Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Playing by Ear: But Whose Ear?

Looking again at the "Moonlight" Sonata:  I am astonished at how tempting it is to play it the way it is played by "everyone" rather than read the score with all of Beethoven's meticulous indications.

More is going on than is revealed by the sumptuous surface of the first movement.  Phrases begin and end in strange places, not always at the four-bar mark so prevalent in Germanic music.  And there are stunning instances of fives and threes in this overwhelmingly four-beat environment.  Where do they come from?  What do to with them?

The piece gets better and better as resolution sounds elide with upbeat phrase beginnings.

It's all about paying attention.