Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What I'm playing this week

On the cello:

I'm trying to keep going with the Dvorak. The concert is now four days away, and I'm so looking forward to getting this off my plate. I hope I enjoy it at least a little bit. I'm uncomfortably indecisive about whether I'll play with the music or not. When I played it with the orchestra the last time (the recording I posted this past weekend), I played from memory. The question is whether the music would be better if I am reading or if I am playing from memory, and I'm not sure. (The fact that I'm not sure leads me to believe I should use music . . .)

The rest of the music for the concert isn't taking much preparation. I have decided that I won't play the overture, so I don't have to practice that. My solo is second on the program, and it would cause a lot of kerfuffle for me to squeeze off the "stage"  (actually just the space between the first pew and the altar) after the overture and then back on. The physical space there is going to be a mess; the church is not willing to let us remove the first row of pews, so we're going to have to squash a Brahms-sized orchestra into a space that's never even big enough for a Mozart-sized one.

My cello is sounding a little sick. I think it's this horribly cold weather we've been having, and carrying it outside and in the car, that have perhaps caused the soundpost to shift a bit. I'm going to see if I can take it into the shop on Friday to have some adjustments made.

On the piano:

I signed up for a master class that will happen in February. I had intended to play Chopin Op. 55 No. 1, the F minor nocturne, but someone else already had dibs on that. Not wanting to play the same piece (really boring for everyone involved), I said I would play Brahms Op. 118 No. 1 instead. I don't know if this is the best choice. It's an odd piece: only two pages long, probably less than two minutes, it's full of swirling arpeggios and shifting key centers. It starts with a C7 arpeggio and ends in A major. It is more like a prelude than a full-blown stand-alone piece. But given my plan to learn the entire Op. 118, and given my difficulties with Brahms, I thought it might be helpful to work it up for this and to get some advice.

The teacher, Brian Ganz, is a pianist I met many years ago when I was a student at the University of Maryland. He had begun a performing career as a teenager, but at the time I knew him was taking some time off, accompanying student recitals while figuring out what he really wanted to do. His confusion was our gain -- he was a great accompanist and great to work with. He played on several of my recitals.

He now has a busy schedule of performing, teaching, and recording. The class I'm participating in is an activity of the Adult Music Student Forum, with which Brian has been involved in some advisory role for a while now.

Anyway, it will be a little strange to play for him as a pianist rather than as a cellist!

Just in case we somehow talk about how Op. 118 No. 1 leads into No. 2, I've also been looking at No. 2, the famous Intermezzo in A major.

I've also been touching on the current Bach prelude and fugue (WTCII in C minor), Gershwin prelude No. 1, and Chopin Op. 55 No. 1 as well as Beethoven Op. 2 No. 3.

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