The six Partitas for harpsichord are the last of Bach’s keyboard dance suites, stretching the formal structures of his French and English Suites that preceded them. They present new technical and musical challenges for the interpreter as well. Enrico Elisi will be in residence at Yellow Barn discussing the upcoming recording of Partitas 1 and 6 which will occur in Italy in 2018. A particular focus of his residency is the various possibilities of ornamentation and articulations in those works. Building on his own interpretive insight as well as historical evidence, he will also study selected ornaments and articulations used by keyboard players who have previously recorded this repertoire, creating a compendium of possibilities that can be drawn upon in an improvisatory way.
From Public Stage to Private Parlor: An Introduction to Rarely Performed Piano Works from Rossini’s “Years of Silence”
Rossini, who was born just a year after the death of Mozart, lived to witness the innovations of Berlioz and Wagner – a world so ideologically different from the ancien régime. He had decided to abandon the theatre prior to the première of Guillaume Tell, at the height of his career, in 1829. Except for the Soirées Musicales (1835), the Stabat Mater (1841), and a few functional compositions, Rossini wrote practically nothing for nearly twenty-six years. Most importantly, he stopped producing operas. Much has been speculated about his withdrawal from public life; little attention has been devoted to the large body of keyboard compositions written during that period. Rossini maintained an over-protective attitude toward these pieces. He did not allow their publication and had them performed at his Parisian salon starting in 1858. Today, the mysterious fate of the Péchés de vieillesse – Sins of Old Age as Rossini affectionately entitled them – still prevails in the concert halls, since these compositions are seldom performed. The lecture-recital will focus on selected Rossini’s Péchés, supported by a Power Point presentation, and will highlight the most important elements in the shape of Italian music according to Rossini: “melodia semplice e varietà di ritmo” (simple melody and variety of rhythm). It will also show many colorful ways in which Rossini’s orchestral sound world influenced his piano writing and, finally, reveal the composer’s attempt to combine the two main trends in keyboard compositions of his time: intimate or sensitive and virtuoso. The lecture will be interspersed with the playing of several examples and will include a performance of selected works.
The Art of Practicing: Advanced Strategies
Interactive Workshop Supported by PowerPoint
Very often, as I walk the corridories of music schools near practice rooms, I hear students repeating large chunks of the pieces they are learning. These are repeated over and over and generally in the very same performance tempo. I do pay attention to the way students practice and I often found that, in several cases, their physical approach takes over and the thought behind the actual learning becomes secondary. As a result some students spend too much time without obtaining actual results. This project is born out of the frustration that we, pianists, sometimes feel when we fall into a type of practicing that is ineffective. In the lecture, I therefore attempt to offer some practical notions to avoid these moments of mindless practicing. I also use tips and practical examples at the piano and the students’ involvement is a necessary component of the workshop. Young pianists are encouraged to bring some of the works they are learning and share their difficulties while practicing by showing trouble spots at the keyboard for further comments.
Damper Pedal and Sound Alchemy in the Context of Interpretation
Lecture-Demonstration Supported by PowerPoint
How often do intermediate students take the damper pedal for granted? Why do their instinctive reactions based on nearly automatic, acoustic feedback provide limited results? This workshop will focus on the damper pedal in the context of interpretation. A few examples will reveal how the composition’s horizontal aim—its “future”—and vertical conception—its ”present”—are part of an all-inclusive, temporal context from which some thoughtful considerations on pedaling may be derived.