Accompanying music?

Will someone please tell me the name and composer of the music accompanying this video of wonderful Monet paintings.

Thank you.

Beethoven - “Moonlight Sonata” (Piano Sonata No. 14)

Or, more properly, Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2, otherwise known as the “Moonlight Sonata”. Often one of the first classical sonatas a pianist learns, since none of the three movements is particularly difficult technically. And quite enjoyable to listen to.

Third movement is actually fairly tricky, definitely a piece for advanced players. The notes on the first movement are not difficult, but doing it justice with the right feel is not easy.

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Moving thread from General Questions to Cafe Society, our home for musical stuff (including identification).

I learned to play this many years ago (back when Jimmy Carter was president, I think). I was going to say the same thing. It’s not difficult to play, but it is difficult to play well (IMHO).

The third movement is a virtuoso piece, especially considering it is marked “Presto agitato”. Even famous pianists back off on that and play Allegro. On youtube Wilhelm Kempff plays it at 144 bpm which is right in the middle of the Allegro range, and well short of 168 bpm which is the start of Presto. Mind you, Beethoven’s tempo markings have always been ridiculously fast, even after he received the first metronome.

Thanks for the confirmation. I wanted to hedge my bets by saying it’s “fairly tricky,” just in case I really sucked or something. :slight_smile:

Does anyone actually play it at 168 bpm? I can’t imagine it sounding right at that blazing a speed. The 144bpm range and even a bit slower sounds correct to me, but that may be because that’s what I’m more used to hearing it. Was “presto agitato” that strictly defined in Beethoven’s time? It would seem to me to be more of a sort of relative instruction to play it quickly and excitedly, which it does sound at the speeds more conventionally defined as “allegro.”

Well, to answer my own question, looks like this version tips around 180bpm, so I guess some folks do.

ETA: And I"m getting more like 160bpm for Wilhelm Kempff’s version, at least tapping along with it using this tool.

ETA2: Though it does dip into the 140s in parts as it goes along.

I’ve noticed that the opening bars are always the fastest (arpeggiated 16th notes) and then it consistently slows down when the broken chords in 8th notes starts.

Valentina Lisitsa is indeed one of the most promising young* pianists. Everything that I’ve read about her has been extremely positive. Interestingly, it seems that her career was launched by the videos she posted on YouTube, after she had more or less given up trying to make it in the traditional way.

  • Always a relative term in the classical world: she’s 43.

I was playing the third movement of the sonata at the age of 10 or 11. Was I playing it presto? Certainly not. But the point I’m making is that I’m not (nor was I ever) a technically gifted pianist, yet I could play all the things required of the movement. It doesn’t make you do anything particularly difficult technically; it just makes you do relatively easy things quickly. Probably the toughest parts (at least to me) were getting the little turns right (measures 30 and 32, e.g.) and jumping around on the eighth note chords at 43 et seq., without pausing as you move from the completion of one set to the next.

One of the beautiful things about Beethoven is that he was able to make such wonderful piano music out of relatively simple mechanics (for example, the rapidly ascending series of arpeggios in the beginning of the movement). I was quite shocked when I first looked at the score (as an adult) of the Fifth Piano Concerto and found that there wan’t anything in there particularly demanding in the First Movement at all. Tchaikovsky’s First is much more demanding, by comparison, and we won’t even begin to discuss Rachmaninoff. Going back to sonatas, there are Beethoven piano sonatas that ask for more demanding technical gifts than Moonlight does, but they are generally among the lesser-known works.

The Moonlight requires a deft touch in the first and especially second movements, to avoid the funeral march quality the first can get, and to make sure that the second gets the slightly capricious nature it should have, without bogging down in the middle section. That’s why I love the sonata. But I remember my progression through Beethoven as a young lad quite clearly: the Sonatina in G, the Sonata No. 20 (Op. 49, No. 2) in G (the second of “Two Easy Sonatas”), and then the Moonlight. I suppose I could have learned “Pathetique” first, but although I love the second movement, I prefer the Moonlight overall. But the order of learning shows that my instructor, at least, considered the Moonlight not challenging. I don’t think he ever DID suggest the “Hammerklavier” to me as a piece to try…

ETA: Most pianists I’ve heard do not play the third movement at 168+ (presto) all the way through. Certainly Horowitz did not, and no one can claim that HE was not doing it out of lack of technical ability! Horowitz plays Moonlight. Curiously, it’s one of the few times Rubinstein was less emotive than Horowitz Rubinstein plays Moonlight.

I would kill to have her hands. They are naturals for the piano. Mine are, well, Trumpian, by comparison. :mad:

I agree! But when you achieve the right playing it is great!

I think you are a pretty good pianist if you could do that at 10 or 11. My hands certainly weren’t big enough to effortlessly do those arpeggios at that age. You’re selling yourself a bit short. Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music rates it an ARCT (over Grade 10) piece (the sonata as a whole.)

Now, there’s many, many, many pieces much harder, even among Beethoven’s sonata repertoire. (Like the Hammerklavier, as you mentioned, usually regarded as his most difficult.) But someone who can play it fluidly (and not smudging the whole thing with the pedal, too) has a pretty reasonable command of the instrument.

Watching people’s hands when they play the piano (or any musical instrument as a matter of fact) is fascinating. I find some “shapes” more esthetically pleasing than others and, if two fingerings are available to me, I’ll pick the one that “looks” best - all other factors being equal, of course. I have longish fingers which opens up some options, but nowhere near as fleet and natural as hers.

I also like to hear cellists’ fingers gently tapping the fingerboard when they play.

Valentina Lisitsa is quite a gifted pianist. In interviews she’s said since childhood, she thought of her hands as horses; her right hand a white spotted horse, her left hand a prancing black stallion.

Another, even younger virtuoso with blistering fingers and complete mastery of her craft is Yuja Wang.

Her grasp of Chopin, even at age ~11 is impressive. 1 23
She was enrolled as the youngest ever student at Calgary’s Mount Royal Conservatory.

She’s improved considerably with age: Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2-G minor Op. 16 (stay for her Mozart/ Volodos Turkish March encore).

Rach #2

Rach #3
Rhapsody in Blue
This entire compilation is impressive, but the Stravinsky with 3 percussionists (at 20:40) is particularly unique (Yuja’s father was a percussionist—she has an affinity for percussion): Compilation

I just hope she soon adds more Liszt to her repertoire

Yuja’s the pianist who’s fingers and muscle memory I’d most love to have. Heck, I’d settle for her toes.