Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Northfield write-up

The Northfield concert write-up is now posted. 

In it I talk about the perilousness of doing a new Scarlatti on every program, especially a tricky one with only five days between concerts. 

This is probably a little whiny—making excuses. This project doesn’t just entail me coming to grips with recordings of my live playing, something I’ve always done minimally and reluctantly in the past. Having decided to post at least each Scarlatti sonata, I’m stuck with posting a bunch of live first performances, which are always more likely to be rocky.* 

Often, it’s things other than the tricky places—things I didn’t expect to be a problem—that go wrong. Or there may be surprise inconsistencies, like an unintended speeding up in the easy bits. These hidden pitfalls are among the many things you discover and work out in the first performance or two. And that can be galling, because I know that only a little more practice—far less than I spent on the perceived challenges—would take care of them and make the performance much stronger.

There’s another hazard in posting every Scarlatti. I’ve been working hard to stay in the moment, to get away from the mindset of caution, inhibition, and second-guessing that comes from thinking too much about product and permanence. Knowing, as I’m playing, that the Scarlatti is destined for YouTube makes this harder.

Ah well. This project is part reality check, coming to grips with the pianist that I am, not the one I imagine myself to be. At the same time, not just performing frequently, but listening to the recordings of every performance as I prepare these write-ups, may do more to improve my pianism than anything I’ve done in the past several decades.

*Acute readers may have noticed that there is no recording of Scarlatti’s Sonata K.1 on the first concert write-up. This is because of a recording snafu. I imagine I’ll reprise the first sonata on the final concert. See you in 5 years!

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