Bob asked in one of the last Blogs how my Reger went last week. The situation was that I tried to force myself to learn music which I have to play respectively record next year.
And when I was asked to play a solo recital for the Cancer Research Institute in Heidelberg on Dec 16, I put in the first half the 1st and 3rd Suites by Max Reger and the 3rd Bachsuite. None of these works I had ever played, and as usually I had started practising them far too late. I had intended to start in November, but my laziness was stronger than my conscience, and when I flew to Vancouver on Nov 30, I had only learned the Bach, nothing from the Reger pieces.
In Vancouver I was with my son because his mother couldn’t take care of him – no time to practice there. So when I got back on December 6 at night, I had to sit down and learn this hard to memorize music. When I played the two suites for a friend on Dec 15 at noon, I didn’t manage at all to get even half through, it was an utter embarrassment.
Instead of taking it easy the day before the concert I worked until 11 pm that night, trying to stuff the music into my brain. On the 5 hour train-ride from Berlin to Heidelberg I went through the pieces in my mind, which was hard, because I fell constantly asleep (I had taken the train departing at 7:20 am). But I got really scared during the 4-hour-practice before the concert, because I realized that the piece was not really in my fingers nor in my brain – had to stop constantly and check with the music.
I expected the worst for the first half, since even the Bach was not bullet-proof-memorized. How to solve a situation like this? Follow the game plan: no quick tempi, give yourself time to be able to think constantly ahead, because as soon as you are climbing from note to note, you are doomed. And when I went on stage, I was so calm in my mind that together with the highest level of concentration I managed to get through the first half without major memory slips.
And most amazingly: People loved this strange Reger music, they were hooked from the first note on, which might have to do exactly with the amount of concentration I had to use in order to stay alive. I would have loved to have my brainwaves checked during an “on-the-edge”-performance like this, must have been a frenzy of brain activity there…
In the second half I had to play an old war-horse, the Kodaly Solosonata for which I had spent the smallest amount of time; an there, in the first movement, I had the biggest memory black out since I play the piece – I think I jumped three lines because I had no idea which notes to play. In my desperation I slid to the next known place which was far later than I intended to.
And who realized? I hope nobody…