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question about beginning of trills for Chopin pieces

Discussion in 'Technique' started by MindenBlues, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    My question is simple, but (for me) of importance:

    Did Chopin started the trills in his pieces "by default" from the upper note or from the main note?

    Most people play Chopin with trills beginning with main note. However in the book from Eigeldinger "Chopin - pianist and teacher" there are 2 citations from contemporaries, Mikuli and Stirling, who said that Chopin started his trills normally from the upper note, like Bach did e.g.

    So my question is, does anybody know of another primary source how Chopin started his trills?

    It is so that my piano teacher insists on starting the trill with the main note, and in for the following example in the Berceuse this manner gives me problems, both technically and musically wise:

    My teacher likes too that all 4 trills are started from the main note. She said, the rule is that at least starting with Beethoven, one starts with main note instead upper note. But I am wondering whether Chopin is an exeption from the rule. Already for the first trill there is a problem: one gets an interruption of the run this way, to start the trill with b double flat instead with c flat. If I start with c flat, it gets a continuous run.

    So, why on earth do play so much people Chopin trills with startpoint from main note, if Chopin (who was very fussy with exact coding of his music and interpretation) played it the other way round with starting from upper note, what often sounds VERY different?

    What's your opinion, and most of all: can anybody provide another primary source about how Chopin started his trills?
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Olaf, you have probably already seen this, but I have attached scanned pages from a couple of my books. The second two pages are from Paderewski editions, which my teacher says is reliable. Also, maybe you can try listening to your favorite Chopin players of this piece and see what they do.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This seems to be an exception to the rule. The first 2 trills only make sense when started on the main note, it would sound real contrived if you didn't. It follows that the third trill should also start on the main note, otherwise there is a glitch between the bars. Now, the fourth had better start with the main note too if only for the sake of consistency.
    So I agree with your teacher on this. The rule (Chopin usually started on the upper note) should not become a law.

    But this may be controversial. My piano teacher (of the old, practical, Russian school) says a trillo should not start with the upper note if the preceding note already is that same upper note. So you are not supposed to have a repeated note there. My organ teacher however, who is more influenced by HIP, says this is rubbish and one should always start a trillo from upper note, even if that results in a repeated note. I tend to decide on a per-case basis. At livelier speeds, the HIP option is not always feasible.
     
  4. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    I agree with techneut wholeheartedly. Just because it's what Chopin did, no matter how great he was, doesn't mean that you have to do it too.

    I pretty much always start my trills on the main note, and although that probably isn't the best thing to do in every case, it sounds better to me. In this part of the lovely Berceuse, I would definitely start on the main note for the trills.

    Overall, I think it should come down to what sounds best to you. That is, unless you're participating in a competition or something.
     
  5. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    @ Monica:

    Many thanks for your copies regarding the execution of the trills for Chopin. I don't have it, so this article was new to me.
    However, I sometimes feel that in former times people did sometimes a bit lightheaded interpretations of original works. Not only that here and there they changed the note text or dynamic signs but too often the quotations were interpreted pretty freely.
    So for me there remain only two different sources from contemporaries who wrote down what Chopin did himself. And they independently mentioned that Chopin did normally start his trills from the upper note. If he liked to have it from the principal note he wrote that note explicitely down.

    Regarding the posted bar from the Berceuse, it makes highly sense for me especially for the first trill to start from the upper note, since this ensures a continuous flow without gaps for the run. Although I don't know of any pianist who plays all 4 trills here starting with upper note, it sounds well to me to do so. But taste may differ on that.

    Thank you all so far for the comments!
     
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Quoted from the book "Chopin: Pianist and Teacher", which contains direct testimony from many of his students, pg 58:

    "Execution of Ornaments"

    "Chopin considered that trills shoud begin on the upper note. When they are preceeded by a small note (at the same pitch as the principal note), that does not mean that this note should be repeated, but mearly that the trill should begin on the principal note and not, as normally, on the upper note."

    The next testimony:

    "Trills, which he mostly began with the auxiliary note (upper note), were to be played not so much rapidly as with great evenness, and with the ending tranquil and not at all precipitate."


    Remember, Chopin's musical notation was how he wished his piece to be played note for note, not so much "insert fast trill here". If you plan to change his intention, you might as well change the notes also.
     
  7. Chopinesque

    Chopinesque New Member

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    Trills in Mozart

    Hello,

    I also have a question regarding the starting note of trills, but in Mozart.

    According to my theory books, a trill starts on the upper note except when it is immediately preceeded by the upper note, in which case the trill begins on the lower note (so as not to repeat the same note twice).

    However, I'm playing Mozart's sonata in D Major K. 311 (I have the ABRSM edition) and the editor
    has written out the trills as starting on the upper note, even when they are preceded by the upper note. Is this correct? I've heard various professional performances of this piece and some start on the lower note.

    Is there a definitive answer to this or is it a matter of personal interpretation?

    Many thanks.
     
  8. Chopinesque

    Chopinesque New Member

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    Mozart Trills

    Just to clarify: what I meant by the "lower note" of the trill in my earlier message is what is commonly known as the main note.
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: Trills in Mozart

    Actually, it seems like opinioins are divided about this.
    This is what my piano teacher told me also. However my organ teacher (who is more steeped in modern but historically informed performance) says this is rubbish and you should start with the upper note even if the preceding note was that same note already. This argument was about Bach trills but it will be the same for Mozart, I guess. Note that this is only for the trillo. A mordant will always start on the main note.

    Personally I'd go halfway and say that if you have the time to do it, start on the upper note. But sometimes in faster pieces you just can't get that done, and then better to start on the main note.

    Hope that helps !
     
  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    >Did Chopin started the trills in his pieces "by default" from the upper note or from the main note?

    I don't know. But surely the reference for 90% of Chopin thrills is the bel-canto behaviour.
    Listen to some great singer in Bellini, then you'll know how to think and to realize the thrills in
    the belcanto-style Chopin passagges.
    Regards,
    S.
     

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