Base-Ten, in 3D

"In itself the piano cannot seduce by virtue of its sound alone. The listener can be seduce by the lovely sound of, for example, a violin or an oboe. The piano, on the other hand, is a neutral instrument, and the art of playing it involves a sleight of hand. It is possible to create the illusion of a legato on the piano although, in the physical sense, it is impossible. But is possible to create the illusion of sustained sound similar to that of a string instrument. The most important part of piano-playing is the symphonic element. The music can only be of interest if the differenstrands of the polyphonic texture are played so distinctly that they can all be heard and create a three-dimensional effect--just as in painting, where something is moved into the foreground and something else into the background, making one appear closer to the viewer than the other, although the painting is flat and one-dimensional.


In addition my father communicated something to me that I only found expressed in words when I was an adult--in a book about Franz Liszt in Weimar. It describes how he explained to a pupil that the piano should not be play with two hands or as two units. Either you play with a unit consisting of two hands, or with ten units in which each finger is independent. This is a very important piece of advice. I was really pleased to read that, because I recognized once again what my father had taught me without putting it into words. This is the only way to tackle Bach. One might well imagine a nocturne by Chopin with the melody in the right hand and the accompaniment in the left, without any polyphony. But Bach's keyboard works definitely call for ten fingers that are independent of one another. And if they are, they can be brought together to create a unit."

-Daniel Barenboim, Notes to "The Well-Tempered Clavier Bk. 2"

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