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"Zero Hour", in which I critique myself...

 
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Goldberg
Incorrigible Failure

Goldberg

Age: 17
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:32 pm    Post subject: "Zero Hour", in which I critique myself... Reply with quote

...for a change.

Yes, yours truly, the hapless and hopeless Goldberg, has just returned from a school student recital. This isn't anything fancy, just a piano sitting in a mid-sized room and free-standing chairs set up about 10 minutes in advance. At my school, they have such events about once every three months and I've been to the first two this year, and finally have gotten my act together and participated in one! I figured it was time I show "them"--and myself--what I could really do. And I was certainly not going to be outdone, considering I chose to play La Fileuse and the 6th Hungarian Rhapsody of Liszt. Outdone, I was not.

Well, the recital started right at noon, and having a sort of innate but still somewhat (maybe disturbingly) Gouldian superstition (or maybe it's just for show, but really I find it very functional), I came dressed in my leather jacket, which I wear all the time anyway, a longsleeved shirt, and gloves, to keep my hands warmed (prior to putting on the gloves I'd soaked my hands in some warm-hot water for a good two minutes or so). Nothing really anomalous about that, though, at least from my perspective, because I have literally come that way for *every* recital I've done, save maybe my first two or three. I was surprised at my last recital in Rice University's Duncan Hall when an older student approached me and said, "gloves!! Great idea! I've never thought of gloves before!" haha, and he's been playing for 11 years now...

The truth is, I can't stand to have my hands cold at all...but for some reason they always are, unless I'm playing very well.

But let me get to the recital now. I'd invited three of my professors to come along, and was extremely pleased to see my math teacher actually there (I thought he wouldn't come because he didn't reply to my email; my history teacher wanted to come but then as he told me yesterday, he forgot he had a (regularly scheduled) class today at this time! lol!). I met a few people who came along, and it surprised me to see that they had some random bloke in the back with his video recorder, ready to tape it all (even though there isn't really anything at these recitals to record, save for *one* girl who plays the piano rather well, if not technically superb). After talking briefly with my teacher and wandering around a little, eyeing the beat-up Kawai (about 5.7ft or so, I think) I was to play, I sat down and began my "meditation" in which I control my breathing, relax my upper body, and think about generally nothing at all. By the time I got up to the piano, I was in a sort of spiritual zone of transcendence which, I have to say, I have never really experienced before. Of course, it may also have been because of my terrible cold/allergies/upset stomach/headaches...all of which I combatted this morning with liberal amounts of Tylenol, Advil, and Clariton.

Well, that "one" girl I was talking about played first, and did so very nicely, introducing her piece--Cat and Mouse by Copland--with a description which I thought was very appropriate considering that most of the audience couldn't tell Bach from Yanni. Her technique was lacking in several places, which seemed relatively unconventional so I can't really blame her, especially since some of the pieces she's played before have had even worse displays of technique. And, roughly, I have to say she played more technically accurate than I did...her sense of the music was also very well-rounded, and she thoroughly enjoyed the performance. When I met her, for the first time, after it all was over, she turned out to be as nice as she looks on the bench, and we were both very generous in our compliments, haha.

Then came some girl to sing for us two passionate Romantic songs, one by Debussy and another by...hmm...can't remember now, haha. It wasn't very engaging, whatever it was. The Debussy was very soothing, even though her voice wasn't anything extraordinary. Still, well done, and I could tell the audience liked it more than the pianist-girl's piece, because they could probably relate more to the songs.

Then up steps yours truly to the piano, somewhat in a daze and trying to pull myself together and concentrate enough on the pieces to get through the next ten minutes. Even though I haven't really played in public since last summer, I still have "it" down; that is, how I start playing. I look at the audience but I never really "look" at the audience. I can look right into someone's eyes but never even see anything at all. By this, I might as well have been in my own private studio, and it wouldn't have mattered if there 5 people listening or 5000: this would, as always, be for me alone (by the way, there were about 23 people there, and that was pretty good considering there were perhaps 30 chairs set up). So, I take a "bow" which is, for me, more of a head drop and a very slight slant at my hips, because I hate looking too subordinate to the audience, rather preferring to keep a look of genteel dignity, but not in anyway appearing to be pretentious at the same time.

