Sunday freestyle playlist: Halloween edition

Peter Lorre and the Beast With Five Fingers

Since today is Halloween, I went up into the attic to find the score for my favorite piece of horror movie piano music …

  • J. S. Bach/J. Brahms:  Chaconne (arranged for the left hand alone). Back in my sophomore year in college, I got tendinitis in my right wrist and had to rest it for a few weeks.  During the hiatus, I learned Brahms’ left-hand-only transcription of the famous Bach chaconne in d.  Not that long afterward, I happened to catch the schlocky 1946 horror movie “The beast with five fingers”.  I won’t go into the details, but the plot is about a disabled concert pianist:  his right side is paralyzed.  After his accidental death, his severed left hand goes on a killing spree.  The pianist’s signature work is the Bach-Brahms chaconne, and Max Steiner’s score uses it liberally throughout.  Every time the horrible hand is about to kill again, it starts playing the chaconne, which is a neat trick to do with no arm attached (see photo above, with Peter Lorre watching in amazement and horror).
  • Brahms:  Intermezzo in E-flat, Op. 117, No. 1. As long as I had the Brahms book out, I thought I’d calm things down with this lovely intermezzo that I played on my senior recital years ago.
  • Scriabin:  Sonata No. 9 (“The Black Mass”). Keeping with the Halloween theme, I noodled around with Scriabin’s “black mass” sonata.  But all those piu vivo‘s are a bit more than I can handle.
  • Scriabin:  Vers la flamme, Op. 72. And again, a trip down memory lane to a piece I played on my senior recital.  This is another one I might try to resurrect fully.
  • Granados:  “Quejas ó La Maja y el ruiseñor”, from Goyescas.  I found my copy of Goyescas in the attic when I was searching for the Bach-Brahms.  This is the only one of the pieces that I can manage (they are super-challenging), but fortunately it is also my favorite of the set.

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