Day 172 – March 21st – Syrinx

Today was a bit of work and a bit of relaxation time. This morning, Trevor rang to see whether anybody wanted to go to the market in Wye, and I was happy to get out of the house. Not the biggest market, but there was some nice organic produce, and so I’ve got some bags of fresh apples and carrots to cook with.

The final week of the course is mostly repertoire, with studies only if and when we want to play them. On Monday, we’re playing Debussy’s Syrinx and Telemann sonatas in F major and F minor. Then on Thursday it’s Murtel’s Sonata in D and Suite – Spring by Vasilenko. I spent quite a bit of time today working on  Syrinx, as it’s one of those pieces I know, should be able to play quite well, and am hoping not to get torn to shreds over! Most people play this with far too much rubato, and all the rhythms are distorted. I don’t have any past recordings of myself playing it, but my first read through suggested that I’ve definitely been quite liberal with the rhythm myself in the past. So it was back to the metronome, making sure that everything is exactly in time and as written on the page before I start trying to do anything fancy.

This evening, I spent some time making thank you cards for all the people here who have lent a helping hand over the past six months. I’m beginning to sort through things in my wardrobe and work out how everything is going to fit back into my backpack. Almost the end…

Day 51 – November 20th – Day Off

Sheep and a sunset from my run this afternoon.

Sheep and a sunset from my run this afternoon.

After a busy day yesterday, there seemed to be a general consensus that today was a day off, or a day off practising at least. Even at the best of times, I’m not good at doing total relaxation, and so still managed to fit in a long run, baking flapjack and doing some of my written project. This evening, we all snuggled up in the ‘old dairy’ for a session of knitting and sewing accompanied by some well-earned bottles of cider. It was great to have a day (the first in a while) that didn’t involve playing, and I have to credit the others for suggesting it. I would probably just have plowed on regardless! Hopefully the rest will make for some renewed vigor in practice tomorrow.

As for yesterday’s class with Juliet Edwards, I feel like I learned a lot from the experience and from working with her in such an environment. We had been preparing our pieces for a few weeks, but had mostly chosen works that we hadn’t studied or performed before. Mine was the first movement of Poulenc’s Sonata, and others prepared movements of the Burton Sonatina, Schumann’s Three Romances and Enescu’s Cantabile et Presto. Trevor warned us that Juliet would expect us to know the piano part very well, and I had spent quite a bit of time on it as a result. Some of the class struggled getting their work together with piano, and a lot of Juliet’s feedback was on rhythm and understanding why rhythmic integrity (and occasionally flexibility) was important.

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Somewhat hazy, but I’m still in love with these Kentish sunsets!

My main point was also on rhythm, as I’d decided to play the opening demi-semiquavers of the movement with quite a bit of rubato. Fine, said Juliet, if that was a conscious choice, but I need to do it in a way that allows me to arrive at the next bar in a clear tempo. We worked for a while on setting up the tempo, and arrived at an interpretation that involved slightly less rubato as a result! We also talked about the semiquaver rests in Poulenc’s score, which are almost like a comma in his phrases. Juliet asked me to take more time with them, allowing for some breathing space rather than always plowing on. I have to admit that, after so much pressure and criticism (mostly constructive) from Trevor in recent weeks, it was good to be told by Juliet that she thought me a good performer, and that I was communicating my musical ideas well. I really enjoyed playing with her, and it was good to get another opinion on how things are going!