celebrating stella’s anniversary

Jan 21, 2021 | The Choir Diary

Stella Pradeau is Cantabile’s cherished and extraordinarily talented collaborative pianist.
It’s been a year since I slipped and fell on the ice breaking my right hand. It’s been almost a year since the surgery that pinned and plated my bones together to help them heal straight and strong. What a crazy thing to have happen to me! And how can so many things have changed in these past months?
I approached my rehabilitation with a somewhat positive attitude and a lot of motivation. It was slow going. I dutifully kept my hand therapy appointments—with a great gal by the name of Mitzi—and, as befits a pianist, approached my exercises with discipline. But, oh my, I was so ill prepared for how an injury of this type takes much time to heal—is still taking time to heal even now—and I quickly felt overcome and very sad.
Scriabin filled those first weeks. I worked on his prelude for left hand, written for the composer himself as he dealt with a hand injury. I began slow, tedious five finger exercises in my right hand at the 6-week mark—I couldn’t even play legato at first! It was slow going.
Now I’m playing. During this pandemic, making music is a sweet pleasure for me. With the extra time and no demands for concerts/rehearsals/other things, I am able to practice pieces I am drawn to and I am able to work at leisure, not pushing my right hand too far and taking it as it comes. It is a blessing that I am grateful for every day. No expectations, no demands—just time to continue my rehabilitation.
I do miss making music with Cantabile. After so many years as a choral collaborator, the pure, clear sound of human voices blending together is just about as close as Heaven comes…after the 88 black and white keys, of course!
In the video I am sharing, I chose to pair a Scriabin prelude with a Bach prelude. Scriabin was an easy choice; I have played many of his preludes these past months, upon the recommendation of a good friend/colleague, and have come to love his harmonies and colors. Fortunately, Scriabin, probably because of his own hand injury, wrote many things that are easy on the right hand! Bach, simply put, is fantastic therapy for my hand. At the beginning of summer, I worked through all his inventions. Good stuff. Very good for the mind and soul. Very good for the hand and fingers.
I especially like this pairing because of the harmonic relationship: Scriabin’s prelude (g# minor) features a simple, melancholy melody suspended over rich, colorful left hand harmonies. The ending is one huge crescendo into a defiant Major V chord (D# Major.) The Bach prelude (from the Partita in B-flat Major) is sweet and warm with lovely lines weaving in and out of each other. I love this relationship of ending the Scriabin on a suspended D# major harmony (enharmonically, E-flat) and then gently beginning the Bach prelude in B-flat major. I delight in this IV-I relationship, also known as the Amen cadence, between the resilient, powerful ending of the Scriabin and the gentle, sweet Bach prelude. Enjoy!