Remembering When...

I Once Had Fingers That Worked

It always has bothered me that I have no recordings of any of the performances I gave in my youth — I suppose we had a short supply of wax cylinders back then. I wasn’t too concerned about it in those days because I always thought I could record the pieces I played at a later date. Of course, back then I couldn’t anticipate having to spend eight years without access to a piano; developing shingles that would affect the dermatones in my right hand; and getting osteomyelitis from a cat bite in the same said appendage. Suffice to say, the only keyboarding I do to any effect these days is at the computer ... I do well to hammer out bad accompaniment to my violin students.

But since no recordings of my piano/organ/harpsichord playing were ever made, it also means no one today will hear how badly I might actually have played. Recently I found a stack of old programs and began reminiscing about the days when my hands more or less worked. I decided to try and find recordings of some of the pieces I did back in the day, just to help remember what once was. The recordings below are done by real musicians, not me. But I dare say I once did play these works in a comparable (or at least semi-recognizable) fashion.

The pieces listed below are those I can remember actually performing in public. Following those are a few others I recall playing quite often, but I’m not certain they ever made it onto a recital program. All are listed basically in alphabetical order by composer.

(While the violin was my primary instrument since childhood, I seemed to be asked to play piano far more often ... maybe that says more about my violin technique than about my keyboard skills. At any rate, here are some of the pieces that stand out from that period — most taken from various recital programs.)

Benjamin Britten - Gemini Variations
(Part 1)
(Part 2)
This was one of the ‘funnest’ pieces I remember performing. It is a quartet for two players, one alternating between violin & piano, the other between flute & piano. I did this on a program with Denise Adams, who played flute and piano. The Youtube recordings here are not as written. While the work was originally a ‘quartet for two players,’ this recording uses four players.

Frédéric Chopin - Nocturne in C# Minor

Aaron Copland - In Evening Air

Claude Debussy - Arabesque No. 1
The only performance I gave that ever garnered me a standing O.

Claude Debussy - Danse

Claude Debussy - Prelude from Pour le piano

Manuel de Falla - Ritual Fire Dance

Richard Faith - Sonata No. 1 for Piano (Lento)
The 3rd movement (Lento) is from 5:34-7:27 on this recording, and for some reason the performer omits the last three measures.

Enrique Granados - Danza española nr. 2

Franz Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6

Franz Liszt - Sposalizio

Willem Pijper - Sonatina No. 1 for Piano

Erik Satie - Descriptions automatiques

Erik Satie - Heures séculaires et instantanées

Erik Satie - Véritables préludes flasques (pour un chien)

Dmitri Shostakovich - Aphorisms, op. 13:
(Part 1)
(Part 2)

Dmitri Shostakovich - Selections from 24 Preludes & Fugues, op. 87:
Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C Major
Prelude No. 7 in A Major
Prelude No. 12 in G-sharp Minor
Prelude No. 16 in B-flat Minor
Prelude No. 19 in E-flat Major
Prelude & Fugue No. 20 in C Minor
Prelude No. 21 in E-flat Major
Prelude No. 23 in F Major

Robert Starer - Hexahedron
Have never found a recording of this work.

(Below are other works that were in my piano repertoire back in the day. I know I used to play them quite often, but I cannot recall whether any were ever on an official ‘program.’)
Béla Bartók - Three Rondos

Ludwig von Beethoven - Sonata No. 9 in E Major, op. 14:
Rondo Allegro Commodo

Ludiwg von Beethoven - Sonata No. 21 in C Major (“Waldstein”):
Allegro con brio

Ludwig von Beethoven - Sonate Pathétique

Enrique Granados - 12 danzas españolas:
No. 1 (Minueto)
No. 2 (Oriental)
No. 3 (Zarabanda)
No. 4 (Villanesca)
No. 5 (Anadalusa-Playera)
No. 6 (Jota-Rondalla Aragonesa)

Enrique Granados - Valses Poeticos:
(Part 1)
(Part 2)

Josef Haydn - Fantasia in C

Franz Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6

Franz Liszt - Soirées de Vienne

W.A. Mozart - Sonata No. 11 in A Major, K. 331:
Allegro moderato
Rondo alla Turca

W.A. Mozart - Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman’

Franz Schubert - Four Impromptus, op. 90 (D. 899):
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4

Franz Schubert - Sonata in A Minor, op. 42 (D. 845):

Franz Schubert - Sonata in G Major, op. 78 (D. 894)):
Molto moderato e cantabile

Franz Schubert - Sonata in C (‘Reliquie’), D. 840:

Robert Schumann - Faschingsschwank aus Wien

Robert Schumann - Papillons:
(Part 1)
(Part 2)

Heitor Villa-Lobos - O Polichinelo

(I studied organ from Louis Culver one summer when I was about 14 years old. I really don’t recall a lot of what I did and rarely played the organ in public. Below are a few pieces I do remember enjoying putting my hands — and feet — to.)

Jehan Alain - Litanies

J.S. Bach - Toccata & Fugue in D Minor

Louis-Claude Daquin - 12 Noëls:
No. 1
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 9
No. 10
No. 12

Théodore Dubois - Alleluia

(Although I endeavored to develop a good harpsichord technique, I rarely got the opportunity to perform on one simply because of the scarcity of the instrument. I recall playing it on one recital in undergrad and, ironically, also the last time I ever played solo keyboard in public. I do not have programs from either event, but below are some of the pieces I’m fairly certain were done on one or the other occasion.)

François Couperin - Les Baricades mistérieuses

Henry Purcell - 8 Harpsichord Suites:
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8

J.N.P. Royer - La Marche des Scythes

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