Tuesday, April 05, 2005
I am obsessed right now with a single memory: a 16-year-old me standing in the cafeteria line of Dascomb dormitory at Oberlin. I was studying the E minor Partita of Bach, which I am playing tomorrow night, and which I played at my New York debut recital, and on innumerable other occasions. Conservatively, I have played the opening bars of that piece thousands of times, tried to make every note clear, tried to play in tempo properly, to articulate, to enunciate, not to double-dot, not to swallow notes--I have obsessed. But then I mentioned to Leon Kirchner that I was playing that piece, and he sang it once for me, in an anguished tone of voice: a sweep to the top, and then an eloquent falling sigh. It was so much better than any of the times I had played it; it was so much closer to how I imagined it at 16 while waiting, tray in hand, for sloppy joes. So here's to you, Leon! Tomorrow night I will try to play it much closer to how you sang it, to replace the raw 16-year-old emotion in it, without forsaking my accumulated craft. Wish me luck!