Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bach project update

It's been a while since I posted a new recording, and here's why. I've been working on the C major set from WTC II since last fall (after making the video of the G sharp set from WTC I that I mentioned here, and which I believe will be posted soon). I played the C major for my new teacher in January, and right away he zeroed in on my excessive forcefulness. It's excessive because not only is it not needed to produce sound, it strangles and deadens the sound that is produced, and it also works against speed and flexibility. So he has been working on getting me to use the least amount of force necessary. The goal with Bach, he says, is more transparency and a more dancelike approach. This has been the theme of my lessons these past few months.

I don't disagree that my teacher is correct -- or at least, that this is a valid point of view. I also agree completely that the fact that I can't play this way is a weakness that is worth examining and rooting out, but this change of touch does not feel natural. Although I can stutter out a performance of the C major prelude and fugue, it's not very convincing. I'm still attempting to put these changes into practice. I could slap together a recording, but I keep hoping things will come together and that I can make something that will be significantly different from, and better than, what I have been doing.

And then a few weeks ago, we started working on the D minor set from WTC II. This is one of the more charming sets of the whole 48, with a sparkly prelude and a sinuous and spare fugue, so I couldn't say no to it, even though starting another before I come to a resting point on the preceding set is something I've tried to avoid. On the other hand: This is actually a reworking in that I learned the D minor set when I was first getting back to playing the piano, about 6 years ago; also, I'm curious to see if I can work on two sets at the same time with positive results.

Between all this and practicing the cello, and of course going to work every day, the weeks have been whizzing by before I even know it. However, I have been practicing every day -- although most days don't end until after midnight -- so I do feel I'm getting something out of this. Sometimes these opportunities come up and you just have to go for them, ready or not.

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