Thoughts and Updates on Repertoire

JYS CLASSICAL PIANO/RECORDINGS HOME PAGE


Sunday, August 14, 2022

Felix Mendelssohn is a composer I took a break from for awhile. I've been meaning to start over with new pieces eventually. He has recognizable melodies - probably the most famous is the Wedding March. While Mendelssohn's melodies are melodic, they do not evoke deep emotions nor inspire as much as others. They are just beautiful, happy / light melodies on the surface to enjoy. It might be more beneficial to play them for awhile I guess.

Pieces of interests: Spring-Song (ornaments or grace notes need to be clear or concise in this one), Spinning-Song (practicing / focusing on J.S. Bach has immensely helped with the navigating), and Rondo Capprioso. The "Tarantella" already the starting point.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

I am not very familiar with Schubert's works or repertoire, other than the four Impromptus and Wanderer Fantasy. There are solo pieces (other than Sonatas), and I happened to come across "Adagio D. 612 in E Major" fortunately when looking for new repertoire. The melody was beautiful, unfolding like a poem or poetry - "poetic beauty". This piece is sort of an exercise in chromaticism, as opposed to scales of thirds in J.S. Bach. It's imperative to be mindful or distinguish between the 16th, 32nd, 64th scales / notes, so as not to blur them (since the latter is a bit quicker than the former - it can make all the difference). This gave me trouble for awhile. Practicing / playing J.S. Bach has made a lot of difference.

I think Schubert is essential in a repertoire. I plan to re-do the Impromptu No. 2, and the No. 3 (a famous or well-known piece, because why not *with a massive burp / belch* - it is inspiring / touching). And Brahms,a Haydn before returning to Beethoven.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Out of all the Variations, I still say Var. 13 is my favorite among the few. To me, it is the closest to the Aria in terms of flow, sensitivity and emotions / the feels. Also - 11 and 21. I enjoy 12, it is exciting and upbeat. And 5 - however, it is tricky in terms of having to really focus (I believe there is the most cross-overs in this one out of all - quick ones). I still can't really play it "comfortably" without squeezing every ounce of energy. I guess I have to tweek my technique a bit. Another complete run-through of all Variations the other day has improved in terms of focus and energy - still work in progress.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

The goal is to play the entire Goldberg Variations without getting tired or fatigued. Or playing it seamlessly from one to another. When you get mentally fatigued, things can get a bit messy or sloppy. It might, or might not happen.

Some tips or suggestions from the "Joyoung's Musical Tutoring Service" (FOC - free of charge):

A general sketch in learning a piece:
1. Learn a melody first by listening to a performer. If inspired or interested, proceed to step 2. Otherwise, find another piece.
2. Learn the notes and dynamics - sheet music tutorial or instructions to be provided.
3. Afterwards, interpret the piece in a way that moves / inspires you without overdoing it. Demonstration / supervision provided. (Perhaps Lang Lang's Teaching Books are options to get)
4. Memorize the piece (if performing, or as a bonus).

More at another time. Just organizing my thoughts at this point. Nothing too serious.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

The Aria is indeed one of the most beautiful and heavenly melodies ever - whether or not you play it tenderly, gently and with some emotion. It is piece that anyone can play, just be careful of the ornaments. Ornaments add dimension and more flavor, and is a characteristic of J.S. Bach. I'm not surprised then that the Variations turned out beautiful as well.

It's one thing to play the Variations as separate or individual pieces. But the complete piece as a whole (all 30 with repeats), is at a different level. I'm workin' on this - already went through a few run throughs. For something like this, having absolute or strong concentration / focus is key. Because it can get mentally and physically exhausting (this type of work does require a certain amount of precision and energy). Preparation is key. Look at each Variation as a different personality, or character / experience. Look at the piece as a whole. For instance, Var. 1-10 (happy, naive experiences), 11-19 (progressing along the journey), 20-30 (turmoil, pain / fury, learning from the dark / negative experiences).

Up next: a Schubert Adagio piece.
Monday, August 01, 2022: Alternate Takes

I usually do at least 5 takes (warm ups), and the ones I listen to and decide to upload are usually among the last few takes of the day before calling it. I usually never save any takes - very rarely is there two takes that I am satisified with somewhat (although I'll never be completely content with it). For Var. 26, there was an alternate take that I was about to upload as the final before settling with the one already uploaded:

Variation 26 (alternate take - a bit more light, happy):


Sunday, July 31, 2022

Var. 26 - for me, the climax of the entire piece in terms of dynamics, melody, and emotion (heightened emotion / sensitivity). And I consider it the most technically challenging of them all. Or course - every Variation has its own set of challenges. Even the very first Variation is not easy, if you have a not-so-strong fingers 4/5 to deal with the thirds. It's a mis-conception that the first piece of a series or a collection is easy. That's what I thought as well before.

Var. 26 main melodic line seems to begin in the bass, with the rhythmic chords and crosses over into the treble. The sustaining / running arpeggio seems to have its own melody, although it's probably more as a support melody. It all comes to heads as the piece comes to an end (in the final few measures or bars), as both hands have their own separate lines and flow together harmonically to conlude the piece on a low G.

This is complicated both on paper and when you hear it. I was mesmerized by it from Lang Lang's performance. I never thought that I could have that magic touch as he did, so I tried to hear it with different lens / expression. It's an exciting, dynamic piece that has that feel of an airplane about to take off (as Lang lang would describe it). For me - it's like a troubling conversation encompassing life's experiences of happiness, sorrow, fury, and pain.

