Annual General Meeting 2020 of Müzewest Concerts

AGM 2020 V2

Please click below for our ANNUAL REPORT.

Müzewest Concerts 2019:2020 Annual Report-Final

Please click HERE for our special guest performance.

2019 AGM Minutes – https://docs.google.com/document/d/19YEoyAcJl67avTI0G5o87uyYKZNxKDh7yQJwd2oBjN0/edit?usp=sharing

2019 Financials – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s9DPFA4sWFID8i2Gn8iPMY8EN5cBaKMe/view?usp=sharing

AGENDA for our AGM 2020

Notes from the Keyboard – Franz Schubert’s “Moment Musical” no. 3, in f minor

Hello again! In this post, I bring you another favourite of piano students — Schubert’s “Moment Musical” No. 3 in F minor!

This is a particularly special piece to me because it reminds me of my trip to Vienna in 2019.

If you’ve never been to Vienna, you should go (when the pandemic is over, that is). It is a great experience to take in the sights and sounds of the city which has so much history attached to it.

Unlike Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, Schubert was a born Viennese, and I believe that this piece encapsulates much of the atmosphere of that lovely city.

Our big topic for this post is, therefore, CHARACTER.

 

Tip Number 1: Get the rhythm going

One of the first things that caught my attention on my trip to Vienna was the sight of horses and carriages parked along the side of the Cathedral in the centre of the city.

I know it is probably not uncommon to see this in European cities — the bus I took in Salzburg was directly behind a horse-drawn carriage — but my mind made that instant connection between the left hand rhythm in this piece and the clip-clop of the horses’ hoofs.

Here are the first few bars of the piece.

Bars 1 to 4

Since this accompaniment lasts for the entire piece, it is terribly important that you set the tempo and mood correctly in the two introductory bars at the beginning of the piece.

In practical terms, this means that our left hand has to have a regular kind of bounce that gently rings in the background.  The piece is marked Allegro moderato, which tells us that it has to be lively, but not running along. We are not horse racing here!

The key word is ‘bounce’.

Bouncing conjures the image of a ball. To get the articulation right, it helps to think about the point of impact between the floor (if you’re playing basketball) and the ball. It is a short and articulated sound, not a thud or a bang. If you can hold that sound in your mind, you have a pretty good idea of the kind of staccato you should be aiming for. It is marked piano as well, after all.

Now, the intensity of the bounce will vary according to the mood of the music as it changes during the course of the piece, but it should never lose its life.

It’s as if the clip-clopping advances into the foreground and recedes into the background throughout the piece.

 

Tip Number 2: Dare to be subtle

In the second half of the piece (see below), Schubert uses three levels of softness: p, pp, and ppp.

Does that mean that you have to play the bar marked p louder so that when pp arrives (bar 27), you are able to show that difference?

Perhaps so.

But note that the melody in bar 27 was first presented at the beginning of the piece p.

Okay, suppose you now decide that the opening theme should also be played louder so that this difference is noticeable when Schubert calls for it, are you not risking playing the opening a little too loudly and thereby decreasing your chances of achieving the nimble and curious character you want to portray there?

Uh-oh! We have landed ourselves in a tight situation here…

It seems that the only way forward for us is to find ever more degrees of softness. The difference between your p and your pp should be as small as possible, yet discernible.

I want to encourage you to experiment on your piano and find those degrees of softness. Be fearless!

There are two ways you can go about this:

  1. Start at fff and gradually inch your way down to a degree above silence, creating as many different levels as you can.
  2. Or start at a degree above silence and gradually work your way up to a thundering forte.

All you need is one finger playing one note.

 

That’s it for this post!

Click on the video to listen to my performance of this piece.

The video also includes pictures from my visit to Vienna and Schubert’s place of birth.

If you have any questions, please feel free let me know in the comments section below.

Feel free to share this post with your friends if you found it useful, and I’ll see you again at my next post.

 

The Author

Lee Jae Phang is on a mission to spread his love for great music far and wide!

