Music I just played for the first time: recorder sonata, tangos

Abby and I went to Henry’s birthday party, marking an important anniversary: we attended his birthday party for the first time a year ago, and that began one of the most important developments in my entire life, my decision to make music playing an integral part of my life.

A lot of music happened, as usual, and this time, unlike a year ago, I played. What a year it’s been!

Handel’s recorder sonata in G minor

I decided to finally give a shot at playing, for the first time outside of home, Handel’s recorder sonata in G minor, op. 1 no. 2, me being on alto recorder and Henry on piano.

This piece is extremely special to me, because I discovered it by accident as one of the first “real” recorder pieces that I started working on when I was just a beginner at recorder. A method book I was using at the time, one and half years ago, in May 2011, by Mario Duschenes, had a section with the title “How to practise a difficult piece”, and the example and suggestions on practice was the Andante from this recorder sonata by Handel. I hunted down the complete score of the recorder sonata and started to learn the whole thing. I did this intermittently over the course of a year or so while doing other things, but always had the intention of at some point polishing it up for actual performance.

The main holdup eventually was that I wanted to be able to really express myself well, and incorporate my own ornamentations. To this end, I made some study of Baroque ornamentation and checked out a book I found in the library, “Playing Recorder Sonatas”, by Anthony Rowland-Jones. I have found this book quite useful as a guide.

Anyway, I had fun reading through this with Henry. Eventually I want to play it for real, as performance, in a setting with harpsichord continuo, rather than with piano.

(Update of 2013-02-23)

I ended up performing the recorder sonata with bass recorder accompaniment at the Pittsburgh Recorder Society’s Midwinter Musical Feast!

Bach’s flute sonata in E minor, BWV 1034

I played music by Johann Sebastian Bach on flute for the first time outside the home. I’ve held back because I feel like I’m still not doing the music justice, but decided I can’t hide forever my love of Bach.

On modern flute with Henry on piano, I played the first movement of Bach’s flute sonata in E minor. I would have considered playing it on Baroque flute, but the piano as well as the the party environment is not friendly for Baroque flute.

(Update of 2013-03-21)

On Bach’s birthday in 2013, I reflected on how the very same recorder method book by Duschenes I mentioned above was the impetus for my getting into Bach flute sonatas!


I played tango on flute for the first time ever.

I did sing tango for the first time recently, and also played tango on melodica for the first time, but had not yet dared to play on flute.

Today, I did, and not only that, one of them ended up becoming a flute-violin duet, in which Barbara (whom I met exactly a year ago at the last birthday party) played violin.

The story is that several months ago, in October, I got hold of a book of tangos for violin duet. I judged that with some modifications I could play the first part on flute, if only I could simultaneously find someone on violin (and someone on piano). The opportunity did not spontaneously arise until today!

First, I played “El Choclo” with just Henry on piano.

Then Barbara joined in on violin and we played “Por una Cabeza” with Henry. This was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. It’s one thing playing duets with Henry, but it’s another having three to really fill in the harmonies and textures and two melodic voices playing off each other. Wow. I need to do this more often. And I have to confess, I never tire of this particular classic tango, because it’s so dramatic and expressive, and has that suddenly shift from major to the lyrical chorus in minor.

More Bach: double violin concerto

Barbara was so excited that she goaded me into trying to sight read Bach’s double violin concerto on the spot together with Henry. I knew I was probably going to cause a minor disaster, but heck, it’s a party, we’re just having fun. And indeed, I got confused or lost many times, because first of all, I’m not so great on flute right now at all, and second, this music was for violin and some stuff was not very suitable for flute and also needed me to go up an octave all of a sudden because the violin has a bigger range. So, it was a struggle for me, but I enjoyed some nice moments in the less frantic slow movement, where the two melodic voices really combine beautifully.

Anyway, it was all in fun, Bach forgive me!


As at all of Henry’s parties, I strive to go to them prepared to do something better and new and interesting musically, for our enjoyment as well as that of the other guests. I had a great time again. I am so grateful for the past year of getting to know Henry and his sharing the gift of music with me!

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