Can someone please explain the difference between these two? There is a m.v. in a Chopin piece I am currently working on, and I'm not exactly sure what to do with it. Maybe Chopin didn't even write in that indication, but I'd still like to know the difference.
"Mezza voce" is explained in “How to read Music by Helen Cooper” as “In a half voice”.
"Sotto voce" is explained in “The ABC Guide to Music Theory by Eric Taylor” as “in an undertone",
literally translated from the Italian as “below the voice”.
If there is a difference, perhaps the "Sotto voce" is even “more quiet” than the "Mezza voce" which is very tender and very quiet already.
I mention this because it has been said that Chopin was greatly influenced by John Field, the “inventor” of the Nocturne for Piano, and student of Clementi,
and it is said of John Field that he played the Forte-Piano very, very gently with a very sensitive use of the pedal
and Liszt wrote of him that he “was dreaming his music” and he was a great inspiration to all the other composers, including Chopin.
My feeling of the difference, perhaps because of Field’s influence is, that "Sotto voce" is played very very lightly and more delicately and more dreamily than "Mezza voce".
This is the best explanation I can come up with and I do hope it helps in some way.
Kind regards from Kristinaolga.