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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2997214 06/30/20 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by johnstaf
120 BPM is good enough for Martha! 😃
Looking at another thread, I'm wondering if we could go with WW's split beat theory, viz. 60 BPM. Woo hoo, I'm done learning it already!

I came across a story where someone was playing Martha Argerich's recording really loud, and someone shouted up from the street "You rock man!"

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2997500 07/01/20 10:28 AM
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I'm using the Dover edition which does have a C natural but I've practiced it with C-sharp and maybe perhaps I should change that. The other editions I have which indicate a C-sharp are so old and withered that I unfortunately can't tell.

And I'd love for posters to share some practice tips! I'm learning this piece at a glacial tempo to ensure I'm fully relaxed throughout.

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2997587 07/01/20 02:33 PM
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I used to practise/play/perform it, but Schumann replaced it, and his op.7 will remain.


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
dolce sfogato #2997607 07/01/20 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
I used to practise/play/perform it, but Schumann replaced it, and his op.7 will remain.
As it should !!!! grin

Interestingly, both the Prokofiev and Schumann Toccatas were early works composed when each composer was around 20 years old - although Schumann revised his three years later.

Last edited by Carey; 07/01/20 03:27 PM.

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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2997620 07/01/20 03:45 PM
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unfortunately for Prokofiev, my taste is more inclined to Schumann's effort, all that trouble for a short piece (oumpf), and I prefer Schumann's ending: piano.


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2997865 07/02/20 01:12 PM
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I just thought that those who might be following this topic, and the Prokofiev is beyond them, another hard-driving toccata which is much easier is the Khachaturian.


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
BDB #2998078 07/02/20 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
I just thought that those who might be following this topic, and the Prokofiev is beyond them, another hard-driving toccata which is much easier is the Khachaturian.

Anything even easier?? I had a listen to the Khachaturian. Still too hard :-(

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2998085 07/03/20 12:21 AM
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A listen is not necessarily the best way to assess difficulty. The point of some of these pieces is to be "brilliant, but not difficult," as Arthur Loesser wrote.

There are not a lot of well-known post-baroque toccatas. Besides the three that have been brought up here, there are some movements of French suites that have toccata movements, notably by Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc. Others are more obscure: Antheil, Lambro, Takacs are who I can find at the moment. Perhaps other people can suggest some others.

A similar piece which is not too difficult is the Allegro Barbaro by Bartok. This is one of Bartok's pieces that fits well under the hand, so it is easier than it sounds, like the Khachaturian.


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
BDB #2998096 07/03/20 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
The point of some of these pieces is to be "brilliant, but not difficult," as Arthur Loesser wrote. . . .

A similar piece which is not too difficult is the Allegro Barbaro by Bartok. This is one of Bartok's pieces that fits well under the hand, so it is easier than it sounds, like the Khachaturian.
So nice to see Loesser quoted here. I love his stuff.

As for the Allegro Barbaro, NOT!


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2998248 07/03/20 12:54 PM
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The Argerich recording is ideal for me. Martha can be a bit hit or miss with me sometimes - I don't always agree with her tempi - but I felt she nailed the tempo and dynamics on this piece pretty much perfectly.

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
BDB #2998289 07/03/20 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
A listen is not necessarily the best way to assess difficulty. The point of some of these pieces is to be "brilliant, but not difficult," as Arthur Loesser wrote.

There are not a lot of well-known post-baroque toccatas. Besides the three that have been brought up here, there are some movements of French suites that have toccata movements, notably by Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc. Others are more obscure: Antheil, Lambro, Takacs are who I can find at the moment. Perhaps other people can suggest some others.

A similar piece which is not too difficult is the Allegro Barbaro by Bartok. This is one of Bartok's pieces that fits well under the hand, so it is easier than it sounds, like the Khachaturian.

Thank you! I had a look at the score. Maybe not so bad...? Will also check out your other recommendations. I liked the Prokofiev and Khachaturian toccata' sound, kind of modern. I don't have anything like that in my repertoire. Not looking to play Baroque toccata.

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #2998291 07/03/20 02:43 PM
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Also toccatas by Robert Muczynski and York Bowen.

Sam

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #3000329 07/08/20 04:18 PM
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Thinking about technical difficulty in isolation from all other kinds of difficulty, I'm wondering where Prokofiev's Toccata would fall. For example, I think it's more difficult than the last movement of his 7th sonata but less difficult than the 1st movement (middle section, in particular). To use another example, I'd say it's more difficult than Liszt's Transcendental No. 10, less difficult than "Feux Follets". Fair?

I remember someone citing an online list of works ordered according to difficulty category. Maybe published by ABRSM? Does the Toccata appear on that list?


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #3004576 07/20/20 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SiFi
Thinking about technical difficulty in isolation from all other kinds of difficulty, I'm wondering where Prokofiev's Toccata would fall. For example, I think it's more difficult than the last movement of his 7th sonata but less difficult than the 1st movement (middle section, in particular). To use another example, I'd say it's more difficult than Liszt's Transcendental No. 10, less difficult than "Feux Follets". Fair?

Now that I actually started working on this a few days ago, I would say this piece's difficulty is HIGHLY dependent on the speed you want. It took me a few days to figure out what fingering to use but I feel like it fits the hands pretty comfortably if you have good 3rds. However, the places where you need to play a descending major 3rd with 12-12 fingering are crazy awkward and getting the speed up is really hard. I have a hard time figuring out how a number of pianists play it in 3 min 45 sec, the thumb has to move at nearly inhuman speed to make that happen.

Liszt Transcendental Etude 10 is not like that, if your technique is good and you got all the jumpy things down, you can play it quite fast (it doesn't sound great if you go too fast IMO).

