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 Post subject: Moonlight Sonata - "senza sordini"
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:36 pm 
I'm just starting to learn Moonlight Sonata from a "simplified" version and the instruction at the beginning is to use the soft pedal. However, I notice in the sheet music on this web site, it says "senza sordini" which translates as "without mute". To me, that would mean: Do NOT use the soft pedal? Am I right?

I'd appreciate your comments on how you play this.

Thanks a bunch!

Al


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:34 am 
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I could be wrong, but I think it means 'without dampers' iow, with pedal. I don't think it has anything to do with the una corda pedal, otherwise I believe Beethoven would have written tre corda or something like that. I could be wrong though...

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:58 am 
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Yes, senza sordino means you have to play it without dampers. So press down the right pedal a bit (not fully!) and try not to move your foot at all through the entire piece. If you ask me, this is the actual challenge with it.

But I haven't practiced this sonata seriously, I have to say.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:21 pm 
Thanks gentlemen! I came across an article on this very subject today on the Inernet and they agree with you.

I'm not sure, but I don't think they were using sustain pedals yet when Beethoven wrote this piece but I guess they had dampers. and that's why he talks about dampers instead of pedals.

Al :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:12 pm 
Not to be a jerk, but of course they were using sustain pedals. Otherwise the annotation "senza sordini" would be meaningless, no?

If I recall from articles I have read on the subject, pianos used to be quieter instruments, with the string vibrations dying faster, and thus the damper pedal could remain depressed for the entire duration of the movement without the sound becoming unbearable. I believe on a modern piano it is quite difficult to get a historically precise rendition for this reason. As a result, most pianists make subtle pedal lifts and half-lifts to modulate the sustaining effect. But, make no mistake, Beethoven's intent was for the damper pedal to remain on the floor for the entire duration of the piece. In my opinion, this makes this piece very interesting... avant garde almost, especially in 1801 but even today, in a sense.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:15 pm 
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joed wrote:
Not to be a jerk, but of course they were using sustain pedals. Otherwise the annotation "senza sordini" would be meaningless, no?

If I recall from articles I have read on the subject, pianos used to be quieter instruments, with the string vibrations dying faster, and thus the damper pedal could remain depressed for the entire duration of the movement without the sound becoming unbearable. I believe on a modern piano it is quite difficult to get a historically precise rendition for this reason. As a result, most pianists make subtle pedal lifts and half-lifts to modulate the sustaining effect. But, make no mistake, Beethoven's intent was for the damper pedal to remain on the floor for the entire duration of the piece. In my opinion, this makes this piece very interesting... avant garde almost, especially in 1801 but even today, in a sense.



This is what I have been told when I did this sonata. I agree totally.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:26 pm 
The italian term 'senza sordini' means "without dampers" therefore in my opinion, the sustain pedal sould be kept depressed throughout the entire piece, i.e. the Adagio sostenuto (1st movement). But really, one can never really be sure, I mean, i wouldn't like to give a definite interpretation, one might argue on the possibilty of a harmonic mess, but i disagree.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 6:56 pm 
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Matthew Schembri wrote:
The italian term 'senza sordini' means "without dampers" therefore in my opinion, the sustain pedal sould be kept depressed throughout the entire piece, i.e. the Adagio sostenuto (1st movement). But really, one can never really be sure, I mean, i wouldn't like to give a definite interpretation, one might argue on the possibilty of a harmonic mess, but i disagree.


Hi Matthew,
Do you think beetovens piano is as resonant as our modern piano??? I beleive, the modern piano is much more resonant than his. Therefore, use of pedal requires some "ajustment".

Anyone else??


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 7:28 pm 
Well, I agree to that, but I also beleive that the pianist would adapt things according to the instrument he has at his disposal trying to remain as loyal as possible to the original. correct me if I am wrong.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:07 pm 
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Matthew Schembri wrote:
Well, I agree to that, but I also beleive that the pianist would adapt things according to the instrument he has at his disposal trying to remain as loyal as possible to the original. correct me if I am wrong.


Very good thinking pal. How about this, without any social pressure from the surroundings. See if you can afford to buy one replica harcichord and one replica piano like Chopin or beetovens piano. and that wise, we have both world. We can play just like they did. But sometimes, I think the composer also imagining the sound tnat is surpassing their instrument.
Everything is possible, its the matter of do it or not.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:55 am 
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Location: Sweden
With this adagio, the pedal has to be kept down completely during the whole piece but also, according what I heard from "experts on this piece", the tempo has to be much faster, almost double as fast as it is played these days, because the piece is written in alla breva, not in a normal 4/4. I tried it and it gives a total different atmosphere.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:15 pm 
I agree with joed. It is Beethoven's intention for the pianist to keep the sustain pedal constantly pressed through the 1st movement. On pianos in LvB days, 'senza sordino' would not cause a muddled sound (when playing adagio). On modern pianos, you cannot keep the pedal down, because the tones will not dissipate fast enough, no matter how slow you play. On Robert Greenberg's lectures about the LvB piano sonatas, published on CD by The Teaching Company, you can hear a sample of the way this movement sounded on a vintage piano from LvB time. In the sample he provided, the tones overlap nicely, and then the tone fades before the sound becomes jumbled.

My family and friends enjoy my interpretation of moonlight, but alas I've never played this professionally. Nonetheless, In my attempt to replicate the sound of this movement as played on the vintage piano, I mainly pedal when the bass line changes. In this movement, I keep the pedal down, and reset it only when the musical pattern or bass line changes. People listening seem to get sidetracked by the dark and haunting change in the lower register, and I suppose they do not realize that the pedal had been reset. They probably do not notice, because the change in pedaling is not very obvious if you are careful. The pedal is only depressed for a split second, and if you play legato during pedal changes, it is hardly noticeable. I think the goal is to let the notes run into each other nicely to allow that ethereal fantasia type of sound, but to avoid jumbled sound. Let your ear guide you. Josef Lhévinne says the best pedaling is when the audience doesn't realize you are using it, but with this movement that is a challenge. Try listening to Schiff, or Rubenstein play moonlight, if you haven't yet.

Good luck :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:08 pm 
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Just don't make any "sharp edges" with your use of the right pedal.

Don't worry too much about exactly HOW to use the pedal. For all I care, play it with your nose, just make it sound good!

Pete


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 Post subject: Schiff
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:05 pm 
In his lectures on the B. sonatas freely available from the Guardian newspaper website, Andras Schiff discusses this as well as the issue of what tempo to use. He plays a little bit of the movement to illustrate.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:16 am 
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Thanks for that.


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