Monday, August 3, 2009

Am I the same listener who hears a severely developmentally challenged student the morning after hearing Anderszewski perform magnificently?

Most definitely! Anderszewski causes me to listen with him, not to him. The same is true for my needy student--indeed, for all my students. No one is being compared to anyone else. Each loves the sounds in a way unique to them. When they play they are sharing their otherwise secret attachment to the music.

In every circumstance it is a privilege to listen that way.
Still thinking about the Anderszewski concert: The program order was changed so that his concerto followed immediately after the overture to The Magic Flute--an opera that means so much to him that he knows it by heart and "performs" it often.

Pondering this made me better understand the quality of the supposedly out-of-tune piano entrances to which I referred a couple of days ago. Viewed operatically, it's not that they are so much out of tune as tremendously exposed. The sound waves are the subject not the notes per se, but the way the waves strike the ear. How like the unaccompanied voice in opera entering without the glorious support of the orchestra!
As I am a great admirer of Anderszewski's playing I hope you will understand that I refer to him from time to time. He is the kind of player who gives one courage to listen for oneself. When he plays it is as if he is hearing for the first time.

I find that less true of his Bach performances but then, Bach did not compose for the piano; the relative cool may reflect Anderszewski's instinctual response to that music's detachment from the sensual sound of his native instrument. The same music played on the instrument for which it was written--a harpsichord or clavichord not tuned in equal temperament--is deeply and exquisitely sensual. When I was too young to know anything about temperaments the distinction caused me nightmares. This is why I do not play Bach on the piano except on rare private occasions.

I saw the film Unquiet Traveler, available on DVD, about Anderszewski, in which he is heard playing, singing all the roles in The Magic Flute and commenting on quite a range of music.

He is not a sentimentalist. His use of the word "drunken" describing Chopin's Barcarolle is absolutely brilliant. I often characterize difficult pieces with melodies in thirds as drunken: two guys out on a toot after a bit too much to drink sing just like that, at least they do in Eastern Europe. I've heard it.

There is a loose fearlessness, recklessness, that comes with inebriation. Try it.