November 21, 2007 at 12:35 PMTwo days ago I tripped over something - no, not a literal object.
On Monday evening my hosts were listening to Washington's WETA and Bill McLaughlin was hosting "Concerts from the Library of Congress". On this particular segment the pieces were Mozart's Concerto for Violin in A Major, K. 219 and Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet No. 2, the latter being performed by the Mandelring String Quartet.
The Mozart concerto was performed by the Wuttenberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn, with Arabella Steinbacher as the violin soloist. Ms. Steinbacher gave a very compelling and interesting performance of the concerto - not only were all of the "elements" there (impeccable intonation, a seamless, unforced sound, etc.), but there was a musical maturity and captivating degree of thoughtfulness given to every phrase.
Upon hearing the first few notes, I did think "Who is this? I should listen." While listening, I not only found myself wanting to hear more: I found myself truly listening and, yes, almost analyzing every note, everything that she had done.
Honestly, I have to say that I am somewhat embarrased that I had not heard of Ms. Steinbacher until now, but look forward to hearing more of her and more from her. From a wider perspective, however, part of growth and going out into the world - and the expansion of one's self into the world - may not always be about the "expansion and presentation one's self" physically. Perhaps the expansion of one's self includes the continued accumulation of knowledge of the world, the instrument that we all study and love, its repertoire, the countless number of great artists and, of course, the way our instruments work (which is a new one for me, but a joy - I have made it a point to stop into every violin shop that I can and, if possible, ask questions about the work, everything from what is used to clean an instrument to "major surgery").
Now wanting to rework Mozart 5, it is not my intention to "copy" Ms. Steinbacher's performance: as we all know, there is always debate about listening and trying to emulate the artists that we hear and admire. Hearing Ms. Steinbacher's incredibly thoughtful and elegant interpretation reminded me that it is so important for us as artists to keep our "minds, souls, and imaginations" - as well as ears and hearts - open to the unexpected. Besides, if my intention were to play "like that", my intention would be to become a photocopy as opposed to really doing the required work (study, thought, trial and error, etc) necessary.
I do not know if this performance will be broadcast again; nevertheless, should anyone who reads these entries have an opportunity to hear Ms. Steinbacher, do. Go - buy a ticket.
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