In Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No.3 Mov.3 towards the end there are some parts with a glissando with doubled notes from 7:30 onwards of this video.

It's played by Martha Argerich. I've also watched another video (here and here) of that concerto where you can see her play it.

My question is now, how can these notes be played? Even after watching her a few times I can't figure it out how she does it because of the bad video quality. It doesn't even look like a glissando the way she does it (at least after my perception of what a glissando looks like).

  • It boggles the mind to play this as written, and I can't see her approach either. In the approach above, is the F played with both hands? It appears in both staves.
    – Paul Balga
    Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 1:53

6 Answers 6


While I don't say that it is easy (and I'm not even going to try to do it myself), you'll notice that all the notes are on white keys. The usual way to play these is to play between two keys with one finger, striking the two notes at once. (Prokofiev loved to do horrible things like this.) As A. Jiménez says, it's not a glissando; you can't do this by sliding your fingers across the keys.

I looked more closely at the link, and I notice that this is the way the fingerings are marked on the score as well.

  • 1
    Yes, it's definitely intended to be played with two keys to one finger - usually this is done for the thumb only. It isn't really all that hard to play, it just goes against every habit a good pianist is supposed to cultivate (hitting keys exactly in the right spot is just as important as exact intonation on a string instrument). Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 8:41
  • Well, it's hard to play up to tempo (at least, anyone who finds it easy is a much better pianist than I am, and I'm pretty good), and impossible to play with just the thumb. But yes, it also goes against every habit a good pianist is supposed to cultivate as well.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 5:16

Well, it's not a glissando. That passage mimics in some way the effect of a glissando, but definitely, it's not. One way of percieve it, it's that not all notes are double notes, but there's an alternation between single and double notes, which makes it impossible to play using glissando technique.

Now, how is she able to play that passage? Marta Argerich is an outstanding pianist with an outstanding piano technique. And that's what that passage requires: a highly trained technique. I've never played Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto so I can't do the fingering for that particular passage, but it reminds me to certain parts of Ravel's Jeux d'eau. At 0:50, you can see a passage where the right hand arpegiates playing double notes. That's usually played letting finger 1 play the lower two notes, and then 2-3 for the next two, 4-5 for the other two and then arpegiate. That's what I think the performer is intended to do while playing that passage in Porkofiev's Concerto, but with the added difficulty of playing double notes with both hands at an almost unhuman speed.

Not that I'm saying that double notes can't be played on a glissando. In fact, Ravel includes that technique a lot on most of his piano compositions, as it's shown in Ondine on his Gaspard de la Nuit, or in Alborada del Gracioso, where Richter looks like he plays those glissando almost effortlessly.


I tried this fingering, i don't know if it' ll work on a fast tempo.

enter image description here

Maybe, the use of the first finger for double notes is better.

enter image description here


In her (more recent) performance here:

I get the impression/idea that she's playing the passage by playing two "standard" arpeggios in each hand, split a step apart. I don't think that's what she's actually doing, but it gave me the idea. I've written out the sheet music: enter image description here which you can play here: https://flat.io/score/613afd2d4bad330012efceca-prok-3-glissando. This is still quite difficult, but I think it is easier (personally) than the "play two keys with one finger" strategy that seems to be "standard".


The above is not correct either particularly for the left hand. There are NO double thirds played (2/5 to 1/4). Double thirds are not part of the written arpeggios anyway. Two notes with an interval of a second are played with ONE finger. Remembering that, the arpeggio can be worked out by crossing hands as does Argerich and many others. A GLISSANDO is not acceptable.


Perhaps doing a glissando with both hands a second apart saving the 5th finger for sing notes/

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