Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last week my sixteen-year-old piano student, who doesn't "practice" but who plays a lot, wondered why Clementi's Preludes in A minor are so short when they are so beautiful.

Today she wondered why Mozart wrote only one piano sonata in that key, and whether Beethoven had written any. Fascinating question. (There are two sonatas for piano and violin but none for piano solo.) I sang for her what I consider to be the quintessential A minor piece: Der Leiermann from Schubert's Winterreise.

She told me she had been playing Chopin's A minor Prelude and played it for me, with some wrong notes, to be sure, but with such right sound that I was awed. Clearly she has a deep feeling for the sonorities of A minor, even though the tonality is only obliquely present in that piece. It is one of the most sophisticated pieces of music I know.

We had a talk about private vs. public piano playing. She is clearly a private player. If she wanted to play that piece for people she would have to get some experience doing so by inviting people -- any people -- to sit and listen to her. It is a personal choice, after all.

I recall at her age not being able to tolerate the mystery of that piece.