The menu is not the meal.
~ Alan Watts
It is a truism that technique and interpretation cannot be fully separated, but my view of technique is even more all-encompassing than what is usually described in technique manuals. It is not a national style or a modern international style – it strives to encompass the possibilities of every style of pianistic interpretation, with an emphasis on the giants of the golden age of pianism. I hope and believe that the path I am following may help lead you more directly toward the ideal of an all-encompassing, powerfully communicative pianism.
I view technique on the most basic level as the art of imagining and achieving a seemingly infinite variety colors, and ultimately, as the art of balancing colors with energy, emotional expression and sensitivity. Technique for me is akin to orchestration – both imagining a pianistic orchestration of a work and achieving that vision in performance. Every color is achieved by a given physical/mental/emotional process. (The emotional side of color can be removed; however, invariably something is lost without its human aspect.)
Technique in essence simply involves moving a key down and lifting the finger back up, thereby releasing the key, or letting the key lift the finger back up by ceasing to press against it. But the number of possible strokes, each with its own distinct color, is astonishing. The numerous ways that various strokes can be combined at various dynamic levels at the same time even within the same hand is even more breathtaking.
Learning a technique comprising only a few different colors is the norm in the piano world, especially in today’s black-and-white reality, and these types of technique can be learned and mastered with relative ease (given 20 years or so of extreme dedication…). But if one is blessed or cursed with an unsatisfied, searching mind that wants to possess all the possibilities of the instrument, a pianistic language will be extremely hard to define and may possibly forever elude him. This is the purpose of these pages – to clarify the pathway of my own pianistic language to myself and possibly help open up students’ eyes to the infinite possibilities of the instrument and to the techniques to achieve a seemingly endless palette of colors at the keyboard.
Like a mathematical equation, the simpler the problem, the easier to define the answer and the more perfect and complete the answer itself. When the equation becomes significantly more complex, the answer sometimes becomes less perfect and very difficult to discover. I search not for perfection, but for truth and for the greatest possible solution to every technical and interpretational challenge.
Each specialized technical approach to the keyboard seems to require a special preparation and mindset. Over the years I’ve found it very difficult at times to change from one pianistic style to another in a short amount of time, but gradually I’ve learned to adapt more quickly, such that now it’s usually instantaneous. It must be remembered that technique at the most basic level simply involves depressing the key, and from this viewpoint, all the various approaches to the piano are very closely related and exist within the same basic physical sphere. The difficulty is obtaining mental and emotional virtuosity and flexibility.
A recurring question to myself regarding technique over the years has been this: Is it possible to develop a technique that encompasses the techniques of all the great pianistic schools while allowing me to slip effortlessly between one technique and another from note to note AND be able to maintain it on a daily basis? Although I have a long way to go, I believe now that the answer, to a great extent, is yes.