There is simply no replacement for the alchemical compound of dissatisfaction and regular, keep-going-no-matter-what practising. If I keep going, it gets better, though rarely on the same day.
Yesterday, I felt that my playing was going to stay heavy and wooden. This afternoon I felt the same as I was in the midst of my “power hour” (playing through the complete Braun in this case) and pondered a call to my repairman (he is magical). But tonight, suddenly the clouds separated and some lightness came to my playing, revealing some new levels of technical fleetness.
Sometimes I have to be very self-centred to get the time that allows me to keep playing until the transformation takes place. After all these years, I know that my technique will always eventually become buoyant and responsive in the service of my particular lyricism, but it is usually a long gritty road to get there. The irritants eventually produce the nacreous pearl but only if I have the time to stay in contact with the bassoon. And when that happens, I return to all the music that needs that special air-lift, staying up far too late playing music that has nothing to do with the immanent project.
This is one of the many ways that I prepare for recording. Thank goodness for stretches of time and the dissatisfaction that keeps me going.