I can play a little over half of La Campanella (by Liszt) on the piano using the Sostenuto Pedal. I'm using the Sostenuto Pedal because it makes the trills, and the piece in general much easier to play. When I use the Damper Pedal I'm not entirely sure when to lift the pedal, so when I do end up releasing the pedal it is always in the wrong spots. In the sheet music, there is no indication of the use of a Damper Pedal, but in performances on YouTube there is obvious use of the Damper Pedal.

Does anyone have any suggestions/tips for the use of the Damper Pedal in La Campanella?

P.S. I'm playing the piece with a Sostenuto Pedal right now because:
a) I play more accurately
b) Again, when I play with the Damper Pedal, I can't seem to get the timings of the pedal liftings/releasing right. It either sounds extremely murky or just off.
c) I don't know if this is just for my piano, but almost any piece feels easier to play with the Sostenuto Pedal.

  • 1
    As a clarification, are you asking about using damper pedal in the piece as a whole, or a specific part? Just know, the more specific the part you're asking about, the better the answer(s) you'll get.
    – Aaron
    Nov 15 '21 at 5:07
  • I'd recommend half-pedalling or even less than that, but nowadays, my findings are that even quarter-pedalling on my upright piano often blurs the notes too much.
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 15 '21 at 13:16

For one thing: You should not use the sostenuto pedal to mask deficiencies in technique while practising. It is quite important to practice use of the pedal if you want to use it, but this should not trick you into thinking that there are no problems in parts where there are.

Generally any piece feels easier with pedal, as it makes playing legato easier and quickly creates a full, rich sound that masks unevenness and such. But this is the reason why it is so important not to rely on the pedal while practising.

That being said: You could try to experiment with giving only a little bit of pedal. Usually the dampers are raised using a stick on the left side of the piano. This results in the dampers rising slightly faster on that bass side and gives you full, free base notes and a descant that is ringing a bit but still dry enough not to turn into mush. On modern pianos this often does not work that well though.

And the better you can play the piece without pedal, the less pedal you need to add.

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