Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Audience: My New Teachers

In my current run of in-house recitals there is lively conversation before and after (sometimes during!) performance, all of which has been extremely instructive.

Now I am programming works requested by former students.  Last night was the Prelude to Bach's G Major Partita, one of those works I had heard so badly played as a student that I had no interest in playing it.  Lo and behold!  a marvelous undertaking. I am so grateful for the request.

The listener/requestor's response:  It was Nancified (or words to that effect).  What does that mean?

I know all too well.  The request came from an extraordinary Japanese woman, gifted, insightful, serious about playing the piano.  This woman, in tears following a session on a Schubert Sonatina for Piano and Violin, once confided to me how upset she was to realize that the more she learned about Western music the less she understood it.  And there it is.

I have stayed away from Bach on the piano because I find it difficult to bring out the essence of his music on an instrument tuned so differently from his tuning, and whose tradition is based on an entirely different tone model than his--namely, harmonic rather than linear.

Also, little in my training prepared me to discern when Bach switches from the lyrical to the dance, from metered to ornamental rhythm, from improvisatory to measured motion, especially in single-line music, like the Prelude to the G major, all made even more complicated by the hints of hemiola that permeate everything in three.