Adieu - Part 3/3

Sections C & D (w/video)

If you're arriving to this article without any awareness of how I have structured this tutorial series, please be sure to read the introduction article, then study part one article (with related video) and then part two article (with related video).  Herein is part three, which assumes you have the piece entirely on your Internal Jukebox, you have your own copy of the score and can play fluently the previous two parts as provided above.

Part three has two sections: C and D.  C contains a shorter steady, simple left hand accompaniment and playful, slightly demanding right hand two-note melody which repeats once.  It's very satisfying to be able to play it, too.  D is a collection of ascending chords made up of two notes in each hand and connected by two notes between.  Since these sections are shorter than A and B, not to mention 'easier', I present them together.

As for the structure, that is simply down to the edition you're using or the particular recording you like the most, so I will not discuss structure. It's very easy to identify the structure or even use your own to make the piece shorter without the repeats!  I simply teach the notes of each section for you to then do as you wish...

As always, I mastered the score away from the piano and made sure I could play it on my Internal Piano before going near the keys.  During this exercise, I identified patterns, chord types (thus chord progression) and identified any technical or theoretical issues I may have had with it.  One issue that I felt may be of significance is presented below.

Take a look at the image to the left.  In the bass clef, keeping in mind that it's a Waltz so each bar must add up to three beats, we see three crotchets (Eb, G, Eb), combined with a minim also on the G on beat two.  The Eb, G, Eb makes up three beats and we can see that we must play the last Eb while the G is held down as a minim from beat two. We can't remove the crotchet or the bar would equal four beats (crotchet 1, minim 2, crotchet 1) so why are there two note values for one same note?

See this moment as if two people are singing the same note but then they do different things.  The note is, in effect, cut in half:  Chopin simply wanted to have the G 'continue singing' (to be sustained) with the Db in the right hand (also a two-beat minim) as the left hand 'singer' breaks off and executes the final Eb in paralell with the G still being played (or 'sung').  This notation appears in every other bar: 1, 3, 5, etc. until the end of the section (C) so I thought it was worth bringing up.

I first mastered the left hand pattern simply because it had less notes in it.  Sometimes, it's the right hand melody first and as you'll see later, sometimes both together is best.  Be flexible and adapt.  This pattern is easy to visualise and memorise:  Eb, G, Eb / Ab, Ab (octave), Eb.  That's it.  The slightly trickier right hand requires solid visualisation away from the piano, pattern recognition and then it's time to head to the piano to identify your natural fingering and personalise your touch, as well as working on timing, all without the score, of course!

The treble clef requirements can be divided into three subsections to help with mastery:  1) five two-note shapes used in a pattern, 2) a note alternation used to lead into the aforementioned shapes, along with 2) a 'thumb to Db' effort on beat 2.  Let me expand upon each one by sharing the edited stave below:

As you work through the section, you will acquire the pattern but in this image, I just wanted to highlight the significant areas related to the three subsections above.  The yellow circles indicate the Db which the right hand thumb will play simultaneously for two beats with the left hand which plays the G; the right hand then plays the repetitive F, G, F (shown in green) whilst the thumb is holding down that Db (because it's a minim).  This is best understood by watching the video, of course.  The blue is to highlight how the pattern begins and goes:  C, Eb... always an Ab, C in the middle and then either Bb, Db to G, Bb or Db, F to Bb, Db.  Notice these are both Eb7 chord tones.  What you will see by studying the score is that this alternates:  it begins high (the 'higher one') absolutely at the beginning (in the score provided, at the end of the bar on the previous page, called in the manuscript '2a/ Volta') which is Db, F to Bb, Db, then it's Bb, Db to G, Bb... I call that 'the lower one'.  Then high, then low.  The right hand follows this pattern so you should have that down quite quickly... at least in theory.  Again, just highlighting here but demonstrated in the video.

That is Section C.  Spend time finding your natural fingering and making a significant effort to put the right hand thumb on the Db with the left hand's G because you can't miss a beat - literally - because it's in the middle of the bar!

Section D next and fortunately this section is just 8 bars, without modifications in any repeats, of two-notes-per-hand chords ascending almost chromatically.  Each bar has the same note durations so all you need to do is memorise through visualisation this sequence away from the piano.  I learnt this by combining all four notes together rather than separating the hands because I was curious about the chords and inversions used.  I recommend you do the same and learn it in block-chord style than separate hands since they both do the same thing at the same time.  Thank you Chopin!

Of note, however, is my natural fingering.  After closing my eyes once at the piano, I settled, naturally, on the following:  right hand: always thumb on lower note and always ring finger on higher note.  Each bar has two notes leading chromatically to the next chord in the treble clef.  I play each of those with my right hand's middle finger then ring finger, so the ring finger is very active here.  You may choose another fingering and mine may change occasionally but more often than not, this was most natural and comfortable to me.  Left hand fingering isn't as fixed since it sometimes plays octaves and sometimes plays a 5th.  Please note the final bar of this section because: it finishes with a quaver, you get a quaver rest, then you start again as you did at the very beginning of the section with the Db, F, as discussed earlier.

One last thing about the score is when playing the final repeat of Section A.  As you know, there is a nice chromatic run from the A to the Gb.  This time, you must run up a chord to a higher octave!  See the image below to try to recognise what chord it is!  It's easy to find natural fingering and sounds very pretty indeed.

To conclude this tutorial series, I will now share two infamous renditions of this piece in video form.  What can we notice about: Tempo? Touch? Expression? Structure?  Listen to each then read my final paragraphs.



First of all, the video durations say a lot.  Both videos are edited to include only a second or two at the beginning and end so we can compare very accurately: Lisitsa's version is 3:30 (minus silence) and Erez's version is 4:10 (minus silence).  40 seconds is quite significant considering the length of the piece.  If it were over 20 minutes, this may be unsurprising but for under 5 minutes, we can see that two professional concert pianists have interpreted the same piece in very different ways.  Lesson?  Play how you want!

As for touch, Erez prefers a weightier, slower way to play even the fast parts and is more hesitant (musically speaking) during 'emotional' parts; Lisitsa has moments of passion but is surfing a much faster wave with much more rapidity of touch.  In other words, she hangs around less and walks more gracefully.  This is not about opinion, please note, it is about technical observation.

Expressively speaking, Lisitsa was more dominating over the piano.  It's as if she learnt the piece and then said, "Right, I'm going to do this with it".  Erez was more faithful to the strictness of the score even though he played it more slowly.  It was as if he said, "I'm glad I can now play this piece. Let me show you how it is written".  Again, not opinion, just things that anybody can hear when comparing the two performances side by side.  Which you prefer is down to you!  To save you the trouble, I also listened to them together (pausing Lisitsa every few seconds!) to compare the structure and it is the same.

So, now that you have mastered the piece, picked up some theory and acquired some new techniques to apply to other repertoire, not to mention having spent some nice away from the piano moments and studied a score... how will you Play You in this piece?  Comments under the videos are most appreciated and progress reports or performances shared are most encouraged for the motivation of all.

Good luck!