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I started playing the first section of Liszt's "The Three Petrarch Sonnets." From bar 12, the melody and harmonies look so intertwined, and while I have figured out the melody, playing the harmonies seem to overpower the melody. Is there an effective practice or technique that will help to improve my phrasing?

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Catherine Rollin's lyrical "Preludes For Piano Complete Collection" will be helpful, but if you struggle, back up a little into "Alfred's Premiere Piano Course Levels 5&6 (You may only need Level 6) these are introduced on You Tube and are really worth watching. Then "Portraits of The Sky & Original Piano Solos" by Randall Hartsell for Early to Mid-Intermediate pianists. If you desire to focus some on technique as I am doing, study "Hanon-Faber The New Virtuoso Pianist Selections From Parts 1 and 2"--he has the first three gestures on youtube. Then internalize them and apply them to your personal piano scores (slow practice repeatedly with technique training to automate your techniques to begin to apply what you are learning. Even starting with a very small section of a score. Also watch his approach to the piano on other of his youtube videos partiularaly those describing techniques learned in Faber's Adult All-In-One Piano Course Level 2. Further listen daily to Lyrical Piano Solos on youtube by composers and arrangers mentioned above as well as by William Gillock, Martha Mier and her books "Romantic Impressions" Possibly even Timothy Brown's,"Nocturne" (this is also taught on youtube under "Succeeding At The Piano Lesson Book Level 4"- 'Nocturne'

Sheet music that I am loving to play and my Daughter so enjoys to hear is Catherine Rollin's "Song of Hope" Late Intermediate Piano Solo from The Alfred Signature Series. I improvise right into it and I will never tire playing this one- it's beautifully sonorous! One other sheet music by Angela Marshall also from Alfred's Signature Series "Romanza"

Also, listen intently to music you are planning to work on (with score open if possible, watching closely to Romantic pianists perform on youtube or at concerts, analyze their techniques and mimic them. Search for "learning Rubato" videos, especially by Joshua Wright as he and his wife both have their Doctorate degrees in Concert Performance. Joshua has both teachings and performances on youtube. He has a website on the Internet and has began selling his CDSs and offers auditions for lessons via Skkype also as he has taught piano for a multiple number of years. He answers your emails and may even create a video answering your question, mentioning your name and gives of his time generously on youtube. Josh teaches Chopin's Romantic style alot and like himself, he has students that compete at piano competitions. He is most humble and enjoys helping us play and perform.

If this is still above your head may I recommend that you study John Thompson's "Tuneful Technique" (Books I and II), "Third Grade Velocity Studies" "Keyboard Attacks:Twenty-Four Examples from the Masters to Develop Interpretation and Expression." The Romantic pianists utilize probably all of these touches found in this book, particularly the Pressure Touch to voice the lyrical melodies. Following these or along with them study John Thompson's "Fourth Grade Etudes:Twenty-Four Progressive Studies In All Keys from Works of Berens; Bertini; Cramer; Czerny; Gurlitt; Heller; Leybach, Loschhorn and John Thompson Each Containing Preparatory Exercises." Something also that may help because I have their Mozart, Bach and Beethoven' Studies and their books are exquisite! They show references for their research, teach with comments and writing out note for note each and every ornamentation, leaving no guess work for the student. Get "Chopin: An Introduction to his Keyboard Music by Willard A. Palmer: An Alfred Masterwork Edition" I believe you will learn alot about Chopin.

I also utilize John Thompson's "Easiest Piano Course "Supplementary Piano Course With Melody All The Way Book 3-b" to catapult myself into studying Early Advanced piano repertoire- and I am also going to be studying Chopin's entire collection, starting with the easiest for me first, "Chopin's Nocturnes, Preludes and Waltzes" after I verify my piano techniques and finish learning all scales and chordal theories of harmonization. My best to you. HAPPY PIANO EXPLORATION!

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My answer is a general answer, not specific to the Lizst. It is about identifying melody, countermelody, and accompaniment. You need to bring out (play louder) the melodies and countermelodies where appropriate. The notes in the accompaniment mainly stay softer, in the background, but occasionally need to be brought out when they push the harmonic progression forward. You may be playing one or two of these at a time in the same hand, so you need to know which notes to play louder and softer with the same hand. "Left hand softest" is way too simplistic. If the LH has the melody, it needs to be loudest. If the LH has a countermelody, it needs to be louder than any accompaniment in the RH, even if RH also has the melody. Additionally, shaping the phrases requires crescendo and diminuendo appropriate to the lines, which means that at some points countermelody may be louder than melody. These are all aspects of mature musical interpretation. If these are things you do not understand, you need a teacher to help you learn the piece.

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