With less than two weeks to go before my recital on June 30th, I ought to be a little worried. I only really started practicing for it two weeks ago, which will make this a new record for inahurrianism. (That's right, when you're in enough haste you can't be bothered to think of words that already exist; you just mak'em up as you go.)
And yet today I spent my entire practice working on one piece, one of two that isn't yet memorized, or, for that matter, practiced. It is one of the slow tunes (so is the other) and I have played it publicly before (two and a half years ago) so I saved it for the end. The remaining piece is shorter, simpler, and can be played with music if necessary because it is easy to turn the one page. After a while I could feel two things had happened: one, that I was able to play the piece well beginning to end, and another, that I was starting to hear passages of it in my mind and see my fingers working even when away from the piano. If my mind is starting to "photograph" the piece, then it has been a good day. My subconscious will match my conscious efforts, and in a few days I should have it all from memory. That makes it worth dropping the entire rest of the program for a day to make sure my mind could focus on it. If I had played the rest of the program as well it would have interfered with my efforts at assimilating this one, and, since the other pieces are in reasonable technical shape, I can afford a day or two. They do still need quite a bit of polish, though.
I don't have a recording of the piece yet. It is Gottschalk's Cradle Song, which he must have liked since he mentions it eight times in his "Notes of a Pianist." (which is more than any other piece that I've noticed) But I will leave you with a recording--premature though it is--of his "Pasquinade," another piece from the program. I recorded it last Wednesday while I was recording examples for a previous blog installment. I just left the microphone on and tried out a few pieces. It was instructive, not simply because I can then listen to whether or not my interpretive ideas of the piece are working (some aren't yet) but because microphones make me nervous and this is also a good way to reinforce execution under pressure--like testing a piece with an audience. The next day it always sounds so much freer and more fluid.
For what it's worth, here it is. See you Wednesday.