After playing this Chopin piece on and off over the past 15 or so years, I'm realizing that some of my fingerings just don't work. Well, I realized it long ago, but I'm accepting it now. And I'm starting the long road of changing the fingerings that have been imprinted on my brain all this time.
First, we have the octave-jump that appears a couple of times on the first page, and a couple of times at the end (sorry, I don't have measure numbers at hand):
I can do this quite well at a slow tempo. When I speed up, however, I let up on the higher F just a bit, and I end up playing two short F's in succession--one with the 5, and one with the 1.
It's always been like this. It's always been a toss-up as to whether I'll play it correctly, or not.
So I decided that the fingering needs to change. I have two options:
- 5 on the lower F, then 1 on the higher F, and then cross over the 3 to get to the B-flat
- 5 on the lower F, then 5 on the higher F
Here's option 1:
The downside here is that it's slightly awkward for my 3 to reach over after stretching from 5 to 1.
Here's option 2:
The downside of the second option is that the second F's volume will be harder to control because I'm jumping up with the 5. But I've decided (for now) that that's my preferred approach. That way I can hold the higher F down as a half-note. (Though it probably doesn't matter, since I'm using the pedal. And it's hard to tell anyway why Chopin put a half note there, because it doesn't completely make sense.)
Fingering change number 2 is in the sotto voce section, where the octaves are playing the melody:
Do you see how the high notes of the octaves alternate between 4 and 5? Well, I've been playing all of the octaves with my 1 and 5 fingers, jumping around. It hasn't sounded bad because the pedal makes up for the fact that they're not totally legato, but still ... I've realized that I will have more control over the tone and phrasing if I use 4 instead of 5 in some places.
This has been a big change. I have to focus so hard on the new fingering that my left hand loses its place. I may end up going back to the 1 and 5 approach for every octave, since it sounds fine that way ... but I want to try this.
It is so strange, after playing this piece all these years, that I am still developing such simple things as fingerings. I'm working on a few other, "higher-level" things as well, of course. I am so close to having this one "performance-ready." Though I will probably always find something new in this piece to work on!