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Posted By: Nemaara Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/15/22 01:40 AM
Well I am no Richter but I've been practicing this (and the other ballades) recently. How is it coming along?

Posted By: Mark_C Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/15/22 06:05 AM
It's a mix.

Funny.....the 'hard' part is terrific (as much as I listened to -- didn't go through the whole thing); the 'easy' part, IMO, needs a lot lot lot of work.

Actually maybe not a lot of work smile but a different point of view (I guess I ought to say "IMO," because of course one could say it's just an opinion -- but I'll bet you).

Before I say more about that, I ought to compliment you more on the "fuoco." People who haven't worked on it (or who haven't heard people fall on their faces with it) might not realize what you're accomplishing, but it's amazing.
Fantastic. Fantastic.
I mean, it can use a little work too (could use some dampening of the hair-raising, some of the rushing) -- but it's real good -- exciting -- and extremely impressive.

But the opening: There's no sense of flowing, no sense of long line, in fact I have to say no sense of line at all.
The reason I say that maybe it wouldn't take "a lot of work" is that it seems you're currently "hearing" the opening just how you're playing it, which is in little punched fragments.
Do you really like it that way?

Much of the problem, but not all, is that you're playing most of the 'easy' part way too loud. But besides that, it seems you're thinking of it mainly in 2-note groups rather than longer ones, and the problem is magnified by the occasional breaks of 'space,' which really really interrupt things.


C'mon -- make it peaceful, and flowing, and beautiful!!
You've got the hard part.
Now just get the easy part. smile
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/15/22 12:00 PM
I think the slow sections need a lot of work shaping the melody. You tend to play the eighth notes just as loud as the quarter notes which is a pretty serious mistake. The faster sections are much better but are a bit one dimensionally hectic and ff.
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/15/22 02:22 PM
Originally Posted by Mark_C
It's a mix.

Funny.....the 'hard' part is terrific (as much as I listened to -- didn't go through the whole thing); the 'easy' part, IMO, needs a lot lot lot of work.

Actually maybe not a lot of work smile but a different point of view (I guess I ought to say "IMO," because of course one could say it's just an opinion -- but I'll bet you).

Before I say more about that, I ought to compliment you more on the "fuoco." People who haven't worked on it (or who haven't heard people fall on their faces with it) might not realize what you're accomplishing, but it's amazing.
Fantastic. Fantastic.
I mean, it can use a little work too (could use some dampening of the hair-raising, some of the rushing) -- but it's real good -- exciting -- and extremely impressive.

But the opening: There's no sense of flowing, no sense of long line, in fact I have to say no sense of line at all.
The reason I say that maybe it wouldn't take "a lot of work" is that it seems you're currently "hearing" the opening just how you're playing it, which is in little punched fragments.
Do you really like it that way?

Much of the problem, but not all, is that you're playing most of the 'easy' part way too loud. But besides that, it seems you're thinking of it mainly in 2-note groups rather than longer ones, and the problem is magnified by the occasional breaks of 'space,' which really really interrupt things.


C'mon -- make it peaceful, and flowing, and beautiful!!
You've got the hard part.
Now just get the easy part. smile

The thing that's easy to address which is the easy part being too loud, I don't want to make excuses but I swear that's a byproduct of recording because it's honestly honestly pretty quiet when it's when I'm just playing it. The problem is I can't figure out how to get some of the dynamic shaping captured on mic.

