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Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487504
04/07/08 03:09 PM
04/07/08 03:09 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 802
London
Innominato Offline OP
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Innominato  Offline OP
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I have seen the beautiful and very informative thread about Schubert's Impromptus, and would like to ask the same questions about the Moments Musicaux: who of you has played them (ideally more than one), what difficulties he/she has found, how does he/she rate them in comparison among them.

Ideally, comparisons of difficulties with the Impromptus dealt with in the other thread would give a truly beautiful general picture of the "situation".

I am secretly hoping to be able to play the Moment Musical # 4 in, say, 3 years' time, but am a bit ashamed of saying it because I cannot really assess at thsi time how my progress is going to be when the going gets rough.

I seem to notice that # 3 is considered easier (much more represented by youtube amateur pianists than #4 and this is also my impression from reading the sheet). But really I'm interested in putting Schubert's MM in a broader prospective.

I am now at the level where I can deal pretty well with Schumann's "About strange Lands and People" (I play it a bit slow, but I like what comes out of it) and am now working on "Traumerei".
In parallel, in the next weeks I want to start dealing with "At the Fireside".

I feel very far from my beloved MM #4, but again just to give a prospective.

Thanks to you all.


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

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Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487505
04/07/08 09:18 PM
04/07/08 09:18 PM
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London
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David-G Offline
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I have never seriously worked on the Moments Musicaux, though I have occasionally attempted them with great enjoyment.

Prompted by your post, I tried playing them this evening (except the last, I ran out of time). I can sort of sight-read them passably (stumblingly might be a better description), but well enough to enjoy them. My impressions were: (1) they are easier than the Impromptus, (2) they seem roughly similar in terms of difficulty (but do bear in mind that this is a slightly superficicial judgment).

Of the ones you mentioned, I think I would agree that no. 3 seems perhaps easier than no. 4. And in fact, it was only the central section of no. 4 that I attempted; the outer sections, with their continuous semiquavers, I find impossible to sight-read. However that doesn't mean that they would be difficult after enough practice.

I think the thing to do is to have a try. Read through them, and find passages that you can cope with (or feel that you could cope with, given a bit of practice). Then build on those, and gradually extend. Even if you can't play any of the MMs right through, if you can find sections that you can play you will gain great enjoyment, and they will be a foundation for further progress.

I found that when I first looked at Schubert, the continuous dense chords were far more than my sight-reading could cope with, and this was a significant obstacle. However with continued practice, I have gradually found that my fingers just know where to go for many of the complex chords (how this happens is a miracle I will never understand!), and some of the difficulties fall away.

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487506
04/08/08 06:41 AM
04/08/08 06:41 AM
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Innominato Offline OP
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"I can sort of sight-read them passably (stumblingly might be a better description), but well enough to enjoy them".

I am lost in awe at the achievements of the human race..

"the outer sections, with their continuous semiquavers, I find impossible to sight-read".

Ah well, then I can start feeling a part of the human race again.. wink

What I do, is that I relax myself on the piano by practicing the first 5 or 6 measures of #4's RH. The melody enchants me and I would never get tired of it. In time, the idea would be to acquire the dexterity to execute it fast and correctly, only then I would add the LH which seems less of a challenge anyway.

From the countelss time heard CD versions (I have two, jeno jando and the beloved wilhelm kempff, strangely I prefer the jando version) it seems to me that once I have mastered the difficult part, the easy second theme will be somewhat of a piece of cake.

Still, I am very far from the velocity and precision required by the first motive and I prefer to use a piece I love so much to get better (practicing only the part I cannot do) rather than lull myself in the illusion that I can play it by learning the parts I could do.

But one day, one day.... !


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin
Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487507
04/08/08 07:52 AM
04/08/08 07:52 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 959
Basel, Switzerland
pianovirus Offline
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I absolutely love Schubert's Moments Musicaux, all of them (also playing all). I would say that the raw "technical" (in the sense of hitting the correct keys) difficulties of all pieces are well within reach of even less experienced players (i.e. I'd say there is no single nasty passage in isolation, except maybe #5 which has some rather big and fast jumps in the middle of the piece). However, there is so much to discover in these pieces, so many nuances to differentiate (for example, hear Horowitz' magic with #3, http://youtube.com/watch?v=o9Ak7Tk9B3s). A general difficulty throughout the pieces is to develop a beautiful voicing of the full chords (especially #2 but also the others). Another one is the dynamics: very often the entire piece is in the ppp-p range, and you still want to differentiate there. The easiest start might be #1, but if you love #4 just give it a try. One thing to listen carefully in #4 is that is that the 16s notes need to be very precise, almost like a clock. Very often people are not steady in their rhythm. Good exercise is to practice in dotted rhythm (as often mentioned here on the forum). Also listen carefully to your left hand in #4: it has three roles, first staccato accompaniment in piano, then louder at the repeat, and then a soft legato line in which you can show the beauty of this left hand melody as well. The trio (middle part) is a very delicate piece of music. You can vary the articulation in such a way that the da-da-DAAA-dam rhythm which is kept throughout never gets dull or boring. I have the recordings of Kempff, Schiff and Lupu and like them all (except for #1 and #5 in which Kempff does some weird things in my opinion). If I'd have to pick a favourite it'd be Lupu. Regarding comparison with the Impromptus, I would not say there is a major difference in difficulty. To do them musical justice, all of them are infinitely ambituous. On the other hand that's exactly the nice and rewarding thing, that you can come back and work on these pieces from early on in your piano life, discovering new aspects every time. Enjoy this wonderful music!!

