By Matthew Young
C.P.E. Bach’s Solfeggio in C Minor is not a difficult piece for the classical pianist. During my middle school years, it was both technically and musically challenging, but now, with more developed technique, I find the piece is easily playable at the composer’s fast tempo markings. As an experiment, I played the piece for my friend, an occasional classical music listener who mainly listens to music of the non-classical genre. He listened intently to my purposefully obscene performance of the piece — faster than Bach’s demands and replete with missing notes and ignored editorial marks. The music made almost no sense, but he was amazed.
Later, I sent him a recording of Georgian pianist Eliso Virsaladze’s dark and sensitive performance of the second movement of Prokofiev’s second piano sonata. “It sounds like she is playing wrong notes…but she isn’t,” he remarked, reacting to the movement’s dissonance. After explaining to him that it was both technically and musically difficult, he said, “I still think Solfeggio sounds harder.” In a moment, all the years of work at the piano since I studied Bach’s piece flashed through my mind. Are notes all that people hear? [Read more…]