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Chopin Op.55 No. 1, m.89~97, the nine measures before the final two measures, left hand chord is A3-C3-F2, how to best do it with small hands unable to cover 10 keys? Should I just hold the C3-F2 and leave A3 out, or do all three as broken chord?

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2 Answers 2

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Playing F2-C3 is a viable option. You could also try C3-F3-A3. With that one looses the deep sound of the F2 but retains the complete chord. I think the choice between them is purely aesthetic; one isn't "better" than the other outside of the preferred sound of the performer.

For a fuller answer on handling too-large intervals, see What is the best way to play a chord larger than your hand?

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I wish you included the immediately preceding measure for the context! Here are the preceding measures from a French first edition score (1844) published by Maurice Schlesinger (see IMSLP, pdf here):

Top half of last page of Chopin's Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1

You see how the left hand is tasked with 2 voices and how the A note comes later (two beats after) to complete the F major chord. I heard that Chopin had small hands, so he probably arranged for that A note to be part of the RH passage to do double duty with the sustained note.

  • If you have a grand piano with the Sostenuto middle pedal in addition to the right Damper pedal, you can press the A piano key with your right hand, and immediately use the Sostenuto pedal to keep the F, C, and A notes ringing, freeing you to use the Damper pedal to connect the right hand arpeggios. The note A will then remains ringing although your left hand only holds the F and C keys.

  • Or if you don't have the Sostenuto pedal, you can "cheat" by doing this right after pressing the F and C piano keys on beat 1:

    1. shift your 5th finger to the extreme corner of the F piano key near the vertical edge while making sure to keep it depressed,
    2. if you play the C with your 2nd finger, transfer it to the 3rd finger, holding the C key depressed as normal (from the top), and
    3. start stretching your 1st finger (thumb) toward the vertical edge of the A piano key.

    Then immediately after your right hand finger presses the A key, keep it down with your left thumb at the corner near the vertical edge of the key. Thus throughout those 8 measures, you can keep all 3 keys pressed, although aesthetically it may not look good. As an organist I have gotten used to sometimes needing to do unconventional things like holding a chord or playing notes across 2 manuals at the same time with one hand.

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  • Context is important! +1
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 7 at 16:31

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