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#2631426 04/08/17 10:29 PM
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I had learned this when I was in high school. In fact, I may have even played it for my college auditions, so about 30 years ago. I recently acquired a new piano that has a sustenuto pedal where my previous one did not. The lady I bought it from also gave me her scores as she would no longer be using them and in them was this piece. I was playing through it and it suddenly occurred to me to use the sustenuto for the bass octaves when there is more than one upper chord. I must say it makes the cleaner to do it this way, especially in the later part where there are the 4 staves. Basically my left foot pedals the bass notes, and the treble is pedaled by my right.

It does make some tricky coordination; I must always make sure that the sustain pedal is not down when I change the sostenuto or all the dampers get captured. It is also challenging to get the low grace notes into the sostenuto without disrupting the rhythm. It feels like the sostenuto is slower to respond than the regular sustain, but I think that is just because the key must be played before the pedal comes down where that order does not matter with the regular sustain pedal.

Does anyone else do this, and do you think it is worth the effort to learn to do it this way for the admittedly slight increase in clarity?


Peter
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Originally Posted by P3T3R
....Does anyone else do this, and do you think it is worth the effort to learn to do it this way for the admittedly slight increase in clarity?

Great question.
I'm probably one of the few people here who's never played the piece bah so I can't exactly address it, but, I'm working on another piece right now (Bach-Busoni -- not the Chaconne) grin which has what I think is the identical issue. I haven't decided whether to do it, and not just because I'm not sure it's "worth the effort" but also for a couple of other reasons:

It's hazardous. Exactly as you say, it involves "some tricky coordination; I must always make sure that the sustain pedal is not down when I change the sostenuto or all the dampers get captured," as well as other hazards. If it's in a performance, of course there's the "stress," plus the differences in different pianos. If we're even just a little "off" in how we do it, it's not just awful; it also makes us look stupid for trying it. blush

Plus, I'm not even sure it sounds better when I do pull it off. I think it does, but when I do it, I'm realizing that I can't be objective because I so much want it to be great -- y'know, this terrifically advanced and sophisticated thing that I'm doing. ha

I'll probably do it -- but only if I can nail it every time during practice, and, when it comes to a performance, if I can do it on the first practice try on the performance piano. Well OK, maybe the second try. grin
But if I didn't get it the first time, I'd make sure to do a third try too. Those next two will have to work, or else it's in the garbage at least till next time.

Looking forward to what others will say about the Rachmaninoff....

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It's worth the effort.


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Originally Posted by P3T3R
Does anyone else do this, and do you think it is worth the effort to learn to do it this way for the admittedly slight increase in clarity?
No and no. grin


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It's definitely worthwhile to learn how to use the sost pedal well. Once you do, it's just another tool at your disposal. However, not all sost pedals are created equal!

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I practiced it on my digital, which always gives a predictable result with the sostenuto, unlike acoustics.

Then I performed it at my monthly recital......and realized that the ancient C.Bechstein grand doesn't have a middle pedal. (It happens cry).

That was a couple of years ago. I haven't used the sostenuto pedal since, for anything. A rapid half-pedal 'release' (sustain pedal, that is) clears the treble notes while sustaining the bass ones, and works well on all pianos. That was what pianists did until the sostenuto pedal was invented. (I don't think Sergei's piano had a sostenuto at the time he composed Op.3/2 as a teen - it wasn't a Steinway).

Sometimes, ancient techniques are still the best..... thumb


"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."
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^Re bennevis' post

Good point, but this is heavily dependent on the dampers of the piano. I find that many pianos have powerful damping even in the bass and the bass doesn't really keep going enough if you do the quick partial pedal release. I've tried reducing the amount of damper pedal used on certain "busy" pieces only to give up because if I let the pedal go enough to clear some of the dissonant notes, the dampers were just generally killing a lot of sound which made it sound really awkward.

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One of my teachers advocated learning to play a piece both with the sost. and without. As a pianist you're at the mercy of the instrument as you find it. Some of them work well and some don't. And obviously some don't even have one.

If you're playing anywhere outside of your home, ideally you'd have a chance to check and see how well the sostenuto works before committing to using it.


