Today I began work on the Korngold Concerto, a piece I've shamelessly and sappily been in love with for several years since first hearing the Perlman recording. I listened a couple times to both it and the Walton and was actually more intrigued by the rich sonorities and colors of the Walton which in a way fit my temperament better, especially in the gorgeous first movement, but at the moment I think taking on those last two virtuosic movements would be a technical stretch. I would like to refine my technical issues more in standard rep like Prokofiev 1 (I look forward to either that or Shostakovich towards the end of the school year) before tackling something like Walton or Elgar.
Korngold, however, promises to be a lot of fun, particularly after having played such relentlessly serious concertos lately. This is also, incredibly enough, the first piece in which I am entirely inventing my own fingerings and bowings. It takes time, but I'm happy to be learning and to be allowed this much creative freedom in really personalizing the work. I got through essentially the first movement and tomorrow should be able to start metronome work on the fast sections (mostly sextuplets), do intonation work on the major sevenths, and explore colors and shadings in the lyrical sections. In fact, after I figure out the flashier stuff, I think my fascination will be mainly in working through spots like the very opening and experimenting with how to create a really magical sound. Korngold may not be as profound as Brahms, but it is lush and incredibly sweet all the same, and who cares whether music is high-brow or made for the movies as long as it achieves its purpose of melting your heart?
YAY junk food and Mozart on my iPod.
A bit overwhelmed for this entry! First, thanks so much to v.commies Eric and Marie who came out to hear my concert! I'm always amazed when people I've never met before make that effort and that leap of faith. Your support was much appreciated.
So, the concert--I was generally quite happy with how things went! In fact, perhaps more importantly, that was also the best I felt before setting foot onstage, which is probably telling. It was certainly an adventure to perform with just the one rehearsal that same afternoon, but we came through it all right and I felt that I had a lot of good moments. A few of my Chicago friends came out and we ate afterwards, and I was really excited to hear their point of view, because it seems that some of the things I have been realizing and struggling with all summer are gradually coming into place. I'd have to watch a video to know for sure, but I hear that my movements were not as excessive as they usually are, and that I was more grounded. This is great because "grounded" was exactly the one word I thought would be most crucial for me in this performance, as well as "calm," and in the cadenza, "time." It's almost paradoxical, because the violin's entrance after 90 bars of orchestral introduction is right in the middle of emotional turmoil and chaos. Yet I knew that for the first note I still had to feel a strong source of strength and center within myself to fully convey that through the sound. The other thing, apparently, is I'm now finding more intimacy in my sound, which is also great. I really think that has something to do with hearing the beautiful, refined sound of the Cleveland Orchestra every week, and with Mr. Preucil's gentle suggestions in my lessons of lightening up and letting the sound really float and ring. There's an intensity to my playing which is spot on in some passages and overbearing in others, and it's good that I can finally start allowing that burden to lift so that not absolutely everything I play is tinged with a tragic tone (although it's definitely appropriate for some works and composers). There have been times--in particular I remember my Strauss Sonata at Meadowmount 2004--where I gave a strong performance overall, but felt in some passages that I couldn't quite muster enough joy to be wholly, authentically in those triumphant moments. I am happy to report that that was not the case yesterday. I think the presence of friends may have had something to do with it. I love playing for anyone, but it meant a lot to me and made some things that happened special to know that there were people I've really personally connected with in the audience. I don't mean to say that to the exclusion of anyone, however. I think what I love most about music and the privilege of being a performing musician, if it can be put into words, is the chance to communicate, to speak honestly and directly to people through a strange, beautiful, abstract, but ultimately real and living art form. Hitting all the octaves is totally inconsequential compared to what you can say with those octaves, and I feel completely satisfied and compensated for my work when just one person is moved or affected. I suppose this sounds somewhat like a power trip, but it's a power trip of love! So it's all good.
I am now officially on fall break and hope to spend the next couple days visiting some old friends. I also have all new repertoire to learn for my recital (if you're planning way ahead, it's on Monday, February 20th, at 8 pm in Harkness Chapel on the Case campus in Cleveland). We also register for spring semester classes soon and I very much hope to fit German into my schedule this time around. There is something I recognize and that feels familiar to me about European orchestras--the sound, the unity, the beauty--and I would be intrigued by the chance to know them better.
My good friend thinks that some of my discontent comes from expecting life to be profound at all times, and not just resigning to and accepting the mundane. But perhaps it's the other way around, and life is profound at all times, and I just have to not lose sight of that.
Last, but not least: Go Sox!
I just had the best lesson with Mr. Preucil! I can't remember ever laughing that much in a lesson. We spent some time going over recital dates and rep, and what concerto I should play next. Having played grossly serious concertos for the past four years, I feel that whatever I start after next week's performance will be really refreshing. We've narrowed it down to Korngold or Walton, I believe. However, it was hilarious to hear him discuss my other options. I mentioned Khachaturian and he didn't look too enthused. When I asked why he launched into this nostalgic backstory of how that concerto was all the rage in the '70s once the Oistrakh recording came out, and every American violinist was playing Khachaturian, and it's kind of repetitive. Hilarious!
I'm mostly so excited at having lots of new rep that it's easy for me to forget that I'm playing Brahms very soon. There's a NUSO concert on the same night so some of my friends can't make it, but hopefully a few of them still can. I have a feeling the whole performance will be another exciting, liberating experience for me, which is always a good thing.
Mostly Mr. Preucil today just reminded me of what music is all about--why I'm in this field and so in love with it despite its corruption. Even with preparation, some concerts you just go into with blind faith. Then he even brought up this crazy notion that you're always a bit better than you think you are! I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one. I played a few spots and the most helpful one by far was the opening of the second movement, which I was actually most dissatisfied with in the concerto competition preliminaries. (In those, by the way, I was generally incredibly happy and pleased with how I played, and that turned out to be more important than not quite making the cut...and I'm looking forward to watching the finals!) Somehow in a very short time we were able to make that phrase so much calmer, more steady and stable, and I could immediately hear the difference in the sound and the quality of beauty really emerging. If it seemed a little too loud to me, he assured me that with orchestra it's not. In fact, that's another great thing about studying with him--he always knows exactly what's going on in the orchestra and has sort of mastered the art of which rubatos will work and which won't, etc. Anyway, in general we just talked about balance between core sound and beautiful nuances, and it's comforting that he's so nonchalantly positive that I'll find my way with that.
I am currently listening to Mahler 6, the "Tragic" symphony, and I do believe that if anyone could have premonitions of his own future (as with Kindertoetenlieder), it would be Mahler. If he can awaken spiritualism in the disillusioned, imagine how strongly he must have felt that power within his own soul. The Cleveland Orchestra concerts this weekend feature Mahler 9! Look no further than the last movement.
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