Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Master class: Yuliya Gorenman

This past Sunday, I participated in a master class taught by Yuliya Gorenman for the Adult Music Student Forum.

Yuliya is a lively and warm person as well as a thorough virtuoso. She said lots of helpful and useful things: tips on how to practice, how to analyze, how to pedal, how to use your arms to get a big sound. The setting, an average-sized living room with two concert grands side by side at one end, was not ideal; both piano lids were closed, so the sound, though loud enough for sure, was muffled.

I played the Villa-Lobos piece I've been working on. I don't think it was the best I could possibly play, but considering that I was not feeling well that day, hadn't had lunch, hadn't warmed up or even tried the piano, had been sitting listening for an hour and a half, AND that this was the first time I had performed the piece, it wasn't too bad. I managed to get a recording of it on my phone:

Villa-Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4, Preludio

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kinda fried

I haven't been posting much lately. Reason: I have too much to do, not enough time.

Piano work seems to increase exponentially as I improve, like running on a treadmill that keeps upping the tempo. Sometimes I feel like I'm about to fall off. In addition to about 20 to 30 minutes' worth of technical work (scales, chords, short exercises) I've taken on a Bach partita (No. 2 in C minor), a Bartok Mikrokosmos (No. 153 -- last one in Volume VI), and am still working on several Brahms pieces. Oh yes, plus the Villa Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 Preludio, which I am scheduled to play at a master class next weekend.

So there's that.

And then on the cello, I'm working on the Schumann concerto for a concert this fall, date TBD. I want to also practice some etudes (Popper and Piatti) as well as the Bach Suite No. 4 in E flat, but wow, so little time.

In an interesting development, I just met with one of our local National Symphony cellists to play for him and talk about these things I'm working on. It was really fun, and it looks like we'll be getting together a few times more for some lessons. So I actually have a teacher now, at least for a bit! He described what we'll be doing as more coaching than lessons, but whatever you want to call it, I think it will help. I've kind of been worrying that the Schumann doesn't seem as awful to play as I remembered from my attempt years ago, that maybe I wasn't appreciating its difficulties fully. But my coach today was very encouraging about where I am with it.

This is all very nice, but every night I have to decide whether I want to have two short practice sessions so I can fit in both instruments or one long one on either piano or cello so I can get more done. Either way, it's exhausting doing this after a full day of working in an office.

There's an orchestra concert coming up in two weeks -- luckily, not difficult cello parts, but I do have to go to the rehearsals and be reasonably prepared. In fact, I have to head out to a rehearsal in about 15 minutes.

I'm also now teaching two cello students, which takes up a couple of hours on Saturday afternoons.

In the rest of my life, in addition to going to work, I'm of course taking care of things at home and trying to maintain my physical and mental health.

So yeah, kinda fried.  But what's the alternative?

Carter Brey talking about cellos

Carter Brey is principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, someone I always enjoy hearing. I came across these videos in which he's talking about the difference between Baroque and modern cellos, and specifically about playing Bach. He's playing all of the solo suites in New York next month on Baroque-style instruments, including using a five-string cello for the sixth suite.

Some interesting stuff here ...

James McKean, who posted the videos, is a luthier based in New York who made the Baroque-style instruments Brey is using here, and I am assuming he is the off-camera interviewer.

Carter Brey: The Bach Suites for Solo Cello from James N McKean on Vimeo.

Carter Brey: The Bach Suites part 2 from James N McKean on Vimeo.