I think you're right about me hearing the opening just how I'm playing it. I tended to focus on the inner voices in the "easy" part (I wanted to play it like a 4 person choir group, which is why the breaks are in there for "breaths") but I lost the line in the process, oopsie. So I need to figure out how to do both, eek. Thanks for the pointer!
Posted By: Mark_C Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/15/22 08:51 PM
It's admirable to be thinking in terms of the voices like that, but hearing the result, I think it might be best to sort of forget that for a while and just think the top melody -- at least until you really get that down, including the flow and the long lines. In trying to be so thoroughly sophisticated, you're making it complicated for yourself, and it's making you lose the big picture. Keep it much simpler for now -- just think the top melody, and have it be as though it's being sung by someone with infinite lung capacity. smile

I don't mean there aren't phrase endings, but there shouldn't be that many -- and don't come up for air like that. grin
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/15/22 10:14 PM
I definitely see what you're saying about the flow. Seems like I'm trying to run before I can walk. crazy

I'll have to find a way to keep the voices and occasional breaths (as you say, not like that, but maybe at phrase endings) but focus on the flow first. It certainly requires a lot of brainpower haha, but that's what makes Chopin fun.
Posted By: Carey Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 12:55 AM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The faster sections are much better but are a bit one dimensionally hectic and ff.
Actually, it is impresssive that you can play "parts" of the fast sections as fast as you do - BUT the current speed is too fast for you to "control" all of these passages without sounding frenetic and jumbled (right and left hands simply aren't together). I recommend that you 1) slow down, 2) only play as fast as your weakest hand will allow, and 3) try to find and communicate the music in the score. smile
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 01:43 AM
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The faster sections are much better but are a bit one dimensionally hectic and ff.
Actually, it is impresssive that you can play "parts" of the fast sections as fast as you do - BUT the current speed is too fast for you to "control" all of these passages without sounding frenetic and jumbled (right and left hands simply aren't together). I recommend that you 1) slow down, 2) only play as fast as your weakest hand will allow, and 3) try to find and communicate the music in the score. smile

Sure, I'm planning to work on it more of course. I'm a bit confused though. To me, the fuoco section seems like it needs a bit of wildness/franticness, almost like it's "not in control". So wouldn't trying to control it actually be counterproductive to that?
Posted By: Mark_C Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 01:54 AM
Originally Posted by Nemaara
....To me, the fuoco section seems like it needs a bit of wildness/franticness, almost like it's "not in control". So wouldn't trying to control it actually be counterproductive to that?

I know what you mean, but no.
It still needs to be in a certain kind of control.

Maybe think "Martha Argerich." Or Horowitz, sometimes. When they play(ed) stuff like this, it often has/had a reckless on-the-verge quality to it -- but not out of control.

Except sometimes they were. grin
Yes, even them -- and it wasn't good. There used to be a recording by Argerich of Chopin's 1st Ballade on youtube (I think now gone) where in the coda, her usual on-the-verge of being out of control went beyond the verge. And Horowitz -- in a 1966 concert, a section near the end of a Liszt piece was quite similar to that.

"Wildness/franticness" shouldn't sound or be out of control.

That said, I think your playing here is very mostly in very good control, at least in terms of how I feel the piece and how I feel your playing. I did say that I think it should have a bit more control, but I have the impression that I and the others are drawing this line in somewhat different places. I wouldn't want you to have it that much more "controlled."
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 02:04 AM
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I know what you mean, but no.
It still needs to be in a certain kind of control.

Maybe think "Martha Argerich." Or Horowitz, sometimes. When they play(ed) stuff like this, it often has/had a reckless on-the-verge quality to it -- but not out of control.

Ooh, yeah that's a good way to describe what I'm wanting out of that section. I didn't think that I was so much out of control there, but yes a little jumbled like Carey said. I'll be able to refine that with practice, but I'm seeing bigger issues with the Andantino right now.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 02:16 AM
I agree.
IMO you can 'get away' quite well with the fuoco sections as you have them now.
(But better with more control.) smile
Posted By: Carey Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 02:46 AM
Originally Posted by Nemaara
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The faster sections are much better but are a bit one dimensionally hectic and ff.
Actually, it is impresssive that you can play "parts" of the fast sections as fast as you do - BUT the current speed is too fast for you to "control" all of these passages without sounding frenetic and jumbled (right and left hands simply aren't together). I recommend that you 1) slow down, 2) only play as fast as your weakest hand will allow, and 3) try to find and communicate the music in the score. smile

