Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Practice experiments

Last night I tried something enabled by the magic of 20th-century technology (yes, we did have this back then, too). I recorded myself playing the Tchaikovsky and then played it back while accompanying softly on the piano (and, when it was too hard to hear that way, on the cello). This, I have found, is an excellent way to hear if my pacing and rubato and other tempo-related things are going to work, especially with orchestra. I found there are places I'm taking time where I shouldn't be. I also, of course, could hear where I need to work on my intonation.

A big issue was my unevenness of tempo in the 32nd-note sections. Tchaikovsky marked this "Non cambiare il tempo"; that is, whatever tempo you use to begin the tragic and lyrical opening of the piece needs to also work here. I began this section way too slowly (erring unpleasantly on the side of caution). I obviously I don't have the tempo set in my bones.

The other, and possibly most, annoying and boring thing I now hear that I've been doing is playing everything the same volume and timbre -- basically forte, and pressed. Got to let it breathe! It needs to have the gracefulness of "Variations on a Rococo Theme."

Ugh. Well, this is why we practice, isn't it?

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