With that said - I'll most likely be playing / practicing J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations even further (or try to regularly). It is a permanent part of the repertoire. Of course, the piece is not complete without the Aria. Certainly looking forward to Schubert's Adagio piece and a Brahms Cappricio.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

I'm intrigued by a Schubert's Adagio piece - it is very Nocturne-like. It kind of has that dreamy atmosphere, sort of like Tchaikovksy's Nocturne. The thing about Adagio or slow pieces, is that there is a tendency to either play it too slow or too fast (certainly my troubles). It makes it sometimes more difficult than Allegro type pieces. I say - just go with how the melody flows or how it inspires you (within the confines of what the tempo is or what the piece is / nature of the piece). I'm also focusing on a Hisaishi piece (non-Studio Ghibli this time).

Var. 28 - this felt like another finger exercise, with trill-like notes that run throughout the piece or support the melodies in both hands. Still - it is a fitting piece as part of the final few Var. to end the "journey". Basically, the final goodbye before the new beginning.

Only Var. 26 left - here I come.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Var. 20 is a dynamic piece that encompasses turmoil, strife and a bit of pain / fury. At least the second section as it ends. But for sure - the first ten measures or so couldn't be anymore trickier and took awhile (god knows plenty of takes and re-do's). It's certainly a type of piece that I would have to re-learn if I don't play it enough or often. Two melodic lines that converge and then diverge in opposite directions - there is always a technique for these things. It took awhile to finally identify that, and still - my hands are just getting used to it. Var 20-30 are the culmination of emotions, where for me - climaxes to 26. And finally ends with the Quodlibet in a final resolution or closure / new beginning.

I'm looking forward to Var. 26. But for me - being the most technically difficult among the Variations, I'll need more time. Especially in how I want to express it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The journey comes to a close with Var. 29 (alongside the Quodlibet 30). It has that majestic / prideful feel to me, and quite fitting considering the range of emotions felt during the run through of the Variations. For me - I can interpret this as sort of a "redemptive" journey, my "redemption". Or my "liberation notes" literally.

Up next might be either 20 or 28. 28 is more tricky than I originally thought. But 20 is on the hinge of that turmoil / more intense emotions to me. What a journey. What a ride.

Or course - the piece is not complete without the Aria (the main melody where the Variations are based off of). At some point, I'll have to although I prefer not to since everyone knows this (the De capo won't be necessary for me).

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Var. 23 is a lively, bubbly piece, which feels like a W.A. Mozart composition. It's as if renewed energy / light happiness (something you can dance to) has been found, after what was a somber and melancholy Var. 22 prior. But it doesn't last long - it climaxes with Var. 26, what I consider multiple of emotions coming together. Despite the trials, tribulations and pain - Var. 29 is almost majestic / prideful melody - renewed lease on life, confidence. This might be next to upload.

What's my "bare necessities"? Just music. And my daughter / family.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Var. 27 was particularly frustrating, but interesting. It might be my least favorite variation, but it is still beautiful. This piece is akin to a duet, with two diverging voices in a conversation. On paper, it doesn't appear overly difficult. But when you begin practicing, it is. The suggested ornaments in select notes (especially in the bass) are tricky. It is usually the case, I begin to not like a piece and then it grows on me.

Var. 26 would be the final piece to polish, refine and upload. It is still a work in progress, and arguably the most technically difficult. However - it is the "Climax" of the entire Variations to me. All the emotions of excitement, happiness, and even pain / tragedy seem to come together in this one. The Variations come to a final resolution, closure afterwards to the Quodlibet Var. 30. What a journey.
Monday, July 4, 2022

I felt that Variation 17 had the trickiest hand crossing. Sometimes - brief, quick ones that happen in a blink of an eye are more trickier than sustained ones. Var. 5 is another one. Var. 17 truly felt like finger exercises, not necessarily melodic. But you have to listen or look at the overall picture at the main melodic line, which makes this unique or different. But it stays true as a variation off of the aria.
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Variations 20, 26, and 28 are going to take more time but getting there. A lot can be said of J.S. Bach and why many of us avoided playing his repertoire in the beginning:

1. A pianist must be adept or strong / flexible in both hands to deal with the seemingly endless arpeggios or melodic lines with multiple voices.
2. The seemingly endless arpeggios or melodies on either hands can seem like just finger exercises.
3. Unfamiliarity with the Baroque technique (learning this would truly add dimension or authenticity).

After becoming addicted to the "Goldberg Variations", I have to say it is truly J.S Bach's most beautiful (if not the most beautiful of all keyboard repertoire) works. His Fugues come second. My advices or suggestions:

1. Approach the piece like a heavenly choir piece. Learn / know the melody - the notes will naturally follow afterwards.
2. Practice / strengthen your weak hand so you can make the melodies sing on either hand like voices singing.
3. Play it slow in the beginning!

I'm trying to come up with other suggestions, advices I can put together (in addition to a lesson plan) for a future tutoring endeavor. Possibly. Potentially.
Sunday, June 19, 2022

Pieces to return to: Liszt's "Danse Macabre", Liszt's "Il Lamento" Etude, Haydn's "Gypsy Rondo in G"
Some new pieces: Brahms' "Cappriccio", J. Hisaishi "Friends", Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 26 (saving this at some point in the future)

Sometimes I begin practicing a new piece and forget to return to it. It's mostly due to the time consuming nature of a piece in finishing a piece - unless it is very inspiring or hits me in the feels, I probably won't finish it or focus on it anytime soon. But most of the time, my fingers are just not ready or needs more conditioning / strengthening in order to really tackle it.

