Monday, October 8, 2012

What I'm playing this week

We had our first orchestra concert of the season last weekend, and it went well -- I think in many respects better than usual, mostly because we had an improved first violin section. It didn't require much practicing on my part; most of it went into the Strauss horn concerto, which has a few tricky spots.

So I was and am able to devote most of my practice time to the piano:

I'm continuing with the program of scales and arpeggios (E flat major this week). Last week's D minor was easy, and I was able to play the fast iterations without a lot of effort. Any scale with a lot of black keys suddenly becomes more difficult because those black keys are simply harder to hit accurately. There is also a trill exercise that I diligently run through every day, as directed (like taking a multivitamin). I hope it's helping.

I'm still working on the same pieces: Bach D minor prelude and fugue from WTC I, Brahms Op. 116 No. 1 and Op. 118 No. 1, Chopin selected preludes, and Schumann Kinderszenen (I'm continuing on with the set, learning Nos. 8 to the end). 

We've added another Chopin prelude, No. 22 in G minor. This is another piece that I learned on my own about 4 years ago. On my first go-round with it, I took great satisfaction in thundering those bass octaves in a way that would make my teacher shudder (so it's a good thing he never heard me do it). Someone on Piano World once described this piece (after trying to learn it and giving up in frustration) as "a thug in an evening jacket." I have more fondness for it. It's a dramatic Romantic piece with Brahmsian qualities (in a compact half minute or so).

On the cello, my rash resolution to perform the Schumann concerto next year is prodding enough for me start practicing it NOW. It feels daunting but possible, so I will keep at it.

The next orchestra concert features parts of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake suite, including the beautiful violin and cello solos from the White Swan pas de deux number (in G flat major!), so I have to practice for that as well.

Cello solo begins around 5:45 in this video:

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