In this month’s practice clinic, Graham Fitch answered questions on works by Chopin, Debussy, Mendelssohn and Liszt. Topics discussed included avoiding tension in repeated chords, developing speed, pedalling and jumps.
Practice clinic questions
Chopin – Prelude (Op. 28 No. 4) – I am in the process of relearning this work. I am accumulating too much tension in my left hand while playing the repeated chords and haven’t been able to figure out how to play with a more relaxed hand. Two things are happening, as I progress the notes of the chords don’t sound together and voicing falls apart and by the end of the piece I am in pain.
10:00 Debussy – Clair de lune (from Suite bergamasque) – I have been playing this piece on and off for several years. There are 2 spots that I find uncontrollable:
- Bar 27 – The pedal is very messy here as I try to hold onto the melody notes, and it just feels awkward to play
- Bar 37 – The LH always feels uncoordinated and lumpy, so instead of moving the tempo forwards, I find myself needing to slow down to get all the notes
Mendelssohn – Scherzo in E Minor (Op. 16 No. 2) – I’m working on the Scherzo from the Op. 16 set, but can’t seem to find the necessary lightness and speed. My fingers feel like lead resulting in playing that’s too loud, plus there are too many wrong notes for my comfort.
Liszt’s – La Campanella, (No. 3 from Grand Paganini Études, S141) – I need help with playing jumps to the high D sharp in multiple passages. The note is supposed to sound like a bell but it’s an embellishment, not part of the melody. I’m having problems playing the note evenly, especially with two-octave jumps. Sometimes the note is too loud, other times I miss it entirely, hitting the wrong note, and other times I play it too softly. See in particular, bars 4-6, 8-10, 41-48.
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