Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bach and spinach

I've hit a summer slump. Swimming lessons finished up last week (as did my opportunity to swim laps), the parade of family coming to visit us in July have all gone back home, and it rained today. We needed the rain, actually, though not nearly as badly as it's needed in the parched, baked western states and my beloved Kansas, where it's too hot even for tomatoes to grow. But something about the rumble of thunder and cool morning air made me think of fall and school starting and shorter days, and I'm just not ready for that yet.

There's also the matter of the dark and dirty Wisconsin political scene. There are about a dozen recall elections next month (none of which I will actually vote in because our particular district is as solidly Democratic as they come; my state senator is the country's longest-serving!) The ruthlessness of this state's Republican leadership, and their determination to undercut public education and resources, strip away union rights, and disenfranchise voters with the new Voter ID bill is completely disheartening.

ETA: Reading this gives me hope. Be sure to watch the embedded video as well!

As for family leaving, well, it wasn't so sad because we'll see them all again in a couple of weeks. We're heading down to central Kansas for my cousin's wedding. It's a family-only affair, but I happily agreed to do all the music for it, so I've been practicing. She had one request for the processional, but everything else is up to me. Last month I spent some time looking through my favorite repertoire to find wedding-appropriate music that I can play with relatively little practice time. I picked out a couple things that aren't difficult, but are new to my fingers (Poulenc, Grieg).

And I've re-discovered Bach. From the time I was in 6th or 7th grade until I finished my first graduate degree, I was always playing something by Bach: Two-, then three-part inventions, preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Toccatas, Suites, and I did the C minor partita on my masters recital. (I still can't believe I memorized that whole thing.) Playing Bach was like eating spinach. It's really good for you, even if it requires some discipline. As it happens, I like spinach just as I like Bach, so it's not exactly a hardship ingesting either one.

Once I started collaborative piano, I only played Bach sporadically. There were occasional vocal arias and a couple big sonatas with violin (which I played on harpsichord), but it wasn't quite the same. For my cousin's wedding, I needed to choose the recessional, and the tune that kept coming to mind was the gigue from Bach's fifth French suite in G major. It's just so joyful. While I'm at it, I'm playing a few other movements for the prelude, just to round things out. It's refreshing to discover that this suite, which I played as a college freshman, you know, in the previous century, is still familiar in my fingers. I remember most of the fingerings, I still feel the excitement of the gigue and the sweetness of the sarabande, and I even remember listening to my recording of Glenn Gould over and over and over again.

3 comments:

Andrea said...

if you have any soprano Bach pieces that you know of/want to collaborate on, I'd be thrilled to work with you! I love Bach as much as I love spinach too.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait until the wedding to hear your music!!
Mom

Anonymous said...

Many belated thanks for writing about the Wisconsin protests in your blog, which I found as I trolled knitting blogs. I live in Canada, and it was the first serious reporting I found on what was happening, though I later heard the AFL-CIO spokesperson at two different union conventions.
I especially love the Solidarity Singalongs -- and especially the "singalong" part. My daughters have helped form a street band that plays at protests and benefits, and I keep bugging them to add singing.