Using his skills and experience, he helps others deepen their appreciation for and understanding of music through his work as an international concert pianist, teacher, and writer.

If you would like to be part of his musical adventures, follow Lee Jae on his Facebook page. Click here to see Lee Jae’s professional Facebook page!  

Müzewest Concerts Response to COVID 19 and Black Lives Matter

BLM-Muzewest-2

At Müzewest Concerts, we have taken time to consult with members of the black community and other visible minorities. This has taken time to do so properly and we thank you for your patience as we assembled actionable items that our small organization can do to help move our society toward greater racial justice. The arts have the fundamental power to transform and nourish us and we will be taking great care to ensure that our activities align with affecting positive social change. We find ourselves in a radically different world and as an organization, we also want to address the negative effects of social isolation caused by COVID-19 as well.  The activities that we have planned hope to address issues of connectedness and representation in the arts. We invite you to support our activities by either sharing the finished products or through financial means if you are able.

1) BACH IN THE KALEIDOSCOPE – We have commissioned cellist Bryan Cheng to perform all 6 solo suites by J.S. Bach. A dancer who is from a visible minority community will choreograph a dance to the prelude from each suite and we will host an interview and discuss whether or not this western art music serves as an authentic vehicle for expressing the dancer’s experience as a minority in Canada.  These performances and conversations will be recorded and available for free on our YouTube channel.

2) BACH AND ME – Cellist Bryan Cheng will perform all 6 suites by J.S. Bach and introduce each movement in a child-friendly manner. We will take time to develop a study guide of activities for kids that support their social-emotional learning by listening to these suites. All resources will be made available at no costs to schools and families.

3) TAKE NOTE – This is the name of our new podcast! We’ll be hosting a diverse panel of people to talk about issues of social justice and music and how these intersect. It will be professionally edited and available to a broad audience. Some of the interviews will be conducted via video. The aim of this podcast is so that diverse voices can hold space and we simply listen. After observing various responses to Black Lives Matter, this seems like a productive way for our small but dedicated team to proceed.

4) HIRING PRACTICES – We have also committed to programming more black musicians and that will result in increased travel costs as many of the artists we hope to engage live outside of British Columbia and Canada itself.

5) PROGRAMMING – We have committed to commissioning composers who identify as being a visible minority. Our stages will be a space for their creative voices.

All of these initiatives require careful consideration and planning on the part of our staff. We will proceed in a thoughtful manner and ensure that these five commitments are visible changes in our organization. We invite you to be support us in these ventures.

Support can be made through PAYPALwww.paypal.me/muzewest

Support can be made through eTransfer – muzewest@gmail.com
Please reach out to any of our staff or any board member for any questions you may have about supporting our new commitments to the arts being a vehicle for real change.

CASTING CALL – Contemporary or Ballet Dancers

Müzewest Concerts is looking for contemporary or ballet dancers who identify as a visible minority to choreograph and dance one movement of a Bach Cello Suite. This would be paid

Dancer can be located anywhere in the world and there is no preference in terms of gender.

Dancer must be 18 years and older.

DEADLINE – July 1st at 5 PM (Pacific)

Please contact muzewest@gmail.com if interested!

 

Notes from the Keyboard – “Song of the Lark” by P.I. Tchaikovsky

Hello! Did you enjoy my previous post on Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, Op. 28 No. 4?

In this shorter post, I will share some tips on how to play Tchaikovsky’s Song of the Lark from his Album for the Young, Op. 39 so that your performance shines. 

Without further ado, let’s begin! 

Tip Number 1: Know the subject

This piece is about the song of a particular bird—the lark. The lark is a small-to-medium-sized bird with a call more elaborate than most birds. Its small size also means that its call is in a higher pitch range. 

In addition to this, the lark in mythology and literature symbolizes daybreak. Shakespeare’s 29th Sonnet has the lines

Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

 

Here’s a picture of an Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensi), courtesy of Wikipedia.


So, we know that the piece has to have an air of morning freshness about it, punctuated by bird calls. This freshness comes from the simple harmonic scheme of the piece (Tchaikovsky did not stray far from the primary triads in the harmony) and the frequent use of the triplet and acciaccatura motives, which allude to the calls of a lark. Please see the music examples below.