That's where J.S. Bach comes in - as both finger exercises, and beautiful pieces to play. The "Goldberg Variations" is an epic / monumental piece (30 variations that are like 30 separate pieces) that can get tiring without absolute focus / concentration. Memorizing / mastering them is at a whole different level, only a few such as Lang Lang (and his inspiration Glenn Gould) can do. When melodies inspire / moves you, you don't really think about the fatigue and getting tired. Sometimes - the melodies just carries you to play them. Once all variations are more polished, I'll play through them with repeats.

My Journey - the "Goldberg Variations" felt like a personal journey to me. Sure - it was meant to put John Gottlieb Goldberg to sleep, but didn't work haha. Going through each one, is like having experienced either excitement, trauma, the dark emotions from exclusion / rejection, etc. In the end, all journeys come to a conclusion with a renewed sense of a new beginning or just laughing at the trials / tribulations of life (all the more wiser and mature by the end).

Of course - Var. 26 is the most exciting one of them all, and that'll be the final one to polish / finish. Since it is quite difficult, it is going to take the most time.

I highly recommend Lang Lang's Goldberg Variations album in professional form. Or other pianists to your liking or preferences.
Wednesday, June 08, 2022

My least favorite Variations are 15 and 27. All of them however, are beautiful and difficult in their own way. I've been growin' on Var 15 - it has that brooding, mysterious feel (akin to the 25). I've been experiencing this - that I've grown to like a piece when you practice or play it more or often. At least if a piece is played at the proper pacing, tempo - with a touch of your own personal interpretion as well.

8 and 16 might be next - the variations after 20 are going to take more time. Arguably the most difficult.
Sunday, May 22, 2022

It's not always the case that the first piece in a collection is the "easiest" - sometimes, it is the opposite or completely random in terms of difficulty. Variation 1, Sinfonia 1 - they are quite difficult in terms of fingering and navigation. Fingering is extra important - although it goes without saying that you should approach a piece with whatever is most comfortable or utilize fingering that works for you. In Variation 1, it is apparent that the ring finger and pinkie play important roles (fingers 4 and 5). My weakest fingers (and shortest haha).

I'm working on a new J.S. Bach Fugue. I approach J.S. Bach as both finger exercises as well as melodic pieces to play for enjoyment. So I usually begin my practices or play sessions with J.S. Bach.
Thursday, May 05, 2022

Nobuyuki Tsujii's composition "Elegy" was a heartfelt tribute to the victims of the Tsunami and earthquake that rocked a coastal area / town in Japan many years ago. So much so, his encore Carnegie Hall performance of his piece moved him to tears. Music should evoke us in that way to be honest. That is why I play. That is why I learn. That is where my passion comes from. I have not heard a melody as beautiful as this or stands out like this in this modern era - there doesn't seem to be any. Other than Joe Hisaishi's masterful compositions, you have to go back to the Big 3 of J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart and L.v. Beethoven.

With that said, I was compelled to finally play and share his piece. Of course - I wanted to play it a bit more andante and delicate. It's an elegy, a tribute. Although I might tend to put more emotion in pieces. This'll be a mainstay on my recordings / uploads page.

Also recommended - Nobuyuki Tsujii has his own official Youtube channel of all his classical / professional recordings.
Friday, April 29, 2022

My most ambitious pieces / repertoire that I'm learning / practicing so far yet (for me - repertoire always expanding / recycling for more improvement. To others however, probably "been there, done that" already):

F. Chopin, Polonaise No. 1
F. Chopin, Ballade No. 1 and 3
J. Brahms, Cappricio No. 1 C major
*L.v. Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 26 (saving this for a future recording)
*W.A. Mozart, Piano Sonata K. 498 (saving this for a future recording)
Tuesday, March 29, 2022

I've recently returned to a Chopin Polonaise and Ballade. Polonaises are in particular difficult since they are filled with chords. It's been a weakness of mine - fast, chord scales or apreggios. My hand strength isn't there yet, and I'm not sure if it'll ever be since my hands are about average (physically, everything about me is average or tiny - especially my toes haha). It can be overcome however - there is technique I hear, about using more of the arm as well. It's a work in progress, but practice, practice and more practice. The important thing first and foremost - is getting the rhythm, timing and the notes correct (that is why teeches should tell a student to practice slowly at first). My gratitude for J.S. Bach in returning and polishing off many pieces, although many of them are not performance ready yet / some might be ( or returning to many pieces).

K. 533 first movement is a doozy. Might take more time, but should be worth it. This is a long Piano Sonata, with the repeats of course.
Thursday, February 3, 2022

Just for organizational purposes / gathering my thoughts, here are some of My Dedication Pieces For Our Precious (andante or gentle / beautiful pieces):

J.S. Bach, Aria / Vars 11 and 13
F. Chopin, Nocturne Op.32 No. 1
P. Tchaikovsky, Nocturne Op. 10
L.v. Beethoven, Fur Elise
W.A. Mozart, Piano Sonata K. 533 Second Movement (What I Call "The Heavenly Movement" because the melody is just damn heavenly - akin to the Flute And Harp Concerto Second Mvmt).
Friday, January 28, 2022

Nocturnes are some of the most beautiful types of pieces. Chopin has some of the most well-known ones. But look out for other Nocturnes from other composers - you might encounter one that is just as melodic and moving.

