06. May 2007 · Comments Off on What We Do · Categories: imported, Ramble

So here’s the thing: musicians are performers and we interpret what a composer gives us. If a composer writes something that is cold—and yes, that happens—we should play that way. (Sometimes “cold” is a very powerful thing, you know?) Sometimes we play something joyful, sometimes sorrowful, and sometimes incredibly gut wrenching. We can cause listeners to laugh, and we can move an audience to tears.

But we shouldn’t sit there and cry while we play (or conduct). We are working and we are doing what we do well (I hope!), and because of the music, because of what the composer has done (or hasn’t done), the audience reacts. But if we react to our own playing … well … I think that is selfindulgent. And distracting. And often even interferes with the music and causes us to go overboard with tempi, particularly when we are playing rubato or a ritardando.

Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I should sit there and cry and enjoy myself in my sorrow. But I don’t think so. I don’t believe that’s the way it should be.

I’ll think more on this. Perhaps I’ll write more about it later. Time will tell.

Meanwhile … just a couple of quotes I’ve put up before:

…performing musicians don’t get to enjoy the experience the way audiences do. For example: if we wallow in the sadness of a sad piece, or the exultation of an exultant piece, it’s liable to distract us from the things we have to concentrate on in order to communicate that sadness or exultation to the listener.
Matthew Guerrieri

You should never be too much involved… otherwise, you suffer and you can’t sing. This is what happened in the very first years I sang Madame Butterfly.
-Renata Scotto

(One more Butterfly, and then I’m on to symphony!)

Comments closed.