Sunday, July 30, 2006

Even More of Those Bloody Marimbas

Okay, I went back to the Zeltsman Marimba Festival for another concert. This was the concert for which last nights' marimbists were lobbying when I stumbled upon their rehearsal.

Pius Cheung and Eriko Daimo put on another show for the first half of the concert. They performed a two-marimba version of Bach's d minor Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1052. Cheung played the solo part while Daimo took care of the orchestral work. Frankly, the opening minute and a half was a little muddied. It took my ears a bit to distinguish much of the details in the rather busy opening in a hall that wasn't at all built for the marimba. I'm not sure what would have been a good solution for the muddiness the hall provided. Marimbists? Harder mallets? Closer seating? (I was seated near the back of the small recital hall, which had quite the vaulted ceiling.) Things righted themselves quickly, however.

The last movement was certainly festive and also very well played (Although, please explore a different way to play the last chord. A full sound without a hard sound would have had capped things royally. The loudest thing I've ever heard come out of a piano was from Leon Fleisher while he was warming up. He looked like his arms just sank into the piano but the damned thing sounded as if it couldn't contain the sound. Tremendous but lush. A real wonder.)

Of particular note: The 2nd movement was stunning and will be remembered for a while. It was played with absolute attention to detail of articulation, timing, and color at all times. What line...You'd think Cheung was a wind player given how long and inevitable his phrases were. I ceased thinking "what fantastic playing" and was completely overtaken by this performance. Nearly from start to finish of this movement, these two were masterful and really quite beautiful. Considering how many times I've heard accompanists, both pianist and orchestral, butcher performances due to carelessness, it's surprising to hear Daimo play an accompaniment with such cohesion and beauty. From listening, I think that this movement was probably a special one for them as well.

The 2nd half: Jean Geoffroy playing a number of pieces, including some Bach (Oy...and his own transcription of the Chaconne.) Geoffroy is certainly very adept at his instrument, but I'm afraid that I just wasn't moved by his performance. He seems to gloss over the runs in Bach, ignoring the little lovely moments that come from sequences and the melodies of the short/quick notes. His Bach seemed to be more about virtuosity and a little less about a personal love. I'd love to have a glass of sherry with him just before he plays the Chaconne again. Would it do for him what it does for me? A little imbibing can occasionally release nostalgia...

Jeez...It seems as if I may have to catch another concert in this Marimba festival, which may lead to another pseudo-review. Apparently, Cheung is to play the Goldberg Variations on Thursday afternoon for free. I'll probably be in the area anyway...Damnit...I didn't mean to get sucked into the whole Marimba business. I may need a shrink after this week.

Yeah yeah...I know, I probably needed one regardless. Keep yer trap shut, would ya?


Blogger Carol Minor said...

I'm curious: when you heard LF, was he just playing chords? He recommends warming up that way, by playing chords slowly, in order to avoid injuries like his own.

7/30/2006 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Hm, it's been a while, but it was certainly an isolated chord that he played. I don't remember anything leading into it.

We were doing the Emperor Concerto but had been initially programmed to do Mozarts K488. When I asked him why they changed the piece, he said "Oh, the Mozart is very hard. Too many scales." I couldn't stop laughing. I said, "So you thought that the Emperor Concerto would be much easier?"

Such a nice man. He made an effort to learn many names in the orchestra and referred to many of us by our first names (without referring to a roster each time). When LF comes back to the wind section during a break, calls you by your first name, and asks "if it's possible" to play the opening solo a certain way so he can play it that way later, you can't even think of refusing.

7/30/2006 11:37:00 PM  

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