I've always felt and believed that mediums such as music, art, dance, etc. is meant to be shared and enjoyed. Not necessarily to compare and compete. In some situations, they might be required or might even be healthy - for self-improvement purposes. But in the end, there might be a tendency to burn out quicker and the enjoyment to decline if your sole purpose is to compete, compare and win all the time. But hey - to each their own. Some can thrive and succeed by competing and comparing. But I'd be hard-pressed to believe that this is sustainable. Because nothing lasts forever. Anyway - I've always been a terrible test-taker, so it is something not up my alley nor would I do well. That type haha. I failed Math and the SAT. Haha.

My inspiration is with Lang Lang's story and his two Professors that shaped his life and foundation - Professor Zhu and Graffman.
Sunday, January 16, 2022

Is teaching / tutoring classical music something I'd be interested anytime soon? With a new child on the way, it was a thought / idea - to pass down my passion that I have for classical music / piano, in particular to the new generation. Why? Because it's for everyone, and a lot of modern music or today's music is based off of classical melodies. I can try, but definitely not going to force it. Perhaps she would be more into dance, art, or singing. Or perhaps something else. Parents should encourage their children to engage in productive hobbies or activities. And pursue them as a possible career if there is potential or talent. However - nothing should be forced or nobody should be made to do anything if they are not happy or not into it.
Sunday, January 02, 2022

A new year, and hopefully another year filled with glorious classical music. And perhaps new repertoire. This year is a new life, new beginning for me. And I won't have as much time (if at all) to practice or upload new videos once I become a new father. There'll probably time, but certainly not like before. If anything, introducing music to our child (when old enough) is a thought. Perhaps it's time to stop hesitating / being uncertain about teaching / tutoring, and doing something about it. Classical music is glorious - it should be shared and taught. It is for everyone. Even more so, if you have the passion for it.

A lot of my video recordings might just sound like a first-time Sight Reading effort, but I've put in the practice. But I feel some of my recordings are performance ready at least, and I would feel confident uploading them to a public platform with no hestitation. Just need to find one, if at all. In an actual performance however, it always helps or is usually recommended to get further tips or insights from others first - just to polish it off even more.
Tuesday, December 14, 2021

I am currently practicing or working on Beethoven's Piano Sonatas No. 5 and No. 26. No. 26 seems quite different in melody - a bit abstract themes or motifs to me. But it's enticing.

When classical music or piano is brought up, most immediately bring up or recognize either Chopin or Beethoven. I think Chopin pieces are most known - almost over-played, or over-listened to. It does not mean at all that the music is tiresome. These kinds of music are lasting and quite impressionable. My goal has always been to find pieces that inspires or moves me. That is it. I do want to return to Chopin again - to smooth out / refine pieces.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 4 "Finale" rondo allegretto is almost there. Exciting, melodic or explosive / intense conclusion to what is one of the longest third movements in a piece.

In the meantime, a few more Variations. My top three Goldberg Favs: 11, 13, 21. Honorable Mention: 18, 3, 5, 10.
Friday, November 12, 2021

I've been inspired by Maestro Lang Lang's videos, stories and his recent concert tour on the Goldberg Variations, I've been practicing it regularly. Didn't think I would. Including repeats, it's a full-length concert (over 90 minutes at least). Some variations I can sense requires more sensitivity and delicate touch than others.

My favorite Variations for sure - Var. 11, 13 and 21 (which I might focus on more to record / upload for a section I would call "My Goldberg Favorites" under J.S. Bach page of course). All of them are interesting and definitely have individual personalities. Just a thought or a future project. They hit me in the feels so much, perhaps I have to.

In the meantime, I'm focused on finishing Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 4 final movement / section. The Finale section is quite a doozy - but getting there.
Wednesday, November 03, 2021

I'll probably focus on Beethoven for the rest of the year, studying / learning No. 25 and No. 26 further. No. 26 has a very interesting melody, sort of abstract in my opinion but serene / tranquil or slightly tragic.
Friday, October 29, 2021

Currently working on Beethoven's Piano Sonatas No. 4 and 5. I've been practicing these on and off over several years - my fingers couldn't really follow the tempo and pacing. But building it up bit by bit. Beethoven can get intense. By now, I have more of a sense or feel for them and my fingers are getting accustomed to the chords and intensity of it. Beethoven's third movements can be quite the doozy - they can get quite long, and might contain different sections of long, flowing melodies.
Sunday, September 19, 2021

Some pieces I would like to record / upload before the year ends or before the end of the year:

L.v. Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 5
J. S. Bach, a Fugue ( if there is time)
W.A. Mozart, K. 311 Piano Sonata (final piece in my collection)
F. Schubert, an Impromptu

Most likely I'll get to only two of them, but who knows. It'll be nice to return to Beethoven - No. 5 felt like a very passionate piece (among his earlier Sonatas - but most of them are). Liszt's Concert Etude No. 1 might be more subtly beautiful than No. 3 after further practicing. The frequent key changes can attest to that.
Friday, September 10, 2021

Yesterday was a Franz Liszt practice session - Consolations (some new ones), Liebestraum, Romance, and Concert Etudes No. 1 and No. 3. The No. 3 "Un Sospiro" is about ready for a test recording or rough draft.

I always had a difficult time with Liszt pieces, but it's been getting much more comfortable. Thanks to practicing and playing a lot of J.S. Bach - ironically, who was a composer I avoided early in my life because my left hand was weak at that time. And I couldn't hear the beauty in these pieces because I only thought about how complex or difficult the pieces were at that time. But now - I can't get enough of J.S. Bach.
Sunday, August 29, 2021

Piano Sonata K. 284 First Movement is a very energetic, dynamic movement or piece (that you could almost dance or move your body to). Tiring would be an understatement. I've come to realize that I enjoy these long, flowing melodies that unravels like a story or a poem. K. 284 and K. 332 are my favorite Sonatas - absolute. I believe that both are certainly the longest Piano Sonatas of W.A. Mozart.

