Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not sure why I do this to myself

I have gotten myself into a situation. It began last spring, when for some unfathomable reason I volunteered to play a concerto with my chamber orchestra. Initially, the idea was to do something big. The Dvorak concerto was mentioned (not by me). The conductor asked me to send him some suggestions, which I did (and I was getting all excited about playing C. P. E. Bach -- I love those pieces though they are not traditionally showy; I also thought the orchestra would have a chance of sounding pretty good on one of them). Some time went by, and then I got an email asking if I could play Fauré's "Elegy."

As they say these days, meh. It's one of those stereotypical sad cello pieces that sounds like someone's funeral is either taking place or is imminent. It's also at the technical level of approximately junior high, but does not lie particularly well. It would take lots of work to get it to sound good, but it would never sound like I had put so much into it. I dreaded spending the better part of a year working on it. At first I thought, okay, not my favorite, but I'll be a pro, learn the piece, play it really well, et cetera. The only problem was that every time I sat down to work on it, it made me depressed.

So I approached the conductor at a rehearsal this fall and asked if he would be okay with another piece of the same length. The upshot was that he agreed to change from the "Elegy" to Tchaikovsky's "Pezzo Capriccioso." And now I must make sure that I am in shape to play all those spiccato 32nd notes and jump around in thumb position by this coming June.

My experience of these things is that it is not enough to practice only the piece; I need to work on other things that include the same technical challenges but are more difficult. So my plan of attack, at least to start, is Popper (Etude No. 6, and maybe some others) for bowing; Bach Prelude No. 6 for thumb position and intonation; and scales and arpeggios. We'll see how it goes.

Here is a video of "Pezzo" that I liked when I came across it on YouTube. Very clean and expressive.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"You and the Piano": A lesson with Seymour Bernstein

This was posted today on a forum I read:

A friend received this email from his old piano teacher, Seymour Bernstein an author (With Your Own Two Hands) and concert pianist living in NYC, aged 85 now and still going strong.

"Here it is, my video made in 1986 entitled YOU AND THE PIANO. , I believe that this video is one of the important accomplishments of my professional life. Having had a lot of distance from the time it was made, I now consider it to be a powerful educational tool for all pianists of any age and level of accomplishment; and even for other instrumentalists who often ponder what to tell their pianists concerning balance of sound.
Now I need your help. I want to establish a partnership with YouTube. But they won’t consider it unless there is measurable activity for my videos. A hit occurs when someone clicks onto the video file. So please, send these files to your friends. They need only open them up and that constitutes a hit.
Thanks so much for your help, and my warmest wishes to you.
Seymour "

I Thought you may be interested in his techniques etc.





These are wonderful videos. If you are at all interested in piano technique, please check them out. I have been meaning to get a hold of Mr. Bernstein's famous book mentioned in the note above, With Your Own Two Hands, and now I will really try to do so.