John Earnest can play piano but needs to relax his wrist


A young man called John Earnest has allegedly shot several people at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego, California. One person has reportedly been shot dead and several people injured.

Given that Earnest has allegedly released a manifesto which contains multiple nationalist talking points, it is important to reinforce that The XYZ does not condone violence of any kind.

Although we must challenge globalist power structures, and ultimately victory for nationalists will not be achieved through democratic means, our course of action must be peaceful. Starve the beast that is international banking, remove yourself from the degeneracy of globalist culture and foster physical networks of likeminded European people.

One aspect about the alleged shooter has so far been ignored in mainstream media coverage of the incident; John Earnest is a pianist, and a video recording of him performing Frederic Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu is currently circulating on the internet. Although it has been shut down on YouTube, the video has been uploaded to several smaller video sharing sites.

Here is the performance.

My motivation for writing this brief critique is to counter the possibility that fake news about Earnest’s performance may spread via the internet, both from certain elements in the nationalist community who could seek to lionise Earnest’s actions and his playing, and from people in the hard left classical music scene who will attempt to dismiss his ability on the basis of his alleged crime.  Thus it is vital that a proper analysis of his performance is put on public record to help piece together an accurate picture of the alleged shooter.

So, let’s talk about what he does well. He starts very effectively, with the subito forte on the opening G sharp octave disappearing into the smooth left hand accompaniment which sounds like it emerges from the depths.

When the right hand gets going he plays smoothly and fluently, with a good balance of the hands. He brings out the memorable melody at bar 13 and correctly shifts it from the thumb to the fifth finger at bar 17.

He alters the mood effectively in the gentle middle section which he plays with sensitivity.  He resists the urge to play the top C’s too forcefully, clearly taking heed of Chopin’s instruction regarding high notes – don’t bark like a dog. He handles the difficult last page well and again brings out the accents appropriately.

He plays from memory and clearly loves the piece.  The Fantasie Impromptu sounds and looks impressive, but once you understand how it works actually fits quite easily under the fingers.  However, it still takes skill to pull it off and Earnest has some.

Regarding improvements Earnest can make, I have three main points of constructive criticism.

Firstly, he can continue to develop his technique to achieve a greater balance of the hands – ie, make the left hand accompaniment even softer than the right hand theme, and also to get a more silky tone in his fast playing. For example, take this recording of Emil Gilels’ – keep in mind that this is a high bar to judge by, but Earnest still sounds a little “notey” by comparison:

One can achieve this sound by continuing to work on relaxing one’s arms and wrists as one plays, and honing finger movement efficiency.

The necessity for this improvement becomes clear with my second critique. Often when we make a fumble you can see it coming several bars earlier, and his fumble at bar 36 (0:57 on the video) is a perfect example. If you look at his fingers in the moments preceding it you can see his fourth and fifth fingers rising in the air and his thumb sticking out abruptly to the side – this indicates tension in the forearm, and if you listen closely you can actually hear a couple of minor stumbles which perhaps played on his mind in the lead up to bar 36.

This is likely a case of performance nerves. When he repeats this passage when the main theme returns he nail it (4:25). His right hand is shaped in a much more natural position, and he looks more relaxed in the second half of the piece.

Thirdly, I think Earnest puts a little too much rubato into the left hand in the middle section. He needs to focus on keeping the left hand as consistent as possible to provide a solid base for the right hand to provide more of the push and pull. He could also bring out more of the counter melodies in the left hand during this slower section, although these are minor criticisms and are easily remedied.

Overall it is a solid performance. I am interested in others’ critiques, as long as it can be done dispassionately.