Interpretative pills - The left hand in Chopin's Etude Op. 10 N. 1

All pianists know very well this Etude by Chopin which is one of the most important and most difficult of the author. 

However, there are some aspects that are often neglected because of the technical difficulties of the right hand that has to solve very fast arpeggios, often in very uncomfortable positions, through fluid lateral movements. 

But the left hand is often neglected, where the harmonic sequence is found.>

At the beginning it occurs in a fairly normal way, with the succession of the following chords: root - fourth degree - seventh on the fourth degree - fifth degree - seventh on the fifth degree - fifth degree - root. 

It is always very useful to be aware of which harmony you are playing and where there is the greatest harmonic tension. 

A shape should be created even in the left hand, although it is generally played loud. 

I therefore advise against playing the bass notes with the same sound, all the same, as you often hear playing this Etude. 

We must always think of a line in the bass that unravels through a harmonic discourse which therefore does not have to be performed all with the same tension. 

One way of studying this Etude, to be more aware of the harmonies and tensions that run through it, is to not play the right hand as written, but only in chords, with the aim of memorizing and condensing its harmonic foundations. 

It is of great help to have an overview of the shape of the various musical phrases, and then to unfold our virtuosity within them. 

Furthermore, paradoxically, the technical, mechanical problems of the fast part of the right hand are often solved if we think more about the music, in this case more about harmony, about the bass line of the left hand. 

Reason musically, not just mechanically. 

This could be a valid motto for all of Chopin's Etudes that are designed precisely for this: there is a technical, virtuosic part, but which is always inserted in a context of great music. 

Photo: Chopin Etudes Op. 10, First edition, Maurice Schlesinger, 1833

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