Tuesday, August 17, 2010

While on vacation I heard a performance by an "almost eleven-year-old" clarinetist in upstate New York. He played for an audience of about 150 people--almost a full house--a transcription of To a Wild Rose by Edward MacDowell, with piano accompaniment.

It was interesting to see how scared he was, though extremely well-prepared. As I listened to the piece I couldn't help but imagine what he must be hearing. Nothing in the world could have prepared him for the impact of that rich chromaticism as he played his fragile, delicate melody. It would frighten anyone, unless it had been pointed out exactly how his sound fit into such strangeness.