Chromatic Fingering for Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement

In Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement, there is a very fast stretch of chromatic notes in bar 187.

I was wondering if the most basic fingering is good, or a more advanced fingering involving the 4th or even 5th finger would be better. (Read more on advanced chromatic fingering here: http://www.pianisttopianist.com/?p=486)

Some people on Reddit suggest some very fanciful fingerings, including “using LH (Left Hand!!) (faster playing up)4321,4312,4321,4321. So, groups of 4321 with the exception starting on the C. That part goes 4312. Just play all the way up with the LH and smack that top A (was it?) with yer Right Hand”! This fingering is apparently attributed to Alfred Brendel.

It turns out that at least 2 professional pianists seem to use the basic chromatic fingering: 2 13 123 13 123 … etc. They do not use the fourth finger at all. The starting fingering of the first note (G#) may vary.

The first pianist is Valentina Lisitsa. Watch at 0.25 speed to see the fingering at around 6:07 time. Lisitsa seems to use a “special trick” by using her left hand to play the lowest G# in the chromatic range.

The second pianist is Rousseau. You can see his fingering clearly, it is the basic chromatic fingering at around 6:34 time.

Hence, it seems that for Moonlight sonata it is not needed to use the advanced chromatic fingering. Using the pedal during the chromatic (both pianists use it to some extent) gives the illusion of a fast chromatic.

For other pieces like Fantasie Impromptu, the advanced chromatic fingering works well for greater speed.

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4 Responses to Chromatic Fingering for Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement

  1. edgarone2 says:

    I don’t play the piano or any musical instruments but I enjoyed very much Beethoven’s piano sonata.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lawrenceez says:

    Each person manages in their own way so “no size fits all”.. Interesting article.

    Liked by 1 person

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