Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beethoven Piano Concerto #5, Emperor Part I--Technical Difficulties [more edits coming]

For some reason, before replaying solo piano in ernest last year, I didn't really regard Beethoven's piano music as difficult.  Obviously, I was very naive in that assessment.  It's true that on sheer note difficulty the Liszts, the Ravels and the Rachmaninoffs are on another level, but to execute Beethoven the level of difficulty is just as high.  Kind of like the deceptive easiness of Mozart.  Only, in Beethoven, you do actually have very difficult passages.  Like the following.

Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, 1st mvt, difficult LH [look up measure #]

Having talked to a few people, it sounds like the above really is a hard passage, exceeding the difficulty of Chopin's Revolutionary etude.  So often, in Beethoven's piano music, he just sticks in a passage where the notes are just so awkward to play, at least by my standards.  The most notable example is probably the descending octaves in the final movement of the Waldstein sonata.  Just how do you play them?

But mostly, since Beethoven is a great pianist himself, they're not anything he didn't think pianists couldn't manage.  They're just things that require some time to work out.  Like these couple of other spots:

[1st mvt coda passage]

[3rd movement passage 6 against 2 in RH passage]

There are still plenty of difficult passages in this concerto, but the ones above are the ones I have the most trouble with.