Thursday, April 19, 2012

Maybe this helped

While I was at work yesterday, I plugged into YouTube with my headphones and pulled up a bunch of versions of Pezzo Capriccioso, ranging from sublime (Steve Isserlis playing a sprightly rendition; an entrant to the 2011 Tchaikovsky competition playing a conservative reading; etc.) to horrible (wobbly virtuoso wannabes, etc.). I don't know how many I heard, but given that the piece is 7 minutes long and I was listening for over an hour, at least ten. I heard things I wanted to do (beautiful tone, nice phrasing, steady rhythms) and things I didn't (bad intonation, scratching and scraping), but I have to say, all of them pulled it off to some extent. The piece isn't a "master" piece, and in fact, I felt a little like I'd had too much candy after hearing it that many times, but I did get to know it much better and to hear all the ways it could be played.

I also found a "Capriccioso" Tchaikovsky wrote for piano solo, as part of a suite of six pieces  (Op. 19) that is almost identical in structure to the cello piece, though it's about half the length and does not have the emotional punch. It's somewhat inverted moodwise because the lyrical sections are in happy B flat major and the virtuosic middle section (in this piece, marked Allegro vivacissimo -- instead of keeping the same pulse but with faster note values as in the cello piece, Tchaikovsky marks a tempo that ends up being about double, so it's the same idea),  is in D minor. Here's a version by Richter:

Then when I got home, I found the cello parts for all of the next concert's music in my mailbox, including the part for Pezzo. Somehow, seeing the accompaniment and imagining being in the orchestra playing it with a soloist put it in more perspective for me, on top of the listening I had done, so when I was practicing last night it felt much better. When I checked my speed with the metronome, I found I was playing it easily at 69 = quarter note (my original goal was 60).

So if I can build on this, and keep polishing and getting a good sound, I will be happy with it.

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