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Intellect and Intuition

May 7, 2009 at 2:51 AM

I remember a few years ago when I was performing the Wieniawski concerto in D, the accompanist I was playing with had never even heard of Wieniawski and asked if she could borrow a recording the first time we met.  Needless to say, I was rather apprehensive, but when she looked at the music she said, "oh....there's something a little bit like Chopin about this...a little bit nostalgic, no?" and started playing I was amazed that she had captured the essence of what I was after in the concerto from just looking at the score.  There was no way that from just hearing the name she could have made the connection Wieniawski => Poland => Chopin so quickly and accurately...and while it's true Wieniawski must have been influenced by Chopin (I mean...the use of dance forms makes it pretty clear) it's not all that obvious to me from looking at the beginning of the concerto that there's a connection between the two composers.  There's some deep knowledge about music that she must have aquired over her carrer that she is constantly drawing on when she plays. 

On the intuition end of the spectrum I offer this youtube link.  Now, I don't what to start a "who's the best" sort of discussion like they had on Youtube, but for me the Perlman version of the Paganini seems...amazingly natural.  If I were to walk around singing this melody that is exactly how I would sing it, just fun.  Now...he misses a lot of the harmonics, but the music...the music is just comming out of him....in double false harmonics.  To me he's such a genius to be able to play something so simply.  Music seems so organic with him. 

Are the two different?  I actually think probably not really.  Perlman probably, besides being a genius, heard a lot of people singing when he was a baby or something.  I'm sure that's related somehow, but for the average person they're probably separated, at least inside the mind. 

So then, does one take precience over the other?  If instinct tells you, "play it this way", and your brain says "are you kidding? That's not nearly Viennese enough" or something, who do you listen to?  In honesty, it bugs me when people just follow their instinct, it seems self-indulgent at the cost of the composer's intentions.  On the other hand there's something valuable about knowing what you want and just playing the damn thing. Hnnnn.....

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