Friday, December 30, 2016


This is a post relating to my first youtube album, a video consisting of my own recordings of Claude Debussy's Prelude No. 8 (the Girl with the Flaxen Hair), Frederic Chopin's Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp Minor, Rachmaninoff's Moment Musical No. 5, Op. 16, Franz Schubert's Impromptu in C minor, Op. 90 No. 1, and Frederic Chopin's Nocturne No. 13 in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1.

For those seeing the blog first, the link to the recordings is here:

A little about the recording of each piece:

When I was working on the Debussy, I often found the piece sounded aimless, as if without direction. I had to work very hard to avoid exaggerating the long pauses between phrases and making sure my rhythms were correct.

The Chopin Nocturne in C-sharp minor is my Mom's personal favorite piece.  This beautiful song was written in 1830, as an accompaniment piece with his second piano concerto. For the music geeks reading this, they will notice significant relationships in the themes of the concerto and the nocturne. Actually, I'm working on a detailed analysis of the connections between this song and the F minor concerto; I plan to publish it soon.

This Moment Musical is the first piece by Rachmaninoff I have learned. It's part of a set of six moments musical, each one a tribute to an earlier form. This particular one is a barcarolle, which means "boat song." I really love the rocking motion of this piece, but the chief difficulty is in layering the complexity of the singing voices in the right hand and rolling triplets in the left hand--which are often rhythmically staggered.

I first started learning the Schubert Impromptu in C minor last winter, almost a year ago. I had mostly finished it by May, but never put the finishing touches on it. But when I started planning this set a few weeks ago, I decided to pull it out of mothballs and finish the darn thing up. It was quite difficult, recording for ten minutes at a time, trying both not to make a mistake and at the same time show the singing qualities unique to Schubert's music. This is one of my piano teacher's favorite pieces of music. Many thanks also to my Dad, and to my sister for turning pages for me and providing precious feedback.

But the Chopin Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1, is my personal favorite of this set. It is the most difficult of the five, both expressively and technically. This piece has also taken me months to learn and perfect, especially the last section, when all hell breaks loose and the world seems to crash in on itself. When Chopin wrote this, his relationship with writer George Sand (Aurore Dupin) was beginning to unravel, and his tuberculosis was beginning to get the better of him. But he was not finished yet, as we can see from this explosive night-piece that begins as a lone singer, develops first into a choir singing from the depths, than into passionate outpourings of inner turmoil.

To say this road has not been easy would be an understatement. But God has given me the strength and knowledge to overcome the difficulties in these beautiful pieces, and share them with the rest of the world.

Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

God bless.

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