Is not nothingness a form of perfection?

A lot has happened today... I attended a very interesting recital about which I find myself having mixed feelings. I enjoyed it, surely, but there is a certain uneasiness I have been left with. I shall try to explain.

One of the piano professors at my university is a master of early keyboard instruments - in fact, they are his specialty. He gave a performance of himself playing on an 1848 Pleyel piano alongside a visiting artist of the violoncello, a professor of cello at a university near here. Here is what the program has to say about the Pleyel piano, pictured here:

"The piano heard at this performance is Pleyel grand #15270, made in Paris in 1848, the year before Chopin's death. As a close friend of Camille Pleyel, Chopin chose the Salles Pleyel as the site of both his Parisian debut and of his farewell concert. He always kept a Pleyel in his rooms, and he recommended them to his students, observing, 'when I am somewhat indisposed, I play an Érard piano and I easy find a sound ready to hand [un son tout fait]. But when I am in form and feel strong enough to find my own sound [mon propre son à moi], I must have a Pleyel.'

A contemporary Parisian piano technician reported that the Pleyel possessed '... a special satisfying quality, the upper register bright and silvery, the middle penetrating and intense, the bass clear and vigorous. The striking of the hammers has been designed to give a sound that is pure, clear, even, and intense. The carefully-made hammers produce -- when one plays softley -- a sweet and velvety sound that gradually increases in brightness and volume as one applies more pressure on the keyboard.' (Montal, L'art d'accorder soi-meme son piano, Paris, 1836)."

Together they performed works by both Frédéric Chopin and Gabriel Fauré, written between the years 1829 and 1898. Here is what they played, together:

Frédéric Chopin - Introduction and Polonaise, Op. 3 (1829-30)

Gabriel Fauré - Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1 (1877)

Gabriel Fauré - Sicilienne, Op. 78 (1898)

Gabriel Fauré - Élégie, Op. 24 (1880)

Frédéric Chopin - Sonata in G minor, Op. 65 (1845-46)
I. Allegro moderato

II. Scherzo: Allegro con brio

III. Largo

IV. Finale: Allegro

The pianist also played Chopin's Étude in C-sharp minor, Op. 25, No. 7; Chopin's Impromptu in G-flat Major, Op. 51 and Fauré's Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 63, but I wasn't as interested in those as the combined pieces. The Fauré pieces were certainly lovely. I have barely heard ANY Fauré music, least of all piano or cello, in my entire life! :( After tonight, I feel like that should definitely change, for his pieces were so, so beautiful.

Chopin's Polonaise for piano and cello was written for an early patron of his in Poland, the Prince Antonin Radziwill, who was an amateur cellist. Chopin composed it at the Radziwill hunting lodge in the forests of central Poland during October 1829, when he was only 19 years old. A polonaise is of course a Polish dance that was already well-known throughout Europe (Bach wrote some), and it was enthusiastically revived during these years when Poland did not exist as a nation.

My piano teacher is learning a Fauré Barcarolle on the piano, and played it for me today after my lesson. I really didn't like it - the melody, if you even want to call it that, meandered in an unappealing way, and it wasn't even that pretty to start with. But, I suppose, the piece's most effective qualities lay in the textures rather than the harmonies. Or something. I still love Fauré's vocal music (most of all with the voice of Véronique Gens), and music for other instruments combined with the piano. My teacher also said that he wouldn't mind if I started learning the first Brahms Piano Concerto!! I mean, seriously? I want to, a lot, but it looks super extremely hard. It would be so amazing if I could really, really work on it, though.

In a semi-similar vein, I have found a series of photos taken by Armand Wagner of ballerina Anastasia Sinitsyna performing alongside cellist André Mergenthaler at the Magical Castle Night 2011 in Beaufort, Luxembourg.

We're all in this made-up world together.

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