Sunday, September 2, 2012

Short-term goal

It looks like I have a slot on an AMSF recital in a few weeks. I signed up for this even though I didn't have a specific piece in mind to play because I like to take advantage of every opportunity to play in front of people and because these recitals fill up quickly. Last week I decided that I would play the Bach B flat minor prelude and fugue from WTC I, even though they are not up to my minimal personal standards. I don't have them memorized at all, for one thing; for another, I don't have any kind of mental image of how I want them to sound. Vague ideas, yes, but specifics, no.

I have been working on this set for about 5 months, but of course I've been doing a lot of other things as well (e.g., performing Pezzo Capriccioso on cello with an orchestra!), so it hasn't gotten my full attention. I wouldn't have chosen it on my own precisely because it's a little too complicated for me to get my mind around -- all those thick dissonant chords, five voices in the fugue, the black-note key -- but my teacher suggested working on it, so I was game despite all that. It's been good to work on because it contains lots of challenges to my weaknesses.

I don't think I've met all of those challenges fully, but I can play through the set quite decently while reading from the music, so I'm going to see what I can do to polish or develop it as best I can to make a pleasurable presentation. I was reading an interview with Angela Hewitt recently in which she talked about her tour a few years ago performing the entire WTC (both books), and she admitted she used the score in the earlier part of the tour, although by the end of it she was playing the whole thing from memory. If using music is okay for her, it's certainly okay for me.

Here's a version on harpsichord with Kenneth Gilbert:

I like the tempos he takes here. Many times you will hear this played agonizingly slowly, which just seems wrong to me. Yes, this is a profound piece of music (my teacher says it reminds him of the opening of the St. Matthew Passion), but it shouldn't sound like the sludge at the beginning of the universe, either.

One of the viewer comments on the above video is . . . interesting  . . .

Isn´t it wonderful to be part of an unending incomprehensible cosmos where we are just small particles tossed around like tiny specks shining while we burn our lives with our little fears and loves. We burn in seconds that seem endless. Just little puffs of electrical fire we are, light up for a few seconds of eternity and dissapear. Small tufts of conscience we are, grasp a little, then subside in the tide and make way for the next to arrive....

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