It was between Beethoven's No. 5 or No. 7 Sonata. I'll focus on No. 5 once I return.
Thursday, August 26, 2021

L.v. Beethoven's music can be emotionally powerful. It's been awhile, since I've been focusing on J.S. Bach, F. Liszt, and W.A. Mozart mostly or recently. I'd like to return to Piano Sonata No. 5 - I had that in mind for the next Beethoven afterwards or eventually. My practice openers are usually J.S. Bach - either some Fugues, Inventions or Goldberg Variations. It is necessary for me to set the mood, continue working out / strengthening my hands, other than the music is just melodic and beautiful with multiple voices in these pieces.
Saturday, August 21, 2021

Liszt's Concert Etude No. 1 is nicknamed or sub-titled "Il lamento". The piece is a bit melancholy or what I call "sad or tragic beauty", but I probably would've nicknamed it something else. But it can also be very contemplative or dream-like euphoria like a Nocturne. It's a new piece for me, but I've attempted it before. No. 2 is over-played in my opinion, or is just more known. No 3. "un sospiro" is 85% memorized. My practices are spread out, so it's not everyday nor that often. But I'm studying the score or sheet music when I can, and still retain the melody. Although No. 3 is quite known or played, it's just too beautiful or inspiring not to work on it.
Tuesday, August 17, 2021

It's been awhile, but I felt bold enough to return to other epic pieces yesterday - Liszt's "Reminiscence de Don Juan" (a. intro theme b. Variations 1 and 2 c. Conclusion / end theme) and Chopin's "Polonaise Fantasie". Polishing and really focusing on "Un Sospiro" (as well as playing a lot of J.S. Bach frequently), has helped with hand strength and flexibility. Still - I don't have the reach to hit them big, fat chords haha (I have average sized hands). I just want to play them correctly (even if slowly). No shame in that. It's just for fun, not to record.

Essentially - having the music inside you already helps with the overall flow and progression. You want to use that as guidance as much as your brain (as far as the notes are concerned). Never think too much about the notes - and consistent practicing with a relaxed, inspiring mind is important.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Liszt's "Un Sospiro" (or Concert Etude No. 3) was a piece I thought about just giving up or abandoning (because of the technicality of it - at that time, too much for my hands). But it was a melody after much contemplation, was too inspiring to leave behind. Some melodies or pieces have that effect - it just sticks with you. Practicing and playing a lot of J.S. Bach has helped a lot in developing hand or finger flexibility / strength further. Still a work in progress - stamina and endurance is next (I still get tired easily after awhile). That is why J.S. Bach is critical for a pianist's repertoire in a sense (a long with the beauty of the pieces). Also - physical exercising or cardio definitely can help with endurance.

By now, I pretty much know the melody of the piece (but only have about 60% or so of the notes memorized). Still progress - it can be done, since it really helps in knowing and being able to feel the melody of a piece first. The notes are just details or fillers to be mastered afterwards. It just takes consistent practicing and studying - with more experience, memorization should come more naturally in the future. I think my "relaxed brain" just needs more training and experience.

K. 284 First movement is on hold (similar to how K. 332 third movement was put off for awhile) - to smooth out the page turning. K. 311 is on in the meantime.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Chopin's Etudes - I went through most of them the other day, and the term "rusty" is an understatement. They could be considered Chopin's toughest or most difficult works - or I thought his Scherzi and Ballades were (at least back then). I heard Chopin did not have a large reach or hands, but he certainly composed as if he did. He's known for big, fat chords as well, and intricate phrasing / triplets. But beautiful music.

The Etudes have plenty of nicknames - "Tristesse", "Black Key", "Winter Wind", "Ocean", "Aeolian Harp", "Butterfly", "Revolution", anything else? haha. Nicknames are definitely helpful marketing or advertising gimmick. Beethoven Sonatas have a few themselves. It would take awhile to regain form and get some at tempo. Not anytime soon - I'd prefer to work on more Nocturnes and Waltzes. I prefer them.

Some Liszt pieces have massive jumps or intervals - I'm still working on one section where there is such in "Un Sospiro" (approaching this section as if floating on clouds - lightly and delicately as if you were in a dream - that's my take).

Monday, July 12, 2021

There is progress for Franz Liszt's Un Sospiro. I have the melody in my head - it's a matter of getting the sections or notes down for memory. I'm trying to approach this as if floating on clouds, gliding on water. Of course, there are intense moments. The important thing is that you want the main melody notes and / or chords to shine.

There is the saying - "Work smarter, not harder". Similiar to practicing an instrument, in particular the piano - "Practice smarter, not harder". For me, beginning with major / minor scales before pieces. And not focusing too much on one piece, or over-practicing. I spread it out with a variety of pieces or themes of pieces. Whichever composer I feel inspired to.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

I'm going to say it now - K. 284 Variation 11 is just as beautiful as Goldberg Variation 13. I always thought No. 11 was the most beautiful Variation of them all - until I heard, listened to and learned the No.13 Goldberg Variation of J.S. Bach. Part II Var. 7 - 12 forthcoming. Cannot wait.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

I have to divide the K. 284 Variations movement into two video recordings. With the repeats, I wouldn't be able to fit its entirety since there is a time limit (need to upgrade camera or memory card I guess). I was debating whether I should do the repeats or not. Repeats can be tiring, especially if you want to make them a bit different or more interpretative. But I decided to do them, since I felt a movement wouldn't be really complete. Var. 7 - 12 forthcoming.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Improvisation is a lost art indeed. I can't improvise for crap haha. But I guess I never really made the effort to. So which of the Big 3 composers (J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven) Variations are favorites? They all have variation pieces. It's difficult to say - but I believe the standard is the Goldbergs (it's just monumental).

