Sharpening the ear - and the fingers - with Beethoven

This post emerges from frustration with Mondays. I always feel ready to get up and accomplish a bunch of things on Monday morning (no, really), but I've had trouble getting myself into musical shape after the weekend. Emails, paperwork, etc. go swimmingly, but heaven forbid I try to dig into the Liszt sonata or some Prokofiev. 

Partly, the fingers seem a little sluggish, which makes sense after a day of not playing. (I take my Sundays seriously.) More than that, though, my musical ear seems fast asleep. I can play something that feels quite normal, but sounds dead, stilted, or just plain awkward. 

Providentially, I re-discovered the Beethoven concerti this summer. As a side effect of deciding to polish up my concerto repertoire, I found that after working through a Beethoven concerto - any Beethoven concerto - for an hour or so, my ears finally wake up and pay attention. There is something truly incredible about these pieces which I feel like I'm just now experiencing. Beethoven seems to find the perfect balance of refinement, power, precision, and tenderness. Each piece has its own charm and joy, and there are so many moments where you can't help but stop and give thanks for such transcendent beauty. 

So...feeling sluggish? Need a lift? Find a Beethoven concerto and indulge.