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This might be a silly question so pardon me. Recently I have been practicing Chopin's Nocturne Op.72 No.1 in e minor.I have a question regarding how to use the pedals. I have been listening to Rubinstein's recording as well as Đặng Thái Sơn's. What puzzles me is that both recordings sound like they were not using the pedal at all. Each note sounds so clear and none of them sound elongated. I am trying to mimick that effect but it seems impossible to do that. I am quite sure I am following the instruction on the sheet though...Any suggestion?

  • You could encourage more users to help you with this if you linked to the recordings you mention and posted an excerpt from the sheet music (or at least a link to the sheet music, IMSLP perhaps?) – Bob Broadley Sep 4 '15 at 16:47
  • I believe you can press down the pedals more lightly (i.e. not fully pressing them down, halfway or so), and this will reduce the effect of the sustain and should make the notes clearer as well. – Farbod Salamat-Zadeh Sep 26 '15 at 1:36
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I see several parameters that could explain what you hear in these recordings and why you can't reproduce it:

  • You don't have the same piano. A high quality and perfectly tuned piano tends to avoid the "soup of sounds" effect due to the pedal, and allows you to have nice pianissimi with the low notes, which is important in nocturnes (this requires a bit of technique too).
  • The pedal technic: good pianists usually have a very subtle use of the sustaining pedal through numerous and quick full or half pedals (they press the pedal only halfway down). Rubinstein and Đặng Thái Sơn do use the pedal a lot, but in a discreet way, to keep a clear sound.

The pedal indications on your sheet may not be helpful on your piano. If you have a urtext edition, for example, you will see Chopin's indications, and he played on pianos very different from our modern ones (to have an idea, you can listen to this nocturne played on a old Pleyel piano).

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