Sure, I'm planning to work on it more of course. I'm a bit confused though. To me, the fuoco section seems like it needs a bit of wildness/franticness, almost like it's "not in control". So wouldn't trying to control it actually be counterproductive to that?
I was talking more specifically about the final agitato section. For example, please listen to Zimerman starting at 5:57. smile

Posted By: Rubens Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 03:07 AM
Originally Posted by Nemaara
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The faster sections are much better but are a bit one dimensionally hectic and ff.
Actually, it is impresssive that you can play "parts" of the fast sections as fast as you do - BUT the current speed is too fast for you to "control" all of these passages without sounding frenetic and jumbled (right and left hands simply aren't together). I recommend that you 1) slow down, 2) only play as fast as your weakest hand will allow, and 3) try to find and communicate the music in the score. smile

Sure, I'm planning to work on it more of course. I'm a bit confused though. To me, the fuoco section seems like it needs a bit of wildness/franticness, almost like it's "not in control". So wouldn't trying to control it actually be counterproductive to that?

I don't know about you, but I always try to be as in control as possible, no matter what I play, and the nerves will take care of the "not in control" effect. It's the one thing I can count on, day in and day out, at least in live performances. Maybe I have an innate God-given talent for being not in control. I wish I had the opposite though. Nice playing by the way.
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 03:10 AM
Originally Posted by Carey
I was talking more specifically about the final agitato section. For example, please listen to Zimerman starting at 5:57. smile


Oh! Yes I see what you're saying, I'll slow down and work on that part. The repeated notes are pretty hard. :s

Originally Posted by Rubens
I don't know about you, but I always try to be as in control as possible, no matter what I play, and the nerves will take care of the "not in control" effect. It's the one thing I can count on, day in and day out, at least in live performances. Maybe I have an innate God-given talent for being not in control. I wish I had the opposite though. Nice playing by the way.

I'm actually the opposite, I'm a bit of a mess but I rather like a bit of chaos in music. It's not everyone's cup of tea though. But thanks for the compliment. smile
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 07:52 AM
I generally agree with Mark's comments though I would express them differently. Overall it is impressive playing, but there are some architectural and interpretative issues.

For me the Andantino is a bit too slow, in particular in respect with the very fast tempo of the following Presto Con Fuoco. I would not say that there is no line, but it is just a bit mechanical and heavy. The accentuation is too strong so it makes the phrasing uniform.

You dont have to play the Con Fuoco that fast. The first one is generally fine, though the retransition to Tempo 1 (bar 79-82) is somehow awkward and rushed. Because you take the Con Fuoco very fast, you need to work out a more gradual and more elaborate transition back to tempo 1. Also from an architecture point of view you need to weight in the amount of energy you put in at that place vs the overall progression of the piece.

In the second Con Fuoco and agitato (bar 141-196) You go too fast and loose control. In the Agitato section (BTW Agitato does not mean necessarily very fast, but translate a mood), after 6:20 it is really messy and it lacks clarity, the right hand is barely audible. But the main issue is that as you play full speed and dynamic all the time so there is a general lack of structure and construction of that section. In bar 185 there is a crescendo which you by-pass as you have already maxed out both in tempo and dynamics. I understand the idea of making it tormented but you need to work out more nuances and structure, which implies that you lower the dynamics and the tempo at appropriate places to keep for expression.

The final tempo I section is played too fast on the other hand, contrary to the initial Tempo 1 of the andantino. After all that turmoil, you need to take more time to rebalance and let things settle in.

Just my personal opinion of course. Great Play though. Take care.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/16/22 11:42 PM
I think the fast sections are played faster than even most top pros play them. I was shocked when I heard them. So I think that means they are too fast.
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/17/22 12:23 AM
Originally Posted by Sidokar
I generally agree with Mark's comments though I would express them differently. Overall it is impressive playing, but there are some architectural and interpretative issues.

