Nicole Dieker isn’t sure “original” is the right word to use at the end of this blog post, but she can’t think of a better one.
Yesterday morning, I recorded the Mozart Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K. 332 in full, so here you go:
Here’s what you might notice, if you watched the whole thing:
It’s obvious that I have the technical capacity to play this sonata. For better or worse, it is learned.
The next step is to work on the mental capacity. If you paid attention to the kinds of mistakes I was making during the piece, you might have noticed that they were either memory glitches, which can be warded off with continued practice, or confidence glitches, which can’t.
What do I mean by “confidence glitches?” Basically, anything my brain does that actively gets in the way of my performing with confidence. For example:
- Awww, that didn’t come out the way you wanted it to, now you aren’t going to get a perfect performance! LET’S THINK ABOUT THAT INSTEAD OF EVERYTHING YOU’RE PLAYING RIGHT NOW
- Wow, you played that really well the first time, here it comes again, bet you’re going to mess it up! OH LOOK, YOU DID
- Here comes the ending, better not mess up the ending, you always play something wrong right at the end! GUESS WHAT YOU JUST DID IT AGAIN
There is only one thing I’ve figured out that actively works against confidence glitches, and that’s playing as if I were pulling the music out of my dreams. Yes, I am 100% borrowing that phrase from Maggie Stiefvater’s novels, the idea was all hers, and the way I am choosing to interpret it as I play the piano is essentially “This is a piece of music that I am creating, from its point of origin, that will now exist in the world for the first time. I will imagine every detail, exactly as I want it to sound, exactly as I want it to connect with the audience, before I manifest it. Anything could happen, but as long as I stay focused on each individual detail in turn, each new, original choice will come out exactly the way I mean it to.”
So, because I was extremely dissatisfied with yesterday’s recording, this morning I recorded the second movement of Mozart K332 as if I were pulling it out of my dreams.
Here’s what you might notice about this performance:
There are no memory lapses.
There are no confidence glitches.
There are three clunkers; that is, three moments in which my fingers don’t land precisely where I intend them to, but the reason behind each error isn’t memory or confidence or lack of knowledge or unsolved-problemry. It’s more like having your fingers slip on a doorknob, and no, I don’t know how to solve for clunkers yet. (Probably more practice and more performances.)
My interpretation might be a bit indulgent. This performance balances focus and feelings, which is probably a good thing, but you know at least one person is going to sit there and think “Well, Mozart never would have played it like that…”
To which, I mean, we don’t really know how Mozart would have played it.
Also, I just finished that Charles Rosen essay (in Piano Notes) in which he argues for the merits of original interpretation over historical recreation.
But sure, anyone who lingers on a note because they like it, or because they’re deep within their dreamspace and haven’t fully manifested the next musical phrase yet, is going to be called indulgent.
I’m not sure why.
(Probably something to discuss with L this evening.)
Now you can tell me which of the recordings you liked best, and how you deal with confidence glitches or memory lapses or clunkers, and whether or not you think Mozart would have played it any of the ways in which I am currently playing Mozart. ❤️