Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Power of a Palette

When I first went to look at Josef Albers's Interaction of Colors at the Museum of Modern Art's research library, I opened one of the two large boxes of prints and immediately burst into tears.  "This will never do," thought I. 

Certain that something must be amiss I approached the librarian.  Sure enough, the last user had put the sheets in upside down; what I saw first should have been the culmination of hours of study.

It took several days to realize why I had cried: The palette of that last print was disturbing, deeply disturbing, in fact.  And made more so by the fact that it closely resembled the palette I had chosen for the first movement of Mozart's G minor Piano Quartet, the subject of my first Tonal Refraction book.  I find that movement deeply troubling.  Its familiarity doesn't make that less true; it may, indeed, exacerbate the trouble as it tempts many players to think they know "how it goes," and that, therefore, they can play the notes (most of which are not all that hard) and not feel a thing.