Piano Sonata no. 18 E flat major op. 31 no. 3
Urtext Edition, paperbound
Pages: 38 (V, 33), Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 755 · ISMN M-2018-0755-3
Level of difficulty (Piano): difficult (Level 7)
For half a century Henle’s edition of the Beethoven sonatas – the “New Testament” of the piano repertoire – has been universally recognized as the standard starting-point for any serious study of these works. Now, with the publication of the three op. 31 sonatas in revised separate editions, we are raising the yardstick another notch: no less a musician than the pianist and conductor Murray Perahia has agreed, for the first time ever, to publish his fingerings and, as co-editor, to confide his profound insights into the sources to music lovers everywhere. The musical text has been prepared in strict accordance with the rules of modern Urtext editing, and the volume is rounded off with a lengthy and informative preface and detailed notes on sources and alternative readings.
Twenty years ago, in an article comparing all the available Beethoven piano sonata editions, I judged that the winner of the competition was Henle’s Wallner. Since then, little has surfaced in the way of sources and, barring the sudden appearance of autographs for the early sonatas (or the much-lamented ‘Hammerklavier’ autograph), new editions will be assessed more on judgement than discovery. Seen from this angle, Henle’s new Beethoven edition, though still in its infancy, gives every indication of giving players and scholars a great deal to learn from.
[Nineteenth Century, 2006]
The Beethoven, edited by Norbert Gertsch and Murray Perahia, has a wealth of helpful fingering suggestions by Perahia. Interesting notes regarding the sources and variations in the score are provided and make for intriguing reading.
De prachtige Urtext van Henle verhaalt de hele continuing soap story. Het kritisch commentaar biedt een minutieus inzicht in de verschillen tussen de overgeleverde bronnen en Murray Perahia voorzag de partituur van vingerzetting.
The levels of difficulty of the
piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
The levels of difficulty of the piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
|1||easy||Bach, Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, nos. 4 and 5|
|2||Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier I, no. 1 Prelude C major|
|3||Beethoven, Piano Sonatas op. 49,1 and 2|
|4||medium||Grieg, Lyric Pieces op. 12, no. 4|
|5||Schumann, Fantasy Pieces op. 12, no. 1|
|6||Chopin, Nocturnes op. 27, nos. 1 and 2|
|7||difficult||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3|
|8||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 81a|
|9||Schumann, Toccata op. 7|
Guide to the levels of difficulty
"I don't know what 'difficult' means. Either you can play or you can't" – this was the rather terse comment by the great violinist Nathan Milstein, on being asked about the unbelievable difficulty of Niccolo Paganini's Caprice no. 1.
The relativity of the evaluation of difficulty in music immediately becomes clear. Yet I gladly take up this great challenge, presented to me by G. Henle Publishers. For I am aware of how useful a guide like this can be, both from my own experience as well as that of many colleagues. In particular so as to be able to identify "appropriate" works. For example for music teachers, who teach at very different levels, from beginners to those preparing for music conservatories, but also for all those interested amateurs for whom this guide is intended.
After careful deliberation I have settled on nine levels of difficulty, which I have divided into three groups: 1–3 (easy), 4–6 (medium), 7–9 (difficult). A number of parameters have been considered when assessing the level of difficulty. I have not just looked at the number of fast or slow notes to be played, or the chord sequences; of central importance are also the complexity of the piece's composition, its rhythmic complexities, the difficulty of reading the text for the first time, and last but not least, how easy or difficult it is to understand its musical structure. I have defined "piece" as being the musical unit of a sonata, or a single piece in a cycle, which is why Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Part I comprises a total of 48 levels of difficulty (each prelude and fugue is considered separately), Schumann's Sonata in f sharp minor op.11 only has a single number. My assessment is measured by the ability to prepare a piece for performance.
While assessing the pieces, it became clear that the medium level of difficulty (4–6) is the trickiest. Now and again this means that a piece is judged as a "3/4", even if it only deserved a "3" as far as piano technique is concerned. An example of such a "borderline" case (easy/medium) is Schumann's "Scenes from Childhood" op. 15 Von fremden Ländern und Menschen or at the other end "6/7" part of Bach's "English Suites". And of course within a main category there are also "from-to" evaluations (e.g. 7/8).
Any evaluation of art or music will always be subjective, even if the aim was to be objective. Despite the fact that I have endeavoured to be as careful as possible, I am all too aware that the results of my work can be called into question, and am therefore grateful for any suggestions you might have.
Prof. Rolf Koenen © 2010