PipeChat Digest #4474 - Sunday, May 2, 2004
Re:If I were old ...
  by "John Foss" <harfo32@yahoo.co.uk>

(back) Subject: Re:If I were old ... From: "John Foss" <harfo32@yahoo.co.uk> Date: Sun, 2 May 2004 07:39:06 +0100 (BST)   Robert Lind wrote: If I were old, I wouldn't be learning, on average, two new works a week;   I posted this last week on my orgofftop list, and had intended to keep it there, but I was strirred into action by Robert Lind's comment. 62 is not old these days, and it is a time of life when you might perhaps have time to learn new repertoire up to a performing standard. I imagine Robert Lind is younger than this. I haven't played the piano in public since I was 12, and haven't taken piano lessons since then, but decided I would learn it properly and have lessons. I started 5 weeks ago and set myself a recital as a target - I need one to stimulate myself - I don't know about the rest of you! I am currently practising 4+ hours a day. The entire programme, except for the Bach, is new to my repertoire.   "That great Australian organist, Michael Dudman, once said to me "You know John, giving recitals is basically a selfish activity." He had come to London to play at St Mary Magdalene's, Paddington, and we were chatting in the pub. He is right, of course, though there is a bit more to it than just that. I accepted the invitation to give a piano recital because I wanted a challenge. I knew if I said "yes" I would have to do some serious work. This would be good for me =96 and so self interest lay at the heart of my agreement. Not many young people embarking on a career in music would put the Katerini Municipal Music school at the top of their list for professional studies, but they might well do a lot worse. Walking into the building during the day is a bit like going into the Royal College of Music when I was a student there =96 music coming from every room and a palpable atmosphere of concentrated study. Piano, oboe, guitar, trumpet, violin and voice pierce the air =96 the soundproofing is not that good! - but once you start work the other sounds disappear. Your mind concentrates on the matter in hand. Since I have never really studied the piano, I decided it would be advisable to ask, Giannis Adamidis, if he could spare me time to go through the programme. I may have mentioned Giannis before. He is an amazing man. Virtually single handedly he has built up music in our small provincial town (pop. 62,000) to a stage where the school has 500 student and 15 pianos, including a Yamaha and a Kawai Grand, as opposed to only 3 pianos and a handful of students 16 years ago. The school is recognised by the Greek Ministry of Education as a degree awarding institution, and several graduates of the school are now pursuing careers in both Greece and internationally as professional musicians. International Prizewinners include Maria Zisi (Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition), and 15 year old Paris Tsenikoglou, who can be heard as soloist with the Belgrade Symphony Orchestra on Sunday in the Grieg Piano Concerto. Gianni looked at my programme. "Difficult, John. Four hours a day." "Yes. Can you give me a couple of lessons?" "Nai, Kala. Tetarti stis 11.00" And so it was that I had my first music lesson for 35 years on Wednesday morning. Suffice it to say that it is not difficult to see why Gianni's students achieve such excellence. He is a teacher of the calibre of Ralph Downes and Norman Johnson, one of those truly great teachers who, as soon as you start playing a piece you have worked on, you realise you don't really know it at all. You've only scraped the surface. He knows straight away what you need to concentrate on, both from a technical and musical point of view. Nothing escapes his attention, and he comes up with solutions and suggestions for every problem. Not satisfied with anything but the best, he is, nevertheless, unstinting of his time and knowledge. He looked at me and said =96 "So =96 what's first?" My programme starts with two Preludes and Fugues from the 48 by Bach, the F minor (book 2 no.12) and C minor (book 1 no.2), so I launched into the F minor prelude. After a couple of bars "Ah, no John! Stop! Legato!" Then we spent 20 minutes on basic piano technique. Very different to the organ, though you play it much better afterwards! He gave me some exercises by Philipp for Independence of the fingers, and scales and arpeggios. Starting very slowly, with the full weight of the arm transferred through a flexible wrist, and listening to the sonority of the piano. Legato transfer to the next note, and so on. Then back to the Bach =96 rhythm, consistency of phrasing, legato and staccato, all came under his eagle eye. Particularly to the point in the C minor Prelude, he commented on the rhythmic relationship between the Allegro and Presto sections, and the importance of counting the beats precisely in the "Cadenza". "Next" =96 Haydn Sonata in G. Here we concentrated on ornamentation and style. "It's not Bach", he said. "Your trills are Baroque =96 Haydn is Rococo. Think elegant ladies dancing in ornate dresses in elaborate ballrooms." Then on to the Beethoven C sharp minor Sonata,the "Moonlight". "This is the main item in the programme." he said. "2 hours a day on this". In the first movement he took me to task over the bass line =96 Legato =96 you must play it like a cello =96 the middle line is a harp and the melody must stand out on top. In the second movement we were back to the legato question =96 "Beethoven must be played exactly as written. We don't know what Bach wanted. It is open to conjecture. But Beethoven specifies everything precisely. If he says crescendo, he means it!". Then I launched into the third movement. "Yes =96 2 hours a day on this! Practise the arpeggios like the exercises we did at the beginning. Start slowly, weight, sonority." We spent half an hour on this, then Gianni said "next?". Mendelssohn songs without words? "You don't need me for those, John =96 nice pieces, but not difficult. How about the Schumann?" Well, I haven't spent as much time yet on Fantaisiestucke as the Beethoven, and so I explained this to Gianni =96 "Let's hear it anyway. ....mmm. Yes=96 it needs more work -It must be clean". I know, and it is scheduled for intensive rehearsal next week. So two hours in the company of a master. Gone like a flash. I went through everything he had said afterwards, and have started putting it into practice. If you arrive early in Greece for the Olympic Games you can hear my programme in the Recital Hall of the Pieria Music School on Saturday 22nd May at 7.30!   SATURDAY 22ND MAY 2004 at 7.30 p.m. You are invited to A PIANO RECITAL by JOHN FOSS THE CONCERT HALL "ART AND MUSIC" THE MUSIC SCHOOL OF PIERIA 25TH MARCH STREET 12, KATERINI Two Preludes and Fugues J S BACH Sonata No 12 in G major J HAYDN Two "Songs without words" F MENDELSSOHN Sonata in C# Minor Op 27 No.2 L V BEETHOVEN Adagio sostenuto =96 Allegretto =96 Presto INTERVAL Kinderscenen Op.15 R SCHUMANN Fantasiestucke Op 12 R SCHUMANN     =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D www.johnfoss.gr http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orgofftop/ Topics of the week : A present for May 1st Long live the EU Political incorrectness     ____________________________________________________________ Yahoo! Messenger - Communicate instantly..."Ping" your friends today! Download Messenger Now http://uk.messenger.yahoo.com/download/index.html