b Riding East: May 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chopin Preludes Opus 28

I sat down this morning on my Steinway B and recorded a few of the Chopin Preludes I've been practicing.   They're not quite ready but getting closer.  I'm hoping to put together a recital, perhaps commemorating many different recent life events, both personal and academic.

I was inspired by Kenneth Hamilton's lecture at Stanford a month ago in the Reactions to the Record IV Symposium.  Kenneth's lecture walked through the recent history of piano performance, focusing on the changes of the past century, perhaps relating to the era of the recording.  He spent considerable time exploring the notion of the unpolished, authentic, improvisatory elements of performances in the previous century, including the practice of 'preluding' between pieces in a performance.  Most of this preluding represented somewhat spontaneous musical musings of a pianist in transitioning between pieces, although in many cases I'm sure those transitions may have been planned, composed, or perhaps drawn from a collection of tools.  Beyond such musings, we have several collections of preludes in the canon of western music, notably Bach's WTC I and II, but also Chopin, Debussy, and Scriabin to name a few.

I contemplate a recital where every piece is connected to another piece through preludes, mostly those chosen from Bach, Chopin, and Debussy (and perhaps one or two of my own), but also sometimes more improvisatory in nature.  My hope would be to create a somewhat continuous ribbon of music from start to end with no breaks, where different movements of disjunct works might be integrated with one another in novel ways.  Ideally the listener in the end perceives the works but also the connections between them (that is to say the preludes), and in some cases might have their lasting attention drawn to the preludes themselves.

Chopin Prelude Opus 28 No. 1 in C Major
Chopin Prelude Opus 28 No. 10 in C-sharp Minor
Chopin Prelude Opus 28 No. 14 in E-flat Minor