I've been re-practicing and plan to re-record the K. 284 Variations movement. Plus, the final No. 12 Variation is almost there - the trickiest one. My focus is also on Liszt's Un Sospiro - I need to eventually get back to Beethoven. Been meaning to, but have been just focused on J.S. Bach, Mozart and Liszt for now. More Chopin as well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

I'm still practicing Franz Liszt's Un Sospiro etude every now and then. I've been feeling possessed with J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart's music recently. It happens when inspiration and motivation are the driving factors, not because of conformity. Liszt etudes are technically difficult - most of them do not stand out to me. Just a few, and Un Sospiro is one of them - beautifully lyrical, gentle and intense. It's fine and dandy to be able to play Liszt - it definitely shows a pianist's technical prowess, and there are plenty of them.

Whatever happened to the days of playing or learning a piece just for the reason of enjoying it or what inspires you the most - not because everyone else is playing or learning it. Oh wait - that never existed.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

I might return to K. 284 Piano Sonata - love the third movement Variations on this one. I need to re-polish this movement. The First Movement is also a doozy, but very catchy rhythm (you can actually or literally dance to). Love it haha.

J.S. Bach's Three-Part Inventions and Goldberg Variations. Difficult, epic pieces in their own right. I'm working on another Fugue (and will continue to play the Inventions and work on the Goldbergs some more). Pianists have their benchmark or inspiring Concert Pianists to go to for listening.

Friday, June 11, 2021

I read the Goldberg Variations in its entirety yesterday, but this time - with repeats, and comfortably. It just means that I'm gettin' used to the crossing hands - some variations still not at tempo and not quite there yet. But I realized - they are fun to play, and evoke a variety of emotions. I still say No. 20 is the most difficult technically (for me the wide jumps in crossing hands), with 25 (tricky rhythm but very emotive) and 26 close behind. The tips, tricks and lessons has helped immensely - and just watching Lang Lang's technique. It would only help even more by combining that with Glenn Gould's, and finding my own. But I enjoy the expressiveness.

Learning and playing pieces by ear is a method that can definitely help in learning pieces quicker. For me - knowing, feeling the melody of a piece by listening to a performance or a recording. The notes come naturally afterwards (or learning the notes become much easier) - at times, the fingers can automatically find the notes if completely immersed or relaxed.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

K. 281 First Movement is also a doozy, but hopefully soon. I no longer think that there is any shame in re-records. It is all a learning experience, and every take has different interpretative aspects. No two performances or recordings are going to be exactly the same. Otherwise - you would be nothing but a damn robot or a machine.

I've been always curious as to what various classical composers would think about the state of humanity today - all the Anti-Asian hate / violence, discrimination and racism that's been going on around this shit hole of a world. As I mentioned, intangibles such as music does not hate or discriminate - only people or humans do. Some might feel disgusted, while others might be too nationalistic to even give a darn. Music is an intangible that can be a unifying factor for everyone as an escape and therapy - if it's globally embraced, then nothing else matters.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

W.A. Mozart, K. 332 third movement - it took quite a while but well worth it. It's not easy - balancing the tempo, dynamics with interpretation. The long, flowing melodies or themes has that Concerto movement feel - sort of. There are a few tricky passages which til this day, is still troublesome (or not effortless at all). I just might not have the reach to comfortably do it - but I had to figure out a way to approach it differently. Lightly and playfully.

K. 332 could arguably be my favorite, but as mentioned before - all the Sonatas are beautiful in one way or another. I would not be able to absolutely decide. However, the Sonatas recorded are pretty much finalized as what moves or inspires me the most - K. 280, 332, 457 and 570. I'm workin' on K. 281 next. An odd-ball of sorts, but beautiful or catchy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

It was about time to add some Schubert. The Impromptu No. 2 Op. 90 was a favorite, since there is a particular passage or phrase that is very inspiring and beautiful (when the apreggio decrescendos to a soft, delicate melody) - it was always the intention to try to play as gently or tenderly as possible. Sort of sad beauty. I approached this with more of an interpretative style as opposed to a very fast style. What can be seen as tricky, is that there might be a tendency to rush this piece or play it too fast. Although it is meant to be brisk or quick, I don't think a pianist should play the notes like triplets.

Til this day, I can continue to play or practice that beautiful, tender section and I consider it one of the most powerful, emotive sections or passages in all of music literature.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

I've been playing the Three-Part Inventions as a warm-up to my sessions. I'm convinced it's imperative to play some J.S. Bach once in awhile or often, as it can absolutely help. Considering that the composer's repertoire is quite complex and intricate, I can get quite rusty and might need to re-learn or re-polish pieces if not. It's been glorious.

I have to say that No. 20, 25 and 26 are the most difficult of the Goldberg Variations. There are other ones, with extended crossings that might push the limits of even your arms heh.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Happy Birthday, J.S. Bach:



The third movement for K. 332 is almost there - it is quite the doozy. The dynamicism and energy of the piece can be tiring, but the beauty in of itself is self-sustaining and motivation / inspirational enough to perservere and let it flow. You mess up once you overthink, or try too hard. It's a work in progress.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 332 First Movement - dynamic and exciting. Love this piece - flowing, lyrical / melodic lines that seem endless and timeless. If this was something, I enjoyed the third movement just as much or even more.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 280 First Movement - almost like a conversation taking place in its entirety. Kinda tricky and bouncy, like K. 457 First Movement. The second movement was inspiring enough to learn this Piano Sonata in its entirety. I remember watching a rendition of this First Movement on a classical guitar. That was something.

