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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 8 - B2

Presto alla Tesdesca.

1st movement from Sonata in G. Op. 79

Ludwig van Beethoven

Grade 8 ABRSM Piano 2019/2020 B2.

So the first thing to notice is that this piece is entitled "Presto". It needs to have lots of energy and if you notice the metronome mark in the ABRSM edition, the dotted minim  beat suggests a "one in a bar" feel. However, you should learn this piece slowly at first to get control of all the finer details before speeding up.

Another consideration that applies to the whole piece is the voicing. The accompaniment can get very busy and is at risk of drowning out the tune. Be especially careful from bar 176 where the tune alternates between the LH and the RH.

A lot of the time, Beethoven's dynamics are quite terraced for dramatic effect. For example the piano bar 12 and the forte bar 75, as well as many similar places should be in complete contrast to their respective preceding sections, whereas a more graduated effect should be employed in the scale passages as for example the passage from bar 24. Here, in addition to the notated dynamics, try to give the phrases some dynamic shaping. The sforzandi are not just isolated accented beats, but rather the climax of the shaped phrase that came before. Looking even deeper, in the bars where there are successive sforzando markings (37/38 & 41/42), the first of each pair will be the natural climax of the crescendo that came before, but to add shape, try to crescendo again after this first sforzando onto the second one.

A note on page turns. If you are using the ABRSM edition, you might want to turn the page slightly earlier or later. You will notice in the above video the page turns are in bars 51 (a bar early), bar 103 (2 bars early) and 156 (one bar late). The last one has it's own particular problem, with regard to sustaining the LH chord during the page turn. A way around this would be to use the middle pedal for the chord of bar 155. The normal sustain pedal could also work, but is less ideal as it would blur the scale notes above.

Pedalling in general should be used sparingly. Where marked in the ABRSM edition, this is to add a different "dolce" colour. Apart from these printed pedallings, the above video performance only adds an extra dab of pedal in bar 90, to aid the legato effect.

Pay attention to the sforzando 2nd beats in the passage from bar 57 (and similar), being careful not  to continue this accented style in the piano dolce sections that follow.

Finally, it might be quite stylistic to do a rallentando at the end of the development section (bars 119-122), returning  a tempo  for the recapitulation (bar 123). There should be no slowing down at the end however, with the witty throw-away piano arpeggio.

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