Easy To Get Discouraged

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

Still Recovering…

A winter cold. This one has been particularly harsh, dampening my mood and the birthday celebrations on St Patrick’s Day. I spent most of St Patrick’s Day in bed before heading to my local pub with friends to celebrate with whisky and wine – although I felt much better in the morning.

I keep busy with work and language studies (French, German, Russian). At the moment, I’m polishing my piano repertoire with the First Polonaise by Franz Liszt.

My third book, My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, is now available as a paperback and online. An autobiography, the book details my musical aspirations and various struggles along the way. Do consider popping over to Amazon to catch a preview on Kindle!

A Summer Soiree, Piano

Tonight, I will perform an informal recital in a private setting close to where I live.  This is the programme:

Chopin: Nocturne in F minor

Nocturne in E minor

waltz in C sharp minor

Brahms

Hungarian Dances 1, 2, and 4

Interval

Grieg: 

Nocturne

Wedding Day at Troldhaugen

Scott Joplin:

Maple Leaf Rag

Liszt:

Hungarian Rhapsody no 19

Liszt – His Nineteenth Hungarian Rhapsody

Currently, learning (polishing) Liszt’s Nineteenth Hungarian Rhapsody with a view to including it on a CD project of piano music I have planned. Liszt wrote a set of nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies, some of which are well-known – for instance, number 2 and number 12.

The Nineteenth rhapsody, written in 1885, starts with a sombre, march-like triplet motif that seems almost ambiguous at first – compare to the more defined openings of Rhapsodies nos 2 and 12. After a brief section of rapid movement, the music settles into a clear Hungarian melodic style, reminiscent of the earlier Rhapsodies. The Lassan ends. Next comes the fast section, the Friska, which eventually results in a semi-cadenza, bringing the work to a bravo!-type finish.

Can’t wait to perform or record it.

Hectic Times

A very busy couple of weeks. I’m polishing the remaining third of my second novel, a psychological thriller, and am waiting to hear back from an editor on the first, same genre.

Meanwhile, I gave a piano recital a couple of weeks ago with works by Chopin, Mozart and Liszt. Received more than £200.  Not bad going, but doesn’t compare with the hundreds/thousands some artists get. I’m currently working towards another recital and learning three of the Chopin nocturnes.

Not much time for photography.

Today’s Piano Practice: Brahms And Chopin

I had a mammoth session at the grand piano this morning…the second Brahms Rhapsody from opus 79, the Brahms G minor Ballade from opus 118, Chopin’s third Ballade, and four of the Chopin Preludes, including the “gallop” prelude in G sharp minor.  I worked on various aspects of piano technique – lightness of touch, bravura.

Yesterday, I spent some time on the twelfth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt – a war-horse.

The New Year, And Another Day of Snow In London


Another Day Of Snow: North London
Originally uploaded by Lawrence’s Pictures
 

 

Chaos…I went back to my usual job as a self-employed musician yesterday but I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow.

Apparently, the snow will turn to ice in the next few days, making travel to work hazardous.

______________

Current Piano Repertoire

Brahms – 2 Rhapsodies op79, Ballad in G Minor 0p 118

Chopin Studies 10-12 from op 25 set, Ballades nos 2 & 3

Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsodies nos 5 & 12

A Long Wait

I’m still waiting for the editing report on my first novel, a psychological thriller set in the English countryside.   That’s one of the things in trying to get a book published  – you end up spending ages waiting each step of the way.  For me, the waiting is the worst bit.  It feels long and drawn out, and I tend to get impatient and worry about what might happen next.  

In the meantime, without having a definite time frame to work in, I don’t think I can continue with the most recent novel (another psychological thriller set near the Dorset coast), so I’ve made extensive backup copies of the first fourteen chapters and hope to return to the story sometime next year.  I’m working on something entirely different while I wait for the editor’s report – my student days at Dartington College of Arts in Totnes, Devon, where I studied music and classical piano.  

I’m also spending a lot of time at the piano, playing works by Beethoven, Chopin, Grieg and Liszt.

New Online Recording

 

July 16, 2009: I spent a couple of hours this morning at a friend’s flat, recording the Grieg piano sonata in E minor, along with a couple of Chopin preludes and the Liszt’s fifth Hungarian Rhapsody.  My friend will go through the various tracks and send the files back to me.

After a particularly frustrating afternoon, I’ve finally managed to put six piano pieces on YUDU.   For some reason, the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody got missed out.   For more.

An Online Recording

I spent a couple of hours this morning at a friend’s flat, recording the Grieg piano sonata in E minor, along with a couple of Chopin preludes and the Liszt’s fifth Hungarian Rhapsody. My friend will go through the various tracks and send the files back to me.

Elsewhere, I’m plugging away at my latest writing project and am waiting to hear back from the editor in regards to my first novel.