Yes Feux Follets is harder, period.

I am shooting for Argerich's speed on a light, shallow touch keyboard, but I'm probably going to settle for less if the progress is too slow and painful. Or I might waste a year of practice on it the way I did with Chopin 25-6 trying to catch up to Trifonov's speed...

Last edited by trigalg693; 07/20/20 04:38 AM.
Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
trigalg693 #3004958 07/20/20 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
However, the places where you need to play a descending major 3rd with 12-12 fingering are crazy awkward and getting the speed up is really hard. I have a hard time figuring out how a number of pianists play it in 3 min 45 sec, the thumb has to move at nearly inhuman speed to make that happen.

For me the trick to these passages is to let the arm do practically all the work, and most importantly of all, not to let the thumb reach. Imagine the thumb sliding down the keyboard over the notes. It's almost a passive extension of the forearm that is positioned by the arm.

Where the thumb moves between black and white notes, an in-and-out movement from the shoulder takes care of it.

When going from white to white, the impulse for the second note comes from the forearm at the elbow.

It's possible to play this and feel like the thumb is doing nothing at all. Don't get me wrong, it's still not easy, but for me it's the difference between unplayable and extremely difficult.

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #3005011 07/21/20 12:38 AM
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Yea the arm naturally takes care of most of it, but the stretches (e.g. F A F, E Ab F) require the fingers to do some work since the hand is expanding so you can't really shove your arm around as freely smirk My index finger is not enjoying this treatment.

Besides, my white key to black key movement speed limit on the thumb is maybe around the 121 bpm (16th notes) mark, which is not enough to catch Yuja Wang or Claire Huangci or Haochen Zhang.

Last edited by trigalg693; 07/21/20 12:44 AM.
Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
johnstaf #3005342 07/21/20 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
For me the trick to these passages is to let the arm do practically all the work, and most importantly of all, not to let the thumb reach. Imagine the thumb sliding down the keyboard over the notes. It's almost a passive extension of the forearm that is positioned by the arm.

Where the thumb moves between black and white notes, an in-and-out movement from the shoulder takes care of it.

When going from white to white, the impulse for the second note comes from the forearm at the elbow.

It's possible to play this and feel like the thumb is doing nothing at all. Don't get me wrong, it's still not easy, but for me it's the difference between unplayable and extremely difficult.

Is this the knack you mentioned earlier?

I always find it hard to really understand verbal descriptions of particular techniques, but I think I get what you're saying, assuming I'm looking at the correct passages. If I'm reading this and trigalg's remarks correctly, it seems like you're both talking about the passage beginning at bar 77 and all the times it comes back in that section and in the recap. I actually don't use 2 and 1 for all the double notes; I found you can use different combinations of 2+1, 3+1, 3+2, 4+1, and 4+2, while still holding down the 8th notes in the upper line.

I probably would find it unplayable to use 2+1 all the way!

The one place I don't think there's any way around using 2+1 for an entire scale unit is the ascending triple notes in bars 171 and 172. There I use legato fingering in the upper part (though I don't exactly play it legato), a bit like in Chopin's Op. 10 No. 2. For the most part, the lower notes just kind of follow the top line, but sometimes I get caught out by the topographical shifts, like when you're suddenly playing two white notes or, in one case, two black notes. And that's one place you really have to play with Yuja-like precision IMO because the attack at the start of bar 173 has to be perfect and really powerful.

The parts that really bother me are all the finicky little bits where he throws in grace notes or those nasty trills or even the LH leaping over the RH near the beginning. Getting the touch right in the passage starting at 110 and making the hand crossings seamless is also a big challenge. The passage right after that is also a b----.


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Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #3005371 07/21/20 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SiFi
Is this the knack you mentioned earlier?

Mostly.

Trialg talks of expanding the hand, but I find that when the thumb is completely relaxed it takes no effort for the hand to shape itself. That only happens when it feels as if the thumb is doing no work. Changing the angle of the hand to the key has the same effect as changing its width. If the hand is relaxed, it can also be "opened up" by the keys when necessary e.g. F-A-F.

The angle the hand makes (as viewed from above) with the keyboard changes its width w.r.t. to the keys. Using this makes expanding and contracting much easier as the fingers have to do less.

Using the angle (as viewed from the side) can be very useful too. The thumb and little finger, for example, can "open up" if the hand drops at the wrist. This requires no effort on the part of the fingers.

Widening and narrowing the hand (using the fingers to do the work) causes my hand to cease up.

I think I play these with the left forearm almost parallel to the piano when it jumps over the RH. The LH isn't playing chords (if we are talking about the same section) so there's no reason to line it up in the normal way.

There's another part where the LH is crossed over and plays chords. Since I last played it, I often wonder why I didn't swap hands at that point. IIRC this should be possible, but I never tried it. Other than that, a weird hand position, with the forearm again parallel so that one finger is in front of the other to make an interval (imagine your fingers are runners legs on the starting line) was playable without tension or contorting the wrist.

I'm on strict orders from my physio always to keep my middle finger more-or-less lined up with my forearm (when viewed from above), so I probably go overboard in trying to maintain this alignment.

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
SiFi #3005373 07/21/20 10:33 PM
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PS I'm not contradicting anything Trialg said. I'm only describing things as I see them. We are probably doing the same thing.

Re: Who Can Play Prokofiev's Toccata?
johnstaf #3005393 07/22/20 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
We are probably doing the same thing.

I feel the only way we'll ever really know is if one of us posts some extracts with the camera pointed clearly at the fingers so that we can see the full monty. I might post some extracts, maybe in one take, to show how I'm doing some of the pertinent passages, and you can all have at me!


SRF
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