Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bach to Basic Training

I have begun my education in Bach. At this point, I am going straight back to the Anna Magdalena Notebooks and starting there. I purchased some excellent downloads at Amazon of the Well-Tempered Clavier and the Inventions, to which I have also been listening intently. The first step is to become as familiar with them as I read the music while listening to them. In my lifetime, I have only played 3 of the 2 part inventions completely, and only 1 of the 3 part inventions. Maybe 1 or 2 pieces from the Anna Magdalena Notebooks and the Prelude in C major of Well-Tempered Clavier. A paltry repertoire, to be sure. So each night, I have been playing as perfectly as possible the 13th 2 part Invention in A minor and the First Prelude in C major.

I am going to add the metronome to my regimen as well. I welcome the discipline. Each day has produced some surprises. Bach only seems really fast. I find that I don't really like Glenn Gould all that much. After listening to him play the Inventions, I prefer Janos Sebestyen's playing to his. I don't know what all the hype is about Gould, but it isn't his playing that annoys me but the poor quality of either the piano or recordings that bugs me so much. The only recording of his that I like - barely, is the French Suites. And that not much.
Here is a lovely rendition of Prelude in C Major by Everwood:

Prelude in C Major (Piano) - Everwood

In the Prelude in C major, the hands are constantly flowing in a left to right motion, fluidly, with the left hand almost acting as a sustaining pedal. It is reminiscent of prayer, and yet, as the notes rise upward from the bass to the treble, there is a subtle descent into darker minor and diminished broken chord phrases which become softer, and mysterious, but only briefly, before rising upwards again with a resolved and gradual crescendo as the dominant in the bass resolves from suspense into the original joyous tonic. If it were a painting it would be light piercing the darkness. Or hope rising out of the pit of despair. This is the spiritual aspect of Bach that is such a heady elixir for me.

Here is a useful resource for musicians looking for public domain sheetmusic in pdf format.

Update: I received a very nice letter from a gentleman named Leonard Vertighel with a link to the International Music Score Library Project. The link to Sheetmusic Archive has been removed because they charge for the privilege of downloading printed music that is already in the public domain, and thus, should be free of charge. Sucker that I am, and not knowing about the IMSLP, I paid my hard-earned bucks to Sheetmusic Archive, when I could have donated the same amount to a far superior site.  

The Red Piano by Emily Martin

From the artist's site:

I took piano lessons as a girl, and I think I might've learned to do more than play by ear if I had been lucky enough to find a red piano to play on.

Oh, I don't know. It might have helped me, too, I suppose. As long as it's a Kawai.

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