“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.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tchaikovsky Concerto: Scherzo Bliss

Peter Tchaikovsky


My student brought in the Tchaikovsky Concerto, complaining of difficulty in this example from the scherzo section, measure 50, of the second movement. In my student's edition, the editor had placed the fifth finger on B-flat and thumb on the following A.
Fingering in the Scherzo, Measure 50
(Click example to enlarge.)
Though not impossible to execute, this juxtaposition of the two short fingers can feel cramped, a pinching together. Not nice. I recommended the fingering indicated in the example above and pointed out that the technical grouping falls into groups containing four 16ths, creating a hemiola (three pulses instead of two). I've been practicing this myself and find it quite easy. Incidentally, the B-natural on the first beat could also be taken with the left hand. Who'll know the difference? I won't tell.
     In measure 43 the composer also places the technical pulse, the technical grouping, against the beat by creating a hemiola. Keep the eighths constant and put the pulse in the left hand.
Grouping int the Scherzo, Measure 43
(Click on example to enlarge.)
Confused Conductor

     In  fact, begin the entire scherzo leading with the left hand as the pulse and the piece becomes much easier. True, the conductor has to figure out where the beats are in order to punctuate the passage. But that's his problem.
     Side note. I once played in an orchestra when the conductor did indeed become confused in this passage. He lost track of the beat entirely, even though the soloist played with the utmost precision. He stopped conducting and whispered loudly, "play, play!" Well, we did the best we could, but I fear a few punctuation marks went missing in that performance.

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