Friday, January 8, 2010

"Getting Started" with Le Onde

June 4, 2010. Mark your calendars. You'll feel a Disturbance in The Force that day, as Jillian and I attempt our second live recitals. This is no trick for Jillian, who seems to have been born without the gene that induces stage fright. Her mother and I are both carriers, though, so Lord only knows how Jillian escaped. Jillian began work on her recital piece back in November, and has asked that I not share with you kind folks what she is working on. So I shan't.

Me? Longtime friends may recall that I had an eye last year towards performing Le Onde. And after about 6 weeks, I had reached the point to where I could play (most of) the notes, but it simply didn't sound musical. (Professor K. has described Le Onde as her "Waterloo" because of similar difficulties.) One lesson, I brought the iPod in to let PT compare and contrast what I was doing with the recordings from Einaudi himself. The La Scala version is particularly expressive, and it was while listening to it that PT had an "ah-ha" moment.

"Listen carefully to what he is doing... he is creating a wavelike sensation by implementing crescendos on every upward arpeggio (like those in the first four messages) and decrescendos on every downward arpeggio." I listened. She was right. That's why she makes Big Piano Teacher Bucks.

So I went back home and tried to do this. It was much harder than it sounds. In fact, I spent a week on this concept, during which time my ability to play this piece simply fell apart like the deck of cards that it was. By this point, recital time was 8 weeks away, and I was basically on page 1. I told PT that we were going with I Due Fiumi instead, and she expressed some relief at my decision. (Good thing, too, because first recitals have plenty of anxieties of their own. No sense adding to them with questions about your ability to actually play the music.)

Now where are we? 8 months later, I have about another 150 hours of bench time behind me. I'm better. I'm actually working on the key of D-major* in Alfred's, so it seemed like a good time to dust off Le Onde and see where we're at. After two weeks, I can say with supreme confidence that... I am right where I was when I gave up on it last Spring.

* - Heck no, I didn't know that off the top of my head, but thanks for asking. I had to look it up. My theory needs work.

My plan is to focus the next month on the first three pages. I'm in the "Acquiring the Notes at about 1/2 tempo" phase of things, paying very little attention to the aforementioned unwritten crescendos and decrescendos, or even the written ones. I hope, by the end of January, that the pattern will be fairly automatic for me, and the musicality will come by focusing on the details. When I make some progress there, I will turn to page 4, and start work on the halftime interlude, which, from what I recall, is not too difficult from a technical perspective. And so on.

What's more, as with many of Einaudi's pieces, there is quite a bit of repetition. I'd guestimate 90% of the first three pages is repeated in the second half. This should leave quite a bit of time to work on pushing and pulling the tempo and dynamics, to create that wave sensation that those who play it well can simulate.

Like Pianoworld's Kawaigirl for instance: link - Le Onde by Kawaigirl1

Look for my Le Onde in ABF Recital 18, which should be in May some time. In the meantime, updates as necessary.

- Aw2pp, new to the ways of The Force.

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