Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chopin in 7/8

Some day I need to write about the curious, sometimes uneven, but very impressive and increasingly essential Boston Musical Intelligencer, a locally based site which provides exponentially more reviews of area concerts than the Boston Globe ever did (at least in my 20+ years in Boston), even before the Globe started cutting arts coverage in the recent past.

But today, I'd just like to respond, in typical MMmusing fashion, to a line from a review of a young pianist who finished an impressive recital with the Chopin B Minor Sonata. The reviewer, David Moran, concludes by saying:
To my ear it all felt 7/8-baked, the last finishing touches not yet settled. And again his hands and fingers were not perfectly clean or always together in attacks and at measure starts. The effect was slightly hesitant, at best probing, but at worst causing small starts and fits—noty, almost static, unurgent. That said, I admired it more than enjoyed it, and it was so unusual I would like to study a recording.
The review appeared last week, but when I just read it, I couldn't resist commenting:
It took me a second reading to realize that "7/8-baked" referred not to an irregular meter but something only 87.5% realized. Before that realization, I enjoyed imagining Chopin's 6/8 finale limping along in 7/8 time, especially as the performance was also described as "slightly hesitant" with "small fits and starts." Perhaps a mashup of this finale and the finale to Prokofiev's 7th sonata?
And then, I couldn't resist tinkering around with the limited notation tools I have on my vacation laptop to see what this might sound like. Here is Chopin's "version":

And here's a taste of what might have been if Chopin hadn't been so conventional (forgive the horribly tinny "piano" sound):

See also:

1 comment:

davidrmoran said...

you better write for us at some point!