Roni's Journal

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Ken tells an amazing story on ensemble playing.

... cello guy totally lost the plot- he couldn't line up his triplets with the syncopated rhythm in the inner voices.


[The 1st violinist] and I started banging our heads like 16 year-olds at a Metalica concert to show the pulse. She glared straight into his eyes like the emissary of death and you could see her mouth moving with viper like precision – "one-two-thre-four-five-six!" and so on.


Amazing story, but I find that those players who can deliver a good performance again and again are the best, and deserve the corresponding title. We often hear and see one-time outstanding performances, and not only in music, but other arts as well (figure skating for example). We then expect the said performer to get better each time, only to find him or her to be really very average. The public doesn't tolerate such disappointments, nor do the critics who prefer fresh meat.

But, nevertheless, well done - on that night!

Of course I agree with you, but there is an entire category of "tales of the unexpected," whether great artists falling flat in concert or not-so-great ones rising to the occasion. I can think of a few truly great musicians where I either love or loathe their performances just based on how much coffee they seem to have had. The ability is always there, but the energy may wax and wane...

So often, it comes down to something as simple as will - great performers have it, almost without exception. In this case, you had two of us who were absolutely determined not to let the thing go south. We were able to pull him up, which is not surprising. What is surprising is that by making us dig so deep, he got us to give more of ourselves than we knew we could. Would I ask him to do it again to try and acheive the same result - no!!!!! But I now know there is something attainable in that passage that I didn't know about before, which I'll have to try to make happen next time.

As it is, I've got plenty of strange tales of concert happenings to share here - hopefully they make an interesting case study of performance issue.


You are right, but you know, with the greatest performers - who are musicians in the full sense of the word - I always find myself so immersed in the music, having to mentally take myself out of it to be able to actually listen to what’s going on, technically. A few minutes later - same thing - I forget myself and the world around. That’s what leaves me literally “speechless”. Not with the average concerts - they get the critique they deserve!

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