Thursday, June 11, 2009

claire de lune

I haven't played the piano for you in quite a while—I haven't played the piano for myself very often either, but sometimes I walk past the thing and remember that I like to play. I don't play in public because I'm mediocre at best, and what I really like is getting lost in old music I learned in high school. Make me learn something new or be concerned with accuracy, and I just get frustrated.

Mr. Stevesand, my piano teacher in high school, was an old bachelor math teacher who lived out in the country with two mangy Himalayan cats and a grand piano. He was a slob and left filthy pans on the stove, and the cats would eat what looked like old beans and tomato sauce out of them. His hair stood up on end, and his fingers were chubby enough that he had trouble playing as cleanly as he would have liked, but he was a great teacher.

As a teenager, I was drawn to melancholy pieces (which means I like to play them now), and Debussey's Rêverie was one of my favorites. The notation in the first bar says "dreamily," and that's sort of what happens when I play the piece now over 30 years after I learned it–I drift off. Appropriate to the title, I get lost in the playing of it, and when I look up from the keys, I am sometimes two pages beyond when I last looked up. I don't count, so the notes aren't of equal value, and the tempo is anything but steady. Still, it puts me in a dream state.

I doubt my recording will do the same for you, though, so keep your expectations low. About one minute in, you'll hear No. 1 and Eustacia walking in from running an errand. They didn't know I was recording and were talking in full voice and rattling plastic bags in the next room. When No. 1 realized what was going on, she said, "You can't post that," but I feel like I have to. This is what you'd hear if you were visiting me on a playing day. A cat might try to jump up in your lap, the phone might ring or a daughter might giggle.

7 comments:

dive said...

You darn-well CAN post that, Robyn!
It's gorgeous.
Well played, and great to hear the sisters in action.

pf said...

Sooooo nice...and, yes, "dreamy"...I love that piece also. I'll have to drag it out of my archives; I haven't played it in a long time. Nice to hear the girls too!

Shan said...

Oh that is so very pretty Robyn. I'm glad you went ahead as well. We like hearing the extra life in the house to complete the picture. That is TOTALLY what would happen in mine, only much louder and more manic with silly boys about.

I just realized when you said you chose melancholy pieces that, it's true, the music I chose to learn was elfish and dancy(happy)like Bartok and I guess Mozart too. My brothers choices were always more poundy and dramatic (Chopin maybe?)and they did suit each of us. hee

Now you've got me wanting to get my books out and tinker around when I should get in my exercise. Ah, I can do both today and get myself nice and relaxed.

p.s. I'm no good any more so you'll not hear my practice session. ;)

Scout said...

Dive, I should have made it clear that No. 1 was speaking to the noise in the background, not my playing. Thanks!

PF, it would be much dreamier if you were playing it. Technically accurate, too.

Shan, I love the word "poundy." Play.

lynn said...

I can say exactly back what you said to me today Robyn: Absolutely beautiful!! (and thanks for that). That was sooooooo relaxing, I loved it thank you. Was also wonderful to hear the girls, as you say, that's what normal home life is like! Lovely. I so wish I still had my piano.

MmeBenaut said...

Robyn, that was just beautiful and again, I'm amazed by your many talents. Sadly I am the generation that missed music teaching. I tried, in my forties to learn the piano. I even bought a piano. But at that time I was flying around the country and the world with work and I could barely fit in my lessons. I also found that I wasn't very good and I was more terrified of the piano that I am prepared to admit. So, I don't play anything but I'm developing my appreciation of classical music and one day I will know the difference between the composers when I hear them. I just haven't reached that point in my life yet - I'm saving it for my sixties! Well, perhaps my late fifties ...

Alifan said...

Oh Robyn how clever you are and what a lovely piece. it moved me to tears, and I loved the fact that you kept on playing when you had company walk in....

I went to piano lessons, and taught the boys to play a bit.... but sadly I never kept it up, although my fingers do itch when I see a piano keyboard...