Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mining the Composer's Brains--Mmm...Brains

Played the Escot Concerto for the composer yesterday morning...8 am. I started at 8am and left the area for home at about midnight. Of course, I wasn't just playing for the composer. Genius that I am, I managed to schedule my few things of the day spread out through the day as far as possible. Well, since I got some practicing done, it wasn't a totally questionable use of time.

So: playing for the composer. This always makes me nervous. Sometimes you play for a composer and they aren't very talkative about what you're doing and what they'd like you to do. Is this because I'm playing it exactly as they'd wished? (Doubt it.) Is this because they're used to performers bitching and moaning about "impossibilities" or just making a bit of a scene?

In fact, the composer told me that it was odd for her to get to listen to performers and make comments while still in the preparation phase. I was aghast (Perhaps not quite aghast, but I like the word.). The score can only give us so much. When we're playing Beethoven, we have so much room within the notation to breathe that we can frequently wish for a wayback machine to ask a few questions. Instead, we try it one way, see how it sounds, rinse, lather, and repeat. Or we rely on the traditional way of playing it. ("Last bad performance" anyone?)

When I'm playing a piece where the composer is still wandering around somewhere, I can't wait to get the composer's input. If my job is to make aural what the composer first reduced to 2 dimensions on paper, why not crack open the brain where the other dimensions are located.

In this case, Ms. Escot was -very- helpful. I actually managed to play better than I had hoped. I remembered to have a mouse to squeeze for the high notes.


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