I am teaching myself piano and thought it would be a good challenge to learn this arrangement of Mascagni's Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana. I do not have a teacher and have never taken lessons, so perhaps I missing some simple insight.

Can someone explain how the fingerings highlighted are supposed to work?

In the first measure, it looks to me like the idea is to play the right-hand low A with the 2nd finger as a grace note, then jump to play the octave using the thumb (unmarked) and 5th finger, perhaps flipping your hand over or tucking your thumb under to do so; you then hand the high A off to the 4th finger to sustain the note and free up the 5th finger to play the next C octave. A similar hand-off happens on the first right-hand octave of the second measure.

Is this what the arranger has in mind? It seems very awkward.

I would appreciate any insights.

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1 Answer 1


There's some logic to it. As you say, 2 on the gracenote with the thumb already tucked under (tuck, never hand-flip) probably gives the shortest route to the octave, then swapping 5 for 4 facilitates the legato melody.

  • 1
    Why not just used the left hand? It's basically free at that moment.
    – Bort
    Commented Jan 1 at 18:27
  • 2
    @Bort you mean left hand to do the C octave at third beat? how is the left hand free there? EDIT: Ah, you mean to do the gracenote. That could be a nice alternative fingering, although probably right hand is chosen here since it's supposed to be part of the melody.
    – justhalf
    Commented Jan 2 at 2:58
  • 1
    "then swapping 5 for 4 facilitates the legato melody." This type of finger substitution is vital on the pipe organ (which has no sustain pedal), but is still pretty useful on the piano, even when the sustain pedal could also be used. (In my own experience, it's easy to get a little sloppy with the sustain pedal; playing legato without the sustain pedal encourages more precise attention to note durations.) Commented Jan 2 at 19:51
  • @JoshuaTaylor Most importantly, the sustain pedal might be inappropriate in certain cases, as one voice might need legato while other parts wouldn't. Commented Jan 3 at 14:16

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