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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: If you were asked to perform something at the last minute, would you choose a slow or fast piece?

November 13, 2009 at 9:20 PM

So I got asked at the last minute to play a solo for church, something slow and melodic.

Of course, slow and melodic is great on the old Gagliano, and I love the chance to take it for a ride, especially with such a wonderful pianist. But to be honest, when it's "prepare something for tomorrow," I think that getting something quick-ish and full of notes together is easier. What do you think? Can you remember having to perform a solo at the last minute? And what feels more comfortable in that situation, playing a slow, melodic piece, or something up-tempo, with a lot of notes?

Please vote, and use the comments section below to share with us your last-minute experiences, insights and funny stories.


From Mendy Smith
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 3:23 AM

Unfortunately, the last time I had to play something at the last minute was at my grandfather's funeral.  It was Elegie by Veuxtemps.  I don't hink I could have managed anything with more notes even if I was prepared. 

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 11:58 AM

 I agree with you--something quickish and full of notes.  Also, melodic, in a comfortable key, and nothing above 3rd position.  Something like a Handel sonata, or an arrangement of Bach.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 1:03 PM

"Already in the fingers."

From Terez Mertes
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 3:45 PM

 >Can you remember having to perform a solo at the last minute?

In a bad dream. : /

Fortunately (or not), my skills will not put me at this level or quandary for some time to come. 

From Rachael Knapp
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 5:59 PM

 In my experience, something slow and melodic is easier to put together quickly, as long as I already have a good feeling for the piece and how it goes.

From Alayna Faulkenberg
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 6:00 PM

Something that moves along a bit and has an easy melody that falls into the fingers and the ear quickly. depending on just how short notice I usually look for something that doesnt go higher than 6th pos., bumbling along in the stratosphere isn't fun...I also turn back to the Suzuki books, if the occassion will allow, those are usually easy to bring back to life.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 14, 2009 at 10:20 PM

I've always liked slow, melodic tunes better than quick stuff.  Playing slow music can be harder because it's easier for the audience to hear your mistakes.  In a run of fast notes, mistakes don't linger.  I use the Classical Fakebook frequently for quick preparation.  There's something in there for everyone who likes classical music.  I keep a playlist of pieces that I've played a lot, and that's a big help, too.

From Christiano Cruz
Posted on November 15, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Last summer at Bowdoin International, I lost track of my performance day. As I went to see a friend performing I was surprised to see my name listed in the program a few names down after the very performance I was attending. I run back in my apartment, changed, and came back straight to the back stage area. I had a total of fifteen minutes to open my case, direct myself to the stage, and warm-up. In a brake period  of 30 minutes I went out and in (through different doors) the stage, and there a was facing the audience listening the introduction of Chausson's Poeme. Surprisingly enough, I felt it was one of my best performances so far this year, but I think that the fact the piece is so expressive in the very beginning, that gave me time to relax and be able to perform the rest of it well. I believe if I was to play something faster from the beginning, I wouldn't be feeling as happy with that performance as I was! But I guess it depends from one person to the other right?

From Anna Meyer
Posted on November 15, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Two years ago my youth orchestra was asked to perform an extra piece at our concert at the last minuet. We got the piece the same day as the concert and practised maybe 4 times. Thankfully it was easy and we did it well.

Another time, my orchestra had just done a greta performance in a concert and we recived such enthusiastic clapping that the conductor decided to have us repeat one mvt. from the symphony we played. He mouthed the number of the mvt. and I thought it was mvt. 4 not mvt. 3. So to be sure I had to ask the violinists in front of me. Perhaps not the most professional way but better to do so that to play the wrong mvt. ;)

If I had to play at last minuet I´d play Brahms.Hungarian Dance nr. 2

From Laurie Niles
Posted on November 15, 2009 at 10:20 PM

It's true, anything "already in the fingers," no matter what it is, is better. I played my little solo at church, I guess the Beethoven Romanze was already in my fingers, but more interestingly, I swear to you that it was already in the fiddle. I'd never played  this piece on my Italian fiddle, and it was really a joy to do so. Still, it's such a bare-naked piece, reminds me a lot of the concerto in certain respects!

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