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I believe it is best to use the sostenuto pedal as often as possible. The technique for using it is a technique you should be using most of the time for the damper pedal, so if it becomes natural to you, your damper pedaling will be closer to ideal.


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Originally Posted by BDB
I believe it is best to use the sostenuto pedal as often as possible. The technique for using it is a technique you should be using most of the time for the damper pedal, so if it becomes natural to you, your damper pedaling will be closer to ideal.

No, the sostenuto is used in a totally different way to the damper pedal. They're often used together.

Left foot on sostenuto, right on damper.

As in Op.3/2.


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I have also used the sostenuto in Debussy's "La Cathédrale engloutie", starting at measure 28 to help hold the long low C's while doing some half-pedaling for the rising chords in the right and left hands.

I feel that Debussy didn't want totally clean "organ" chords in this section (there should be some reverberation or overlapping), but having the damper off the low C-octave with the aide of the sostenuto while playing the chords as legato as possible is - I think - a good use of the sostenuto even if the choice is eventually not to use it.

Depending upon the resonance of the individual piano, I can see it being used in the Rachmaninoff, Op. 3 No. 2 as well.

Regards,


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I ended up learning it both ways, but ultimately preferred the "regular" way without any fancy sostenuto pedaling.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by BDB
I believe it is best to use the sostenuto pedal as often as possible. The technique for using it is a technique you should be using most of the time for the damper pedal, so if it becomes natural to you, your damper pedaling will be closer to ideal.

No, the sostenuto is used in a totally different way to the damper pedal. They're often used together.

Left foot on sostenuto, right on damper.

As in Op.3/2.


One can engage both the una corda and the sostenuto pedal with the LF whilst using the RF on the damper pedal. One can also get one's shoes caught in such a pedal combination . . . onstage! blush


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Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
One can engage both the una corda and the sostenuto pedal with the LF whilst using the RF on the damper pedal....

Granting that I'm at the disadvantage of never having tried it grin ....I wouldn't recommend that anyone but the most footly dexterous (good phrase) smile should try it, except just for fun and curiosity. Given how fraught it is to use the middle pedal -- how prone to error and how awful when not done just so -- this seems super fraught.

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The left foot is very versatile.

You can swivel it to engage first the una corda, then add on the sostenuto, release the una corda while keeping the sostenuto down, slide back again, then niftily press on the Airturn thingy to turn the page on your iPad.

Whew! thumb

The right foot just, er, rests on the damper pedal.....


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Originally Posted by bennevis
The left foot is very versatile.

You can swivel it to engage first the una corda, then add on the sostenuto, release the una corda while keeping the sostenuto down, slide back again...

I'm guessing you're also either an organist or a pro soccer player. ha

I would be surprised if more than very few are able to do that reliably -- reliably enough to consider doing it in performances.

The una corda part of it would be fine. The sostenuto pedal, I think not often so much.

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
One can engage both the una corda and the sostenuto pedal with the LF whilst using the RF on the damper pedal....

Granting that I'm at the disadvantage of never having tried it grin ....I wouldn't recommend that anyone but the most footly dexterous (good phrase) smile should try it, except just for fun and curiosity. Given how fraught it is to use the middle pedal -- how prone to error and how awful when not done just so -- this seems super fraught.


It's like any other skill Mark. You just have to practice it.

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I never expected this much of a discussion. shocked
Since I only will be performing on this piano, and primarily for myself, I think I'll try learning it with the sostenuto. I do play the organ (sorta) and drive a manual transmission car so I should be able to work it out. wink


Peter
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Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and E minor Prelude and Fugue
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Originally Posted by DanS
It's like any other skill Mark. You just have to practice it.

Well I don't know. I've practiced hitting a baseball all my life but I never made the Yankees and I still can't hit a 95 MPH fastball. grin

I'm saying that being able reliably to do a couple of the things that have been mentioned is an extremely tall order, and I'm doubting those things could be done (reliably) by more than a relative handful of players.

(I'm not talking in these last few posts about being able to do what is asked in the original post. That was in my first reply.)

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It's (depressing both u. c. and sos. at same time with left foot) like playing two white keys with the thumb on the crack.

Wide feet, certain shoes, and "loose" pedals help--and knowing the particular piano well.


WhoDwaldi
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