Back in August 2012, a student came to me asking for help with a piano audition, including what music to play for it. A Romantic work was needed, so I went poking through Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, with which I am entirely unfamiliar, for a nice work for her to learn. In my browsing on IMSLP, Wikipedia, and YouTube, I stumbled upon this track:
(Performed by Håkon Austbø.)
PLEASE LISTEN TO THE WHOLE TRACK BEFORE READING ON; MY NEXT COMMENTS ADDRESS THE SPECIFIC EFFECT THAT THE END OF THIS WORK MAY HAVE ON ITS FIRST-TIME LISTENERS.
I was gripped. My heart and mind fused. Music, the perfect blend of logic and emotion: I was in tears (not physical ones; it’s almost impossible for me to cry). I was brought into a puny, introspective ball of myself and my own life history, due to the way that the piece does NOT invoke happiness… but instead entreats for a faint, distant memory of happiness.
And then it abruptly finished—swiftly and quietly, with no trace of anything left, as if every time when the piece ends: a spirit leaves the Earth.
I longed for more. I couldn’t stand hearing it as is. It is an unfinished piece! The pain of such gorgeous triplets in a tiny fragment of a melody, less than three seconds long, being obscured forever from humanity due to its minuscule length was a horror in my mind. So I sought to resolve this matter.
Hearing this haunting, fleeting dumka of a work impelled me to write an extension to it, which I began on September 18, 2012, during my flight from Los Angeles to Dresden. I then forgot about it due to that competition in Germany; and when I later did remember, I simply became lazy about completing it. This went on for many months until a dear friend resurrected my original fascination with the work; I’ve since completed it and dedicated it to her because of her encouragement.
What my work does is add 56 measures to the 48-measure piece, continuing exactly from the original ending into an original “B” section, which revolves around the V of I (which is G Major, as the piece is in C Major). I planned from the very start for it to roll into a climax (after which the rest of the piece would recall parts of Grieg’s original material), so the climactic area (mm. 71-72) was actually written a long time before the bars leading into it. I tried somewhat to mimic Grieg’s writing in keeping with some of his textures, but its heartfelt passion was by far the most important element—which is indicated by my suggested, parenthetical final chord.
Here is a very bad recording of me playing it yesterday. I think I was just trying to be careful, as I haven’t practiced in months due to my thumb injury, but whatever the reason is: you can hear how maintaining a flat tempo completely kills the energy of the music. It truly needs to be Allegretto and not any bit slower; Håkon Austbø is the only one who achieves this perfectly.
Click the triangle/text below to play my recording of my work:[mp3j track=”http://www.joshuachandra.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Grieg-Melodie.mp3″ title=”Grieg’s Melodie, Op. 38, No. 3, extended” style=”bigger3″]
Actually, I feel it should best be played by setting an agitated left hand against a lazy right hand. Next time!