K. 332 is the finale - although how am I going to deal with the page turning, unless I crop down the sheet music to manageble levels, get a tablet, or memorize it altogether. It's possible, but I can't commit to that. Otherwise, it's a dynamic / exciting piece - one of my favorites for sure.

Friday, March 05, 2021

It's been awhile since I played or practiced Chopin. I might record / upload some Waltzes or Valses after Mozart.

I'm still incorporating J.S. Bach's Three-Part Inventions as a warmup or just part of the practice / play repertoire. The entire piece (all 15 of them) have been glorious and therapeutic for me. Thank you, J.S. Bach.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 280 Third Movement - after what was a somber, somewhat dark second movement - this final movement is quite the opposite. Very festive, bright - something you can dance to. Certainly tricky as well. J.S. Bach has helped me prepare even more for all types of intricate passages and melodies. Thanks to J.S. Bach - the master in intricacies or complex beauty.

The first movement is up next - it sets the mood / tone well.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 280 Second Movement - very somber and melancholy (story of most of my life - until now, I couldn't feel anymore giddy since I love my identity). This piece of music also had a very potent / brooding effect on me - hauntingly beautiful. I decided to focus on K. 280. The first and third movements K. 332 need a bit more time to polish them out. Almost ready, but the page-turning might be a problematic since they are very dynamic, exciting pieces that should not be interrupted at any moment.

To me, Mozart might be the top or the ultimate "musical story-teller".

Sunday, February 14, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 332 - I'm thinking this'll be the next Piano Sonata for upload. It's a very dynamic / exciting, upbeat melody. Very catchy - I never really was able to play or practice it well before or in the past. But it's time now. It's damn time.

My new journey with W.A. Mozart's Piano Sonatas.

Liszt's "Un Sospiro" is the ultimate goal.

Monday, February 08, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 457 Adagio / Second Movement - this movement has what I call a "musical orgasm or euphoria". There are a lot of them in various Piano Sonata movements, but this affects me the most. Can't wait for the final and third movement, where there is a brief "hush" moment for me. After all, "music is also the silence in between notes".

Friday, February 05, 2021

W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata K. 457 No. 14 First Movement - tricky but it isn't as apparent when you look at the sheet music or notes. But it's all logically and beautifully structured. Bouncy and playful - characterizes Mozart well. It can get tiring by doing repeats, especially if you have chords bouncing around like in a conversation. Every piece is like a story. But I've enjoyed playing this - it is like a conversation or a story.

Monday, February 01, 2021

My first venture into Brahms - a fantasy capriccio. I never thought I would begin to take a look at Brahms' repertoire. There is dissonant beauty in the music - but to say that it might be too dissonant or the melodies might not be very pleasing might be a stretch. Or they are just not as pleasing as other composers or pieces. What is a classical repertoire without Brahms.

My plan in re-polishing some of Mozart's Piano Sonatas - to find melodies that actually inspire me. All of them are beautiful in one way or other other, so in reality - picking favorites is not easy. So I just need to go by what is the most inspiring to play or I enjoy playing a lot. And so it begins with K. 570. And one from 4xx, to 3xx, and 2xx, etc.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

W.A. Mozart - Piano Sonata K. 570. I practiced this often. I played this often. I believe it was about time. The second movement - there was a particular section that would resonate with me the most. This, and the Piano Sonata No. 14 - which might be next. Happy 265th to Wolfgang Amadeus!

Speaking of birthdays, congratulations to Maestro Lang Lang's newborn! They are going to be a very musical family.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Here is the recap of the entire 15 "Three-Part Inventions" from J.S. Bach:

Sinfonia No. 1 - The first piece of 15 Three-Part Inventions. Energetic, brisk and fitting as an introduction
Sinfonia No. 2 - A melodic piece. Sustaining trills in the base or treble through many measures is never easy
Sinfonia No. 3 - Bubbly, playful. The piece is brief, but with a bit of intricate or tricky passages in terms of range
Sinfonia No. 4 - Beautifully somber, a bit melancholy
Sinfonia No. 5 - the "ornament" piece, or at least there is a version of it. I opted for this, since it gave the piece more personality
Sinfonia No. 6 - Melodic and feels waltz-y
Sinfonia No. 7 - Contemplative
Sinfonia No. 8 - almost Fugue-like, tricky / most difficult
Sinfonia No. 9 - very mysterious, dissonant piece but at the same time hauntingly beautiful
Sinfonia No. 10 - another brisk, energetic piece. Relentless right hand arpeggios. Sort of like an extension or Part II of No. 1
Sinfonia No. 11 - very contemplative, almost as if deep in thought
Sinfonia No. 12 - fun, and melodic
Sinfonia No. 13 - sounds mischievous and playful
Sinfonia No. 14 - To me, it is a like a solemn, tranquil / choir piece - the favorite
Sinfonia No. 15 - the finale that ends or completes the "Three-Part Inventions". As brief as it is, this sort of stands out with its fast passages and some cross-overs


And there you have it. I would certainly be confident enough to upload these on a public platform at anytime, anywhere. Who knows - but I just have not found anything worthwhile.
Monday, January 18, 2021

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 15 - the finale that ends or completes the "Three-Part Inventions". As brief as it is, this sort of stands out with its fast passages and some cross-overs! Crossing of hands is usually not easy, unless you're used to it or experienced with it. It is more common with the "Goldberg Variations", not so much with J.S. Bach's other pieces (at least not in his Fugues or these pieces).

