Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What I'm playing this week

I've had to get stricter with myself: no piano until I've practiced the cello!

So, on the cello:

Dvorak, Silent Woods

BTW, I know I've been inconsistent about this title. Original was "Klid" in the piano-four-hands version, which is Czech for peace. Then it was translated into German as "Waldesruhe," which literally means something like "Peaceful Forest," or "Forest of Peace" (because Waldes is what in English would be the possessive of Wald [wood or forest]). So I've been thinking of it as "Silent Wood," though it seems to be spelled "Silent Woods" everywhere else. So I will try to be consistent for the next month while I pound my head against the floor trying to learn it.

I still haven't figured out the best way to record the cello and piano parts together, though it seems easier to record the cello part first and then accompany it -- if I can only get my tempo steady enough.

My husband made the very good suggestion to practice it extremely slowly, even though it's already slow. So I've been playing it about half tempo and then moving that up. This seems to help with both bow control and having a sense of the microrhythms.

I just ordered a new set of strings. This is a big expense for cellists. A violinist can get a set of excellent strings for less than $50, whereas a cellist must spent at least $150. Even the cheap cello strings are more expensive than the good violin strings. That's a lot to blow on something that only lasts a year at most. I am not very good about replacing my strings; I am rather ashamed to say that the last time I did so was more than two years ago.  Old strings lose their elasticity and just start to sound bad. They are also much harder to play in tune than fresh strings. So the new strings should help.

Along with the piece, I'm still practicing some Popper etudes in keys with a lot of covered notes.

On the piano:

Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor from WTCII. These are coming along. I have the prelude mostly memorized.

Gershwin Preludes: No. 1 is memorized and I'm working on cleaning it up. No. 2 is about half memorized. No. 3 is still way too slow.

Brahms Op. 118: I didn't work on this very much this past week, with everything else going on. I'm not giving up on it, though.

Chopin: I did decide to start learning the Nocturne Op. 62 No. 2 in E major. It's so gorgeous, though I don't want to drop Prelude No. 8.

I wish I had something pleasing ready that I could just toss off when people ask me to play something on the piano (as they occasionally -- very occasionally -- do). But I haven't had anything like that at hand for quite a while.

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