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Schubert/Liszt - Gretchen am Spinnrade difficulties?
#3035416 10/14/20 05:04 AM
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Are there any difficulties I should be aware of while practicing this piece? Other advice will most definitely be useful.

Re: Schubert/Liszt - Gretchen am Spinnrade difficulties?
Nitrovaleric #3035428 10/14/20 06:10 AM
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Keep your wrists mobile for the RH moto perpetuo, and if you feel any strain or pain, stop immediately......


"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."
Re: Schubert/Liszt - Gretchen am Spinnrade difficulties?
Nitrovaleric #3035555 10/14/20 01:23 PM
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I love this piece and it is likely the hardest thing I've played.

For me, working out the right hand fingering was the biggest challenge since I started this when my teacher was on vacation. I ended up doing a fair amount of fingers crossing over one another in the right hand, (2 over 1, 4 over 5). There are three voices: the LH treadle, the RH spinning wheel and Gretchen's song. It's important to keep the spinning wheel and treadle even, moving, not rushing, quiet and pulsing. Maintaining the clarity but joining the melody notes meant I had to pay strict attention to my pedaling and fingering. I used shallow pedaling and kept my wrists low. I've got small hands so I played and then let go of E4 in measures 22-25. I completely left out F4 in measures 22 and 24 since the F is also played an octave higher. None of these omissions were noticeable because the music is quite dense there. I was tempted to make measure 27 a climax but I was told this is incorrect. The climax should only be at 68 so I curbed my enthusiasm in measure 27. In measures 51 through 58, I played some RH notes with my left hand.

In my edition, the 3rd page ends at measure 68, the lunga Pausa. This is perfect place to turn the page so I attached pages 1, 2 and 3 together, and also pages 4, 5 and 6.

It is worthwhile to listen to someone singing Schubert's song and to translate the words to understand how the music connects to the seduction of Gretchen by Faust. I also watched a YouTube video of a spinning wheel. If you want to drive yourself crazy listen to Yuja Wang playing the piece.

Good luck with this gorgeous, challenging piece!


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Schubert/Liszt - Gretchen am Spinnrade difficulties?
Nitrovaleric #3035633 10/14/20 05:29 PM
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While I do not have anything against the Liszt transcription of Gretchen am Spinnrade, if you end up finding it too difficult for some reason but still want to play a piano solo version of this beautiful song, IMSLP has transcriptions of Schubert songs done by August Horn, which are nice and somewhat easier than the Liszt versions.

https://imslp.org/wiki/Ausgew%C3%A4hlte_Lieder_f%C3%BCr_Pianoforte_solo_arrangiert_(Schubert%2C_Franz)

Re: Schubert/Liszt - Gretchen am Spinnrade difficulties?
Nitrovaleric #3036871 10/18/20 04:00 AM
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This piece is often played too slowly. I think it "clicks" at just the right tempo, which is faster than you will hear in many recordings, and with much less pedal than one might be tempted to use. It needs to convey the feeling of the monotonous wheel spinning, spinning, spinning, only stopping at the moment where Gretchen remembers the kiss. And then, recollecting herself, she goes back to her wheel. I would recommend not listening to anyone at first and really trying to study the score objectively and to bring out everything that Schubert calls for: achieving the "sempre staccato" in the left hand, with the right articulation of the eighth notes, against the spinning right hand is a real challenge. Definitely practice this without pedal, and in performance use only very little. The spinning feeling requires a very stable tempo with very little rubato- like gooddog I also got inspiration from videos of spinning wheels, which were a common feature of life in the time the song was written. So never forget that this is what you're trying to evoke, even if one feels that one can make more "beautiful" music with the given notes.

There are so many quick crescendi from pp to forte within the space of less than three bars, and they are difficult to really go for convincingly from both singer and pianist. I think this is Gretchen's frustration- there is an apparent "Ruhe" in the music, but underneath there is a current of uneasiness and of tension. The long crescendo that start with "seines Mundes Lächeln" and up to "sein Kuss" should also be carefully controlled. I think the few bars afterwards- Gretchen's hesitation, spinning the wheel once more then stopping again, unable to forget how that kiss felt- require so much tension in the pauses, which also means almost no pedal.

In a masterclass about this song, Graham Johnson also talks about the harmony change at "mein Busen drängt sich nach ihm hin" (my bosom urges itself towards him) and its meaning. In an earlier version of Faust, Goethe had written "mein Schoß" (my lap), but it was later changed to "mein Busen" (my bosom) to make it more socially acceptable. So this moment is Gretchen suddenly confessing to herself, in clear words, a great sexual longing for Faust. And that is when the long crescendo/ accelerando starts, which should be driven by that tension, the desire to hold him and "melt in his kisses". Johnson also points out how one must keep in mind that this intense desire was driven only by a kiss, which makes it all the more burning. Later, Gretchen will go so far as to give her mother a sleeping potion so she can admit Faust into her room. The sleeping potion turns out to be poison, and she ends up killing her own mother. She is pregnant, kneels before the statue of Mary for salvation, but is tormented with guilt and fear and haunted by visions of her own damnation.

EDIT: sorry I just realized you're playing the solo version! But I think it's important to start with the song and the text anyway:)


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