 

Triplet motive

 

Triplet and acciaccatura motives

 

Tip Number 2: Clarity is Key to Characterisation

In order to communicate the character of the piece effectively, and since the bird call motives highlighted above play a significant role in the creation and communication of the freshness of the piece, you have to be able to play those motives clearly, with good, crisp articulation. 

Good and crisp articulation can be attained by ensuring that when you play the triplet (and also the acciaccatura—more information below), you curve your fingers. Flat fingers should only be reserved for cantabile playing, where brilliance of tone is not the goal. 

Playing with curved fingers helps you to ensure that you do not over hold consecutive notes, particularly in this situation where the beginning of the next note marks the end of the previous one, where clarity is paramount and the tempo of the motives is brisk.

If you experiment at the keyboard with two fingers, each playing one note and one followed by the other, you might even find that to achieve a really good legato requires more concentration when one’s fingers are curved. You need to keep the first finger held until it has to be lifted. 

We now turn our attention to the final point of this post: the acciaccaturas (as seen in the second music example above).

In addition to keeping your fingers curved, you have to just bear two more things in mind when playing these: 

Firstly, keep your fingers close to the surface of the keys. 

Secondly, the main note has to be fractionally louder than the ornament note, so the force you exert using your fingers when playing the acciaccatura has to increase between the first (ornament note) and second note (the main note).

I hope that you find this post informative and useful. As before, please try out my suggestions, leave a comment below, and I’ll see you in the next post! 

Meanwhile, here’s my performance of this miniature. Enjoy! 

Biography

Malaysian concert pianist Lee Jae Phang continues to astound audiences with his virtuosity, expressiveness, and searching intellect. He has been lauded for his “great ability to play a wide variety of repertoire with great interpretation and passion” and for his spellbinding accounts of complex masterworks such as Tippett’s Piano Sonata No. 3. 

Along with 15 other people, Lee Jae once held a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people playing the same piano simultaneously. 

Lee Jae is also a notable accompanist and chamber musician and complements all his performing with his passion for teaching.  He strongly believes that music enriches our lives and loves helping young pianists reach their full musical potential. 

Follow Lee Jae on his Facebook page to be part of his musical adventures:  Click here to see Lee Jae’s professional Facebook page!

Notes from the Keyboard – Prelude in E minor, Op. 28 No. 4 by Chopin

Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, Op. 28 No. 4 is a favourite among piano students, and if you love his music but do not play the piano, you are most likely to already know this piece from somewhere.

Now, wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if you can also learn it and play it like a professional?

I will give you a few secrets to help you achieve this.

Let’s begin.

FIRSTLY, we must have a look at the key this prelude is written in.

E minor is a dark tonality. It sounds cold and lonely. It also has overtones of desolation.

Think back to what the Dementors from Harry Potter are like: they drain happiness and hope from people.

You have to channel this feeling of gloominess and (as the piece builds to its climax) despair when you play this piece. One way to get into the mood is to play the piece in E major and then switch to the tonic minor.

It is very simple: you just need to play the left hand triads of bar 1 with a G sharp instead of a G natural and the C in the right hand as a C sharp. (Please see the example below.)

Try it now (keeping a straight face in the major version if possible).

This exercise should show you how big the gap is between sunny E major and cloudy E minor.

Secret Number 2: Murmur

Once you have the mood set in your mind, you have to be able to play the left hand chords in a way that resembles murmuring.

When people murmur, they do not articulate their words clearly. Their speech resembles a continuous sound, low and indistinct.

The left hand chords have to sound like that.

To achieve this effect, you must play from the key surface. In other words, take special care not to hit the key with the tips of your fingers and your nails. Hitting (and the accompanying clicking noise) happens when you play from above the key surface (in the air) and descend rapidly onto it.

