Category Archives: Performing

Bach, 88 Keys to Joy and a Special Week Ahead!

I’m exhausted. Since my last blog only a week ago, I spent six full days listening to Bach. 6 days of recordings sessions of the complete 6 Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, played by Mark Kaplan. This has been a completely overwhelming experience, both illuminating and draining. I’ve watched, listened and marked the score, amazed more and more with each moment at the incredible mastery of these compositions.

This kind of intensive recording project presents major challenges to the performer – maintaining inspired and creative playing through many hours and days, keeping the performances fresh, exciting and imaginative just as in a live concert, even when playing for just a set of mics and an empty hall. Doing all that while deciphering this incredibly rich, complex, varied and physically demanding score is a truly formidable task.

Recording large movements such as the C Major Fuga or the d minor Ciaccona, playing each movement through, listening, playing a few more performances of it, working in sections, still with great energy, mental focus and emotional involvement, and then, as an encore, playing through everything again…. That has been our life for the past 6 days!

And while I’m thinking of recordings, I wanted to tell you that I have the perfect CD for you for the holidays!!! Are you looking for something to bring you, your family or friends great joy?

I wasn’t really thinking about Christmas, Hanukah or New Year when I decided to make “88 Keys to Joy”, a festive recording of works having the do with the idea of JOY. I was looking to put out a collection of pieces that highlight different variations on the Joy theme, music that I personally find uplifting, and works where the composers themselves included the word “Joy” in the title.

“88 Keys to Joy” makes an absolutely fantastic holiday CD, with 17 tracks ranging from new works such as “Improvisations on Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Sivan, to Chopin’s Barcarolle, Debussy’s L’isle joyeuse and Bach’s Italian Concerto (which is the opening music for this week’s podcasts!).

You can give someone you care about a specially inscribed copy by ordering here, or of course you can also find it on Amazon, or download it from iTunes.

And before signing off, let me mention our podcasts for the coming days: On Monday you’ll hear about practicing the art of performing, on Tuesday the question is “What Is Music All About” (OK, we’re not really going to completely answer that big one in just a minute or two. . .), Wednesday touches on the difficult question of presenting and listening to new music, you’ll hear what to do when you are feeling stuck on Thursday’s show, and Friday looks into the matter of the post-concert routine.

Oh, and one last update here – today is MY BIRTHDAY!