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Practice Journal - "Sonata" by Scarlatti: Part Two

I seem to recall that going back many moons I uploaded my very first practice journal blog post - me practising a Sonata by Scarlatti from a book I purchased in Didsbury!

You might be asking yourself - how's that one getting along?

Well, do I have good news!

Not that it's the biggest achievement per se in that it is a sonata that spans a whopping two pages, this particular piece has caused challenges way beyond taking a lot in, because what it lacks in length it makes up for in technical ability. And it was technical ability that I did not necessarily possess!

That's not to say that I played it badly - it just wasn't as typically Baroque as it should have been.

I frequently bang on about the 'relentlessness' of Baroque music, particularly in keyboard works designed for instruments such as the harpsichord that just didn't have the expression of the piano. Well, this is one of those pieces. It needs to keep moving otherwise the notes will simply fade away to nothingness.

So after my last blog on the matter, in which I tackled page one, I started on page two and played that one a few times round - both with and without the metronome - to see how I fared.

Turns out I was eventually ready to begin committing to memory.

I arrogantly assumed I'd be able to post a success blog on it before another practice blog, in fact, and began trying to record some perfect takes of it but to no avail (it did, however, inspire a different blog post). So instead, I set the new metronome going (I won't always refer to it as new...) and performed the whole piece at a slightly slower speed than I will do when I perform it properly:

Generally I was happy with the performance. One or two careless little mistakes that were a result of nothing more than blips of the mind came across in this performance, but nonetheless I powered through.

It took a while to get it to even this standard, as it is surprisingly difficult to keep even semiquavers going so relentlessly, so of course I have been doing my preparatory exercises daily as well (Hanon is going well. I have come to the conclusion that Schmitt hates me). I do, however, feel that I should start up doing scales again. As much as I appreciate the value of them, I don't know if I've yet found the balance between preparatory exercises, scales, arpeggios, chromatics etc. etc. in addition to practising pieces I want to play. We'll see.

I would like to further observe that my fingers are much more comfortable than in the previous post playing so close together. The progression up the keyboard shook me at first, given that the left hand was playing quavers merely a third below the right hand, all the while both hands ascending. I think there was a certain OCD involved of me not wanting to be touched - not even by myself. But I have overcome this now, perhaps through familiarity.

I will keep practising with the metronome, but when I don't use it I do tend to take more of a pause between the four 'movements', as I term them (Page One is one movement which is repeated, then Page Two is another movement which is repeated, so I make them four). I also think the piece benefits from a rit. at the very end.

As an interesting side note, I would like to add that I quite deliberately introduced my own tenuto markings on the second page on last quavers in the left hand from 1:33 - 1:39 in the video. I felt it added a little extra oomph to the music and added a touch more movement, feeling - to me - a bit static otherwise.

Then again, I do not wish to question Scarlatti.

Hopefully next time will be the real thing!


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