For the past few weeks I have resumed taking long walks with nothing on me but a pair of headphones and a music player; something I have done almost every night through high school and college and that I sacrificed for the miserable subway commute in New York City and the constant stress of being an adult. I really miss the times when I could still afford the time to run away from everything and spend a night listening to Beethoven while staring at the stars or walking down the bank of the Danube crossing bridges randomly.
During these walks with no set route or destination I find that I am able to concentrate much more intensely on the music itself without any distractions that would occur otherwise. It is the closest to a live concert experience one can get. I like to go through a piece several times beginning to end, make up stories to go along and trying to define the feelings that the music awakens. My mind focuses in on fine details of the musical architecture and I am able to actually visualize the form and structure of the composition at large.
It is quite wonderful to have some time up in the Hudson Valley to start preparing for the upcoming concert season. My biggest project will probably be the putting together of my graduation recital, for which I have chosen a theme already and focused in on some pieces, but it is still up in the air which one of those will make it to the actual program. One definite choice is a piece that has been on my radar for a while - by yet another composer who never wrote a solo piece for the bassoon - and I have been waiting for the right timing to put it on a program.
Obermann's Valley from Franz Liszt's piano cycle Years of Pilgrimage. I actually first fall in love with the hungarian title of the cycle "Zarándokévek" and listening to the music absolutely fulfilled my expectations. Some of the most puzzling music Liszt ever put on paper. For this particular movement he chose extensive quotes from Sénancourt's Oberman, Letters, a book he often read and found its descriptions of the Alpine landscapes absolutely fascinating.