L’Esprit de la France

 

French Keyboard Music from Couperin to Poulenc

 

This was a beautiful piano concert I was able to attend in January.  It was performed by Lisa Harrington, a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado.  Her pieces included:

 

By Francois Couperin:

Les baricades mysterieuses (The mysterious barricades), 1717

Les fauvetes plaintives (The plaintive warblers), 1722

L’arlequine (The harlequin), 1730

 

By Jean-Philippe Rameau:

Le rappel des oiseaux (The call of the birds), 1724

Les tourbilions (Whirlwinds), 1724

Gavotte et six doubles (Gavotte and six variations), 1727

 

By Gabriel Faure:

Impromptu in F minor, No 2, Op 31, 1883

 

By Claude Debussy:

From Images, Book II, 1907:

Cloches a travers les feuilles (Bells heard through the leaves)

Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon sets on the temple ruins)

Poissons d’0r (Goldfish)

 

By Maurice Ravel:

From Valse nobles et sentimentales, 1911:

Modere, tres franc

Assez lent, avec une expression intense

Modere

Assez anime

Presque lent, dans un sentiment intime

Vif

Moins vif

Epilogue. Lent

 

By Francis Poulenc:

From Trois mouvements perpetuelles, 1918:

Assez modere

Tres modere

Alerte

 

 

Saying goodbye to an old friend

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to a friend I first met when I was eleven years old.  I spent time with this friend every day.  I enjoyed this friend, I grew frustrated with this friend, I experienced emotions of happiness, relief, anguish, and even sometimes fear with this friend.  This friend was my Yamaha upright piano.

My parents bought the piano for me after I had completed three years of piano lessons, and it was apparent that I might “go somewhere” with the piano.  My older brother had already taken the obligatory year of piano lessons and had since quit.  I had taken years of lessons, and – surprise- was still interested in playing!  So the new piano came.

I spent years honing my skill.  I listened, I dreamed, I even sometimes cried while playing.  But, in the end, I grew.  I stretched and learned and experienced the joy of making music.  I could do this with my own two hands!  This was something I knew would be part of my life.

So I went off to college, and only practiced my little Yamaha during breaks.  Truth be told, I didn’t practice that much on breaks.  I was often burned out after a semester of intense practice and performance.  But my Yamaha was there when I decided I wanted to try out a new tune.

When I got married and moved out, my parents gave me the piano to take to my new home.  I was elated to be able to take my friend with me.  I started teaching lessons on the Yamaha.  It was a beautiful instrument to teach all the aspiring concert pianists their scales, chords, and arpeggios.  Many memories were created at that piano.  Again, emotions such as happiness, relief, anguish, and sometimes even fear were experienced.

The piano went through two moves to different states.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  I upgraded to a 5’9″ Kawai baby grand piano.  I was forced to sell my beloved Yamaha to help subsidize the cost of this upgrade.  I can tell you I honestly wrestled with this decision.  I had wanted a grand piano for a long time, but now that the possibility was actually here, I was dragging my heels to sell the Yamaha.  Couldn’t we just keep it?  Wouldn’t it be useful to have an upright also?  (Although I do also have a full-length digital piano, so the space issue was holding me back.)

Well, we decided to sell and placed the ad on craigslist.  Within the first week, a man came to look at the piano.  He said he would use the piano for his teaching studio.  I was reeled in.  The piano would live on!  It would be used, which is what any good piano wants.  So I watched as my Yamaha was loaded onto the truck and taken away.  My friend.

Now I am making friends with my Kawai baby grand.  It is responsive.  It is resonant.  It does what I ask it to do.  I love it too.  It will be my new friend for a new time in my life.  I feel a new connection growing.

Just as people move in and out of our lives, so does music.  We love certain genres of music at different times in our lives. Certain songs and pieces speak to us in different ways and in different situations.  Music is fluid.  It moves through our lives like a tapestry.  It weaves who we were with who we are and who we want to become.  It also ties us to each other.

My old friend Yamaha and my new friend Kawai have taught me lessons.  Not just about music, but about persistence, joy, dedication…myself.