12 June 2010

Oggi in musica

A virtual conversation which touched upon the matter of a composer’s intention reminded a neighbor of a perhaps apocryphal story:

Toscanini conducted Ravel’s Boléro and, unknown to him, Ravel himself was in the audience. After the concert Toscanini is discussing the piece with another person, with Ravel within earshot. Toscanini remarks, “Yes, I conduct the piece somewhat faster, if you follow the metronome mark it is simply insufferable.” Ravel fumes, “That idiot! It is supposed to be insufferable!”
Ravel and I are in apparent agreement that safe-as-milk, as a musical virtue, is overrated.

First thing this morning, I got e-mail from the pianist for the 21 June concert, Eric Mazonson. I had sent him the best-yet draught of the sextet arrangement of Scene vii of White Nights. “When are we doing this?” he queried.

“On the 21st, please,” I replied.

“When are we going to rehearse it?” Immediate practicality to that question. One of the things I like about Eric.

“When we may,” replied The Zen Composer.

Later this morning we rehearsed Mirage and Night of the Weeping Crocodiles with violinist Alexey Shabolin. Good rehearsal, and our next rehearsal we should have everything in fine shape. I suppose Eric must have looked at the sextet, for he agreed that we should have no great difficulty putting it together the day of the concert (which is, after all, the only time all six of us will be in the same place this month).

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