Moonlight Sonata Presto Agitato (Amateur Recording)

Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement (Presto Agitato) is the most exciting movement in the famous Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.

The fast tempo (Presto Agitato) has to be sustained across the entire 3rd movement (around 7 minutes), making it quite a difficult piece for amateur pianists.

We record a version (imperfect, with mistakes) on Korg G1 Air. There is a long chromatic section, whereby we analyze what is the fingering most appropriate for the chromatic scales.

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:

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.