This is my performance of Rachmaninov’s Prelude op. 23 no. 4 in D on the New York Steinway Model D new to version 7 of Pianoteq.
What exactly is a state of flow or peak performance zone and how do you get into it? In this video I explain what flow means to me as a teacher and student of fluent musicianship and give some key pointers on how to achieve this elusive state.
As a fluent musician, to learn to play fast notes on the piano, you first need mental dexterity and then you need to be able to let go and play with physical and rhythmic freedom. It is the passive, muscle-memory approach that becomes obsessed with the physical difficulty of fast playing. In reality, strong fingers are a bit of a myth: once you can find and maintain the right mental focus whilst letting go and playing with genuine freedom, fast notes are easy to play.
The groove in music is its underlying rhythmic structure and the main source of musical meaning. It functions just like metre and form in poetry. The meaning of the words in poems are enhanced by musical rhythm. So groove is a kind of musical logic, a natural flow and unfolding that makes music meaningful, accessible, intelligible and also beautiful, dramatic and moving.
In this video I play with futuristic transformations to the Pianoteq’s new J. Salodiensis Virginal 1600 after performing a short piece by Frescobaldi using the instrument in its original faithfully reproduced form.
In this little film, I say a few words about my process as an improviser, then perform a melodic and accessible unplanned improvisation in a contemporary classical style.
Bach’s Prelude in C sharp minor has the most pleasing symmetry and poetry, yet it flows with an improvisatory, natural unfolding. Its lyrical phrases ache with pathos and beauty.
When you know the language of music fluently, you love to discover new music. Whilst it is natural, up to a point, to want to play music we know and love, there can be rather a delusional element to this, if what you are playing sounds less intelligible than you might think…
Chopin’s G minor Ballade is one of those pieces that is played a great deal and often rather mangled by exaggerated rubato and mannered interpretation. I love to reveal the unvarnished truth about music, to reveal its natural patterns and structure. For me, allowing the rhythm and melodic lines to flow with natural flexibility only adds to the extraordinary cathartic beauty of Chopin’s refined yet emotional and virtuoso composition.