For me the Andantino is a bit too slow, in particular in respect with the very fast tempo of the following Presto Con Fuoco. I would not say that there is no line, but it is just a bit mechanical and heavy. The accentuation is too strong so it makes the phrasing uniform.

You dont have to play the Con Fuoco that fast. The first one is generally fine, though the retransition to Tempo 1 (bar 79-82) is somehow awkward and rushed. Because you take the Con Fuoco very fast, you need to work out a more gradual and more elaborate transition back to tempo 1. Also from an architecture point of view you need to weight in the amount of energy you put in at that place vs the overall progression of the piece.

In the second Con Fuoco and agitato (bar 141-196) You go too fast and loose control. In the Agitato section (BTW Agitato does not mean necessarily very fast, but translate a mood), after 6:20 it is really messy and it lacks clarity, the right hand is barely audible. But the main issue is that as you play full speed and dynamic all the time so there is a general lack of structure and construction of that section. In bar 185 there is a crescendo which you by-pass as you have already maxed out both in tempo and dynamics. I understand the idea of making it tormented but you need to work out more nuances and structure, which implies that you lower the dynamics and the tempo at appropriate places to keep for expression.

The final tempo I section is played too fast on the other hand, contrary to the initial Tempo 1 of the andantino. After all that turmoil, you need to take more time to rebalance and let things settle in.

Just my personal opinion of course. Great Play though. Take care.

I basically agree with everything you said, I am not as comfortable on this ballade yet as I am with say the 4th one (which has countless more hours on practice in it). So I do lose control or have to pay too much attention to technique and lose musicality in the process. Hopefully I'll be able to do it justice after more practice. smile
Posted By: dogperson Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/17/22 12:36 AM
Nemaara
Really looking forward to hearing your updated recording—- I’m convinced it will be awesome 😊
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/18/22 01:26 PM
Originally Posted by Nemaara
Hopefully I'll be able to do it justice after more practice. smile

No doubt about that. That said, I appologize if what I am going to say sounds a bit hard , ... but it seems to me that your technical skill level far exceeds the expressive capabilities of your piano. I dont know if you are in a situation to change, but that is something I would consider in the future. Maybe your recording set up has something to do with it as well, but my guess is that the piano itself has a major role.
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/18/22 09:42 PM
Originally Posted by Sidokar
No doubt about that. That said, I appologize if what I am going to say sounds a bit hard , ... but it seems to me that your technical skill level far exceeds the expressive capabilities of your piano. I dont know if you are in a situation to change, but that is something I would consider in the future. Maybe your recording set up has something to do with it as well, but my guess is that the piano itself has a major role.

Well thank you but I am about to leave home and my piano behind somewhat soon (hence the frenzy of recordings I am making nowadays). So if anything I will have to play on a digital which will be even worse. :s


Originally Posted by dogperson
Nemaara
Really looking forward to hearing your updated recording—- I’m convinced it will be awesome 😊

Thank you, also relevant comment above which is maybe somewhere off in the future, maybe in a couple months if I can fit it in in time.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 05/18/22 10:34 PM
Originally Posted by Nemaara
Originally Posted by Sidokar
No doubt about that. That said, I appologize if what I am going to say sounds a bit hard , ... but it seems to me that your technical skill level far exceeds the expressive capabilities of your piano. I dont know if you are in a situation to change, but that is something I would consider in the future. Maybe your recording set up has something to do with it as well, but my guess is that the piano itself has a major role.

Well thank you but I am about to leave home and my piano behind somewhat soon (hence the frenzy of recordings I am making nowadays). So if anything I will have to play on a digital which will be even worse. :s


Originally Posted by dogperson
Nemaara
Really looking forward to hearing your updated recording—- I’m convinced it will be awesome 😊

Thank you, also relevant comment above which is maybe somewhere off in the future, maybe in a couple months if I can fit it in in time.


