Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Luigi Rehearses the String Orchestra Version of Death and the Maiden

What is music made of?  Pitches, rhythm, dynamics, articulations, various expressive markings–these all come together to convey something.  But they are just little elements on a page.  It takes humans to give them life, to speak them, to create their expression.  And what is the limit of the depth that human experience can breathe into them?  How much can we find in a note, in a phrase?  How much can we empathize with the composer and understand something from, and of, our own existence?

The landscape of Luigi's imagination is breathtaking.  There is no way to do it justice.  Today as he was working with the violins, he explained the nature of an accent at the end of a phrase in his empathic Italian voice: "It's like saying "Ppplease!'" He drew out the "p" in such a longing exhalation and crushed his shoulders together in such despair that I was immediately taken to a time of irretrievable loss and impossible wanting.  The vacuum of it sucked the air out of me and I could feel the emptiness and yearning.  So this is what that accent is about.  Ah, now I understand.

Throughout the course of rehearsal he created so many metaphors and illusions.  Arrows for each step of a sequence, knowing how many we had, giving blood for each, but then really giving blood at the climax.  He spoke of a fire in the second violins' motive, and a fire inside of that fire in the basses.  Then you put a small piece of paper on it, and arrive at the recap.  So this is the feeling of terrifying arrival.  A pulling out of something deeply burning.

Music has to breathe.  Somehow it has to be our mission as musicians to find that breath.  We spend so much time, necessary as it is, trying to get things in tune and in time.  Trying to have a good sound.  And it's true that without them,  the inner drama cannot unfold.  But the inner need to has to fuel our drive for perfection.  There are those musicians, perhaps from the way life's events have fallen upon them, that have a very deep empathy for that drama, and are not afraid to speak it, and have learned the language to do so.  It is a very, very great pleasure to work with them.

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