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#2638234 04/30/17 09:19 PM
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I've been working on these off and on for a while, mostly because they are a right after the f minor sonata in my volume 1 of Brahms piano music.

I feel that these were really intended as a set; the constant play between D major/minor and B major/minor runs through all 4. There are other things that I feel tie them together in mood, and a lot of things that are so wonderfully typical of Brahms, but I'm having difficulty with some things.

Do you think that the rather grisly ballade "Edward" referenced at the beginning of the set is the source for all four or only number 1?

In the Intermezzo (op.10no3), the bass fifths (later octaves) are marked staccato, but also with pedal marks. I've tried pedaling as marked, but I don't like how it sounds. I find I prefer clarity more the longer I play. I'm using a Kalmus edition, edited by E.V. Sauer. I don't know the editor, but Kalmus is usually close to urtext. There are also pedal marks through some pretty horrible dissonances. I suppose I could justify ignoring it by saying the modern piano has better sustain, but I'd be happier if I had a better reason than "I like how it sounds better this way"

Number 4 is really giving me trouble. I can't seem to make musical sense out of the 6/4 piu lento section. Often it takes me a while to figure out what Brahms intended, which makes it very rewarding to play, but this just doesn't make sense to me. It's just dull and repetitive, with odd dissonances and weird pedal tones. It is possible that if I get the tempo up a little it may hang together better, but I'm having trouble learning the notes because nothing is ever what I expect. And there's tons of ledger lines.

I suppose I just need to listen to recordings. I usually try to get my own interpretation down before I do as I'm easily influenced, but this set may have me licked.

Thanks for reading through.


Peter
1949 Baldwin M
currently working on Brahms op. 10 Ballades, f-minor sonata and 2nd concerto
Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and E minor Prelude and Fugue
whatever strikes my fancy today.
P3T3R #2638265 04/30/17 11:36 PM
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Peter:

I have played the first Ballade, worked on the second, passed over the third, and brought the fourth to performance level and did perform it in recital.

It's one of my favourite Brahms pieces. Once I really had enough control of the piu lento section
- to bring out the melody that occurs (primarily) on beats 1, 3, 4 and 6, at pp,
- to really sustain it and make it sing, and
- to keep the accompaniment even softer in spite of the nine against six (argh!), it was immensely satisfying to play.

It did, however, take work, a lot of work, but I think it makes sense to me.

I have the Henle edition as well as the (gasp!) Dover edition. It's clear in both of them in the opening measures of the Intermezzo (No. 3), that the pedal goes down on the sixth beat of the measure and comes off on the staccato note on the fourth beat. At measure 18 where the rhythmic pattern of the opening section returns, both editions mark "Ped. sempre".

Starting at measure 93, where that rhythmic pattern re-appears, there is again the pedal indication on beat six, but no lift pedal on the following beat four. Do you have that in the Kalmus?

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
P3T3R #2638273 05/01/17 12:11 AM
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Hello. Here are some suggestions and observations. I hope some will be of use to you.

Emil von Sauer was a pupil of Liszt, although he made some negative remarks about that study. He made a fair number of recordings and editions, including a Liszt edition. He did some composing.

Looking at how the first page of the first Ballade is printed in the Sauer edition, I can see how your question about the title arose. Take a look at the first edition, which can be seen on the IMSLP site, and see what reading you take of it there.

You can take a look at the pedaling in No. 3 while you're at it, and you will see the same indications in the opening of the first edition as in Sauer's. Tempo and suitable accentuation help make sense of the pedaling.

As for sorting out No. 4, if you have not already done so, try playing just the melody notes in the right hand, without the triplet figuration, along with the left hand. I find this sort of approach helps me get thickly textured music in my ear. Also, you will not have to concern yourself with 2 against 3. Use this simplification as an opportunity to develop your ideas for how you wish to inflect the melody.

You might also try playing one hand as written, the other with the notes together; that is, the right hand triplets as chords with the left hand as written, and the right hand as written with the left hand pairs played together. Or, leave out the pedal tones and play only the melodic lines. Or any combination of these that you find meaningful. As the ways in which the melody and figuration are intertwined change, some of these approaches may need adjustment.

I hope these suggestions are helpful, or that trying them will lead you to a practice technique that will be useful.

Finally, or better first, some sort of analysis, either with Roman Numerals, or else with chord symbols, plus identification of the non-harmonic tones could be illuminating, and would be worthwhile if you plan to memorize the piece.

