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Thread: Pieces that Feel 'Natural'

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    Default Pieces that Feel 'Natural'

    I have a question to pose for all the pianists out there:

    Which composer's solo piano works do you think feels most natural under the hands?

    Perhaps I'm insane and this is just a nonsensical question, but I often come across pieces where I encounter the sensation that it just all fits so magnificently under the fingers. This is, of course, completely irrelevant to the music - it doesn't matter if it's a masterpiece or not. After all, I would say that my dearly beloved Brahms entirely lacks this quality - meticulously thought out as his piano works are, I don't play them and find them natural under the fingertips.

    So am I mental, or do you think some works just 'feel' like they're meant for the piano?

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    Senior Member Stasou's Avatar
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    You're not insane. I'm working on Mendelssohn's Rondo Capriccioso and it seems to fit under the fingers very well, for the most part, as does Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 and Rachmaninov Humoreske Op. 10, No. 5. On the other hand, Beethoven's "Waldstien" Piano Sonata, No. 21 doesn't seem quite as natural, nor does anything Muczynski (duh)(of course, this says nothing about the quality of the music itself).

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    Senior Member Air's Avatar
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    Throughout the course of music history, there were basically three composers whose thought processes were intrinsically linked to the piano - Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Claude Debussy. Rather than being composers of music for the piano like Beethoven and Brahms were, they actually composed for the piano, and for pianists this is truly a marvelous thing.

    I always delight when performing a work by one of these composers in the fact that the movements of my fingers are actually meant to have a certain "feeling" to them that is linked to the music in a very direct way. It's easier for me to have the notes "flow" underneath my hands since they are always there for you as part of the emotional and intellectual aspects of the piece. It's almost as if the motion of your fingers across the keyboard is a reflection of the work itself, dancing and caressing along as the music dances and caresses too.

    Of course many composers who were keyboardists themselves have this quality to their music. It it also prevalent in D. Scarlatti, C.P.E. Bach, Mendelssohn, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff, to name but a few.

    Interesting to note though that even though almost every great composer in the past and present had/has experience as a keyboardist (with a few notable exceptions), not every one of these composers necessarily worked from the perspective of a keyboardist first and foremost. Beethoven, known best as an improviser, is a good example of a composer who often neglected thinking about the hand position of performers when he wrote the scores to his piano sonatas - and some of them turned out quite awkward indeed. Liszt and Prokofiev too, though in many ways seeing things in the keyboardist's perspective as great pianists themselves, wrote piano music and concerti characterized by a unique virtuosic language that can often be awkward and technically very challenging for performers.

    It's also the reason that Chopin's Nocturnes and Schumann's Kreisleriana are practically impossible to orchestrate.
    Last edited by Air; May-24-2011 at 04:36.
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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    Chopin's works are generaly very will under the hand. And if there is some difficulty to them, it's because he's making one hand play something quite big and complicated, which his exellent writing makes possible.

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    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    I think most of Mozart's works tend to feel very natural to me on the keys...while I love the Beethoven ones and know them a lot better, the Amadeus pieces do have a certain flow to them.

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    Junior Member hemidemisemiquaver's Avatar
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    This subject raised an interesting question in my head. Aside from performing by yourself, there's also that thing when you hear a piece performed by somebody else - sometimes even if you have never thought about certain composition as of something special, pianist's playing can convince you of the opposite. However, we dislike performing manner of some of them for no reason - say, because they don't have that natural feel you're talking about. But may that fact that they play not Chopin's but somebody else's works be the reason why we believe their performances are desicatted? Only because they were written by a composer who had never tried to put theirselves in musician's shoes?

    I mean, am I right that there's a higher chance that if I had taken 10 random pianists, and they would play a piece by a composer who knows about troublesome hand positions firsthand, it would sound apriori proper in more cases?

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