Sunday, March 23, 2008

Piano 101: 7. Arabesque I

Debussy's Arabesque I was probably the first piece I learned that you'd consider "concert repertoire". It must have been around 1982 or 1983, I think. The piece is an example of French Impressionist music, known for its suggestion of atmosphere. But I had a lot of trouble trying to capture the tranquility and mood in a recording. Nonetheless, it's one of my all-time favorite pieces to play. It feels like making music.

Track 7: Arabesque I (Claude Debussy)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Piano 101: 6. Danza del Gaucho Matrero

The final Argentinian Dance is the Dance of the Cunning Cowboy. The opening instruction on the score is "Furiosamente ritmico e energico" ("furiously rhythmic and energetic"), and it doesn't let up from beginning to end. You really have to work out how to keep the energy up without hammering on every note, because your arms won't make it to the end. I've found that stressing the inner voices in the big chords gives power and brings out the melody while avoiding exhaustion.

There are plenty of examples of the 2x3 vs. 3x2 rhythm throughout, as well as a new twist in the chordal melody sections where Ginastera inserts some bars of 9/8 among the 6/8. That adds a 3x3 grouping to the mix. There are a few other bizarre accent patterns that can completely throw your timing if you're not careful.

Anyway. Strap on your seatbelt...

Track 6: Danza del Gaucho Matrero (Alberto Ginastera)