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Solutions concerning technique and interpretation

Chopin - Etude in C-sharp minor, op. 25 n° 7

1. Trill technique       2. Silence in music
My recording from May 27th 2014 YouTube
1. Trill technique
1.1. A good pianistic technique consists in the precise synchronization of the fingers’ work with the functioning of the whole hand (as the “superior member”) and even with the whole body.
More precisely, it is a question of the synchronization of the triple attack of each key, whose components are:
I - impulse from the shoulder (= unbending the arm from the elbow = technique of “pushing the piano forwards”, cf. chapters 1 and 2),
II - impulse from the arm and wrist (= projection or rotation of the hand),
III - impulse from the metacarpus (= attack of the finger itself).
This is a “universal recipe” - all technical problems are caused either by the absence or by improper balancing of at least one of these impulses.
a) Basis. As I mentioned in Chapter 2, all the units above the metacarpus (called by Neuhaus “the rear guard”) are the “motor” of the pianist, i.e. the driving force of playing (points I and II above). The purpose of the exact balance of their actions, that is to say the proportions in which the weight and force of these units should be used, is to maximally discharge the fingers (“soldiers”). This will give them lightness and freedom of action.
b) Details. Nuanced playing, i.e. the realization on the keyboard of small, but very important elements (such as a variety of touch, accuracy of rhythm, accents, articulation or colors of the sound) depends on the individual work of each finger drawing energy from the “motor”. Without this “power supply”, the finger is not able to perform so many tasks.
N.B. Never regard your fingers as the driving force of playing! If you underestimate the role of the arm and shoulder, your fingers will have to take over the work of the “motor”, which is a great effort for their relatively weak... [...] 
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1.2. Playing a good trill requires a very specific technique. To obtain it, it is not enough to have an “ordinary” synchronization between the fingers and the close units (in itself difficult to do!) only.
a) Basis. It seems that the most important of all the coordination necessary to play a trill, are the rotation of the hand (a1) and the locking of certain joints (a2) - far greater than when playing other elements of the technique.
a1) The rotation of the hand is one of the most effective ways of connecting the aforementioned “motor” with the fingers and, through them, with the keyboard. It is an indispensable component of the trill technique. You cannot play a trill just with your fingers, or using... [...]    Login
a2) Locking joints, i.e. a conscious and desirable contraction of selected muscles, eliminates harmful effects of inertia which would make it impossible to play a trill or tremolo. However, it is extremely important to keep the wrist... [...]    Login
b) Details. as mentioned in point 1.1b: Individual work of each finger, drawing energy from the “motor” enables the pianist to obtain a variety of touch, accuracy of rhythm and colours of the sound etc.

2. Silence in music
Unfortunately, many pianists - not only young and inexperienced ones - get carried away by their technical abilities at the expense of the musical side. And the louder and faster you play, the better pianist you seem to a dilettante audience.
My site deals mainly with purely technical problems, but we should never forget that music is not just the finger technique, but also the ability to use both sound and silence. I would also like to remind here once more the words of Neuhaus:
“Tone must be clothed in silence; it must be enshrined in silence
like a jewel in a velvet case.”
Heinrich Neuhaus - “The Art of Piano Playing.”, p. 81, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York 1973
My professor, Bolesław Woytowicz, taught me to use not only sound but also silence. But he was born in 1899 and was still under the influence of the 19th century tradition coming from the students of Chopin himself.
I heard myself several extraordinary concerts in which the element of silence was very distinct.
For example, I heard Maria Grinberg play the “Moonlight” Sonata as an encore after the 3rd Concerto by Beethoven - help. All three movements were executed in absolute silence in the concert hall filled to maximum. I remember that I was afraid to breathe during the pauses between movements so as not to disturb that silence.
I was also lucky to witness the first Polish performance of the “Saint Luke Passion” by Krzysztof Penderecki where fortissimo, sometimes even terrifying, neighbored with a touching pianissimo, as in the air “Deus Meus” - help, sung in a masterly manner by Andrzej Hiolski - in my opinion, the greatest Musician among singers.
So I want to stress again that you should not only focus on the technical aspect of your play but also remember to use pianissimo, silence and gesture. The three together create a mood in music and convey what the composer wanted to express.
I would like to share here my experience on the example of my two recordings of this Étude: one recent (video / studio) and the other very old (audio / live).
My recording from May 27th 2014 YouTube
Measures 36, 39, 40, 66 and 67: Watch the video again and pay particular attention to these measures - note that during the general pauses I remain motionless. This is a kind of “celebration” of the music, which impresses the audience even more. I also observed another regularity: the greater silence I imposed during the concert, the louder and hotter the listeners applauded.
Measure 39:
Hardly any interpreter pays attention to the fact that the “a” in the RH is a sixteenth note, after which the “f-c-f” chord (quarter note) should still sound during the sixteenth rest. Its severe harmony without a third - which is exceptional in Chopin’s music - creates here a particularly dramatic expression. This expression will be completely lost, if the “a” lasts until the end of the chord (N.B: the LH slurs come from the Alfred Cortot edition).
Measure 68: Here is my live recording from 1985 (the video above contains its latest 4 measures):
There is a break of 11 seconds between the last chord and the applause: the chord itself lasted 7 seconds and the silence that followed 4 seconds. I remember it like today, the silence was absolute. I had the impression that 400 persons in the concert hall had stopped breathing. Making such a contact with the listeners is the purpose of the interpretation of music and confirms the transmission of its emotional contents. The interpretation consists in creating such an atmosphere. After the concert, Miłosz Magin congratulated me saying: “Well, to get such a silence during the second encore, that’s something...!”

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Chopin - Etudes Introduction
Opus 10 n° 1 2 3 4 5
6
7 8
9
10
11
12v
Opus 25 n°
1
2
3
4
5
6
7v
8
9
10 11v
12
Opus posthumous n° 1v 2
3
v = Video
For the time being, I cannot upload all my exercises.
If you have a question about another Etude, you can Write to Me
(first response FREE of charge - cf. Fees).
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