So I throw off my jacket and hurl my gloves aside nonchalantly, smirking inside about the stories of how Liszt would toss his gloves into the audience and make the ladies fight it out (I considered doing this but it might have produced the opposite effect; I stopped myself entirely when I realised that these people had mostly never even see me before...and, yes, I'm joking...though Sophia--that first girl--is, shall we say, rather attractive...she can have my gloves anytime.) And I start La Fileuse, within seconds realising that all is going to be *just fine*. Strangely, for indeed I have never ever done it before, I closed my eyes throughout most of the piece, thinking sentimentally of Cziffra in a way (not to say that he closed his eyes, I was just considering him as inspiration), and generally playing the piece....very well! The accompaniment, while not perfect, was better-balanced than in my recording, and the melodic phrasing made more sense than in the rec as well. I DID play it too fast, however, and in parts my fingers were flying over the keyboard, playing the notes well but sometimes missing "the point" of them...this was entirely unintentional, of course, but at the time I had a large deal of adrenaline flowing through me, and again that's not something I've experienced for a while. And, the piece overall was nicely played! In those cadenza passages--you know, the flubbed up ones in the rec--I simply improvised my own "somewhat similar" passages, remaining admirably within the "Raffian idiom" (thankfully it's not TOO much different than the Lisztian idiom, at least in my small little mind, haha). The ending in particular was improvised, but only because this morning I found that I really couldn't play it any other way (because I was too lazy and too un-focused to practice it enough, to be honest; I was exhausted after a week of hard work, and feeling rather ill); it actually ended up nice, with a smashing effect of ascending double-trills and a sustained, light-beated pattern in the right hand with a melody reprise in the left, then the right hand came tumbling down in a scale pattern to end the piece as written, that is, the last two measures. Nobody would know, come on!! And certainly no one did know..... Rolling Eyes

Ok, so after the finished applauding, I explained very shortly, "This next performance will be dedicated to the memory of Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Cziffra, my hero." Which perhaps sounded a little trite, but I was having difficulty talking, being in a sort of trance and also with a terribly dry throat and lips (fortunately by this time, however, my cold symptoms had more or less disappeared, save for the dryness). Right into the Rhapsody I started, going a *little* faster than I expected, but not bad. I played the opening well but, as is unfortunately a habit of mine (which I will work tirelessly to solve now that I have the time) the actual musicality of the opening "tempo guisto" was somewhat questionable. I had a relatively good command of the dynamics and phrasing, but they could have been much better, and my pedalling really muddied up the more delicate sections, I'm sad to say. The run finishing the opening section came out only half-decently, but as I review the video tape, which my dad made, it actually didn't sound all that bad to the audience. I just flubbed the fingering on the way down, in my excitement, but I got about 90% of the notes, and really nailed the upward arpeggio passage after the scale. It wasn't too bad, really.

I skipped the presto transition section, because I just haven't been able to play it--as easy at it is--very well at all, and I know that, so I made a last-second decision to go straight to the Lassan instead of screwing around through the presto section. Only one person in the audience would know--the music director of the program, who studied piano at Eastman and Juillard (but who isn't really that great, and who got his degree in choir, not piano)--and he didn't say anything afterwards. The lassan was then played very beautifully, as I've always managed, and I think the audience, or at least most of them, remained intact despite it being slow-going, which is always a good sign because you know you "really" have something going when you can get a group of ignoramuses to listen closely to a slow part.

Again, I almost completely ruined the "run" transition between the Lassan and Friska parts; I really don't know why, but I just haven't played that well at all lately (I've been saying that a lot, heh). I think in general I've been focusing too much on the piece as a whole and not working out fine details, which is definitely something I'll avoid the next time round. Still, it sounded O.K. on the video, not great, but certainly not like it had been messed up entirely. And I knew at the time that any disappointment derived from that particular stunt would be made up for with the friska. And indeed, it was.