Once you’ve played each chord, you should aim to play the next (if it is exactly the same chord) without letting the keys come up completely or rise too far from the key bed. (This is easier on a grand piano.) It will feel like you’re playing in the piano keyboard. This helps your left hand to avoid sounding clunky.

All your left hand movements should be minimal. In the same way that the harmony shifts and slides slowly, your left hand should also move gradually, ‘walking’ from one chord position to the next.

Notice also that the gradual—and staggered—chromatic descent of the notes of the chords in the left hand adds to the bleak atmosphere of the music. Chromaticism in tonal music adds colour. In this prelude, it adds a kind of negative colouring: tension. A more specific example which denotes sorrow and tragedy is the ‘lament bass’. (More on this in a future post!)

Secret Number 3: Save it for the big moment!

Now, the final secret for this post: save your forte for the climax in bar 17. (See bars 16 and 17 in the example below.)

In addition to the forte marking, Chopin also indicates a stretto in bar 16, so save up for this moment. It is the cry of despair after a long period of despondency.

I hope that you find this post informative and useful. As before, please try out my suggestions, leave a comment below, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Meanwhile, here’s my performance of this prelude. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Biography

Malaysian concert pianist Lee Jae Phang continues to astound audiences with his virtuosity, expressiveness, and searching intellect. He has been lauded for his “great ability to play a wide variety of repertoire with great interpretation and passion” and for his spellbinding accounts of complex masterworks such as Tippett’s Piano Sonata No. 3.

Along with 15 other people, Lee Jae once held a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people playing the same piano simultaneously.

Lee Jae is also a notable accompanist and chamber musician and complements all his performing with his passion for teaching.  He strongly believes that music enriches our lives and loves helping young pianists reach their full musical potential.

More information can be found on his website: https://phanglj12.wixsite.com/lee-jae-phang

Notes from the Keyboard – Golliwogg’s Cakewalk by Debussy

Hello again!

I hope that you have enjoyed trying out my suggestions in my previous post and found them helpful.

Today, we will be looking at Debussy’s Golliwogg’s Cake Walk from his suite entitled Children’s Corner, L. 113.

It is a fun little ragtime brimming with joy. There’s even a cheeky parody of the introduction to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in the middle section!

So here are my top tips:

Tip Number 1: All in One

Piano playing involves motion, and how we move the different parts of our playing apparatus from the fingers all the way up to the upper arm, back etc. has an effect on the sounds that are produced and the ease with which we produce them.

You will perhaps have noticed that as pianists, we often play several notes in one motion. The most basic example of this is found in the playing of scales where we split each octave into groups of 3 and 4 fingers in one go, with the thumb marking the beginning of each group. (E.g. C major ascending is played with the fingering 123 followed by 1234 in the right hand.)

The concept of ‘one motion’ can be applied to several places in this piece, but let us focus on bar 6.

Screen Shot 2020-04-05 at 11.45.11 PM

The two perfect 5th semiquavers in the right hand at the end of bar 6 are marked forte with a crescendo hairpin, AND staccato. (Yes, Debussy tends to ask a lot of his performers.) The difficulty here is to execute the syncopation loudly with a crescendo, clearly, and quickly at the same time.

In order to achieve this, you must first choose to use the stronger fingers in the right hand—the thumb and the middle finger. The other viable alternatives (2 and 4 or 3 and 5) will not allow you to ‘hold’ the keys firmly when you play the two notes together and restrike them quickly. Using fingers 1 and 3 will give you the clarity you are looking for.

Next, you have to ensure that you play the first of the two semiquavers softer than the second one. Since it has to also be done quickly, the whole execution should come in one single motion.

This motion can be visualized in slow motion as such: your forearm guides the motion of the hand into the keyboard like a landing aircraft and during this motion your wrist is used to play the two semiquavers with minute up and down motions.

It is the push of the forearm which causes the second semiquaver 5th to be louder than the first. The wrist movements—and I emphasize that these are very small movements—in combination with the strong and uncollapsing 1st and 3rd fingers impart the clarity and speed needed for this syncopation.

