hand choreography and fingering IV

The opening Allegro vivace of Beethoven’s sonata Op. 2/2 contains right-hand octave triplets (Bars. 84-89 and 304-309) that are difficult to play cleanly when using the fingering indicated in the first edition. The progression of thumb and second finger on the lower notes of these octaves makes nevertheless clear that Beethoven intended these triplets to be played by the right hand alone, although the left hand is resting.

On an early Viennese fortepiano with its light and shallow touch, these passages require little force (or weight), so a quick touch is possible in spite of the the twiddling and the stretched fingers. This fingering might be more difficult to realize when playing on a heavy piano (the Wiener Urtext Ausgabe offers an alternative set of fingerings). Simultaneously, on such an instrument, the risk of inadvertently added stray sharps is also highly increased. The practical Carl Czerny recommends for people with small hands to use the second finger of the left hand for the beginning note of each group – this would make the passage much easier “without changing the composition in the least.”

I am certain that literal pianists like Arrau or Serkin would have disagreed with Czerny. The fortepiano specialist with fat fingers is, however, faced with a dilemma. What is, after all, more ‘Beethovenian’: a gritty passage performed with the authentic fingering, or Czerny’s water-in-the-wine approach for the Small Of Hand? Can we trust Czerny when he decides for us that the easier approach keeps the composition intact? Is grit perhaps the very ingredient that is necessary, the most Beethovenian approach of all? More practicing will give the answer.

About these ads

Tags:

2 Responses to “hand choreography and fingering IV”

  1. Thomas D Says:

    How about just 1-5-1 all the way? Then the wrist and forearm do all the work … it’s just a series of decorated octaves.
    The result is gritty indeed, but maybe not quite in the way Beethoven was expecting!

  2. skowroneck Says:

    Beethoven’s original fingering allows for more legato, awkward as it may be. This is one of the rather few examples where the often-heard claim that Beethoven’s legato was so special really is shown in a source. 1-5-1 is likely to be what he once called “finger-dance,” (don’t remember the year) something his contemporaries were good at but which, according to him, reduced the piano to a “tinkling harp.” (1796) But I agree, it is tempting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers

%d bloggers like this: