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The pianist as conductor, choreographer, and singer (Mozart Andante, Sonata in C Major, K. 545)

The famous, “drawing room” Sonata K. 545 in C Major, has a very singable middle movement that moves along in walking pace, marked Andante. Most piano students like to think of such a tempo designation as painfully slow, but that’s not the spirit Mozart intended. He was infatuated with melody but it didn’t need to be funereal to woo listeners into a divine musical universe.

To be sure, taking a moderate, breezy walk through a park, humming this second movement, strollers would be enchanted by a lyricism that is permeated by threads of heart-fluttering harmonic shifts.

Conductors and choreographers would likewise respond, expressing the poignancy of the harmonic rhythm in physical motion.

That’s why a natural inclination to “conduct” the Andante while singing it is a teaching option. It’s a lot simpler than being two people in one at the piano bench which is physically impossible. Yet the player can “orchestrate,” direct, prompt, and sing inside of himself, “feeling” the pull of melody and its underpinning harmony. He can taper phrases, heed the effect of chord combinations and resolutions and “dip” under them with a “choreography” that may not be fixed in time like a Balanchine ballet, but can still deftly “realize” the organic ins-and-outs of the music as it spins out. (operatically)

To breathe life into these assertions, I’ve uploaded two You Tube videos. In the first, I flesh out the shape of lines, the “feel” of motion, and the drift of harmony in Mozart’s Andante. (encompassing ways to “choreograph” phrases)

In the second I’m conducting a student who practices the middle movement and responds well to a physical and singable music framing.

Play Through:


El Cerrito and Berkeley Piano Studios
Lessons: Privately and by Skype

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