Posts tagged ‘Pachelbel’

March 5, 2012

Speaking of Sarabandes

For those of us who thought Pachelbel was a one-trick pony, I am happy to report that his own sarabandes, one in F# minor and the other in B flat major, are very much worthy of the man who wrote that famous canon. And they are both well within the capabilities of a novice like myself. Although that brings me to another question: Is it easier to play something like these sarabandes than it is to play something more difficult, something requiring a great deal more technical expertise? By “play,” of course, I mean perform it well, not just technically but emotively.

Several years back I had a brief stint as a music critic for a local publication. It was an education for me. I covered a concert at a local conservatory that included one of the Brandenburg concertos and something slow by Tchaikovsky (sorry I can’t be more specific). They played the Brandenburg quite adequately, but the Tchaikovsky was embarrassing. It struck me then that there can be a much greater challenge to performing something simple and “easy to play” than there is to pulling off something that requires more technical proficiency but more or less carries itself along.

I’m facing the same difficulty with these sarabandes. Once you have gotten the execution down, you are faced with something much bigger and much more daunting, and that’s where the performer is challenged to reach down and find something in his/herself to match the greatness of the music. It’s very humbling, actually. But, also very rewarding when you feel that you have at least come up with something halfway worthy of the notes on the page.