The title states it well.
The world faces much uncertainty. COVID lingers. The years pass swiftly – too quickly at times. There is so much to do, a great deal more I want to achieve.
I used to give piano recitals and accompany dancers once the concerts tapered off – but neither of those activities are possible at the moment, especially with economic uncertainty and the virus.
Still, I practise the piano at home and enjoy posting recordings of mp3s to music sharing sites.
To cheer myself up this week, I sifted through earlier writings from a sister blog (no longer developed) and found the following account from the heady concert training days:
A friend introduced me to a man who ran a piano shop and we became good friends. The owner of the shop gave me work and recommended my services to others. Sometimes, I would arrive at the shop first thing in the morning, open up and remain on the premises alone till closing time at five or five thirty, when I’d lock up and set the alarm, making a quick dash out of the door before the alarm activated. At other times, I dealt with the paper work and typed letters. Of course, whenever I could, I would select a piano – preferably, a Seiler, known for its rich deep sound – and play for an hour, or longer, if possible.
One of the sales assistants at the shop had trained as a concert pianist. Her playing was phenomenal, rivalling that of the highly experienced tutors I’d already studied with since coming to London, and soon after we met, this sales assistant agreed to take me on and train me at advanced performance level.
The transformation she brought about just in a couple of years. The relaxation of my shoulders and arm. The ability to throw off octave sections and passages of bravura. During a lesson at her house, I played the arpeggio study in C minor by Chopin, an unrelenting and potentially exhausting etude that lasts for about five minutes. She talked me through the piece while I played, enabling me to pay attention to the cantabile element of the etude while remaining completely relax – not an easy task to accomplish.
Under her supervision, I tackled a number of advanced works to the point where the technical challenges became almost effortless. Chopin’s F minor fantasie. Chopin’s third scherzo. The Eroica from the Liszt Transcendental etudes. Waldesrauschen and Gnomenreigen from the Liszt Concert etudes. The Liszt etude Un Sospiro in D-flat. The Waldstein sonata by Beethoven. The etude in D-sharp minor by Scriabin. Schubert’s second impromptu from the opus 90 set.
The new tutor organised several students concerts, where I performed Liszt etudes and the Schubert impromptu no 2. Meanwhile, I continued performing in the lunchtime recital circuit in central London, throwing off an array of impressive works – the second and third scherzos by Chopin, the first waltz in B-flat by Chopin, the Scriabin etude in D-sharp minor and preludes by Rachmaninoff.
This period in my musical journey culminated in a concert for the International Recital Series at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, a nerve wracking experience that concluded with a performance of the Scriabin etude in D-sharp minor.
Other repertoire during this time:
Beethoven – piano sonata in C no 3
Grieg – Piano Sonata