3rd Movement of the Waldstein Sonata

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I am trying to figure out how to play the sections of the third movement of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata in which the right hand plays a trill AND the melody at the same time (meanwhile, the left hand is up to some pretty bruising stuff as well). How is it possible to keep the trill going while playing the melody notes?! Everytime I have asked this question, the answer I get is always the same: you need three hands!

-- Daniel H. Miller (yug.om.61@Juno.com), December 29, 2001


Well...those that answered with "you need three hands" have obviously never played it or seen anyone play it! When I've played the piece, the answer is simple - don't keep the trill going. The passage goes by so fast, one dropped note from the trill isn't going to be noticed. It's all background anyway - the audience's ear is going to be on the melody, which should be in the foreground. The trill is just atmosphere and you needn't be overly fussy about keeping it absolutely continuous.

(BTW...you should know that this apparently not what Beethoven did, as there are reports of him keeping the trill. Of course, with large hands and on period instruments, keeping the trill going would be MUCH easier than on today's instruments. For me, however, I was able to get a better sound by omitting a trill note here and there. I had a lot of friends and teachers listen to me, and nobody was ever bothered by the omitted notes - in fact, none of them ever noticed.)

-- Jason (jsifford@pianoped.com), January 02, 2002.

I had a very similar question come up on my own website a while back, and here was my answer:
I prefer to play the note with the note of the trill. I like to practice first at a slow tempo. There are some psychological things at work here. First, make sure you hear the trill and the melodic notes rhythmically. I like to start with a slower, smaller grouping. (eg, 4's instead of 6's in the trill), and then speed up to a faster, larger grouping (6's instead of 4's). At the points where the melodic note coincides with the trill, think of the vertical interval (octave, sixth, fifth, etc.), and play it as an interval right on the correct beat; this is different psychologically than trying to "fit in the note against the trill." Once you can play the rhythmic situation slowly, it should be easier to speed up. Use accents on the main beats at first, if you need to. Take a look at this trill example, illustrating my points. If you need the scorch plug-in, the example provides a link. By the way, you can slow the example down using the tempo slider at the top of the scorch window.
Another alternative, I guess.

-- Jon Ensminger (jlens@cybrzn.com), January 10, 2002.

What is your interpretation of the 1st movement? How do you analyze this movement for teaching?

-- Ellen (themusiccellar@comcast.net), February 01, 2005.

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