Saturday, February 15, 2014

Square is Square

Explaining to a non-musician what it means to play beats I compared it to a fixation with right angles: everything has to line up nice and tidy with an identifiable beat.

If I hear more than, say, three of such beats in a row I am almost certainly going to lose interest.  All kinds of things can occur to enliven beats: little things like unpredictable accentuation, or no accentuation at all; and bigger things like groupings of three within a 4/4 meter.

I am appalled at the amount of square playing I hear when I tune into the classical music station at random.  How thrilling, on the other hand, to hear something that is the opposite of square.

Two performances I heard yesterday qualify for that:  Stephen Hough playing the Grieg Piano Concerto, which squares maintain is an uninteresting piece - boy are they missing something!
Gustav Dudamel conducting those famous Dances from Borodin's Prince Igor, in a live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic.