Valse No. 3 showed me that sometimes one can be too clever for one’s own good. For some reason, this piece filled me with ideas. I noticed, for example, that Sor had lots of fun with upbeats, sometimes tossing upbeat notes back and forth between the two guitars. So I thought I might make this piece a study in upbeats. One idea led to another, and I decided to keep lengthening the recurring upbeats until the last one nearly stopped the piece in its tracks. It would be fun—or so I thought.
How wrong I was. Listening to the finished recording, I was appalled. Rather than a whimsical tweaking of the tempo, my idea devolved into a demented rhythmic taffy pull. The piece seemed to be fighting against my great interpretive idea.
So I stepped back from the wreckage and decided to let the music speak for itself. Playing it in my head, I noticed the melody had a self-satisfied, almost smug air. Mulling this over, I recalled that smug people aren’t prone to deep self-examination. Happy with surface appearances, they skim along blissfully unaware of the shadows in their character. With this, it became clear why my great idea hadn’t worked. I was imposing something on the piece that was contrary to its nature. The piece didn’t want to be an upbeat study. It didn’t want to be clever. It wanted to be left alone to go its smug and merry way.
Needless to say, I redid the recording. Both the piece and I are happier with the result.