Bars 32-39 of this prelude call for the left hand to play a line built from sustained notes that also get repeatedly replayed in the right hand's sixteenth note arpeggiations.

I cannot figure out technically how to achieve this continuity in the left hand line. It seems like it would require some kind of trick with the sostenuto pedal, or some way to re-hold the overlapping notes with the right hand. Both seem wrong.

1 Answer 1


Preface: The technique is a combination of approaches explained in Should the 'f' be sustained or replayed in Rachmaninoff op. 43, variation XVIII (piano)? and Piano: hold note but also free up hand to play other notes.


  1. Play the left-hand note prominently and hold with half-pedal.
  2. Play the repeat of the LH note, but keep the LH close by.
  3. Capture the pressed-down repeated note with the LH.
  4. Half-change (i.e., don't entirely clear) the pedal when beginning the next harmonic grouping.
  5. Repeat as needed.

Example: Shown below are mm. 35–36, which are particularly problematic. Here is how the above technique applies:

  1. In the LH rolled chord, let the topmost D ring out.
  2. Sustain at half pedal.
  3. When the RH replays the D during beat 1.5, replay the note very lightly, because it's a separate, inner voice. It provides color and texture, but need not (should not) be heard distinctly.
  4. Before the RH releases the D, substitute in the LH so the note continues without a second replay.
  5. Full pedal change as beat 2 begins (because of the LH rest).
  6. Repeat the procedure for beat 3 and m. 36, but with half pedal changes at step 5 to help sustain the LH D as much as possible.

The first score below shows mm. 35–36 as published in the first edition. The second score is by Ray Alston. The latter is included, because it offers some visual illustration of how the passage should be played insofar as the small noteheads reinforce how lightly those notes must be played.

mm. 35–36: 1st Russian edition

mm. 35–36: Ray Alston edition

  • those two bars are great illustrations. the held note is supposed to be played, replayed softly, and recaptured by the LH within 1/16th note at mm 108 per dotted half... guess I'm learning a new technique. Dec 1, 2023 at 15:28

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