Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to the blog!

As of today I will be posting on a daily basis - if the state of my machine and its Internet connections allows me to to so. The subject will be insights into performing and listening, based on my ongoing series of in-house recitals. The current series, Classics of Childhood, has been made up of six differemt programs, each requiring that I (and the audience) revisit our own childhood musical beginnings, and consider works that composers wrote for their own children, as well as explore new works for children, often by composers who have no children of their own.
Today's revelation regards Schumann's Op. 15, Kinderszenen, which I will perform, for the first time in my life, in September. This work has become so overloaded with sentimentalism as to make it almost unapproachable. It is a pity, for now I find it direct, clear, unmistakably lyrical but not at all heavy-handed. Especially moving to me is the way Schumann weaves through the cycle, spinning on the thinnest of sounds: one pitch, or two.
I was fascinated to read that, as a student, Schumann did not enjoy playing Bach on the piano. Yet I think of him as a real contrapuntist. Perhaps it was that the whole notion of rhythm and meter is so entirely odd in comparison to Mozart, Beethoven, or Schubert that it seemed to make little sense to his immensely sensitive pianistic ear.