Darn you, Joseph Haydn.
Ok, so it's been eight years since I've had your F-minor Piano Variations in my fingers, and even longer since I have performed it in front of actual people. When I slap the Urtext up on the rack, it seems familiar enough. The notes and hints I scribbled all over the music help to jog my memory:
No accent here.
More precise rhythm here.
Close your hand.
Free but not "floaty".
Keep the integrity of the two voices.
Shape this phrase more.
Less detached here.
Slowly it comes back but I have trouble executing the turns, the mordents, the trills, the grace notes - all those Mozart-wanna-be ornaments. Oh, I can hear them in my head, elegantly blending in perfectly with other notes in the phrase. I just can't seem to make my fingers do what I want them to do, and I realize that eight years is plenty long enough to lose one's skill.
After two hours of practicing, it has become apparent that my hand span has shrunk considerably and the tendonitis in my right bicep has indeed not faded away with time.
Will this piece make the final cut for the recital I have to give in five months? Maybe. Maybe not, if I do better on the Brahms Intermezzi. Or the Debussy Suite Bergamasque. Or the old, reliable Chopin Nocturnes and Preludes.
Excuse me while I go hunt down some ibuprofen.