Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gyorgy Kurtag's Glissando-only Perpetuum Mobile

Gyorgy Kurtag's Perpetuum Mobile from his Games for Piano series (played by the composer on this video) initially looks simple, but in fact requires a great deal of accuracy in finding the top and bottom of each glissando, as well as a sensitivity to hand distribution, velocity, and pedal sonorities. What many pianists would find most difficult about playing this piece is not the start and end note accuracy, but the wear and tear on the backs of the fingers, which could end up torn and bleeding without proper glissando techniques. Take a careful look at Kurtag's playing and you'll find that he uses several contact points that enable him to get through unscathed:

1) fingernails, but only on the nail and not as far as the tender cuticle skin
2) the side of the 5th finger, including the outer side of the hand
3) the fronts of the fingers on the opposite side to the fingernail

Make sure you watch the ending!

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