Tip Number 2: Split your hand

Screen Shot 2020-04-05 at 11.49.33 PM

When you play the theme of this piece (for example, in bars 18 and 19 as shown above), you will notice that the right hand also plays an accompaniment with fingers 1 and 2. Since we would love for the melody to be heard clearly, and fingers 1 and 2 are naturally bulkier than the 4th and 5th fingers (which are rather inconveniently tasked here to play the melody) we have to make a conscious effort to do either/both of the following:

1.) Play the melody louder

2.) Play the accompaniment softer

To avoid the risk of tension and injury in your right hand by forcing it to outplay both the accompanying syncopation in the same hand and the quaver accompaniment in the left hand, it is wiser to prioritize the second option of playing both the accompaniments softer.

To begin, you can achieve this by practising the right hand alone slowly. As you play slowly, keep fingers 1 and 2 close to the key surface before striking. You must also listen to yourself carefully and insist on the accompaniment always sounding at a lower level of dynamics than the melody. For the final quavers of each of the above bars where the melody and accompaniment are contained within the same chord, you should practise by playing the melody in the outer part of the hand loudly first and holding the note down. You then add the accompaniment softly below it.

After some time, you should find that it becomes easier to go through this process of playing the melody first and then adding the accompaniment softly below it. As you play the melody followed by the accompaniment in increasingly smaller intervals of time, you will eventually end up playing the entire chord together with the balance you desire.

I hope the above has given you good food for thought and I welcome any feedback and questions that you may have. In addition to that, if you would like to me to help you with a specific difficulty that you have in a piece you are learning, please feel free to write it in the comments below and I will address it in a future post.

Happy exploring and practising!

Biography

Malaysian concert pianist Lee Jae Phang continues to astound audiences with his virtuosity, expressiveness, and searching intellect. He has been lauded for his “great ability to play a wide variety of repertoire with great interpretation and passion” and for his spellbinding accounts of complex masterworks such as Tippett’s Piano Sonata No. 3.

Along with 15 other people, Lee Jae once held a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people playing the same piano simultaneously.

Lee Jae is also a notable accompanist and chamber musician and complements all his perfoming with his passion for teaching. He strongly believes that music enriches our lives and loves helping young pianists reach their full musical potential.

More information can be found on his website: https://phanglj12.wixsite.com/lee-jae-phang

Lee Jae Phang photo

 

Notes from the Keyboard – Beethoven – 6 Variations on a theme by Paisiello

Hello again!

I hope that you have enjoyed trying out my suggestions in my previous post and found them helpful.

Today, we will be looking at Beethoven’s Six variations for piano on ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ from Giovanni Paisiello’s opera La Molinara, WoO 70.

It is a beautiful little piece which deserves to be perfomed more often, and so it fills me with great joy to be able to share some of my ideas on it with you.

Tip Number 1: The theme is the foundation upon which everything is built

The old saying that one should build one’s house upon a foundation of rock couldn’t be truer when it comes to playing a set of theme and variations. Your listeners will thank you for your efforts to present the theme as lucidly as you can at the outset.

To do this—and also because the melody in the theme is from a sung duet—you have to shape the melody as beautifully as you can, taking great care to plan the climaxes and to note the where one phrase ends and another begins.

Turning our attention now to the printed music, we can see that the theme is constructed as follows:

2 bars — 2 bars — 4 bars

2 bars — 2 bars — 2 bars (fermata)

6 bars*

Ultimately, how you split the bars into phrases also depends on your interpretation on how the theme should be phrased: apart from the obvious breathing points, the asterisked 6 bars above might be further divided into 4 bars followed by 2 bars. The beauty of music is that you get to choose!

The first 8 bars have a climax on the E in the melody in the second half of bar 6 (end of first line of music shown above). The following set of 6 bars leads to the D major chord with the fermata—a rhetorical pause. Finally, the final climax falls on the first beat of the penultimate bar (bar 19) where there’s an acciaccatura of a descending 6th from E to G in the melody. As you play this melody without the accompaniment, you will get a sense that as a whole, the theme leads to this final climax. There is a feeling that all the other climaxes are simply preludes to this final one, which leads to a satisfactory conclusion of the theme. All you need to do whilst playing this theme is to be very conscious of this overall shape for it to shine forth in your playing. Do not exaggerate the shaping; rather, let the melody flow and grow naturally, with one phrase following on from the previous one the way one sentence follows another in a delivered speech.

