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The nub of the question is: why are there pedalling discrepancies that most performers I listen to follow identically, but are almost universally not listed in any variations of scores and how could I come to the same conclusions myself when just looking at a score like this? I feel the sheet music isn't telling the whole story and I don't know what I'm missing...

Here's a little more detail. I definitely understand pedalling is fairly subjective, but I don't think I've ever seen it performed so consistently differently from what is written. Instances:

  1. All the scores at imslp for the first page show that pedalling stops half way through through the phrase, but when watching performances they all continue a "pedal-release" for distinct chords in the left hand for the entire duration of the fast right hand scales. (See image example) pedal 1

  2. I think I heard most performers pedal for the duration of these two parts as well, but pedalling is not indicated on the sheet music at all. (See image example) pedal 2 pedal 3

Performers examples:

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Just because modern professional performers play something a certain way doesn't mean you should feel compelled to come to similar conclusions about the execution.

Your own example is illustrative of this point. Chopin used to lambast people who would substitute damper pedal for a true finger-legato. That's exactly what Kissin and Wright are doing; they're playing the etude too SLOW (check with the metronome if you don't believe me) and using damper pedal to maintain the big slurs instead of the indicated finger-legato, which would suffice at indicated speed.

My own interpretation of that passage on a modern piano would use sostenuto pedal for the single bass note alone and finger-legato in both hands. That would give maximum clarity to the dotted rhythm in the left hand.

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I think the best answer is "Pedalling is subjective" as mentioned in the OP. In this case, there are at least three reasons I can think of that performers apply pedal differently from the written music. There is a difference in modern pianos and those available to Chopin and the performers try to make their performance sound musical. Also, the printed version may not be Chopin's actual writing; editors do make changes and suggestions, even in pedalling. The locale of the performance may be different; this can affect tempo, dynamics, and pedalling for most pieces (even true for a country dance band as I have found out from experience.)

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