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Karen Allendoerfer

Desensitizing myself

October 2, 2012 at 6:23 PM

I'm preparing to play this piece for a small audience this Sunday. The piece is called Simchas Torah, the 3rd movement of the Baal Shem Suite by Ernest Bloch.

According to the Ernest Bloch Society website, the work is dedicated to the memory of Bloch's mother Sophie, and is inspired by Israel ben Eliezer and the Swiss violinist, André de Ribaupierre, who gave the first complete public performance of the suite in 1924.

This movement is named after the Festival of Simchas Torah (“Rejoicing in the Law”), which marks the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle (This year it is on October 8). It also has the opening motifs of the popular Yiddish song Di Mezhinke Oisgegaybn (“The Youngest Daughter Married Off”) by the Polish composer Mark Warshavsky.

I have rehearsed once with the piano, and it went okay, but could have gone better. I have another rehearsal with him on Saturday. I want to get to the point mentally where the thought of playing it in front of people is not freaking me out. I've found with past recordings that once I've recorded something and put it out there and other people have heard it, warts and all, I don't feel as stressed about a performance. So, I've recorded myself, below, and am posting it here:

This is probably the hardest solo piece I've ever tried to play, and it's very high. That's part of why I chose to work on it. That and because I think the melodies are very interesting and beautiful.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 2, 2012 at 6:31 PM
Here is a recording by Axel Strauss, with pianist Solon Gordon.

I like his tempos and his interpretation. As one of the commenters says, full of color and passion.

From jean dubuisson
Posted on October 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM
hi Karen, great piece to work on. my initial reaction on your video is that it seems too rushed. take your time and give each note its value! the idea is to play slower but without lowering the tempo. that sounds impossible but you probably understand what is meant by it, the idea of "make time your friend not your enemy".
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 2, 2012 at 7:16 PM
Jean, that's interesting because my initial tempo is slower than what's marked or what I find on most of YouTube. So I agree you must be talking about something more subtle, more like the character of the piece than the actual tempo. It's the same thing that happens to me when speaking in public, I don't want to take my time because I'm kind of nervous and really just want to get out of the spotlight and sit down, and that feeling comes through.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on October 3, 2012 at 1:40 AM
Bravo!!!!! I love your left hand frame. So relaxed! You'll do great.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Thanks, Mendy!
From Maurice Gatewood
Posted on October 3, 2012 at 5:46 PM
I love the Baal Shem I used to play the suite a lot been thinking about dusting it off.Concerns regarding steady tempo are valid of course but this music should also have an impovisatory feel to it also so feel free to let the music broaden and breath where it feels natural.Like a lot of folks I often performed the Nigun as a concert piece by itself but I think the Simchas Torah works just fine as a stand alone piece also. I'm excited for you have fun! -M

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