Piano songs are performed best after a balanced music education focusing on the intellect, emotion and technique has been acquired. Performing chords is a good example when the three team-up to deliver it in its best form
"What is it that the performer needs in order to burn the hearts of men by his speech?" - Pushkin
Re-phrased; can a person learn to play the piano in a way that if not to burn at least warm and move the listeners’ hearts a little? A question that an aspiring pianist often ponders.
Technique can be acquired through diligent practice, that much is widely accepted. Is talent the absolute factor that determines whether a performance burns hearts or puts them to sleep? I refuse to believe so. While still far from becoming one, I believe I can deliver a heart-warming performance by getting a getting a music education that educates the intellect and emotions besides the technical know how of coaxing the sound out of a piano.
For example, let us take the phrase shown in Image 1 below, taken from Rondo Alla Turca. Markings signalling loud (forte) and soft (piano) decorate the phrases from time to time varying the tonal quality of the music.
A piano student who has learned and understood the nuances of tonal quality would know to prepare himself emotionally to either play the particular portion of the phrase loud or soft. He then would channel just the right amount of strength from his body through the arms and hands to the fingers which make contact with the keys of the piano to draw out the appropriate level of sound from it.
The intellectual education on the music he has received enabled him to interpret the markings in the phrase, the emotional education allowed him to feel how he needs to channel his energy towards the piano and the technical education made it possible for his body to execute the motions involved to generate the sound. Lower body included if pedalling is considered as well..
Rhythm is another element in music that has to be felt by the emotions for it to be performed well. For example, let us take the phrase shown in Image 2 below, again taken from Rondo Alla Turca.
As the dominating notes in the phrase evolve from semiquavers to quavers, the rhythm evolves with them. Deciphering rhythm is a process that is almost entirely done on the emotional and intellectual level.
Therefore, study the composition in detail to identify the transition in rhythm from one form to another. As you gain more insight into it and begin to express it correctly through your performance, inevitably you will come to appreciate how a composition that is beautiful as a whole is beautiful in every detail.
Performing chords is a fine example of how a balanced music education focused equally on the emotional, intellectual and technical result in its beautiful delivery. A four-note chord for example as shown in Image 3 below, taken from Rondo Alla Turca are not all pressed with an equal amount of strength. To create a layered sound that is much more pleasant to listen to, the upper note is played louder than the rest.
To be able to perform this way, required me to practise playing only the upper note loud. While keeping my hand in position above the notes of the chords, land the rest of the fingers on the remaining notes silently.
With every attempt I brought the 2 actions ( No.1: Play only upper note loud, No.2: Play the remainder of the notes without sound ) closer together until I can produce the desired results of each action combined and simultaneously. After which, only the simple task of inserting a soft sound to the lower notes of the chord is left.