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487508
04/08/08 01:35 PM
04/08/08 01:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
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Ohio, USA
signa Offline
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they're difficult but not too difficult as Rach/Liszt/Chopin etudes.

i attempted 2 of them (op.16 3 & 4), but never finished. i had a great deal of trouble with op.16.3 because of my small hand span. i did learn the whole thing, but had too much trouble playing it and so i dropped it. op.16.4 is not that difficult, since it actually fits under fingers well, despite its speed. i learned half way through, but stopped when i had a lot of trouble with the middle section and got frustrated to go any further. but i would go back to it later this year.

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487509
04/08/08 02:24 PM
04/08/08 02:24 PM
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I love them. I have the same problem as Signa--small hands, so I just roll the chords.
The only one I can play (sort of),all the way through is Op94 #3. Biggest thing in its favor as far as learning it, is that it is short---only 2 pages. What a sense of accomplishment to be able to play the whole thing, at least as far as the notes. Now to work on the nuances, and finer points. But that is another story.

Number 4 First section going well, but middle section will take a lot of work. #5 is doable, except for those big full chords which are a strain on my hand and wrist. Shubert does pose problems for those of us with small hands

On the plus side, aside from their beauty, they provide excellent exercise in developing technique---at least I think so. They have also helped me in reading chords rapidly. Playing them rapidly is another story.

Gaby Tu

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487510
04/08/08 04:05 PM
04/08/08 04:05 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 959
Basel, Switzerland
pianovirus Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by gabytu:
I have the same problem as Signa--small hands, so I just roll the chords.
Except that signa is talking about different pieces here (Rachmaninov)... :p
(but those are also nice pieces of course)

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487511
04/08/08 07:13 PM
04/08/08 07:13 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 802
London
Innominato Offline OP
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Thanks to you again.

Pianovirus, so you would suggest that I start working at it and let it grow musically with me? I thought that to learn it "seriously" it would just be a genocide of wonderful notes, a butchering of things I love. But I will think about it, at the end of the day I can always stop if I feel that dear Franz is crying for vengeance .....

"One thing to listen carefully in #4 is that is that the 16s notes need to be very precise, almost like a clock".

Yes, that I have noticed. The beauty of it is in the "military" rhythm of the LH manly accompanying the RH melody. I like my jeno jando version because he heavily accents the first note of every 4-notes group, this gives the introduction/first motive a "spine", a muscular undertone which in my eyes the much faster Kempff interpretation I have lacks (whilst, I would say, the high speed "blurs" the beauty of the melody in something more difficult to savour to me).

But this is also my problem. I struggle in believing I can do these things half good. I have more the impression that without a great deal of speed, accuracy in hitting the notes and right spin in the interpretation the beauty of this piece would be disfigured.


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin
Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487512
04/09/08 03:56 AM
04/09/08 03:56 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 959
Basel, Switzerland
pianovirus Offline
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pianovirus  Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Innominato:
Pianovirus, so you would suggest that I start working at it and let it grow musically with me? I thought that to learn it "seriously" it would just be a genocide of wonderful notes, a butchering of things I love. But I will think about it, at the end of the day I can always stop if I feel that dear Franz is crying for vengeance .....
Innominato, from what your wrote above and in your original post, it sounds to me that you have listened carefully to this piece so you would notice quickly if you come close to "butchering" it. Maybe a good try to see if you are ready for a first go would be to just take the first say 4 bars and try RH alone if you can get the 16ths very even (start practicing slowly). It should feel "good" and not hectic with lots of hand movements. If it works after a while, I would go for it if you like the piece so much (which is always the best motivation). Do you have a teacher? If not, think of getting one, it will help infinitely. If you find you currently have some difficulties with #4 you might wait a bit longer and for example start your Schubert experience with some of his lovely dances (hundreds of). These are lovely miniatures (often only 12 bars) and genuine Schubert in their voise. It may be thought of his little "laboratory". The notes are quickly learned and then you can practice many of the Schubert-specific issues there at a small level. I have the Henle edition of the complete dances which is very good ( vol. 1 , vol 2 ). Andras Schiff (and surely many others) has recorded some of them along with the Impromptus and Moments Musicaux. Whatever you decide for, enjoy!

