I’ve been meaning to record this one for a long time.
This is one of those mysterious and introspective pieces like Chopin’s nocturne 15.3 that has a strange logic all its own. It’s low and, even in the crescendos, somehow hushed throughout. There’s not a trace of virtuosic flashiness in it; it’s definitely not a piece that’s about the pianist. The way it unfolds is … well, a nice fellow from Paris named Frank who emailed me about piano recording, and who is also learning to play it, said it well: it’s almost as if the whole piece were a single long phrase. And it ends by dissolving and fading away — a sentence without a period.
I would expect a piece like this to be a late work, from a composer with much wisdom and little to prove to the rest of the world — think, for example, of Beethoven’s Opus 111 or Shostakovich’s late string quartets — but Brahms wrote this when he was 21, or maybe 20. To see inside that young man’s mind…! The mystery deepens!
In spite of the mystery, or really because of it, this is one of my favorite pieces. My interpretation is a little unorthodox, but then so it the music. I hope you enjoy it!
Cold, thin air. Winter light. A solitary high place.
I wrote this piece for a former piano student of mine. He was (and presumably still is) exceptionally thoughtful, patient, and sensitive for an eight-year-old; in fact, he had the better of most adults I’ve known in those respects. I wanted a piece that would give him a chance to be really musical — he had the right stuff for it — but was within his technical reach and within the physical limitations of the birth defect in his right hand. So this is what I came up with.
He did learn it, and played it quite nicely. This, of course, gratified me to no end.
Some things are clichés simply because they’re true; “teaching is rewarding” is one such.
Here’s a preview of a piece I’m working on — this is the march that opens Chopin’s Fantasty. The whole piece is quite an epic (about 14 minutes), and rather difficult, so I’m not going to be posting the whole thing in the near future.
This opening, however, is neither so long nor so difficult, and so I’m posting a rough version of it as a little appetizer. It almost stands as a little piece on its own, but right where I stop in this recording, instead of winding to a close, the music takes off full throttle.
Fantasy in F minor (introduction)
In the future, the whole thing!
Here’s a little composition from my tender youth. I remember that I was a little befuddled at the time about how to write down the rhythms! This piece thus lived only in my head for a long time, yet I still remember it quite clearly. It will be obvious why when you hear it — it’s kind of catchy.
Hearing this again makes me smile. Perhaps it’s just pleasant memories of sixth grade (which was a happy year for me), but I hope that the tune is enjoyable for you even without the personal associations!