As for ledger lines, keep reminding yourself that lines and spaces below the treble staff are exactly the same as the bass staff lines and spaces, and that each interval looks the same irrespective of clef or ledger lines: from one space to the next is always a third, line notes with a line between make a fifth, and so forth.


I agree that this section is hard to hear.

LAP


LAP
Henry F. Miller Pedal Piano, Decker Brothers Concert Grand, Knabe Grand, Chickering 135 Grand, Mathushek Orchestral Square, Baldwin Hamilton, Challis Harpsichord
P3T3R #2638639 05/01/17 07:09 PM
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Thanks for your replies.
Bruce - the Kalmus shows the pedal lifting on the 5th beat (assuming we are counting eighths and not dotted quarters) instead of the 4th. There is no pedal sempre at m18, but has the same pedalling as the beginning. It is consistent again at the end.

Louis - thanks for your suggestions. It's been a long time since I took lessons, so I've started to forget to do the basic things.

I have listened to a few recordings on YouTube. I need to listen again before I give my thoughts.


Peter
1949 Baldwin M
currently working on Brahms op. 10 Ballades, f-minor sonata and 2nd concerto
Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and E minor Prelude and Fugue
whatever strikes my fancy today.
P3T3R #2638652 05/01/17 07:44 PM
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Michelagneli very lush and romantic, probably closest to how I'm going to go.
Gilels Less poetic, but more earnest. Too aggressive with some of the inside voices for my taste, but I do like the staccato accompaniment when the 1st theme returns. There is another video of Gilels doing the whole set here
Gould doing the whole set. Oddly slow for no.1. I like the drier rendition of no.3, but the bass notes did not record well - they are quite ugly. The middle section of no.4 has great melodic clarity and emotion, but I still think I prefer the grand emotional sweep of Michelangeli. Gould is always idiosyncratic, and sometimes it works for me, large parts of this do, but some parts don't.

I've noticed Sokolov on YT. I'll have to listen to that next.


Peter
1949 Baldwin M
currently working on Brahms op. 10 Ballades, f-minor sonata and 2nd concerto
Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and E minor Prelude and Fugue
whatever strikes my fancy today.
P3T3R #2644517 05/17/17 08:20 PM
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I just got done going through this set. Thank you for the encouragement to keep at it. The number 4 is quickly becoming one of my favorites, but especially at the end of the group. I just feel "wrung out" at the end, but in a good way. Like I've experienced something profound and meaningful - a journey of sorts.

Maybe it's because I'm also working on op.119, where the final Rhapsodie goes from E-flat major to minor, and this number 4 ends so strongly in it's B Major, but this is hopeful music. Even the acerbic and aggressive Intermezzo at no. 3 ends in B Major, and it ends up feeling like a sly joke.

Sometimes I think I could just make a lifetime study of Brahms piano music.

Anyway just sharing - thanks for reading if you did.


Peter
1949 Baldwin M
currently working on Brahms op. 10 Ballades, f-minor sonata and 2nd concerto
Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and E minor Prelude and Fugue
whatever strikes my fancy today.
P3T3R #2646115 05/22/17 05:52 PM
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The Edward ballade just goes with nr.1 The trouble with the 6/4 section of the 4th is well known, it's rhythmic/melodic rather intertwined between the hands, but in the Peters edition, Emil von Sauer helped us a lot with marking the melody, Brahms is always shifting between 2 and 3 divisions in the bar, just think melodically, it'll work, and it's slow, that helps. Good luck with this suite, as it is one piece in 4 parts.


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P3T3R #2646237 05/23/17 01:59 AM
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I've performed all four, and the fourth is my favorite as well. I haven't much time at the moment, just landed in Frankfurt, but will try to post a more lengthy reply regarding my experiences with these pieces in the next day or two!

P3T3R #2646615 05/24/17 05:57 AM
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In the Op10 no 2 ballade, my hand is to small for some of the RH chords. I've been arpeggiating them since some of them are marked that way already. Playing around with it yesterday, I realized that I could use my LH for these instead. I wonder if that would be a better choice?


Peter
1949 Baldwin M
currently working on Brahms op. 10 Ballades, f-minor sonata and 2nd concerto
Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and E minor Prelude and Fugue
whatever strikes my fancy today.
P3T3R #2646707 05/24/17 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by P3T3R
In the Op10 no 2 ballade, my hand is to small for some of the RH chords. I've been arpeggiating them since some of them are marked that way already. Playing around with it yesterday, I realized that I could use my LH for these instead. I wonder if that would be a better choice?


You can indeed use your LH to grab the lower note in some of those chords. I prefer that solution to rolling all of the big ones but there are still some you can't avoid rolling of course.


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