Why would one want to make a transcription?
Better yet, why can’t one stay away from creating it?
Historically, piano transcriptions served as substitutes for audiences unable to hear the piece in its original instrumentation…or for pompous displays of pianists’ virtuosity.
Today, when recordings of classical music are readily available, and pianists’ abilities, and the difficulty of current repertoire, have surpassed previous expectations, the above reasons are no longer as important.
Thus, personal connection to the piece is more important. The transcriber is moved by the piece, haunted by it. It is an obsession. The transcriber wants to possess the piece and interact with it on his own. Listening to it on a recording, which never changes and often loses the spark of a live performance, is insufficient.
Next week I am going to present my brand new transcription of Rachmaninoff’ Cello Sonata in the intimate hall of Boca Raton’s Steinway Gallery.
One reason for transcribing this work is that I want to reflect about 14 years of experience, and frustration, performing this piece, having no more need to hide behind the subtle cello part (sorry cellists, I still love you), but being able to deliver it along with the complex and sonorous piano lines, which usually fly by almost whispered.
I am nervous, as this will be the first time for me to be on stage along with this music – alone and free. And so, I am happy.