Thursday, November 03, 2005


Two days ago Ben and I were supposed to perform at First Church. We postponed several weeks ago, but in fact a few people did show up. I'm sorry they were inconvenienced, but hey, at least people are interested. Which may or may not be a good thing. We did another rehearsal yesterday.
It's becoming physically easier for me, less of a workout. I'm more pumped when finished than exhausted. What to my ears sounds too light, too bright and over focused still doesn't carry all that well against the piano in a rehearsal hall. In the sanctuary, we'll see (hear).

Like all important works of art, Dichterliebe continues to feed anyone who really wants to dig into it and discover what's there. You can't be bored, and you are never, but never, finished. Just when I think I've caught the right tone of irony, or joy, or anger, the mood in the piano contradicts what I have going on.
The irony of a lot of major keys and bright colors, and of mood changes, the protagonist happy and bitter (not defeated, bitter) in the same verse, maybe with ten or eleven notes of separation, is overwhelming. I wonder if Schumann or any of our composers expected their work to provoke so much study years after their deaths. Mozart wrote often on spec, and once a work was performed he was onto the next one, for money. Did he think people would be writing books about the Jupiter Symphony in 2005? They are. Did Bach, who had to produce a slew of music for each Sunday of the liturgical year, think his cantatas would be sung in churches and concert halls and recording studios two hundred and fifty years after his death? I wonder if Mozart or Bach would have cared. Bach was a salaried employee for many years. Mozart wanted to be, and never in his best years could attracting enough patronage.

Sometimes the larger orchestral works and the big operas overwhelm a listener in their complexity, and in their size. With lieder, its two people, voice and piano. So there should be more transparency; easier for the listener to really hear what is going on. You'd think, wouldn't you? Forget it. A one page Wolf song is as confounding as all of the Goldberg variations. I love what Janet Baker says: The preparation is the best part. Sometimes the audience gets in the way! (Not really)

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