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487513
04/09/08 04:11 AM
04/09/08 04:11 AM
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Posts: 1,192
Torquay, Devon, England
cruiser Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Innominato:
I am now at the level where I can deal pretty well with Schumann's "About strange Lands and People" (I play it a bit slow, but I like what comes out of it) and am now working on "Traumerei".
In parallel, in the next weeks I want to start dealing with "At the Fireside".
Hi Inominato

You and I appear to be following similar musical paths except that I learned Schumanns 'Träumerei' first and I'm now learning 'Von Fremden Ländern und Menschen'. It took me several weeks to 'complete' Traümerei (beautiful piece) but I must say, I found - am finding! - both these 'easier' pieces to be desceptively tricky. My teacher says the Kindersczenen are the musical equivalent of the confusing definite articles - Der Die & Das - in the German language!

BTW I also love the Moments Musicaux and would like to attempt No 3 one day soon.

Cheers
cruiser (Mike)


Michael
Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487514
04/09/08 11:47 AM
04/09/08 11:47 AM
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Ohio, USA
signa Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by pianovirus:
Quote
Originally posted by gabytu:
[b]I have the same problem as Signa--small hands, so I just roll the chords.
Except that signa is talking about different pieces here (Rachmaninov)... :p
(but those are also nice pieces of course) [/b]
oops, i thought you're all talking about Rach's... sorry!

Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487515
04/09/08 05:06 PM
04/09/08 05:06 PM
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Posts: 802
London
Innominato Offline OP
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Thanks to all again.
Yes, I admit having practiced the first measures with the RH for the past 4-5 weeks. I use it as "end of practice reward" so to speak.
It gets better and better I must say, but still I am far away from where I want to be. Apart from precision issues (I practice slow, but as soon as I accelerate a bit there are a lot of sharps in the way of my fingers... ;( ) I also have a "strenght" issue in the fingers which is in the way of the required "clockwise" precision. It does help to play more staccato, though, as it helps to "accent" the first of every 4 notes of the LH.

I will have a teacher as soon as I will be able to afford the expense again, I do need professional help.... wink

Cruiser, I must say that I did not find so much trouble whether with the "der, die, das" (but i had learned greek and latin) not am I finding Schumann unapproachable. What I do is to try to "transfer" the notes from one hand to the other when practicable. For example, I have moved to the RH the last note of every arpeggio group of "from strange lands and people"; it works wonderfully, keeps my hands nicely in place and makes everything much easier in my eyes.

I have noticed, though, that the Kinderszenen Schirmer edition failed me completely in matter of fingering, which is almost non existent. This is decidedly annoying and I would not suggest to buy the Schirmer edition.

I don't have a teacher and expect the editor to at least make some proposal, not wash his hands in innocence the whole piece through...

Anyway I had from strange etc. under control (notewise) in just very few days and found it also manageable to play well, though I love to play it slowly than in some recordings I have (but i like it more that way, too);
"Traeumerei" has in my eyes much more complicated fingering issues; I am now mastering the first 15 measures before I venture farther. "At the fireside" would seem manageable.

I might think afterwards to the song book suggested by Pianovirus t still my schuberth thirst, but still it would not be the drink I am really thirsting for.... wink


-----------------------------------------------

But really, Cruiser and pianovirus: Schumann is generally at level 4 ABRSM, Schubert MM # 4 is, I believe, level 7. I perceive this as a very, very wide gulf between aspirations and (present) reality. But I am somewhat encouraged to go on with my experiments as I see that you are both inclined to think that it is halfway feasible.

Thanks again


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin
Re: Moments musicaux - relative difficulty #487516
04/10/08 04:03 AM
04/10/08 04:03 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,192
Torquay, Devon, England
cruiser Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Innominato:
But really, Cruiser and pianovirus: Schumann is generally at level 4 ABRSM, is halfway feasible.
Inominato, you may be surprised to know - if you don't already - that Träumerei is currently set as a list B option for ABRSM Piano grade 7!. To express this piece with sensitive musicality is anything but easy. No wonder Horowitz often played it as an encore. Look up his Moscow performance of Träumerei on You Tube - special.

cruiser


Michael

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