Bonus: take note of the large intervals in the melody; for example, the descending 6th on the final climax. Try singing them. You might be surprised at how expressive they can sound when they are surrounded by stepwise motion in the melody. This should give you a clue for how you could plan your phrasing. Feel free to try out a few options and decide on one which you feel best expresses the character of the theme.

Tip Number 2: Rotation is a gift

Now we jump to the 6th and final variation with the Coda. Although every variation has its own unique set of challenges, in the limited space of this blog post I feel that you will benefit from more attention being spent on the last variation.

The final variation begins with a stream of semiquavers in both hands. If you look and listen closely, you will notice that the theme and melody is traced by the upper notes in the right hand. In order to

highlight this beautiful melody, you have to ensure that the melody stands out from the accompaniment. Within the context of the right hand, the melody is the higher note and the accompaniment is the lower note.

The most efficient way to achieve this is not to freeze your hand into one position when you play. You must allow your hand to rotate freely as you do when you twist a circular door knob.

Once you’ve understood this need for rotary movement, you are now ready to ensure that there is more speed when you rotate your hand towards the upper note. The upper note will naturally sound louder because of this.

Since the melody is a variation of the theme, you must also shape it—and this is where the foundation work you did for the theme really pays off. The challenge this time is that you mostly only have your fourth and fifth fingers to do it with. By controlling the speed of rotation, you will be able to control the volume of one upper note in relation to the next upper note. Start slowly, listen carefully, be patient, and when you have mastered the shaping of the melody at a slower tempo, gradually increase the speed until you arrive at the performance tempo.

I hope the above has given you good food for thought and I welcome any feedback and questions that you may have. In addition to that, if you would like to me to help you with a specific difficulty that you have in a piece you are learning, please feel free to write it in the comments below and I will address it in a future post.

Happy exploring and practising!

Biography

Malaysian concert pianist Lee Jae Phang continues to astound audiences with his virtuosity, expressiveness, and searching intellect. He has been lauded for his “great ability to play a wide variety of repertoire with great interpretation and passion” and for his spellbinding accounts of complex masterworks such as Tippett’s Piano Sonata No. 3.

Along with 15 other people, Lee Jae once held a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people playing the same piano simultaneously.

Lee Jae is also a notable accompanist and chamber musician and complements all his perfoming with his passion for teaching. He strongly believes that music enriches our lives and loves helping young pianists reach their full musical potential.

More information can be found on his website: https://phanglj12.wixsite.com/lee-jae-phang

“Sofa Sessions” – Online Concerts in Spring 2020

In these uncertain times, we aren’t able to enjoy music together as a large group in person. However, the music still continues!  We have been inspired to see many performances being filmed in high quality.

We are planning to bring online performances to YOU as well!

Thurs., Apr. 2, 2020 – Live from NYC, Violinist Keiko Tokunaga – 5 PM (PST)

Thurs., Apr. 2, 2020 – Live from Richmond, Tina Wang, saxophone – 7 PM (PST)

Fri. Apr. 3, 2020 – Live from NYC, Emmet Cohen & Benny Benack, jazz duo – 5 PM (PST)


Fri. Apr. 3, 2020 – Live from Burnaby, Bill Coon, jazz guitar – 7 PM (PST)

Sat. Apr. 4, 2020 – Live from Pennsylvania, Alexei Tartakovsky, piano – 11:30 AM (PST)

Sun. Apr. 5, 2020 – Natalia Pardalis, live from Surrey, BC – 7 PM (PST)

Mon. Apr. 6, 2020 – Catherine Levan, jazz vocals – 7 PM (PST)

Tues. Apr. 7, 2020 – Live from London, Alex Karpeyev, solo piano – 11 AM (PST)


Wed. Apr. 8, 2020 -Live from Stockholm, Erland Sander, opera singer – 7 PM (PST)

Thurs. April 9, 2020 – Live from London, Pavel Mansurov, flute – 11 AM (PST)


Fri., Apr. 10, 2020Live from NYC, Violinist Keiko Tokunaga5 PM (PST)

 

Notes from the Piano Bench 1 – Mozart’s “Easy” Sonata

In this post, we will be looking at specific sections from a beautiful piece of the piano literature: Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 545 (first movement).

