Brahms Op. 87 measure
I'm playing the Brahms Op. 87 piano trio with friends and have been struggling with a particularly big moment that seems to require a big left hand jump:
is there any sneaky way around it? The final open G could offer me a moment to shift but the three following Gs are important and exposed in the music. I could even try to leave out the last tied figure to favor the finish. I'm anticipating the answer will be "practice the quick shift from third position placing the 2nd finger in 5th position!" Most recordings sound seamless here...
I'd work (slowly!) on the handshape you need for for those three Gs. First, I suggest, using the guitar position until it feels reasonably natural and then moving to the normal playing position. The important finger here is the 2nd. Get used to anchoring that firmly on the A string so that you can reach back to the G on the D and forward to the high G on the E.
I would consider doing the first two octaves in 3rd position but with a 1-3 fingered octave rather than a 1-4 octave.
A variation on Lydia's good idea, you could start with a 1-4 octave, then substitute 4 with 3 to do a 1-3 octave. If you're comfortable with ending on 2-4, you could play 1-3 on the lower octave, then 2-4 on the upper octave and avoid shifting or pivoting altogether. The crawl depends on feeling a 2-3 substitution on G on A-string, and tuning the two fingered octaves. It all depends on your proportions and what feels most secure.
Fingered octaves do not belong in chamber music. Blah!
Sarah, "I'm anticipating the answer will be "practice the quick shift from third position placing the 2nd finger in 5th position!" indeed, you can certainly benefit from learning and experimenting with the options outlined above, but it can certainly also be practiced, played simply like you say. To be honest I don't think it is a big deal, once you have practiced it you can do that shift relaxed and fluid, I think. The G on the E-string can be played (added) just a fraction after sounding the G on the A-string.
Agree with Jean D. If I had to do that, my 2-4 octaves are never in tune, so 1-3 or 1-4 octave at the end. To get there, start with a normal third position 1st finger G, then at the last triplet; open G, harmonic 2nd finger G, then the first finger is in position to start the octave double stop. The bowing can help. Start the first triplet down, so the octave is with an up-bow flourish. Don't worry about hitting the D string in between. The same fingering puzzle happens on pg. 1 of Prokofief concerto - 2
If you practice anything carefully enough it will come with time. But pivot and crawl shifts are the tricks of the trade, the "sneaky way around" such passages I think the OP was looking for.
Thank you all! These suggestions are fantastic, glad I asked the forum.
Paul, I think I find myself using fingered octaves MORE in chamber music than I do in solo music. In general also, the ability to frame the hand around a 1-3 (or 2-4) octave offers tremendous fingering flexibility in a very wide range of music. A very similar set of triplet octaves to this Brahms passage occurs in the A-major Dvorak piano quintet, at a pretty fast tempo.
Are you preparing this for performance or are you playing with friends for recreation? If the latter I would do the easy thing and play only the upper G of the last octave. I bet--even if you did perform it--very few people would notice the missing lower G. It seems the better option than risking an intonation mishap in such an exposed note.
There is analogous passage in Kreisler's cadenza to Tartini's g minor (Devil's Trill) sonata. Traditionally, the four G's are played 0 - 1 - 2 - 4 there, held simultaneously - so my teacher told me. It's possible, and not as uncomfortable as it looks.
Paul in chamber music you do regularly vibrate with 3th finger instead of 4th, while keeping your 1st finger in place, don't you? That is a comparable stretch to a fingered octave.
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