At piano lesson this morning, my teacher said something that really stuck in my head. I’m currently working on Chopin’s Nocturne in C Sharp minor op 48, no. 1, one of my favourite nocturnes. Yeah, the super sad one. All that ‘zal’ in the first lento section. And you know how it is like, playing in front of the teacher; you tense up, a million thoughts irrelevant to the music zip through your head – not helpful at all in expressing the music.
After a few tries, I paused, took a deep breath and told myself to stop worrying about whether my interpretation sounds ‘correct’ , wrong notes etc, and played.
At the end, my teacher said, “You are beginning to sound like an old man.”
“Yeah, too slow, huh?”
“No. An old man has lived a life of experiences, known love, and pain, and grief; he is full of wisdom, and all that is easily expressed through his fingers onto the keys.” The gist of it is, for this piece at least, I want to sound like an old man. So, I wrote this on a little post-it pad and stuck it on the music. Note to self: “Play like an old man”.
Here’s a video of the beautiful, heart-rending nocturne in C minor, op 48 no. 1, played by Vladimir Ashkenazy.