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In a performance it is not necessary to point out every single interesting detail of the music to the audience like a mad professor with a laser pen. In fact, what often works well is picking one really special moment and doing something musically magical with it, leaving the rest as simple as possible. If some special effect happens in every second of the music, it all begins to sound the same.

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While Carnegie Hall would never think of forcing a performing artist to play from memory, competitions and auditions - that give student musicians an important first step in the profession - frequently insist that their repertoire be performed from memory.

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For part two of my blog mini-series on recording I thought I’d go behind the scenes and offer you some helpful hints and tips based on what I’ve learned from the recordings I’ve done so far - both with Linn and the BBC.

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During recent weeks I’ve been planning the next Prince Consort album for Linn and I’ve noticed a lot of musical parallels in differences between film and studio recording and theatre and live performance. So for my next few blog posts, I’ve decided to open the door on what goes on at a professional recording, besides eating biscuits and swearing.

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As a musician you can be performing in the most nerve-racking of situations, such as an all-Schubert recital at a capacity Wigmore Hall, and not really feel nervous at all; yet you can give a three minute performance for a small local event in the presence of three people, two Yorkshire Terriers and next door’s cat, and get inexplicably nervous.

But how do top performers deal with these inner demons?

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Last year I was lucky enough to work with British pianist, composer and polymath Stephen Hough in a project with the Prince Consort, in which he featured both as composer and performer.

I spoke to him recently to find out what, for Stephen, were the keys to composition?

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I’ve worked with my vocal group, The Prince Consort, for over a decade and I’ve learned a few things about the secret world of the piano accompanist.

Tom Service wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian on this topic a few weeks ago, and as a piano accompanist myself - or collaborative pianist as they are known in the US - it was great to read an article from our perspective.

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I’ve been having some jazz piano lessons recently in preparation for a project I’m working on in 2013 with The Prince Consort and British jazz pianist Jason Rebello…

When I had my first session, I was quite obsessed with which notes I should play on which chords and how I could create melodic figures out of nowhere. But one of the main things that Jason talked about was jazz ‘feel’…

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A few weeks ago there was an article in The New Yorker about the French pianist Hélène Grimaud. In the interview she talks about how she practises in her head away from the piano, and that for a recent recording she had to play the pieces through just a few times at the instrument, and she was ready to go. The journalist, evidently dazzled by this, reported that her preparation for the recording session ‘only took about twenty minutes’ with Grimaud leaving for dinner saying nonchalantly, ‘Let’s keep it fresh for tomorrow.’

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