After attending Sarah Masterson’s recital, I found myself extremely inspired to write a blog for Musicianship! Her program covered major composers from each of the time periods- Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Kapustin. I have always hated performing Bach. Naturally, Dr. Phang has assigned me a Bach piece to perform for juries every semester thus far (until now!!!). I have great respect for anyone who can perform Bach with the skill that Sarah showed this evening. I think that she could have done a little more with the dynamic contrast in some of the sections, but I understand that Bach is very hard to interpret because of the lack of his own dynamic markings. I like listening to Bach and the Toccata (E minor) that Sarah played was especially beautiful, but performing his pieces are the bane of my existence. I almost always have memory slips and saving oneself from a Bach memory slip is possibly the hardest thing a pianist can do.
In the last few weeks and definitely after the recital tonight, I realized that I’ve found a new respect for Beethoven. The sonata Sarah played (Op. 31, No. 2) was one that I had heard before. I have always liked listening to Beethoven Sonatas but after I’ve studied a Beethoven Sonata, it amazes me time and time again how his sonatas have a specific “Beethoven” sound and at the same time can be so contrasting. What interested me about this piece the most was that the main motive was inverted every third or fourth time it came back.
Everyone always gets super excited about Rachmaninoff (Sarah played three of his Preludes), because his hands were huge and whatever, but frankly, I prefer a more Beethoven style program. Of course, a good program will cover all the eras, including the Romantic, but I personally would choose someone else, Debussy, perhaps. This bias could exist because I have never studied any Rachmaninoff pieces in detail myself, and have specifically studied pieces by Debussy and Beethoven. Sarah did perform the Rachmaninoff quite skillfully, in any case, and her hands most definitely do not span a twelfth.
The last piece Sarah performed was a sonata by Nikolay Kapustin. This was a contemporary piece that swung. It was very catchy and I found myself tapping my foot along with all the syncopations involved. I plan on asking Sarah for a few pointers with my own contemporary piece I’m working on for proficiencies, as I think it takes a different mind set to learn each other periods and I know I definitely have the least experience learning contemporary pieces.
All in all, nice work to Sarah for a job well done!!