No rush., We’ll still be here,
Posted By: SiFi Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/19/22 08:43 PM
Originally Posted by Carey
Actually, it is impresssive that you can play "parts" of the fast sections as fast as you do - BUT the current speed is too fast for you to "control" all of these passages without sounding frenetic and jumbled (right and left hands simply aren't together). I recommend that you 1) slow down, 2) only play as fast as your weakest hand will allow, and 3) try to find and communicate the music in the score. smile

Carey, I respectfully disagree with both you and Mark. I don't get the sense that any of the fast passages are out of control. Quite the contrary, they seem to be executed with preternatural accuracy as far as I can tell, which bespeaks a phenomenal technique, especially for a non-professional.

Neemara, I notice that none of your YouTube recordings show you performing in person. I for one would love to see your piano playing in full flow. Any chance you could make a proper video. We all know this music well, so we don't really need to follow the score!
Posted By: Mark_C Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/19/22 09:48 PM
Originally Posted by SiFi
[quote=Carey]....I don't get the sense that any of the fast passages are out of control. Quite the contrary, they seem to be executed with preternatural accuracy as far as I can tell....

I didn't mean anything about accuracy! smile
Posted By: SiFi Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/19/22 11:14 PM
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by SiFi
[quote=Carey]....I don't get the sense that any of the fast passages are out of control. Quite the contrary, they seem to be executed with preternatural accuracy as far as I can tell....

I didn't mean anything about accuracy! smile

Understood, but I meant in general (control) and specifically (not losing control, i.e. playing without errors). What you said: "It still needs to be in a certain kind of control." That's what I was disagreeing with. I agree with what you said, but I don't think it applies here.
Posted By: Carey Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/19/22 11:40 PM
Simon - I clarified my original comment by pointing specifically to parts of the final agitato section. The OP listened to Zimmerman's playing of these passages and agreed with me. I just listened to the OP's recording again and I agree with me too. grin
Posted By: Mark_C Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/20/22 12:27 AM
SiFi: How about if I say "frantic" instead of anything "control".....

That's what I meant: Frantic in a way that makes it seem like it's not in control -- meaning, in this case, that it's not how the person meant it to go.

....which I'm guessing was so.
If not, then not. smile
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/20/22 12:56 AM
Originally Posted by SiFi
Carey, I respectfully disagree with both you and Mark. I don't get the sense that any of the fast passages are out of control. Quite the contrary, they seem to be executed with preternatural accuracy as far as I can tell, which bespeaks a phenomenal technique, especially for a non-professional.

Neemara, I notice that none of your YouTube recordings show you performing in person. I for one would love to see your piano playing in full flow. Any chance you could make a proper video. We all know this music well, so we don't really need to follow the score!

Thanks for the praise! The thing is I'm camera shy. I already play worse musically on recording, brain tends to focus on getting notes right rather than playing music once I know a mic is in place. I usually don't react well once I know there's a cam. Funny enough playing live is a lot easier as long as I'm not aware of the camera or mic pointed at me.

Originally Posted by Carey
Simon - I clarified my original comment by pointing specifically to parts of the final agitato section. The OP listened to Zimmerman's playing of these passages and agreed with me. I just listened to the OP's recording again and I agree with me too. grin

Yes I still agree with you too. smile
Posted By: SiFi Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/20/22 02:04 AM
Originally Posted by Carey
Simon - I clarified my original comment by pointing specifically to parts of the final agitato section. The OP listened to Zimmerman's playing of these passages and agreed with me. I just listened to the OP's recording again and I agree with me too. grin

With that qualification now understood, I guess I agree with you too. smile
Posted By: SiFi Re: Chopin's 2nd Ballade - 07/20/22 05:35 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think the fast sections are played faster than even most top pros play them. I was shocked when I heard them. So I think that means they are too fast.

That was my first thought when I heard those passages.
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