Saturday, February 14, 2009

Playing Chopin from the score

The comfort of the notes lined up on the page of my book Chopin Nocturnes is a unique experience. It is somewhere between listening to a recording of the piece and writing my own song. I get to follow this music without coming up with it; to play it not knowing exactly what will happen, letting it lead me.

Somehow my mind and hands makes the notes on the page come out through this big, watery instrument, onto hammers and strings and vibrations. The melodies are painfully beautiful, so satisfying to bring to life over a hundred years after they were written. I hum them for days afterwards.

I finish a tune and turn the page to start another, again, it unfolds and winds its story around and I follow it like a path and allow it to happen. I pause where it feels right, I slow it down, I turn a phrase just how it should be turned in this moment in time according to me.

This one starts out in a minor key. It is melancholy but so true, not over-exaggerating its sadness, just the right amount of dark. Some moments of bittersweet happy, chords like a hymn in church, some comfort, some wise words, then back to the pretty sadness, building quietly to the end, and then, after several slow, held out chords to finish, a surprise, subtle gift of a redemption, a major chord, so perfectly placed that you almost don't notice.

But for me, it was a ray of light, it was as though, in your last breath of life, you saw how it all fit together, how it was all worth it, how even the darkest moments the pain added beauty. I wanted to say thank you to Frederic, for that poignant moment, because I didn't remember that ending, and as it came out under my fingers, I cried because of the hope that vibrated through the room and then faded to further ends of the universe.