Monday, October 15, 2012

Allegro Depending on the Situation

This is my new definition of Allegro moderato.  I learned it from Schubert's E-flat Sonata, Op. 122, last movement.   The 6/8 meter already makes it a puzzle, as allegro is most often associated with quarter-note meters. 

One can sustain a fairly even pace except for special circumstances in which the beat seems to require more deliberation.  Once I caught on to the possibility that this permission might be implied in the tempo indication it was much easier to let the music flow rather than feel obliged to maintain a steady pulse.

A Fine Piano

Today I celebrate the restoration of my century-old Mason & Hamlin AA grand. Short of writing a book, it would be difficult to describe what it means to me to have a truly fine instrument. 

My beginnings on the piano date from the age of 3 or 4 when a neighbor in Chicago gave me unlimited access to her upright.  It was heaven.  I fell in love with the sound, a love that has never abated despite ups and downs of all descriptions.

Needless to say, it is a pure Proustian affair.  I have surely carried around in my head and in my heart that sound transformed.  During most of the intervening years I was not a pianist, having taken up serious organ study when physical limitations made technical progress unlikely if not impossible, and having built my career in New York setting up a unique non-competitive chamber music program for amateurs.  In other words, I had become increasingly committed to the community of people whose desire to play exceeded their technical prowess.  That involvement continues, and now extends to including among my students a severely developmentally challenged, blind, autistic young man.

Trying to avoid the book that threatens this post, ahem:  My first realization in the presence of a beautiful instrument is how easily music becomes imaginary, literally.  This glorious ringing tone reveals a new dimension in every piece I play which, at the moment, includes some of the most intimate piano music ever written: Schubert's Moments Musicaux and the Eclogues of Dvorak.