Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two against three

What about Mozart?  I bet many of you heard about Mozart towards the end of January.  Anyone?  January 27 seems to be the time Mozart is most performed, because it marks his birthday.  My hubs has gotten together with two other musicians and proclaimed there would be "Celebration Concerts" and that the first one would be last weekend.  Two concerts of all Mozart.
I haven't played Mozart since... well, a VERY long time.  I always liked Mozart.  Something rather simplistic and lovely to listen to, so I was delighted to have a marimba playing friend suggest we play a Sonata.  We can make it work, I thought.
When I read through the piece, I was delighted again that it wouldn't take the tar out of me to get it ready, and (AND, a big and) it was ALL two against three, when it wasn't three against four.  As the days went by, I began to regret I was playing with someone (a percussionist) who had strong opinions about anyone other than a percussionist playing triplets.  Turns out, he saved me!  I think he made me a better player, keeping it steady himself, and imposing his impeccable rhythmic talent on me.  Truth be told, we didn't practice together... No, the one time we could find the time and place, the piano was SO out of tune, it sounded like we were playing it two very unrelated keys.  It was so painful that I couldn't bear more than twice through (and I couldn't listen).  The morning of the concert, we had the opportunity to really play and enjoy the piece.  It was very nice, and I gave a little background to the audience before we started.
As we all know now (from previous speakers) that Mozart was exploited by his father for his talent.  The piece we are going to perform is Kochel 14 which means he was really little.  In fact, he was eight years old when this was written.  Mozart had been hauled off to London to perform for royalty, and hopefully follow in his countryman's footsteps, Handel, but he really didn't catch on.  Papa Mozart became ill and didn't want little Wolfgang banging on instruments, so he had to be content to secretly write some music that he hoped wouldn't be seen by papa.  This meant that there were several pieces that papa never got to correct.  They were eventually discovered and published in the early 1900's, and they weren't... so.... nice.  But this piece we are playing is from a set of Sonatas that he wrote with papa's help, for harpsichord and violin.  (I look around at the marimba and piano.)  Well, we do what we can.  Doug will explain. (Doug takes over and gives a little info on the marimba.)
What I didn't say is that I think papa had just given little Wolfgang a lesson in playing two against three, and instructed him to write a piece that would use it.  What am I talking about?
Most music has a feel for "two", like walking:  One, two, one, two.    Imagine that we had three feet;  Walking would sound like, One, two, three, one two three.  Now imagine a couple walking along with arms around each others waists, and one of them is two legged, and the other is three legged.  They want to stay together, so they walk so that their left legs hit the pavement at the same time.  Can you imagine how crazy that would look (besides the obvious three legs) with the three legged person trying to keep up with the two?  That's what musicians do when composers want that feel of three but write a melody in two, or vice versa.  That's what pianists do, sometimes with one hand playing in threes and the other in two, and sometimes three and two in the same hand.  Think of little Mozart:  Eight years old.
Here's the music:  Link to Mozart Sonata.  I couldn't get it to be pictured here.
Marimba:  A beautiful sound.

Concert Mozart
1756. London 1764. Sonata for harpsichord and violin k.14

Sent from my iPad

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