February 25, 2006 at 6:25 PMI've barely had time to update, so here are a few things that are going on:
Thanks for the good wishes from the comments for the last post! My recital went well overall. I didn't feel as prepared as I was for performances in the past, but I got good feedback and I think listening to the CD whenever I get that from the CIM Audio Department will give me more perspective. I got through the Sarasate without too many little mishaps and through the Debussy with some color changes. I think the strongest piece was probably the Kreutzer. Playing with Anita was a blast. She's an amazing artist and I had a lot of fun following her in places like the first variation of the second movement. The most important thing Mr. Preucil had stressed to me about the piece was to remember the "in the style of a concerto" inscription and to play it as more than your average Classical sonata, on a grander scale in the spirit of the "Waldstein" and "Appasionata" piano sonatas or the 3rd or 5th symphonies. I was able to practice performing in Anita's studio and accompanying classes the week before and I think each successive performance became a bit bolder, so hopefully that came through at the actual recital. The things that bothered me throughout the recital were little intonation slips or losses of bow control that I could have mastered with either more work, more time with the repertoire, or both. However, there's no substitute for faith, so I hope to take what I've gained from this experience into my senior recital next year to give an even more assured and direct performance.
A couple highlights this semester are orch rep once a week with Steve Rose, and quartet. Mr. Rose is incredibly knowledgeable and specific about all these excerpts, and at the same time very positive and patient about helping all of us improve them, particularly when half of us are sight-reading. We spend two weeks on each excerpt, first going through it as a group and the next week playing individually and getting helpful comments. I'm a bit fortunate in that the first two excerpts we've done, Schumann 2 and Don Juan, I've just had to play for auditions so they were still fresh. My generally tendency in excerpts is that things actually drag, because I'm so cautious about staying steady, and I lose some forward momentum. In Don Juan also for future auditions I'll have to work a lot on sound, because there's something of a fine line between a bold, electric, brilliant sound and a too harsh, grating sound which Mr. Rose refers to as "overblown."
My quartet has been going remarkably well; we've been working through all four movements of Mozart Dissonance and have had four coachings so far. Most of them are with Mr. Salaff who just has such a kind, gentle soul. He sits in a lot to play 2nd violin within the group, my part, which is helpful for him so he sees what goes on inside the group, for the rest of my quartet who get to play and communicate with him, and for me getting to watch and actually hear how the sound comes across to the audience. We also coach with Merry Peckham, cellist of the Cavani Quartet, who has probably the most energy I've seen from a chamber coach, and is yet another person literally overflowing with warm feelings. She insisted on giving us all hugs after the coaching. Anyway, she explored a lot of interesting musical techniques with us that I was previously totally unfamiliar with. The primary one is called, "Live, Breathe, and Die," where you take turns having one person in the group be the "main initiator" (not "leader," as that would imply that the other people are "followers" which is a little too passive), who shows everyone else with eye contact, body movements, facial expressions, and of course in the way they play, how they feel the piece. The other three "live, breathe, and die" for the main initiator, trying to anticipate as best they can and really get into the mind/heart/bow of the main initiator. We did this for a short section of the Minuet from the Mozart. It really made clear the different personalities of each group member--for instance, our cellist had a very elegant and subtle interpretation, while our violist felt a stronger sense of rhythmic drive. After everyone gets a turn, we discuss what we liked and what worked, or whatever is necessary to make the actual group performance more unified and cohesive. In performance the first violin will end up being the main initiator most of the time, but this exercise gives everyone a chance to really have their ideas at the forefront of awareness.
Besides the work we've been doing, we also get along very well personality-wise, which is nearly as important as getting along musically. I don't sense any imbalances of power; all four of us contribute our thoughts pretty equally in rehearsal, and we're all quite committed and animated. My quartetmates also have this obsession with trying to figure out what food their playing resembles. After my recital they decided I was crispy fried chicken that's juicy on the inside. The other members, if you're wondering, are a raspberry poptart, spicy canteloupe, and grape juice. Yeah, I don't really get it either, but it's cute.
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