Ah, the Polonaise. From an earlier post I mentioned how much trouble I've been having while trying to play the Polonaise pompously --- or rather more in a manner befitting a dance piece with roots in military processions --- and as this clip will attest, I'm still struggling.
While recording, I thought about an encounter I had at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City while I was visiting this past December. I went to the Met to see the exhibition of the Baroque Tapestries Threads of Splendor and the Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche to facilitate my study of Bach's music by immersion in some of the artworks from his time. I spent a delightful morning at the Met and even had time to take in the beautiful new Ancient Near Eastern Art galleries. Perhaps I dawdled too long admiring the classical proportion of the statues and drinking in the glorious light that illuminates these galleries, because when I went to retrieve my coat --- the line for the coat check was discouragingly long. However, as luck would have it, my wait seemed short as I had the good fortune to strike up a conversation with an intelligent man from Vancouver. We had visited the same galleries and a lively discussion regarding our views ensued. I mentioned that I went to the Baroque Tapestries exhibition because I was currently studying Bach. He said that the Tapestries seemed old fashioned to him, but Bach's music sounds fresh to his ears and sometimes very modern. He asked me why was that. I replied that as we learned from the Tapestries catalog, the tapestries were made for the glory of Kings and Dukes highlighting their prowess in battle, showcasing their magnificent wealth and sometimes were created and displayed to humble viewers of less exalted status. My line companion murmured - ah yes, shock and awe....I agreed, but then countered that Bach wrote his music for the glory of God, not the glory of man --- so which art stands a better chance of withstanding the test of time - works for God or works for man?
So back to my attempts to record Bach's Polonaise. In my mind I saw the Tapestries --- not their beauty, nor the almost unimaginable skill and artistry to took to create the images, but the pomposity of the subject manner. Horrid battle scenes, Kings slaying their enemies with no blood on their hands, the materialistic splendor of their estates --- and tried to express these ideas in my playing. Perhaps I went to far and this rendition of the piece does not do justice to its charm. All in all an interesting experiment. More experiments forthcoming...