possible". If you are truly playing at piano, something around an mf should be sufficient accent, I think.

And the growing wave effect is not very Beethovenian, IMO, unless he asks for it, which he didn't.


#2242684 - 03/07/14 02:17 PM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: wr]  
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+1

Isn't that is a standard recurring error with many Beethoven interpretations?

Why, in heavens name I question, do artists at times render his piano to forte markings as ppp to ffff; and in doing so mutate an earnest emphasis into a crazy-eyed scream? I don't understand the logic behind it.

Exchanging an abrupt emphasis for a growing wave alters emotional feel from "blindsided" to an anticipated climax. The former is more fitting to piece as a whole.


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#2242916 - 03/07/14 10:06 PM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Tararex]  
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To be fair, Beethoven played so forcefully he broke strings.......so he might not have disapproved of people who played very loudly, as long as it is musical.


Poetry is rhythm
#2242942 - 03/07/14 11:04 PM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
To be fair, Beethoven played so forcefully he broke strings.......so he might not have disapproved of people who played very loudly, as long as it is musical.

Remember that it was early fortepiano strings he broke, which were extremely fragile compared to those we have today. I don't think Beethoven would have broken strings in a modern grand piano. The same is true of Liszt, who often would ruin multiple pianos in a single concert. laugh


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2242982 - 03/08/14 01:56 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
To be fair, Beethoven played so forcefully he broke strings...

Still happens, years ago I saw Andr Watts in recital. He broke a string during the first half. He was very calm about it (oh, so this isn't anything new?) and duly finished the Liszt Sonata.

Later half of the concert went well.


Jason
#2242997 - 03/08/14 04:15 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
A piano sonata is not a song.

-1


Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
#2242998 - 03/08/14 04:24 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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I guess it's a matter of interpretation.

Personally, I like it when the first three 16th movements that end in the two chords are not played with any crescendo within; but it's ok if each is a bit louder than the previous one.
At least that's how I play it.

For the two faster progressions, I uses the damper pedal, and crescendo. So far, no one complained to me about it.

And about the question whether a piano sonata is a song: It's funny that you (phantomFive) didn't call the Beethoven sonata a song. But just because you said this:
Originally Posted by phantomFive
It's great to have different interpretations of songs for our enjoyment
some posters felt the need to emit lots of text about how a piano sonata is not a song.

They are wrong, of course.

I have an app on my smartphone called "Soundhound". It identifies pieces of music. The menu question is: "What song is this?" I played the Lisitsa recording to it, and it correctly identified it as the Sonata Nr.14 C#minor by Beethoven (albeit in another interpretation).
So: Soundhound identified a "song".


Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
#2243041 - 03/08/14 09:05 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: phantomFive]  
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
To be fair, Beethoven played so forcefully he broke strings.......so he might not have disapproved of people who played very loudly, as long as it is musical.


Which has nothing to do with this specific instance, since we don't know that he broke strings at this point in this sonata, AFAIK.

At any rate, breaking strings on the instruments of the time didn't require all that much force - they were quite fragile relative to ours.




#2243045 - 03/08/14 09:15 AM Re: Beethoven C# Minor Sonata (moonlight) Interpretation? [Re: patH]  
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Originally Posted by patH

Originally Posted by phantomFive
It's great to have different interpretations of songs for our enjoyment
some posters felt the need to emit lots of text about how a piano sonata is not a song.

They are wrong, of course.

I have an app on my smartphone called "Soundhound". It identifies pieces of music. The menu question is: "What song is this?" I played the Lisitsa recording to it, and it correctly identified it as the Sonata Nr.14 C#minor by Beethoven (albeit in another interpretation).
So: Soundhound identified a "song".


I can't wait to get my "Toons4Loons" app out, where all sonatas are referred to as "butter dishes". Suddenly, your "song" usage will be soooo out of date.

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