Friday, November 7, 2014


Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, which I heard from the row of the same number the other evening, furnishes a beautiful model for introspection in the slow movement.  Deceptively simple, demanding nothing short of the most refined lyrical ear and touch, it pulls the listener into the most personal level of piano playing after the vertiginous chromatic romp through many keys in all dynamics of the first movement, and before the riotous rhythmic play of the last movement which gave me the feeling that nobody wanted it to end--not the player, not the orchestra, not Beethoven himself.

Music students do not learn about introspection as a positive statement.  We are encouraged to project as if we play only in Carnegie Hall's main auditorium.  But the greatest players who do play there are capable of reaching us at an almost inaudible level of sound way up in the top balcony.  So what is the problem with introspection?

I think it makes too great a demand on teachers.  It concerns almost imperceptible movement within a small range of dynamic.  Teachers are busy, time is limited, they feel responsible for "results".  Introspection takes time and may yield a result that becomes conscious only tomorrow or five years from now.

What's the rush?