Thursday, November 20, 2008

Making my way through Recital #12

There were 77 submissions for Recital #12, totaling almost four hours of music. I'm about two-thirds of the way through, and should be done with one more train trip. There is also a very lively comments thread on Pianoworld. I would like to give my own feedback to the recordings, but how many different ways are there to say “Wow, that was awesome!” Truth is, I don't have much else to say; I'm in awe of the deep talent pool and breadth of these recordings.

More than one commenter has suggested that I am being too stringent in my self-assessment. Here is an example comment, from rustyfingers:

This was lovely. If I were you, I wouldn’t point out mistakes. We all make them, but sometimes they slip by unnoticed to those who don’t know the music as well as you do. :wink: This was an ambitious undertaking for someone who has been playing for less than a year, and you rose beautifully to the challenge.

AdagioM left a similar comment in the previous thread here. First of all, meaning no false modesty, I was not aware that everyone makes mistakes on their recital pieces. My children go to sleep every night listening to CD’s I have compiled from various sources, including Pianoworld recitals. The music is flawless to my ears. Since my recording did not reach a similar level of polish, I felt compelled to say so to anyone interested enough to come to my blog.

On the other hand, this comment has taken me back to some extremely compelling radio I heard a few months back. Paul Simon (not the bowtie Paul Simon, the other one) was being interviewed about his Graceland album, and agreed to voice-over an assessment of the title track while it played. This was fascinating. There were some parts of the song that greatly pleased him, like the opening 30 or 45 seconds or so. Something along the lines of “This is great, we’re not in any hurry, just meandering along, enjoying the trip. Then we get to one of the best opening lines I’ve ever written: The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar.” There were other parts of the song he had intended to change before going to print (is that the right term?) on the album, and he just forgot to make the change. “Going to Graceland”, for instance, was just supposed to be filler until he came up with the “real” lyric, whatever that was going to be. And finally, there were other parts of the song that seemed perfectly fine at the time, but have really annoyed him ever since ("'ghosts and empty sockets'... I really forced that one...")

At the end of the song, he admitted that Graceland, warts and all, is his favorite song. Even a legendary professional musician, apparently, may never reach a point to where he/she is completely satisfied with even their best work... and yet they are able to take pride in it nevertheless. Why should I be any different?

So returning to rustyfinger’s comment, and the other encouragement I have received… I am not sure, perfectionist (er, competitive person) that I am, that I will ever get to the point to where I don’t acknowledge mistakes in a recorded piece… the question is whether or not I will admit them on the Interwebs, or leave them be. At this point, I think I’ll probably just grade myself generally, and leave the rest to you. If I’m really happy with something, I will let you know.

One more point. Last night, after putting the young-ins to bed, I busted out, from memory, a MUCH better version of Ombre than what I submitted for the recital. And laughed to myself.

1 comment:

pdxknitterati said...

I've said this in other venues, but I'll say it again: We all listen to ourselves with a hyper-critical ear. We know what the piece is supposed to sound like, and we know what we want it to sound like.

But the way that you listen to other people's playing is the way that they listen to yours! They may not know the piece, but it's pleasing. They may or may not hear the tiny flub, but it's just a moment, and you're on to the next sublime chord or whatever. The overall impression is good, and they're happy they listened.

I've been to a lot of recitals, both kids' and adults' (piano camp!) and on top of all that I said before is the fact that we're all rooting for each other to do well. We're a very supportive group, ABF'ers!