Contrast really means something to those of us who enjoy classical music. The carefully constructed essence of music is the growth and movement between the various emotional plateaus of the composition. This is where the listener derives enjoyment, knowing that Beethoven, Stravinsky or Leonard Bernstein is in the driver's seat and that while we perhaps have a frame of reference for the adventure, we still don't completely know how the journey will proceed or end.
The board of the San Antonio International Piano Competition made sure that there would be plenty of contrast in their 2012 competition by requiring that the contestants had to play music from both the baroque and romantic periods. I'm sure that some pianists were annoyed, having already decided their recitals and then having to re-arrange their programs.
It makes more of a difference than you might think.
I remember a friend of mine came down from North Texas to perform here in San Antonio and was dismayed to find that their program notes were printed out of order. Rather than announce the program change from the stage, he instead went with it and had trouble all through the first half of the concert.
Once the nerve-racking beginning was over, the second half went beautifully, and he showered us with encores by Alexander Scriabin, but the damage was done and the reviewers were gone.
As you can see from this example, what little order an artist can bring with them to something as stressful as a recital or competition can make a big difference.
Last week, music on The Piano was all Bach, and this week we move to all romantic with some J.S. Bach that might be the most ardent of all.
More from the preliminary rounds of the 2012 San Antonio International Piano Competition on The Piano this Sunday evening at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.
- Find out more about the piano competition online at: www.saipc.org