I've got three pieces on the piano at the moment and whenever I walk past it, I can't resist sitting down and having a go at them. (Funnily enough, I found two of them one afternoon in the sheet music bin at the local Red Cross shop). They're strictly for personal pleasure and preferably, the other occupants of this house would probably say, in a sound-proofed room. I'd probably agree with them. With a bit of luck, I'll be able to play them properly one day, but there's more to it than that. I'm finding, at the moment, teaching the guitar all day, that I need a bit of musical "me time" when I can just play what I like for myself.
The first is the first of Francis Poulenc's Mouvements Perpétuels. I remember this piece being on the piano when I was young. It's something I always wanted to play with a degree of competence, but never got round to. Well, I'm getting round to it now. I'm discovering -well, remembering- it's a very easy piece to play badly. I've read someone describe it as being like a cycle ride round Paris, with church bells in the distance. I found this version on YouTube, with its picture of a young Poulenc:
The second is a piece by Peter Maxwell Davies - Farewell to Stromness. This was -and probably still is, for all I know- a bit of a hit on Classic FM. I like it because it reminds me of islands and the sea around Scotland. It was written as part of a cabaret -performed by the composer and Eleanor Bron- protesting against Margaret Thatcher's plans to mine uranium in the Orkney Islands (which were, thankfully, abandoned).
The third is the first of Arnold Schoenberg's Six Little Piano Pieces (1911). Like the Poulenc, I've always liked these. They belong to the age of Munch's The Scream and the film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. It's an oddly compelling piece to play: baffling at first, I found that the more I got to know it, the more I wanted to go back to it. I often wonder why there aren't more very short pieces of music. Cynics listening to Schoenberg might say they wish he'd written more. This is a chap called Nicasio Gradaille playing the first two (the first piece ends at 1:10):
4 years ago