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Joined: Dec 2004
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Hi all,

I was wondering for anyone who has seriously studied this Ballade - there are a few places towards the end where I often hear the rhythm differently than is written, and it's no wonder, the rhythms I'm talking about seem to be extremely difficult to make clear at full tempo. I was looking for opinions on how necessary people think it is to get these rhythms exactly as written, or if it is ok to use the "popular" solution, which is the same in every case.

The 1st place is on the 5th beat of the first measure of the Coda, m.211. The LH plays a tuplet while the RH plays a triplet. Most people tend to move the 2nd note of the LH tuplet later so that it is played with the 3rd note of the RH tuplet, instead of in between the 2nd and 3rd.

The second place is just before the 4th beat of the second measure of the Coda, m.212. There is a dotted rhythm in the top voice with a 32nd in the RH falling after all three of the LH triplet notes, but most people play it at the same time as the 3rd triplet note, again the same solution.

The third place is the passage starting at the end of measure 218 most of the way through 219. The dotted rhythms in the RH all generally get played as triplet eighth + sixteenth to line up with the LH notes.

The same is the case in the fourth place, the same passage in measures 223 and 225, except this time with the LH voice.

So is it appropriate to "smooth" out these rhythms the way most people seem to, or is it better to push to somehow make them audible as written? I have a very hard time doing this when starting to near the desired final tempo.


Oh, and I have another question about the RH passagework in the 2nd variation on the main theme, measures 152 - 155. I've noticed how from m.157 onwards, the theme is broken into triplets, whereas in these first four measures, uneven runs of 7, 8, and 10 are indicated.

Is it appropriate to break these runs down to a combination of 16ths, 16th triplets, and 32nds? Or is one supposed to let them run freely, as in a Nocturne? I've noticed a lot of performances where these rhythms are organized keep the section crisp and clear, whereas the freely treated ones tend to send the passages out of control and the section starts to accelerate far too soon.

Anyways, thanks for the advice!

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In my view this is the result of the kind
of tempo rubato that Chopin used. Many
if not all of his works are intended to
be played with rubato, and this often cannot
be notated precisely. What you hear in
commercial recordings is the rubato that
his students learned from him and then
passed on to future generations of
pianists--or maybe something that another
pianist, like Liszt, for example, made fashionable
and which was picked up by teachers, who passed
it on to their students. If you listen
to several different artists playing the
same Chopin piece, you sometimes will hear
one of them using completely different,
and interesting, rubato in a section,
that the others don't use. Perhaps this
is the result of his teacher coming from
a different branch of the teaching tree
that originated with the composer.

Of course, one might try to play precisely
as notated, reasoning that if it's on
the page, it's technically correct. But
with Chopin, especially, this will lead
to the "wrong" interpretation. However,
if one devises an original rubato scheme
with a Chopin passage, that would be
"okay," because that's how his work is
supposed to be played.

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For the first place, I have always played it as written. In the second, I play the LH and RH at the same time; I believe that Chopin was using a now archaic convention that Bach and other such people used. The same goes for the third and fourth place.

The only person that I have heard use the written rhythm in the fourth place is Rubinstein, but I don't think it adds much.

As for meas. 152 and on, I try to use Chopin's rubato. I keep the left hand steady as a rock, and generally start the runs slower and let them accelerate as they end. I do this for all the runs in that section until 162.


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hi op30no3,

would you say the same is the case for the LH part in measures 191-194? It's the same rhythmic idea so I'll assume that it indeed is the case for the time being.

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Oh, yea; definitely.


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This sort of fits into this topic, regarding the coda - does anyone else hear this melody in the coda? I should really record how I play it to demonstrate, but basically it goes (no rhythm here but it should make sense):

Ab, G, F Db C, C, A Bb Db C, Ab

etc. I really try to bring out that melody. I'm going to record it to make it clearer, even if just a midi, but none of the recordings I have heard really being that out.

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Max, I perceive the "melody" as being close to that. For me, after the two C's, instead of going down to A, I go up into the top part of the hand with the Bb, Ab, G, etc.


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I hear it pretty close to that as well, but with longer intervals throughout the keep the rhythm you have it starting with. Mine would go something like:
(assuming 18/16 rhythm instead of bothering with triplet values)
Ab8. G8 F16 Db8. C8. as the lower melody, and then a short echo in the top voice of: (starting in the next rhythmic group)
G8 F16 Db16 <--- the Db kind of "melts" into the C of the Bb/C pair as a resolution, but I guess by then I am already mainly thinking of the next measure...

Speaking of the next measure, does anyone think it's a little risky for someone who doesn't have the largest hands in the world to play 2 and 4 on the perfect 5th just after the tied Db32 and lower Db? I want to get that smooth top voice like in the Akhenazy recording I adore so it would be nice to have the top voice of the last half of this bar go 4-5-4-5-4 3-5 but I know a lot of people probably play 5 twice at the beginning if 2 and 4 is too big of a stretch for them, especially at the full speed of the Coda.

Boy, you know it's quite the piece when you can usefully talk this much about 2 measures!!!

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ps, just to recap, I noted 5 places where the same rhythm should be adjusted as a result of an archaic rhythmic practice (I recognize it from Bach as well),

1) m.191-194, LH
2) m.195, 197, LH
3) m.212, 214, RH
4) m.218-219, RH
5) m.223, 225, LH

and one place where Chopin probably actually wanted the rhythm indicated, the 3 over 2 figure appearing in m.211 and 213.

PS - I've decided to stick with the subdivisions of the rubato RH in m. 152 through 155 because I seem to play them best this way, unlike in Nocturnes where I would play with the traditionally free rubato rhythm. I suppose this Ballade is the exception in my interpretation of these common imprecise melodic rhythmic groups of Chopin! (this is because it just makes sense to me if the rhythms are written out precisely in m. 156 through 162, to do it all generally the same).
I respect op.30 no.3's interpretation, because he does the same thing, interpret the whole section in one way, except the opposite, rendering it all to free rubato!

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Hey i just found another little one in m.220 in the lower voice of the RH. These rhythms are everywhere in and just before the Coda!

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Quote
Originally posted by kcoul058:
ps, just to recap, I noted 5 places where the same rhythm should be adjusted as a result of an archaic rhythmic practice (I recognize it from Bach as well),

1) m.191-194, LH
2) m.195, 197, LH
3) m.212, 214, RH
4) m.218-219, RH
5) m.223, 225, LH

and one place where Chopin probably actually wanted the rhythm indicated, the 3 over 2 figure appearing in m.211 and 213.

PS - I've decided to stick with the subdivisions of the rubato RH in m. 152 through 155 because I seem to play them best this way, unlike in Nocturnes where I would play with the traditionally free rubato rhythm. I suppose this Ballade is the exception in my interpretation of these common imprecise melodic rhythmic groups of Chopin! (this is because it just makes sense to me if the rhythms are written out precisely in m. 156 through 162, to do it all generally the same).
I respect op.30 no.3's interpretation, because he does the same thing, interpret the whole section in one way, except the opposite, rendering it all to free rubato!
With regard to meas. 156+, in all of the editions except one, the notes are not written out in precise rhythm; the only one that I've seen that does that is my Cortot edition. What edition is yours?


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I'm using the Henle edition.

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Oh! I see what you are talking about. I have my Henle edition and am looking at it right now. I see that you are referring to the fact that they are now written out as groups of triplets. I think he only did that because the number of notes in each run is divisible by three, not because he wanted them evenly played, but I could be wrong (not--I'm totally infallible wink ).


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