“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.”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Chopin's Polonaise in A-Flat, Op. 53: Chromatic Fourths

A student writes asking for a demonstration of the opening passages of Chopin's grand Polonaise. The question came out of my earlier presentation of the etude in sixths, no doubt because all passages in parallel double notes have much in common. That is, we choose a fingering that will allow us to play legato without feeling clingy. This often necessitates crossing a longer finger over a shorter one, which both Bach and Chopin taught us to do.
Chromatic means "colorful."
(Yes, really.) The technique will also demand an understanding of how to use one note of the chord, usually the top note, as a hinge and use forearm rotation to facilitate the movement.

Chopin Polonaise Chromatic Fourths
In speed, which is not really very fast, we can also feel a slight (tiny) up before each thumb. Rotation is crucial in the third example, where the thumb is repeated. See the demonstration here: Chromatic Fourths.


Tom said...

i need help. im using the fingering from the score, 1-3, 1-4, 2-5, 1-5, 2-4, 1-, 2-4. the problem is it sounds very staccato. especially from 2-5 to 1-5. as the 5 needs to move away from the key to the next. im also wondering if my cheap kingsburg piano is a possible reason why im playing them more staccato.

Neil Stannard said...

Are you referring to example 3? Check the fingering. In general, anytime a finger is repeated in succession, rotation is necessary in order to avoid a disconnect. So, if say the thumb is repeated on the lower note, use the upper note as a hinge to help create the illusion of legato. Judicious use of pedal can help.