Chaconne #14 – Private Concert NY NY

This performance was part of a larger program of chamber music at the home of two wonderful music lovers on the West Side.

I was bugged that I did not have time in our pre-performance rehearsal to run the opening a few times – but in fact it started out ok. Over the last month or so of *not* playing the piece (Wagner’s Ring operas and Handel Julius Ceasare at the MET) the independence, clarity and flow of the bass line in the theme and the first dotted-rhythm variations has taken shape.

The overall Arch of the work felt intact: kept the first section cadence in d minor from being too big and felt that the cadence in D major had it rightful peak – leaving me lots of room to unwind the energy and dynamic in the return to the minor. I also tried whipping the tempo back in the groove at mm149 and that seemed to work as well.

There were a number of fascinating comments from listeners afterwards that I hope will appear on this blog – comments about Divinity of Mathematics (Newton), and “…the human, spiritual tumblers aligning…” words to that effect.

6 thoughts on “Chaconne #14 – Private Concert NY NY”

  1. Pure mathematicians fall in two camps…those who believe they are discovering divine structures laid out by God and those (like myself) that believe that mathematics is a very human projection of humanity onto a limitless universe. When I heard Shem play the Chaconne last night I first became deeply meditative and then began to consider Bach’s almost timeless singular genius. The space and musical possibilities unlocked in the arches of the music were staggering and could well make one think of a full organ work, but ultimately to me the work signified the awesome power of human creation. Bach opened many doors for the first time. Shem’s playing was entrancing.

  2. An extraordinary composition played with remarkable artistry. At first I found myself moved literally to tears. And as the playing progressed I was amazed at the patterns being spun, morphing beyond the repititions. As another audience member remarked, and I agreed, the music actually seemed edgy and modern. What a great treat to hear. Thanks for your virtuoso performance, which gave me a newly found respect for Bach.

  3. Charles Adelman

    Shem: Where to begin? With a paradox. How can the same work be both profoundly sad and incredibly joyous? How can it engender both tears and elation at the same time? I think it is because this towering work of genius communicates something essential about what it means to be human, about the human spirit. It makes us dream about the perfectibility of humanity, of what mankind is capable of achieving. I think I told you that hearing this music is like experiencing tumblers falling into place in a great celestial lock, or like perceiving the solution to a great equation of the universe. I do believe that the brain is prewired in some fundamental way, that there are networks of neurons that able to respond to the mathematical possibilities embodied in the frequencies of sound, that perhaps there is an unspoken language that we are evolving towards, and that we respond so deeply to works like the Chaconne because they express our deepest yearnings in that language that we may some day understand. What would happen if everyone on earth heard this music at the same time . . . .?

  4. Wow thank you everyone, for these beautiful words! I should add that in this performance I did feel successful, for the most part, in “emptying my mind” and allowing the music to “play me”, as it were…and your responses are encouraging to me: they suggest that the notion behind my Journey of 100 is truly meaningful. Sincerely, with appreciation for All,


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