The last time I played Schubert's Variations on "Trockne blümen" (Dead Flowers), I was a senior at Oberlin. I couldn't, as my teacher could, recite Baudelaire verses from memory. I hadn't lived in a big city; I had never been in love. Picking this score back up, nearly a decade later, feels something like karma. My original markings are still in my part: the cadenza at the end of the introduction should be "meditative" - but don't push the tempo! Save the air! Use the bridge (code for ring finger of the right hand)! Feel the weight of the appogiatura! (no doubt dashed down from a coaching with M. Debost) The tonalities make more sense now - somehow I can hear, between the staves, the mourning.
One might ask: why, after such time, are you picking it back up?
Punishment. I have been, for the last few years, neglecting my roots. It's not to say that I've forgotten how to play traditional repertoire, but rather that I've shifted my gaze. It's humbling, however, to know that I can still analyze harmonic motion, intuit the gestures: all has not been lost. In fact, the time away has lent a certain bittersweetness, with the ghosts of my Russian accompanist - fingers and pedal flying - and French flute maître sighing in the back of the small recital hall. Have I lived enough to give this piece its proper due? I'm thrilled to get into the studio with Tyler Wottrich to lay down this piece, however it resonates for the both of us.
© 2017 Martha Cargo