Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A few chords short ...

I felt so behind in my preparation, anxiety set in with its cousin, insomnia. I began pathological bouts of list-making — the Chopin group, the Schumann group, the 21st-century music, the recital program, the lecture-recital. In the middle of telephone chats, I was apt to recite my columns to the vague discomfort of friends. For me it had become a ritual for the calming of runaway nerves.

So, naturally, just as I’m a few chords short of entering Bellevue for observation, the telephone rings and a conductor speaks. As any pianist knows, a conductor’s call has a special ring. The conversation: Do I know the Beethoven Third, can I play it in a month, we’ll speak again on his return from Europe, so yes, it’s a go. A few moments of pure elation. The anticipation of a concerto with orchestra is a sweet one. It gets the inner metronome beating faster. The Beethoven C minor concerto with a good chamber orchestra! Then panic. On top of everything else, I now need to reconnect with a great work and bring it to life as swiftly as possible.

Part of a diary entry and one of many articles that pianist Beth Levin has contributed to the online music review La Folia. In Beth's playing, her honesty, tenderness and fierce tehnique can stop your breathing.

She writes: “I live with my family in Brooklyn. I very much wanted children and was eager for the challenge of balancing a musical life with a home life. One of my favorite tasks is to pop a lasagna into the oven while doing some intense practicing, thereby fulfilling two roles at once — mother and musician.”

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