Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This is an except of bars 47-50 moonlight sonata from Henle enter image description here

In bar 49 in the middle of the second triplet there is a fingering of 21 (pressing with the 2 finger and switching to 1 while pressing), which I don't understad why they would suggest that?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

They are assuming you are using finger 4 on the top D#.

The reason to switch from 2-1 is that if you ended up with 3rd finger on the G# and 4th finger on D# above, it is too far of a stretch. If you are playing the high D# with 5th finger it won't feel so uncomfortable, but then you can't connect the melody notes with finger legato. The finger switch allows a move from 4 to 5 in the melody to make it legato. You can obviously overcome the difficulty with pedal, but in my opinion, this piece is often ruined by overzealous pedaling.

share|improve this answer
    
Cue the discussion of the composer's pedal instructions.... –  Mark Lutton May 3 '13 at 20:50
    
@Mark: heh, see my answer ;) –  nonpop May 3 '13 at 21:03
    
And finger 4 on D# or not, if you play 1 2 3 on those triplets and you're getting ready for the next 1 on E, you then have 1, 2 and 3 clustered together on E, F# and G#, which makes it hard to reach the E with 5 gracefully. –  terpsichore May 4 '13 at 3:31
    
A good answer overall (+1), but I want to add that there is a difference in sound between pedal legato and finger legato. –  11684 May 5 '13 at 10:03

I don't think it has to do with legato, at least not in the way ecline6 suggested, because if you're using 4th finger for the top d#, the f#-d# stretch would still be a problem (at least it's for me), and the switch should be marked on the first beat instead of the second. In fact, the only working fingering for using 4th on d# I can think of is to use 1-1-2 for the triplets.

Instead, I think the reason is that if you play g# with the 3rd finger and want to keep the triplets legato, you might have tension in your hand when you play the e octave. With the switch that doesn't happen. Still, it seems to be unnecessarily complicated. Just use the pedal and make sure you don't swallow or accentuate the g#.

Btw, the reason people use lots of pedal is probably because that's what Beethoven wrote! In the beginning it says sempre pp e senza sordini, which means all the time very quiet and without dampers (i.e. with the pedal down). On a modern piano you have to change the pedal at least partly every now and then, though, since the sound is longer. You actually get a pretty cool effect if you, for example, don't switch the pedal at all during the first two measures.

share|improve this answer
    
You can make the switch to 4 on the d# on the same 8th as the 2-1 switch or the 8th after. Typically the 4-5 switches would not be marked. Maybe it's just my hand (fairly large) but I don't have trouble making the triplets legato either way, though for a smaller hand, the reach from g# to d# may be too far. The decay while pedaling on today's pianos is more than significantly longer than in Beethoven's time. A more realistic effect is to 1/2 or 1/4 pedal throughout. However, you can get some odd tonal characteristics when doing that. –  ecline6 May 3 '13 at 22:07
    
Sempre senza sordini means "use the pedal throughout the piece". It does not mean "leave the pedal down forever without changing." –  terpsichore May 4 '13 at 3:29
    
@ecline6: I still think that fingering is overly complicated but yeah, you can make it work that way. –  nonpop May 4 '13 at 8:58
    
@terpsichore: That's very much up to debate, as is the tempo which here is a funny combination of adagio and alla breve. –  nonpop May 4 '13 at 8:59

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.