Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I sometimes perform a very well-known piece for an audience of strangers. I particularly relish making such music come newly alive, especially as I have all my life had zero tolerance for hearing the exact same thing more than once.

It was interesting, then, to play the first movement of the "Moonlight" Sonata. Believing the fantasy aspect of the work to lie in its extraordinary tone/overtone mixes I play it fairly straight--in other words, I let the composition and the piano do the work. It was clear that the audience was listening on two levels: hearing the music as they knew it already and hearing this fresh reading.

Many years ago I played "Fuer Elise" for a 7th-grade class, who were then supposed to write reviews of the performance. I was severely taken to task by one girl because I did not do the dramatic crescendos indicated in her edition. Her teacher would never have allowed her to exercise the restraint specified by Beethoven in the Urtext edition. The girl was fascinated to see the difference and I remain fascinated by how much she cared.