Friday, September 17, 2010

Liszt - An Excursion into the World of Dimensions

Recently, I decided to see if, at this point in my life, I can handle a piece of music which requires protracted stamina along with finger articulation at a high level - and so, I chose a piece by Liszt (who else?), who, simplistically stated, wrote for his own unprecedented pyro-technique, automatically making much of his piano music truly daunting technical dilemmas, even for the 21st century pianist.
Now, at my age, I am cowardly enough to consider practicing this piece, which is titled "Funerailles," in a way compatible to a degree of self-logic; that is, rather than simply learning the piece, starting at the beginning and ending up at the end, I decided to divide the music into sections, learn the most difficult sections first, and then finish the project with the less challenging phases, technically, of the piece.
I found that there are about eight sections in "Funerailles" - I have learned the first two sections well enough to decide to go on, and it really is a kind of adventure, as I had never looked at this music during my youth, when the more sanguine nature of my physical being was at its height. I'm quite sure that if I had learned this piece during my twenties, I would have learned it in pure linear form; that is, from beginning to end.
BUT, as the athlete discovers, things start going down hill from about middle age on, physically - unlike athletes, however, the performer of music does not depreciate as quickly as does the athlete (fortunately!) - just listen to a Heifetz or a Horowitz or a Rubinstein in their older years as proof.
Anyway, it will be a true adventure, as I stated, to discover whether I can put together the entire piece and survive my own performance! The jury is , at this time, of course, still out.
By the way; for those of you who may not know about this piece: there were historical papers, proven erroneous, which stated that Liszt wrote this piece as an encomium to Chopin, who died in 1849. In actuality, Liszt created this piece as a reaction to the terrible Hungarian insurrection
of 1848,49, and it is redolent with an overpowering admixture of national determinism(Liszt was Hungarian) and seething anger.
I recently re-learned the "Ballad of Revolt" of Harald Saeverud to see if I would run out of breath, as it is a study of some stamina requirement, and took it at the same tempo as Andsnes does in his wonderful recording, and I found that these old fingers and old lungs had no trouble; however, the Liszt piece is far longer, with many dimensional issues imbued within the text.
Will I perform this music in recital? Time will divulge.

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