Saturday, January 16, 2010

Video: Schubert--Impromptu Op.90 No.4

Here is another piece that I didn't really plan on adding to the repertoire. I only intended to learn it well enough to record it back in Spring 2008 as a surprise for my mother. As I wrote on the blog back then:
Schubert's Impromptu is a piece that my mother used to play. Some of my earliest memories are of her playing it on her old Chopin upright piano. I couldn't have been more than four or five years old. But it was one of the pieces that got me interested in learning the piano and has stuck with me all these years.
But I found that I really enjoyed playing it, and it was close enough to performance level to work it up for the first ConcART in October, 2008. These days I probably run through it at practice once or twice a month. That seems to be enough to keep it "ready".

The piece itself is a little deceptive. There's nothing obviously difficult about it. But keeping the right hand "waterfalls" light and even is very technically challenging. This recording shows that I still struggle with the evenness. That's also what makes it risky to play this piece on an unknown piano. If the action isn't responsive enough you're in for a hot, gooey mess.

I continue to push my experimentation with the video, here. I'm finding that mixing up different camera angles adds to the interest of the video, making it easier to sit through the whole thing. (I'm also finding that it's important to plan the angles/switches instead of just jumping around between them randomly). One of my favorite camera angles in professional videos is the direct overhead shot. But it's not an easy shot to get: how do you get the darn camera up there? And it has to be high enough to get the whole keyboard without fisheye distortion. Anyway, I batted some ideas around with my personal problem solving expert (Johanne) and we came up with a nice solution. I'll write a separate blog post about it soon.

Schubert: Impromptu Op.90 No.4 from Ken Barker on Vimeo.


  1. Since the goal of parents is to have their children exceed them, I seem to have achieved that goal.

  2. I love to hear you play, Kenneth. This piece is familiar to me and I especially enjoy anything that has past associations for me. By the way, I had a chance to tell BJ in person just how much I appreciated her mother-to-son compliment after she listened to the Impromptu.