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This is the first update about my work for an upcoming film about Emily Dickinson, the 3rd in a series of documentaries.
I have been practicing seven of the Mendelssohn “Songs Without Words” and Beethoven’s “Pathétique” Sonata.
We will be videotaping in order to make a scratch audio track so the producer can organize his approach for the actual film. This will probably take place within the next two weeks.
A practice interruption
Things were going along according to plan, when I caught the bug that’s going around. For the first three days or so, what I thought might be a sinus infection may have been allergies instead. But with swollen eyelids, a headache, and a sore, scratchy throat, exactly what it was didn’t seem to matter.
And then a virus hit. That intensified things, making for many sore muscles and major intestinal upset. At that point, I stopped eating, stopped practicing, and slept most of the time.
Not to lay the details on you, but taking two days off from practicing was not part of the plan, especially with an approaching deadline.
Heading for the piano
Finally on Friday, I felt better, mostly. There were still achy muscles, and I was dehydrated. But I wanted to try practicing.
Practicing after 2 days off
A full-out practice session would not have been helpful. Instead, I made sure to stay relaxed, play under tempo much of the time, and focus on listening.
I was not expecting to hear progress after taking two days off. But it does happen. Some pieces had better flow. So the music had been cooking in my head while I was asleep. 🙂
My big discovery!
In Mendelssohn’s Op. 67, No. 3 (called “Song of the Pilgrim” in the Schirmer edition), I had been feeling bogged down by the repetitiveness of the phrases. How could this piece be played expressively? Did I need to find a different tempo? Change dynamics? Use more rubato?
Relaxing, listening, and looking more closely at the music yielded results. There are several articulation markings that I had missed completely. That’s probably because the Schirmer edition looks so dense on the page. (So much for buying the least expensive edition to save a few bucks…)
Now I’m practicing both hands being detached at the same time, and later with only the right hand detached. (Try it.) Beyond that, the phrasing is clearly indicated, so I just need to internalize it.
In retrospect, I had been getting in the way of the composer’s intentions.
The project in general
The details have been changing day by day. A fortepiano was mentioned, but that has not been finalized. And yesterday, someone suggested that there be a chorus singing part of the soundtrack.
Onward… I’ll post another update as we continue working.
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