Sunday, August 4, 2013

Program for Senior Recital in Piano

What I looked like  few years ago, and why I shouldn't be penalized for practicing while my contemporaries were dancing to Hannah Montana.

                                            Prospective Line-Up For Senior Recital

Buxtehude's Suite in D major
Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith Theme and Variations in
Bach Partita #5 in G major

Haydn Sonata in D major XVI.37
Mozart Sonata K33 in B-flat Major

John Field Nocturne #8 in E-flat*
Ludvig  van Beethoven Sonata #31 Opus 110 in A-flat major
Frideric Chopin - Fantaisie Impromptu

Billy Joel - Fantasies and Delusions

All four periods of music - baroque, classical, romantic, and modern, must be represented. I wasn't sure the department would accept the Billy Joel as a modern classic, but it was from his brief foray into modern classical music, and however unacclaimed it might have been by the serious critics when it came out, its intended genre was clearly "modern classic." I like the sund of it enough that i won't go crazy in perfecting it. I can play it, but not quite to the level of perfection required for a senior music performance major's recital. (Music education majors are required to fulfill senior recitals as well, but the standards for passage are much less demanding.)

I'm not pulled toward the really BIG pieces, but a candidate must include at least one and ideally two selections that are impressive in part for their loudness. The Chopin and Beethoven work are both relatively big-sounding, although the Fantaisie Impromptu does have the dolce midsection. It begins begins big, and ends big until the final eight bars. The Chopin work has the advantage of its degree of difficulty being off the charts. I've always loved it and have been working on it since I was eight years old. My professor doesn't know that and doesn't need to know it. The ajudicattion panel neither knows nor needs to know it. What I did before I arrived at the university is really not the university's business. If I was playing Chopin while someone else was singing along with to Britney Spears, I should not be penalized.  It would be one thing if I had played the Chopin piece for a senior recital elsewhere and then tried to play it for a master's recital here, but such is not the case. It has not been used for audition or academic credit purposes, which is all that matters. It's my ace in the hold, to which I've been holding it for a long time.

The Buxtehude, Mozart, Hadyn, and Bach are solid and impressive parts to one's repertoire. The Handel ("Harmonious Blacksmith") is arguably the most questionable piece in the line-up in terms of degree of difficulty, but l've always loved it, and when you love something, it comes through in the playing of it. The Field Nocturne gives rightful credit to the Irishman who  pioneered the nocturne as a legitimate music form, and it seemed right to honor him as such.

This line-up allows me to drop one piece from anything but the modern era (the Billy Joel "Fanatsies and Delusions") or to use any one of the above works  except the Joel selection I've chosen to repreent the modern era,  as an encore.  

In terms of an encore, it's the very least of my troubles, as an encore is "not supposed" to count against you, as sheets are to be handed over to the chair prior to the playing  of any encore, though it can count in your favor if especially well-received. Panel members can use addendum sheets to add points but not to subtract. For that reason, it is wise to keep your choice of encore highly confidential. If a panel member knows of your encore selcetion and doesn't like your choice for some reason, he or she may arbitrarily take points off elsewhere long before you even play your encore. I'd love to think no one would do such a thing, but we're dealing with human beings, and who knows what department member my mother may alienate between now and November, causing me to pay the price? (I've told my mom who is on my panel, and I'v told her to sty the helll away from them except when absolutely necessary. I'd tell her to kiss up to them, but I know her to welll and a)she wuldn't do it; and b) if she tried, she'd screw it up. I'm just lucky my dad doesn't work with any of these people. He'd botch things beyond repair, and I could kiss medical school good-bye.  

I will be vague if not outrightly untruthful with my professor in terms of what is my encore selection. In addition to on of the other pieces from my lineup that I may drop to the encore position, I'm considering Billy Joel's Nocturne. Though the nocturne wasn't from the same time period as the rest of Joel's foray into the classics, it clearly has a "classics" feel to it. If I'm feeling really good about everything else, I'll thrown in Billy Joel's "Nocturne" as an encore. If not, I have seventy or so pieces I can throw in at a moment's notice. I can afford to leave that until literally the very last moment.  come to think of it, I'll float a rumor among my peers that I'm playing something by Schubert as my encore.  Schubert is as perfectly benign as a composer can be.

For that matter, I read of someone who did a senior recital at Pepperdine and played that "Music Box Dancer" song, and not even as her encore. It has three freaking chords! I heard it once and went to the piano to play it by ear when I was about five, and my dad told me never, ever to play it again when he was home.  I don't know if the Pepperdine music department's standards have tightened since then (this was maybe fifteen years ago) but if not, I'm getting my music degrees from th wrong school.

The sequence does not need to follow the sequence in which the pieces were written, or even the sequence of the eras. I did not consult my mother in the least in my selections for the recital. If you read this soon, you'll see the list before she will see it. In terms of sequence, however, I will be heavily influenced by her suggestions. My instincts tell me to begin with the Haydn, and, if my energy will hold out, to end with the Chopin. As to what comes between, however,  I haven't a clue as to what is most advantageous.

*incidentally, referred to as #9 when arranged fo other instrumentation, but Filed himlef wrte it as #8 for piano


  1. Very exciting, Alexis. And you were very cute in your (even younger) years. I'm curious about the Billy Joel piece and I bet your audience will be, too. I'm sure you will perform it brilliantly.

    When I was in school, modern for us was Vincent Persichetti, Dominick Argento, and Charles Ives... all of them, ick. But my accompanist at the time, who is now a piano professor at my alma mater, did ask me if I had absolute pitch because I was singing a Persichetti piece that had absolutely no pitch references in it and getting them all right. That was probably the nicest thing about that song. It was very dissonant and I didn't like it.

    Anyway, I am sure your recital will be excellent and entertaining. I look forward to reading about it.

  2. Bartok, Kabalevsky, Prokofiev, and Hindemuth and their ilk are considered the modernists for piano now. If I had bigger hands, I could play Scott Joplin, which would qualify, but you get what you get where hands are concerned. I can't really play Rachmaninoff for the same reasons, and I love Rachmaninoff. Small hands tear up the keyboard on Mozart, though. Mozart himself had tiny hands, so his music was written for people with small hands.

    Thanks for the compliment. That was the year I started straightening my hair. My Uncle Mahonri used to just call me The Ugly Duckling (why would anyone say that to a really little girl?) but now he calls me the Ugly Duckling Who Never Turned into a Swan. Now I give it right back to him. I call him either Einstein or Mr. Universe (he's quite fat and quite dull-witted; I would never make fun of him for it if he hadn't picked on me for my whole life) and I ask him how probation is going and remind him about stuff like not dropping soap in the shower if he gets sent up to the big house. Eventually He's going to figure out that I can insult him more effectively than he can insult me and he's going to shut his trap. The last time he called me The Ugly Duckling That Never Turned into a Swan, my Uncle Steve started to take him on, but I said, "Steve, I've got this one covered,' and I started a long line of questioning concerning just what he planned to do with the disposable douches he stole or if he didn't know what he was getting when he stole them because maybe he can't read. He ended up going and finding my mother to tell on me, but Uncle Steve told my mom he started it, plus he stood there the whole time to make sure Mahonri didn't lose his temper and hit me.

    My dad always told me I look just like my mom, and he wouldn't have married my mom if he hadn't thought she was beautiful, so obviously I must be beautiful, too. It's a slight exaggeration on all ends, but it was the perfect thing for him to have said at the time.

  3. That was back in the days when I had to stuff my swimsuit top or bra to appear almost normal. I was fifteen. It's the last picture I have before the broken leg/trapped in the smoky house debacle.

    What a difference three years makes. I almost look my age now.