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Solutions concerning technique and interpretation

Chopin - Etude in B minor, op. 25 n° 10 “Octaves”

1. Beginning and end sections (m. 1-28 and 100-119)
Measures 1-4 (the staff below): for a complete explanation concerning the proper functioning of shoulder impulses, follow the chapter 10 point

The wavy green line represents the vertical oscillation of the shoulder transmitted to the arm and wrist.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION! These oscillations are softened and maintained by a well working spine (cf. video below).

It is commonly believed that the motor apparatus used by a pianist goes from the tips of the fingers up to the shoulder. In fact, the entire body is involved in a pianist’s playing - from the heel firmly planted on the floor, through the entire length of the spine up to the head. The backwards and forwards movement of the head serves the purpose of increasing or diminishing the weight of the body on the arms, and, through them, onto the keyboard.

2. Middle section (m. 29-103)
One of the greatest pieces of Chopin’s advice which Professor Woytowicz shared with me on numerous occasions is the following: “The same does not mean in the same way.” Generally speaking, it is well known that Chopin rarely played the same piece twice in the same way, and on this point, probably no other pianist has surpassed him. Nonetheless, it is a different question here: the repeat of a phrase in the text of a piece does not mean that Chopin wanted to hear exactly the same thing, as in the case of a computer’s “copy/paste”, which today is more and more common and tiring in the end. It is, in fact, exactly the opposite: each repeat in any given work should be surrounded by the framework of a different interpretation.

Woytowicz’s interpretation was particularly varied in this area - please listen to the middle part (m. 29-99) of this Etude, with an exceptional richness in repeats of similar phrases, or even identical ones.

There are too many voices to bring out and to differentiate in this central part to enumerate them all here. Let us take only one example from Woytowicz’s interpretation - measures 47, 67 and 87, which seem to be alike at first. In the Polish Musical Edition (PWM, Paderewski), all of these measures are indeed alike (like the one framed in blue in the following example.) In the Urtext “original” edition) the Henle Edition prints the measure 87 without an appoggiatura and Woytowicz plays a strictly logical sequence (the second staff): m. 47 without appoggiatura, m. 67 with a single appoggiatura and m. 87 with a double one. It is difficult to say today if this was his own personal interpretation, for it could also have been an older one, maybe even Chopin’s interpretation.
Henle Edition (Urtext)
Woytowicz’s version

3. From my pedagogical practice
One never knows what image can make an idea click into place for a student and allow him to finally understand something. Once a student played imperfectly legato octaves in the RH. I asked him to play the passage again without the pedal. We verified that the upper voice was indeed played legato, but the thumb played unevenly. I played the passage, showed him what to do, explaining how to do so correctly, but the student’s result was still unsatisfactory. Finally, in despair, I told him: “Listen to me, the thumb must move like a worm.” The idea clicked into place

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Chopin - Etudes Introduction
Opus 10 n° 1 2 3 4 5
7 8
Opus 25 n°
10 11v
Opus posthumous n° 1v 2
v = Video
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You are here: Practice 12. How to Study Chopin’s Etudes? Chopin - Etude in B minor, op. 25 n° 10 “Octaves”