I'm very proud to say that the Friska went well if you stand back and look at the whole thing. There were several stumbles, unfortunately, but I never lost a beat and played mostly without pedal, keeping it clear and pleasantly upbeat. And quite fast too! Actually, I would have liked to take it slower and salvage the notes I ended up missing, but as it was I didn't think clearly enough when I started and once I began, I had the tempo and was stuck with it! Nevertheless, my speed approached, if not equalled or matched, that of Cziffra's (sadly at the sacrifice of accuracy), and that in itself is worthy of *some*thing, not as much as accuracy and musical clarity would have been worth, but certainly something. At least my technique is improving, in the ability to relax and move my joints quickly and lightly (this has actually been a huge problem with me, and I wore myself down/injured myself playing La Camp a year ago with very heavy motions and ignorant technique).

So, I didn't play the Friska perfectly, but what I lacked in notes I made up for in excitement! Indeed, I was perfectly at home with the overall mood of the piece, and I could tell the audience could also feel the energy. At the end, several of them shouted out their approval ("YEAH!" and what have you) and applauded me back to my chair, after I gave them my nod, smile, and slight bow, and then gathered up my jacket and gloves. I didn't play perfectly, but I had completely enjoyed myself, and was, every bit of me, thrilled, content, and happy once more. I realised that I'm really alive for moments like those, when after months of hard work and deep thought and observation and worrying and illness and disappointment and discovery, and inspiration and motivation....when after all those things happen, there is a culmination of energy and you return victorious. That's really what it's all about. And next time I'll play even better.

Well, the recital finished through without any real pomp or ceremony, with a nervous-looking man singing a song by...some other composer whose name I can't remember (he sang well, but not as well as the girl who sang earlier), and then another girl got up to the piano and played "confidence" from Mendelssohn's "songs without words" (an ironic piece, I thought, and unfortunately she didn't seem very confident; she reminded me of myself on the day I had to play La Camp, even though I knew I couldn't play it well: I went too three practice rooms while waiting and played it about 20 times through...she also went upstairs to play her pieces, and asked that she be put in last instead of first place, as had been originally scheduled); she also played a famous Scarlatti sonata in C major, which I thought was interesting particularly because a few days ago I happened to be listening to Cziffra play the same piece...but, needless to say, she didn't exactly play it up to his standards...indeed, the Scarlatti sonata was horribly flubbed and snubbed and grubbed to the bone, and I daresay I felt sorry for her, both because it was the last piece of the program and because she had such an earnest look on her face, like she had really worked hard. I just hope she played the piece up to her own standard, to be honest, and she might well have been happy with the performance because she seemed to be in good spirits after the thing was over.

So, yeah, immediately thereafter I had several people approach me and congratulate me, which is always a very satisfying, if common experience (that is, they do it no matter what or how you play, haha). I did talk to the girl who played last, and she seemed...oddly excited that we had both been playing for 6 years...I don't know why, but that really seemed to make her happy, haha. Maybe that explains her playing (haha...ok, sorry, that was mean...) Some lady wanted my picture for some reason, so I amused her and, actually, the other lady who wanted my picture (I don't know what all these pictures are for), so I sat at the bench again and improvised a little while they snapped some shots. Eventually everyone had cleared out except for Sophia--that first girl--the music director, my parents, and my math teacher, and we all kind of had a sort of shindig for a while, although I was trying mainly to catch the attention of Sophia because I'm "interested" in her (oooooh...actually I think she has a boyfriend, haha. Too bad). Nothing really came of it, so off I went to lunch.

Next time, I'm going to whip out something simply smashing. I'm thinking Cziffra's "Valse Triste" or "Bumblebee", or maybe even Liszt's 2nd ballade, which would be a little less of a showpiece (and, in the same vein, easier for me to play, heh).
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PianistSk8er
Chopiffraliszt lover
Chopiffraliszt lover

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, I really think we should find a way to publicize these reviews, Goldberg, they're really quite special. I found it especially interesting that it was one of your own performances this time, heh. Also, after the description of your performance of the HR6, I can't wait for you to have me, dare I say, *upload* it when you have it ready.

