I feel like there have been a lot of ‘light’ practice days of late! Today was no exception, though I’m sure I could have fitted more in if I really wanted to. After our Tesco and Wye bakery (it seems to be becoming a regular!) trip this morning, I did a rather reduced technique session before diving into the repertoire and excerpts for this week. As it’s Chinese New Year on Thursday, we have class tomorrow and then dinner at Trevor’s on Thursday. So I’m quite happy that I know Messiaen’s Merle Noir inside out and didn’t need to spend today cramming notes!
I played Merle Noir as the final piece on my masters recital back in July 2014, and it’s interesting to return once again to my very favourite piece of flute music. While my memory of the masters performance is one of exhilaration, there are bits of the recording that I’m retrospectively not terribly happy with. Why not have a listen? While it’s technically ‘correct’, and the faster passages are quite sparkly, the two cadenzas sound rather flat and as if I’m still thinking about the notes. I can certainly tell what Trevor means about dynamics – they’re not really there. Also, the fluttertongue notes don’t go anywhere, they just hang as a buzzing mass of sound. That said, I do rather like the way I played the presque lent, tendre sections (the ones with piano that don’t feel like they’re in a normal time signature) – I really wanted something a bit sparse, almost icy.
In my practice today, I focused on two things: getting the last section up to the speed it was in my recital (with all the grace notes nice and short!), and trying to achieve a more expressive, exciting rendition of the cadenzas. Hopefully I succeeded! I have a feeling that tomorrow’s topic for discussion in the cadenzas will be rhythmic accuracy no matter what.
As for the excerpts, we have Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide and Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits, two incredibly different pieces of music. In the Rossini, I worked on getting everything really crisp and clear, with (hopefully) a nice bounce in the triplets. I spent a lot of time setting and maintaining a tempo, making sure that each bar was rhythmically accurate within that. And, of course, I made sure that all my dynamics were big and rich, and that I was being expressive and communicating something. Not much time to prepare, but hopefully I’m armed and ready for tomorrow.
In the evening, I walked up to Hastingleigh village hall with Shannon and Alyssa for pancakes! It’s Shrove Tuesday, and the village had a pancake party with three pancakes (and sweet or savoury toppings) for two pounds fifty. They were doing a roaring trade, and it was nice to have a chat with some of the villagers as well. We went for a short walk with a rather jovial Trevor afterwards.