Re-visiting and polishing / finishing off the entire "Three-Part Inventions" has helped a lot - and should continue to play them. Working on another Fugue or two. But onto another composer for the next recordings. J.S. Bach has become a permanent mainstay in my repertoire or practice sessions for sure.

A recap of all 15 Inventions forthcoming.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 12 - this was just as difficult as No. 8. I'm not sure how to describe this piece, except just - fun. My Journey with the Three-Part Inventions is almost complete, with saving No. 15 being the finale, quite fitting.

I should reminisce or recap the entire Three-Part Inventions afterwards, and listing my favorites. For now, it's No. 14.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

What a practice the other day. I believe Liszt's "Un Sospiro" is coming along finally. Eventually. I want to find more Rachmaninoff pieces - besides the standard Preludes (they are nice, but overplayed if you ask me). The Moments Musical ones for instance - love the Op. 16 No. 1.

No. 12 and No. 15 are the final two to upload for the "Three-Part Inventions". To say that Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 14's third movement has one of the most emotionally, impactful sections of all would just be my opinion or from my own experiences / interpretations. It definitely hits me all the time. I would go as far as to say that it is "unresolved" sounding, just leaves you feeling with that ache. J.S. Bach has plenty as well, and re-visiting the composer has been an awakening experience (which should have happened long ago). The originator of many beautiful melodies and intricate passages.

Monday, January 04, 2021

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 8 - I felt that this was the trickiest, or the most difficult to learn or play out of all the Sinfonias. My left hand just wouldn't cooperate for the longest time. But once you get it down, it's quite fun. Perky, bouncy, playful. Kind of Fugue-like. In learning any piece, it is imperative to have the desire or to be motivated / inspired to. And to learn with patience and poise.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 10 - another brisk, energetic piece. Relentless right hand arpeggios. Sort of like an extension or Part II of Sinfonia No. 1.

The difficulty in this is the fingering. There are certain passages or sections where it is necessary for proper fingering. It is usually the case where you use what is most comfortable for you to play it smoothly. But for No. 10, I think switching from thumb to pinkie (finger 1 to finger 5) quickly / smoothly is needed for particular sections. I'm sure there are other pieces like that.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 5 - the "ornament" piece, or at least there is a version of it. I opted for this, since it gave the piece more personality. The trick is to play ornaments lightly without compromising the underlying melodic lines. Ornaments have been one of my weak points, as well as pedal management. Well - practicing this helped a bit. I would say J.S. Bach was the "master of ornamentation".

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 13 - sounds mischievous and playful. This is another tricky, intricate piece - but nice rhythms or beats in certain sections.

I plan to re-upload Rachmaninoff's Variation 18 from Rhapsody on a Paganini theme again at some point.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Happy 250th - Ludwig Van Beethoven. I had a practice session awhile ago dedicated to the Piano Sonatas. Today, it was No. 6, No. 7 and a favorite - No. 15. Speaking of which, the third movement for No. 15 video recording should be soon.

I've been focused on J.S. Bach recently, which has given me a newfound appreciation and interest for the composer.

Monday, December 14, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 1 - The first piece of 15 Three-Part Inventions. Energetic, brisk and fitting as an introduction.

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 2 - What a melodic piece. Sustaining trills in the base or treble through many measures is never easy. Beethoven's Waldstein Piano Sonata is notorious for that.

Friday, December 11, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 6 and 7 - contrasting styles. No. 6 in E Major is melodic and feels waltz-y (mis-leading in the sense that there might be a tendency to play it as if the notes were triplets when they aren't). Thus, a gentle approach might be required. No. 7 is in E Minor, and is just another contemplative piece in a Minor key.

I've been putting the finishing touches on Mozart's K. 570 Piano Sonata. I am looking forward to this one.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 3 - bubbly, playful. The piece is brief, but with a bit of intricate or tricky passages in terms of range. There is a fine line of trying to play it delicately or playfully, more energetically / accurately, or even altogether. Interpretations can be spontaneous, or it can be planned ahead (you would already have an idea of how you would like to play it). It depends on the piece.

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 4 - beautifully somber, a bit melancholy.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 11 - very contemplative, almost as if deep in thought. I approached this piece with that in mind, keeping the tempo at a gentle pace.

More to come on the journey in completing or refining the Three-Part Inventions - without any repeats, these are not long pieces. But must be approached in a way as such, to get the most out of them. Never rush short pieces.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 14 in B-flat Major - the intention was to make this piece really sing. To me, it is a like a solemn, tranquil piece (sort of like a choir piece). One of my favorites for sure. I'll be back to Beethoven, but the plan is to do most of the Three-Part Inventions (if not all).

Ultimately, I'm looking at Piano Sonata's K. 570 and 284 from Mozart eventually. I've been re-focusing on them.

The ability to play an instrument (playing or composing a melody as a bonus) with a physical condition or a debilitating condition is inspiring in of itself. Beethoven became deaf, but still composed (and some of his most glorious works I hear were from the late years). Never let it stop you from enjoying or learning music.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

J.S. Bach Sinfonia No. 9 in F Minor - very mysterious, dissonant piece but at the same time hauntingly beautiful. I used to be turned off by these types of pieces, only realizing recently that there is beauty to some dissonant pieces. It felt like a very somber or brooding conversation taking place. But at the same time, tranquil and peaceful. Thus, the mysteriousness of it all.

I'll have a few more select Three-Part Inventions uploaded eventually.