Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Practicing Bach

This evening was a fairly typical one for me. I stayed at work until around 7:15. I took the subway to my stop (about 15 minutes, during which I wrote in my notebook and then read a book), walked the mile to my car, and drove home, getting here around 8:00. I fed the cats, started some rice cooking, chopped vegetables for a stir-fry. My husband got home around 8:30, changed his clothes, and stir-fried dinner (I always leave the frying for him because he does it a lot better than I do). We ate, chatting about this and that. He cleaned up the kitchen while I went to the computer and tried to write something on this blog. I drank some coffee, ate a piece of cake, and read. When it was almost 11:00 I finally went to my practice room and worked on the Bach I am hoping to record this week, the C sharp major prelude and fugue from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier.

I've been working on this piece since March of this year. It seems to take me about 6 months to learn and memorize each of these pairs; this one took longer because the key is so puzzling -- I mean, it has B sharp in the key signature! So lots of double sharps when it modulates to other keys.
I really ought to know all the technicalities of fugue construction, but I don't. I basically can follow the theme when it comes in, but that's about it. I know that my appreciation of this music would be enhanced significantly if I would only spend a couple of hours reading about fugues and applying that knowledge to the piece. Now that I've written it down here, maybe I'll finally do it.

This evening, though, I just concentrated on playing it slowly, in short sections, from back to front. When it was feeling fairly secure, I turned on my recording gadget and made my first recording, prelude and fugue in one take. The fugue fell apart in a couple of  places, so I recorded it again. Then I put Bach aside and played some Brahms for about 15 minutes. By this time, it was after midnight. I put the piano to bed for the night, came back to the computer, copied the files over to the hard drive, and listened to them. The prelude, which I had thought went pretty well, sounds stodgy and fumbly in a few places. The second take of the fugue is actually not bad. But a lot of work yet to be done on both of them. Sigh.

As they say, tomorrow is another day.

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