“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”
Plato

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Left Hand Octaves

If you are interested in the magic of fast octaves, have a look at this performance by Rubenstein of the A-flat Polonaise. This is a rare opportunity to observe octave shaping in action. Notice how he starts the passage using two hands (saving himself?) then switches to octaves. Notice also how in the first section, E-major, he starts out on the white key and moves in to the black keys in a continuous circular motion. Though difficult to see in speed, there is a slight under shape from the low B back up to the starting E. The movement is continuous and rounded, no sharp edges, and describes something like an ellipse. (I recommend fingering quick octaves one/five.) The shape is reversed when the passage repeats in E-flat.

I heard him play at Carnegie Hall and again later for a pension benefit concert with the New York Philharmonic. On both occasions the audience would not let him leave without playing the Polonaise, which was a signature piece.

Rubenstein Plays Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat 
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