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Piano Practicing: Taking the robot out of fast passages

It’s easy to stare at a Presto Rondo from the Classical era, and wonder how to navigate scads of notes that can end up on the assembly line, pumped out with no sense of individuality. And while herds of them might be corralled with a sensible fingering, their shape and direction often remain out of reach. That’s when the robot relentlessly controls the flock.

Repeatedly, I’d tried to stave off the mechanical monster in Haydn’s final movement,(Sonata in Eb Hob.XVI:52) but without success, until I carefully examined the harmonic outline of the Bass part as the organizer of Treble fast melody.

The “dips” that are part of harmonic resolutions–like Dominant to Tonic, and the longer approaches to cadences (resting points) from phrase to phrase, gave me a grouped sense of the notes above, without stealing their individual identity. It amounted to the happy paradox of playing well-shaped lines that sprang from notes cushioned in harmony as they robustly sang out their solos.

The video below tracks the journey.

Haydn sonata in E Flat Hoboken 52

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