Friday, December 3, 2010

The list of pieces with dauntingly simple beginnings got a bit longer yesterday when I sat down to actually note their titles. Notable among them is a piece I do not dare play, to this day, certainly not in public and almost never in private.

Its opening is, to me, sheer anguish. It is the Mozart A minor Piano Sonata. Various recorded performances of its first ten bars or so were played at a recent conference as an example of how hard it can be to tell a real half-cadence from an elided phrase. By the time the sixth or seventh rendition was played everyone was laughing--everyone but me.

On paper it is utterly benign. Touching those sounds is like touching an open wound.