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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On Russian music and throwing metronomes,
with classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? ' Dear Alice,

I'm not much of a pianist, but I enjoy trying! Anyway, I was working my way slowly and carefully through Fur Elise when my husband came in and told me pompously that I was playing it 'too rhythmically'. He said that Fur Elise is not supposed to be played in strict time, but rather to express a lot of emotion. Right now, the emotion I'm feeling is the desire to throw the metronome at somebody, but Fur Elise doesn't express that at all ... Could you suggest a more suitable piano piece for this emotion?

LF, Virginia

Ask Alice

Alice Dear L,

Well, there must be one, but I definitely agree that Fur Elise isn't it. What you want is the kind of piece PG Wodehouse famously wrote about in The Voice from the Past :

Muriel was playing the piano when Sacheverell came into the drawing room. She was interpreting a work by one of those Russian composers who seem to have been provided by Nature especially with a view to soothing the systems of young girls who are not feeling quite themselves. It was a piece from which the best results are obtained by hauling off and delivering a series of overhand swings which make the instrument wobble like the engine-room of a line; and Mureil, who was a fine, sturdy girl, was putting a lot of beef into it.

Perhaps someone more au fait with the pianistic repertoire could suggest an appropriate (possibly Russian?) work for the purpose.
(Hang on to your metronome in the meantime ...)

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Copyright © 12 September 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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