Thursday, January 30, 2014

Close-up Listening Unleashes the Whimy and the Pain

Playing Mozart for a close-up audience is altogether different from assuming their ears to be a city block away or distanced from me by virtue of microphones and amplifiers.

One listener was surprised at his whimsy.  Another said she had no idea that Mozart could be humorous: she actually laughed aloud during the B-flat K 281 Sonata accompanied by chuckles from various corners of the room.  Do I intend for them to have that reaction?  Not really; I am just having as much fun as possible.  Their reactions are strictly up to them.

The Adagio in B minor K 540 had a similar effect but in the opposite direction.  In this work Mozart goes out of his way, requiring even hand-crossing, a technique he usually exploits for moments of virtuosity or exuberance, but here to make audible that a repeated tone may be the most important thing happening.  It is literally heart-wrenching that pitches added chromatically into the repeated vibration untune it, as it were. 

These people did not miss a thing.

I have long been pretty sure that Mozart made his reputation as a player by maintaining an improvisatory approach to every performance, that he could not repeat himself; and that this whimsy is composed into the works.  It reminded me of hearing Horszowski for the first time: having loved every sound he made, I went promptly the next morning to buy the music.  But try as I could I could not emulate his playing: I simply could not find it, though the printed notes were the same.

That is the story of my life.  And you?  Go to  Contact me if you feel that this is relevant to your musical self.