classissima,, Denis Foreman, Mozart, Mozart piano sonatas, Mozart Sonata in Bb K. 281, Murray Perahia, piano, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano sonatas, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Practicing a Mozart Andante movement, using a “singing pulse”

Murray Perahia clarified the “singing pulse” when he discussed a form of rubato, or flexible time that he believed could apply to Classical era repertoire. In an interview conducted by Sir Dennis Forman in the 1980s, the pianist, known as a formidable musical poet of his generation, discussed the Mozart Concerto No. 21 in C, interspersing playing samples. Some he imparted at the Bosendorfer, while others were streamed in from Perahia’s rehearsal with a European chamber orchestra.

(Unfortunately this treasured exchange has been taken out of circulation)


Perahia’s artistry has been a pervasive influence on me. In the realm of phrasing, his vocal model playing is my learning springboard through layered stages and I carry it over into my teaching. In particular, I had applied his mantra to the middle movement of Mozart Sonata K. 281, to gain insights about phrase shaping and contouring. Even by counting in ONE beat per measure (with a 3/8 time signature) I still managed to make space for responses to harmonic shifts, modulations, deceptive cadences and metrical variations involving triplet figures and two against three.

The videos below demonstrate the aforementioned singing pulse approach to practicing and what can be gained from it.

Add Murray Perahia playing Mozart’s Sonata in A minor, K. 310, Andante for a glimpse of his artistry. (This Sonata movement is more complex than the Andante Amoroso, and has its own distinctly impassioned character)

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