Monday, November 5, 2012

What I'm playing this week

It's been a crazy week. After our trip to New York, because of the hurricane we had two days off of work, one of them without electricity. And yes, the András Schiff recital on Tuesday was canceled. :( So you'd think I would have gotten a lot of practicing done, and I did spend quite a few hours, but it seems the more time I have, the more the practicing spreads out to fill it.

On the piano:

Continuing with one scale per week (though I was told to spend two weeks on E flat minor, which I dutifully did). We're working through them chromatically, so I'm up to E minor now. I also practice the corresponding chord progression (modulating up a fifth and back, then down a fifth and back).

Bach Prelude and Fugue in D minor from WTC I, working on playing the right-hand triplets with complete relaxation and a light touch.

Chopin, Preludes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 22.

Brahms, Intermezzi Op. 116 No. 6, Op. 118 No. 1, and now Op. 117 No. 2. My teacher asked me to record Op. 118 but I'm still struggling with it, and I'm too dissatisfied with my attempts to share them with anyone. Those "two innocent-looking pages" (as he described them) are a [fill in whatever NSFW word you prefer]. I can't figure out why this piece is so difficult, but there it is. As for Op. 116, the main problems I'm having are keeping it from sounding muddy and keeping it flowing; it's easy to get bogged down and oversentimental. And then Op. 117: really beautiful, really intricate. But maybe in a way more straightforward than the other two in terms of voicing.

Schumann Kinderszenen: I'm starting to think this is going to be another one of those lifetime endeavors. We've worked up through No. 7 (Traumerei) in my lessons, and I'm slowly picking my way through the rest to get them to a point where I can play them at all. But that's as far as it goes, for now.

I'm getting very frustrated with myself over the issue of memorizing. I'm falling into that trap of playing most of these from memory when I'm practicing but then chickening out at my lessons  and using the music without even testing myself, when the lessons would be the perfect opportunity to do so. I guess I'm not totally committed to the idea that I should play from memory, even though that's one of my goals for my piano playing. I know I can do it, but it takes a certain fortitude to carry on with it.

On the cello:

We have an orchestra concert in a couple of weeks. It's really sort of an old-fashioned pops concert -- no show tunes (thank goodness) but a raft of chestnuts: the overture to Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake suite, Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" from La Gioconda, Smetana's The Moldau, the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony. These are kind of hard chestnuts, so I must practice to avoid embarrassing myself. We had another one of those dispiriting rehearsals yesterday with a full wind and brass section pitted against a meager measure of strings (four first violins and no concertmaster, six seconds, four violas, four cellos, one bass). Oh, well; I can only try to do my best.

I'm also working a little on the Schumann concerto.

And here it is election day eve -- and it's supposed to freeze tonight, so I went out in the yard after dinner and picked these. Don't know what I'll do with them, but there they are.

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