It's amazing how it actually happened. For years I was in the "flight" mode. Internal chatter took the stage front and center... what if I played a wrong note, missed a beat, come in late, and most of all - what will others think of me? My bow arm would shake like a leaf, I made horrible intonation mistakes. All my musical ability (such as it was) flew out the window the moment I stood on stage. Then a turning point came in my life - overcome the flight instinct or lose a scholarship. That day, fight won over flight. At first I thought it was a temporary thing, but the more I played the less fright had a role to play in my music.
Fast forward to this evening. It was just a rehearsal, with an audience of two. Last time I rehearsed in front of two people (back in March preparing for the audition), I got the shakes. But not tonight. This time the opposite happened. It was just me and the harpsichordist having a musical conversation. My body dipped and peaked with the changes of the phrases naturally. I completely forgot that I had an audience of two, present to criticize the music.
When the piece came to an end, I was reminded that there were others in the room when the feedback began. It came back predominantly positive. There were some suggestions on dynamics to make a better balance between the two instruments in the hall, and an observation on a minor intonation issue. But the feedback that made me leap for joy was a compliment on my baroque tone and style. All those years of studying Bach paid off. I "get" it now.
I'm now looking forward to November 29th, the day I perform solo once again.
It was suggested to me, in a not so subtle way, that I've been spending entirely too much time with composers that start with the letter B: Bach, Bloch, Brahms, Borodin, Bruch, Bridge, etc. etc. As a remedy to my "B" fixation, a viola concerto by the composer Zelter was suggested. Another friend chimed in and recommended a piece called Embellie by Xenakis. The original instigator then suggested Ysayë.
So now begins the hunt for pieces written (or transcribed) for viola by composers that cover the whole of the alphabet, starting with Z. While I don't have a copy of Z, X or Y yet, and not close to ready to tackle the one and only W composer I have in my library, I do have a few V's in my library that are attainable.
So, I'm starting with Vieuxtemps Capriccio. At first glance, I had a small heart attack. So many black lines. Then I saw the words that gave me a glimmer of hope: Molto and Lento. Then I looked again. Arpeggiated chords and chromatic runs. I started to sweat. But then again, I was able to manage the Hebraique after alot of work, so why not this piece? I just need to remind myself: start slllooooowwwww. How much slower can you take Molto Lento anyway? I'm finding out now....
But take away all the chords, runs, trills, and other such ornamenation, and underlying it all is a melody that can break your heart. So I'm starting there, with the simplest of melodies, ever so slowly, and adding the ornamentation a bit at a time. I may never add all the ornamentation as written, but it doesn't really matter. When I do end up performing this piece, it won't be for showing off my virtuoso skills (if they existed at all), but to convey what that underlying melody means, at least to me.
More entries: October 2009
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