schubert, tessa lark, & a touch of leadbelly

Sarah now has Covid as well as Lucy. Still no dire symptoms. It seems to be sweeping the little area in England where they are living. Many kids have it. Eileen was pointing out that if Sarah and company lived here in the U.S. they would probably not be diagnosed since they don’t have many symptoms and tests are more rare. Eileen has ordered tests for us but they don’t arrive until the end of January.

I begged off digging out and going down to the beach today. We are pretty snowed in. The paper either wasn’t delivered or was swept away by the little plow that plows the sidewalks.

With Eileen’s help I enrolled in an extended dental service with my insurance today. This is timely since I am up for some pretty major dental work in March. My dentist thinks I should have a tooth removed because the area around it is mildly infected. Hard to argue with that but what a pain. Not literally a pain, since I have had this infection for a few years and no pain to speaking of. I also haven’t had the filling that fell out replaced yet and they found another cavity besides that at my last visit. I am scheduled for both of these to be fixed in March at my dentist.

I don’t see why it’s taking so long. Eileen decided she should have her teeth cleaned. She called yesterday and they scheduled her for yesterday afternoon. She walked over in the snow. It was beautiful yesterday. We put out more bird seed recently and we are being deluged with birds (and squirrels).

Today seems to be a Schubert day for me. I was listening to another BBC Inside Music program this morning. The musician who was moderating this time was the violinist, Tessa Lark.

Tessa Lark answers the internet: Violin - Videos - ABC Classic
Tessa Lark

I have never heard of her. Her choices were interesting. She hails from Kentucky and plays a bit of fiddle as well as has pretty spectacular classical credentials. She like so many including myself seems interested in integrated all kinds of music into her styles. She played a recording she made with of the movements from David Chase’s Appalachian Suite. These were written with her in mind. They are composed for solo violin and choir. I wasn’t too impressed with it. A pretty typical choral piece but with violin accompaniment.

First of all Chase titled it “This Old Hammer.” It’s really the African American song, “John Henry.” I understand that they were going for an Appalachian kind of deal but why not acknowledge the real background of this tune? I don’t mean to sound too negative about this composition. The best part was an improv that Lark introduced the movement with. She said the Chase “let her” improvise a beginning for each of his movements.

I think this is the recording she played on her Inside Music show complete with her improvised beginning.

I still prefer this version.

She played a recording of Schnabel playing the first movement to Schubert’s Piano Sonata in Bb. I have been listening to recordings of this movement over and over today. I do love it. I also began playing through it before Eileen got up this morning. I don’t usually play piano before she gets up but she has told me more than once that it’s not a bad way to start her day. She reaffirmed that this morning.

I decided to look a bit more closely at this movement. The first thing I do is number the measures. I also pulled out Charles Rosen book on Sonata Form. He refers to this movement twice in the book. I love the music and have played it over and over. My left hand continues to lose the ability to stretch well. But I so far I can still play through music I love. I have found myself leaving out superfluous notes occasionally and doing a lot of quick little rolls to play all the notes with the left hand that are written.

What I like about this movement is how beautifully Schubert seamlessly moves his ingenious melodies from key to key. As I play through the piece I usually just enjoy it, but today I started wondering about its form. Rosen says that it is a tour de force of handling a three key area exposition in a sonata allegro form. This part of the piece moves from Bb to Gb major back to Bb and then to F# minor.

It sounds so clinical to describe it like that since it really is beautiful. Notice that the two secondary key areas have an enharmonic relationship. That means that Gb is really F# on the keyboard. But once again one barely notices that when you are drawn into the beauty of the piece. Lark describes listening to this piece when she was in college. She said the wisdom of it belies the youth of the composer. Schubert only lived to be 31 years old. Google says that Lark herself is only 23 years old. She must have started studying at schools young she has a bachelors and a masters from the New England Conservatory of music plus holds an Artist Diploma (whatever that is) from Julliard.

Here she is tearing up a little bit of bluegrass. Yikes, she can certainly play.

I think she is playing Leadbelly’s Cotton Fields. Again, why not give a little credit?

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