Friday, March 5, 2010

The trouble with reacting to a live performance is that it is hard to distinguish reactions to the music from reactions to the performance. A great admirer of Morton Feldman's music took issue with yesterday's post, pointing out that silence is absolutely necessary in order to hear it.

Isn't silence necessary in order to hear all piano playing? I think it is the job of the pianist to achieve that silence within the playing itself, not through either public announcement or theatrical gestures.

Holding the attention of the audience is the art of performing the music of every era. What have we lost? How did we lose it?

I suspect that the answers lie in the economics of the concert world: it is not cost-effective to perform in small halls, therefore the finer nuances of sound are not cultivated by aspiring professional pianists. Also, whatever nuances remain are often lost in the recording and reproducing processes. The loss compounds with every remove from the performance itself: microphones, speakers, ear phones, ear buds, etc. all restrict the life of the vibration. The subtlety of our auditory culture is increasing diminished.