When I think of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, I think of a unique stormy masterpiece that utilizes all aspects of the piano perfectly. Its creative use of dynamics and articulation makes it an exciting piece to play and to hear, but not overwhelming to the audience.

Learning the first movement was strenuous, but eventually rewarding. One of the biggest challenges I had was to keep from rushing ahead to try and play it at performance speed before I had fully learned it. The piece was so exciting that I had a really hard time practicing slowly. This led to sloppy outcomes! In fact, I had to relearn many parts because of my bad habits.

If any of you pianists want to play this piece, I hope you will learn from the mistakes I made so you don’t have to keep starting all over again.

Another personal challenge I faced was learning to practice the left-hand tremelos after I had injured my wrist in soccer. Maybe in the future I can learn more about how to practice while injured.

Listening to other interpretations helped me shape what I wanted to play. Hope you enjoy listening to my interpretation and good luck to any of you trying to learn this extravagant movement!

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Machiko Saegusa-Cole
Machiko Saegusa-Cole(@machiko-saegusa-cole)
2 months ago

Picture
I can see why you chose this picture. Hence the “calm after the storm” effect.

Intro
I appreciate your honesty in what you went through learning this piece! I am sure many can relate. Yes, learning to use the correct technique especially after an injury is so important! Bravo in listening to others, as this piece is so popular and has been analyzed in so many different ways.

Performance
Very polished, musical performance! I can tell you spent some good quality time with Beethoven! Just a few suggestions.. When you have the patterns in the right hand where your 5th finger is reaching to voice the top, use more rotation to get there so that you have richer sound. Do breathe during the slow chordal sections and play into the keys, listening to every chord. (you did do this at the end!) The opening section, make sure to keep the dotted rhythm crisp! I enjoyed watching you play this piece! Keep up the great work!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
4 months ago

It’s a long time since I listened to any Beethoven and had forgotten what a beautiful piece of music this is. I was quite swept away and watching your fingers dance across the keys was mesmerising. Beautifully played!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
4 months ago

Hi, Raphael. I really enjoyed listening to your played music. Well played. And I love looking at you and your finger playing those keys again and again.

Last edited 4 months ago by Lotchie Carmelo
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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
4 months ago

It really does sound like a “unique stormy masterpiece!” Bravo on your talent, endurance and determination, Raphael.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
4 months ago

I closed my eyes and imagined waves crashing against rocks. An exhilarating piece of music beautifully played with such feeling and emotion.

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
4 months ago

Raphael, your performance is quickly becoming one of my favorite interpretations of this movement. Extravagant is such a good descriptor! I love the careful, gentle way you rounded off each of the opening chord progressions. They create a real contrast to the stormy tremolos. Your playing is excellent. I especially like your surroundings – all that beautiful wood, warmly reflected in the ebony piano so that it looks like the piano itself is encased in the same wood as your room. The picture you selected of the storm is perfect for this piece. All in all, a fabulous presentation!

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Ali Jradi
Ali Jradi(@ali-jradi)
3 months ago

Bravo Raphi! Keep it up 😍

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
3 months ago

Hello again, Raphi. We’re gearing up for the second piano contest, so I’m asking everyone about their recording equipment. How did you get such a nice closeup? What recording equipment did you use? If you used a phone, what kind of phone? Any special software? Where did you place the recording device to get such a great closeup? Thanks in advance for all this information. I’m asking everyone who created a presentation, so you might check back to see their answers. We’re all learning how to create the best possible presentation.

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Raphael Mouawad
3 months ago

Wow, how did she keep it the iPad still for the entire almost ten minutes? You didn’t seem the least bit nervous, being recorded and with someone so close by. I am doubly impressed. Would you have any suggestions for others when they are doing they recordings? Anything you would do differently next time?

Last edited 3 months ago by Julie Harris
Myles Spencer
Myles Spencer(@myles-spencer)
3 months ago

Hello Raphael, Bravo on such a passionate performance! I loved your interpretation of the piece and your dynamics. You truly captured the ferocity of a storming ocean, but also the beauty of a calm sea in the melodic sections. It was also a pleasure to watch your fingers glide up and down the keyboard.

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Rula Mouawad
Rula Mouawad(@rula-mouawad)
3 months ago

Our darling Raphael – As your grandma said, listening to you play one of her favorite pieces gave all of us tremendous joy. I teared up during this piece recording, because I could sense your true emotional investment and understanding of the movement. We observed your advancement this year; we are very proud of you and wish you continued growth in the classical music field.
With much love from Amal and Rula

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Rula Mouawad
3 months ago

Rula, I teared up reading your comment! I’ve found in my many years of teaching gifted students, the ones who do best are those with supportive families who are deeply involved in the music. Raphi is lucky to have such a family. We are all so proud of him!!

Beth Shirey
Beth Shirey(@beth-shirey)
3 months ago

Great job Raphi! I loved your very relatable written introduction. Your hard work really paid off, as demonstrated in this lovely recording! It takes major guts and stamina to record a piece like this! Even after several takes, you are cool, calm and collected throughout, and were able to recover masterfully from the few mistakes. The slow sections are absolutely gorgeous, with such beautiful dynamic contrasts. We’ll done! I can’t wait for your next submission!

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Beth Shirey
3 months ago

Beth, you’ve done a spectacular job as Raphi’s piano teacher. I also can’t wait for his next submission!

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