Computational jargon aside, I'm glad to hear that it went well and am hoping and quite sure that this has been only the beginning of many great performances to come.

Now hurry up and make some recordings! =D

PS
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Helling
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We need a 6th rhapsody for pianosociety! Come on Goldberg! Wink
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Goldberg
Incorrigible Failure

Goldberg

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*sigh* so much pressure! THE PRESSURE!

I...CAN'T....TAKE IT ANY LONGER!!!

Cripes, this means M&Ms and soaps for the next few days..


Seriously, mates, you'll have a recording....soon....just maybe not tomorrow or Saturday. Next week sometime; I have Spring Break next week so I'll take a while and polish up a few loose ends and see what I can do. I don't know if it will be ready for pianosociety though!!



I'M WORKIN' AS FAST AS I CAN!!!

(oh and ps, thanks for your compliment on the review. I actually don't consider it very well-written. I was still feeling a little under the weather when I wrote it, so it's a little disorganised and boring, I'm afraid. Still...)
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citrine_peridot
The "Pedal-Eater"




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you had a recital and you didn't even invite me???!!!

well, my friend ,who had been playing 9 years is having one tomorrow .(she has very funny facial expression like mouth-opening and eyes -closing, wish i won't laugh when she is performing)



P.S i still can't hear your recording, since~~~~~~~~~i did something bad to my computer(or maybe my dad)
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Goldberg
Incorrigible Failure

Goldberg

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's too bad! I was hoping that you could hear it, particularly cos I kept on promising you I'd have it done by certain dates and then failed to do so, haha. Plus, I have to show you that I messed up more than you did on the Un Suspiro etude...

And anyway I don't think you could have come to the recital, considering it was on a Thursday at noon, and I figured you'd be at school...buuuuut I suppose I could have faked your doctor's handwriting and write a note explaining why it was absolutely essential for you to get out early. That certainly was an option that I overlooked in my foolishness...
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citrine_peridot
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

doctor's note, you don't need to write it ~~~~~~~~~~~~i've made my friends to sign numerous permission slips, and i consider i m very good at thinking of creative excuses. (don't tell my mom)

and, un sOspiro
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Goldberg
Incorrigible Failure

Goldberg

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holy cow...to think I've been spelling it wrong this whole time!!! I'm going to go bury my head in the backyard; from now on, I shall expect to be called "Ostrich Man."

On second thought, maybe Liszt can forgive me...I'll praise him with the 14th Rhapsody in a few weeks...
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aout4
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice writing... I enjoyed it and it's interesting! You can write a book of piano diaries Smile
This remind me of a school recital I've attended back at my school years ago. The guy messed up at a fast passage but he did pull himself up and completed the whole piece..phew!
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Scriabinist
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did you learn to write recital reports like that?! If I had to perform something and assess it afterwards, I could only come up with something like "It sucked because I didn't practise enough"...

Your posts are great reading...unless I'm in a hurry. Wink
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Goldberg
Incorrigible Failure

Goldberg

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the compliments on my writings, guys. To be honest, I never look on my writing with quite the same "admiration" if you can call it that. I really just plop myself down and churn out my--admittedly thorough--reports like that, usually within half an hour or 45 minutes.

But, mind you, writing is something I've had a LOT of practice doing, and I've always considered to be a greater natural ability of mine, at least compared to my other "abilities" (piano being one, and really, it's not like my piano talent holds any true competition to anything hahaha). And my old school is very well known for its English department, so I had plenty of practice there...

Once, someone explained to me that to be a good writer, one must practice constantly, and the way I see it, forums like these are excellent areas in which one may practice writing, so I take full advantage of the opportunity.
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Helling
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your posts are very interesting Goldberg, even though we both seem to have a reputation of writing posts that take years to read. Hey this one wasn't so long, maybe I'm getting cured.
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Goldberg
Incorrigible Failure

Goldberg

Age: 17
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, yeah, well for a good month or two I basically resigned to just writing sentence-long replies or posts, but hey, I have a reputation to live up to!
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