I want to share with you two tips that I hope will help you play with more expressivity and ease. So let’s get right into it!

Tip number 1: Think of the first movement as an opera overture

Mozart’s overtures are full of contrasts of mood and dynamics. The music can whisper one moment and sing joyfully in another. Have a listen to the overture to The Marriage of Figaro. After only 10 seconds, Mozart springs a surprise on his listeners like no other!

This is the kind of characterisation I would like you to apply to the first movement of the Mozart sonata.

Starting at the beginning, your right hand should shape the melody the way a soprano would sing it. This means that the melody has crescendo, diminuendo, and breathing spaces. As a suggestion, the first note of bar 1 has a crescendo to the first note of bar 2, after which there is a diminuendo to the C on the third beat (a resolution). The fourth crotchet beat is a rest, so remember to breathe there—you wouldn’t want to run out of breath before the end of the next phrase, would you?

Try applying this to bars 3 and 4. You might want to play slightly louder in those bars because the melody is now in a higher register.

The scale passage which begins in bar 5 isn’t “just scales”—it is a wonderful wave. Shape it as beautifully as you can.

Now look at bar 14. The melody has shorter note values now. The articulation is also crisper. Furthermore, the left hand accompaniment adds to the more timid character of the music. Aim to play at a softer dynamic level, at least until the end of bar 17.

Let’s jump to bar 26. It is triumphant there. Play with confident fingers but be careful not to tighten your wrist. You must allow your right hand wrist to rotate laterally so that you can play the arpeggios.

If you go straight into bar 29 from there, you will notice a very stark contrast. How does the music sound here compared to bar 26? Savour the drama—apply more arm weight and try using the sustaining pedal on the first beat of bar 29 on the unison G’s. Can you make it sound like something sinister is about to happen?

Tip number 2: Mark out the arrival points in the Development to help you memorise it

The Development is a big journey from G minor to F major. The arrival points are as follows:

  1. Bar 29: G minor
  2. Bar 33: D minor
  3. Bar 42 (beginning of Recapitulation): F major

In addition to the above, it is also very helpful to know that there is a Circle of Fifths between bar 37 and bar 40. Try playing the series of triads below one after another and you will hear the harmonic outline of this passage more clearly when you play it as Mozart wrote it.

A minor — D minor — G major — C major — F major — B diminished — E major — A minor

If you feel extra nerdy, the harmony in the first half of bar 41 is the Neapolitan 6th of A minor…

Bonus: You will also notice that there is a pattern in the bars where both hands play scales: the hands travel in opposite directions until bar 37 where both hands begin playing descending scales.

I hope the above has given you good food for thought and I welcome any feedback and questions that you may have. In addition to that, if you would like to me to help you with a specific difficulty that you have in a piece you are learning, please feel free to write it in the comments below and I will address it in a future post.

Happy exploring and practising!

 

 

Biography

Malaysian concert pianist Lee Jae Phang continues to astound audiences with his virtuosity, expressiveness, and searching intellect. He has been lauded for his “great ability to play a wide variety of repertoire with great interpretation and passion” and for his spellbinding accounts of complex masterworks such as Tippett’s Piano Sonata No. 3.

Along with 15 other people, Lee Jae once held a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people playing the same piano simultaneously.

Lee Jae is also a notable accompanist and chamber musician and complements all his perfoming with his passion for teaching.  He strongly believes that music enriches our lives and loves helping young pianists reach their full musical potential.

More information can be found on his website: https://phanglj12.wixsite.com/lee-jae-phang