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Link to the score

This is the first piece I've attempted that calls for sostenuto pedal rather than sustain pedal throughout (assuming I'm interpreting the notation correctly). Other than sempre Ped. in bar 28, the only pedal notation is Led sostenuto in bar 1 and Pedale sempre molto sostenuto in bar 4, all of which adds up to sostenuto instead of sustain throughout I think.

Alkan Op. 31, No. 8, mm. 1–3

How do I properly use the sostenuto pedal then? I'm thinking play the first bass chord in each measure, then hit the sostenuto pedal, then release after last bass chord in each measure. Is that correct?

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    That 'Led' is 'Ped'! Not even sure it means the sostenuto pedal. Sostenuto means sustained, and that can be done using the damper pedal – Tim Jun 12 at 14:32
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    This Musescore notation looks poorly formatted; I recommend confirming the notation in IMSLP. – Dekkadeci Jun 12 at 14:58
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    It still doesn't read 'Led' - it reads 'Ped. Look at the typeface. If it was the same for both words, it might make sense. But it's not. And using the sostenuto pedal isn't particularly useful for what music I can see. – Tim Jun 12 at 15:37
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    Regarding "Led", see Why does the pedal sign look like “Leo”?. – Aaron Jun 12 at 15:53
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    Keyboard lights up ;) …or, You can lead a horse to water, but a Zeppelin must be Led. – Tetsujin Jun 12 at 17:59
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There are four separate instructions:

  1. Ped.
  2. Sostenuto
  3. Pedale sempre
  4. molto sostenuto

"Sostenuto" here means "sustained" and refers to the overall sound, not to the pedal used. The piece uses the sustain pedal. The specific timing of the pedal depends on the sound the performer wants to achieve.

The minimum amount of pedal would be to change the pedal each time there's a new chord. In the excerpt shown in the OP, once per measure would be fine. Elsewhere, the piece would require twice per measure.

More pedal would be used for a "cleaner", but still sostenuto (sustained) sound. For example, one can pedal at the beginning of m. 2, but then again in m. 2 when the RH E flat occurs. That allows for a legato, warm sound, but without the RH B flat carrying across into the E flat. In the next measure, in addition to changing the pedal at the first chord, one could also change the pedal on the second LH chord, depending on how literally the rests are interpreted (as RH silence, or as RH fading away).

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  • I suppose I would lean toward changing pedal at the beginning of each new chord. My reasoning is the instructions 'Pedale sempre' and 'molto sustenuto', which I take together to mean keep the pedal down (of course that's just my take). I also assume 'sempre' means throughout the piece. Although I do wonder why Alkan felt it necessary to write 'sempre Ped.' at bar 28. That could mean I'm wrong about his intention to lean towards keeping the pedal down. By keeping pedal down I mean only change when a chord changes. – markmarz Jun 12 at 16:41
  • @markmarz I agree that your interpretation is a reasonable one. And your observation about m. 28 is quite interesting! To add to it: why in m. 3 does he use "Pedale sempre" and in m. 28 "sempre Ped.' (i.e., words reversed). Did he intend different meanings? For example, m. 3 = "Use the pedal consistently throughout the piece" vs. m. 28 = "Don't change the pedal during these next few measures." – Aaron Jun 12 at 16:48
  • I wish I knew! But thank you for your interesting and thoughtful interpretation. – markmarz Jun 12 at 16:58
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Simple answer - read my comments! No particular sostenuto pedalling is needed - or asked for. Play smoothly - and use the damper pedal to help that.

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  • I did read your comments, thank you! I also replied to them twice. – markmarz Jun 12 at 16:30
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    This is for you - and anyone reading in the future... – Tim Jun 12 at 17:47

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