Saturday, December 11, 2010

Slogging away at Beethoven

A year ago, someone at Piano World decided to set up an online recital in honor of Beethoven's 240th birthday on December 16. I blithely signed up to play all of Op. 2 No. 3.

Months came, months went, and I still hadn't started working on it. I finally began focusing on it sometime in the summer. This is not an easy piece! I mentioned some of the difficulties with it here. The first movement alone has a whole bag of tricks you have to learn, with a first theme composed of a fidgety, nearly impossible motif involving double thirds, and a recurring bridge of trills in octaves, capped off with a closing figure of double broken octaves. Just that opening alone makes this one of the most impossible sonatas to manage reliably.  And that's just the first movement.

By October I shelved the idea of learning and recording all four movements for this occasion and have been concentrating on the first. With only a few days left to get something in digits, I am resigned to merely scratching the surface (if "scratching" is the right word here -- maybe if this were on the cello?).

The main thing I logged on here to say, though, is that even though my efforts fall far short of the ideal, just having the goal (date set to record and post) and some points of comparison (e.g., the Perahia recording I've been listening to) have pushed them way farther than what they could have been. Knowing I would have to sit down and play through the whole movement, with the repeat, without stopping, at somewhere near the preferred tempo, and have a permanent recorded record of it, is quite the motivator.

(And knowing that the professional recordings probably involve at least some amount of splicing and doctoring eases some of the frustration.)

No comments: