Tuesday, March 20, 2007

long term concerto relationships

This afternoon, we put together a slightly impromptu mock audition -- just a couple audition-bound violinists and me, with some friends listening behind the screen. Even among friends, auditions can get pretty tense, and none of us played up to our expectations. That was a bit disappointing, but we all still have time to recover and do better in our real auditions - we're also doing another mock this Thursday.

We were talking about it afterwards, and one of the violinists explained that for her the Brahms concerto is like a love relationship -- they've been together so long, sometimes it's hard to keep the same emotional intensity every time. She's gotten to know it almost too well, so that it's begun to feel predictable rather than spontaneous. In fact, she wondered if they might need to separate for a while, let her see some other concertos, in hopes of restoring the passion.

The Brahms violin concerto is one of my favorite pieces, but I can sympathize with her plight. No matter how much you love a piece as a listener, living with it day to day, trying to refine and perfect it, and relying on it for auditions can strain that love. Added to that, we usually won't play entire concerto movements in auditions, so often we've worked the first few pages to death, and barely touched the rest. It's like a tennis player whose racquet arm is twice as strong as the other -- it might be an absurd and unhealthy way to learn a piece of music, but it often seems like the practical way, given the pressures of audition preparation.

We all suggested she listen to some other Brahms -- maybe some of the songs, or the piano works. Other musicians I know taking an improvisational approach when things start to get stale, reworking the piece in all sorts of different ways until it seems fresh again. She thought maybe she just needed an afternoon at the beach, or a nice nap -- that can help, too. In any case, we're all hoping they patch things up. No one ever said being in a relationship with 174-year-old German was easy.


Anonymous said...

serge koussevitzky and I have been in quite the long term relationship, and he's just not delivering like he used to. Maybe it's time to trade up to an Italian?

Matt Heller said...

Thanks for sharing - watch out for those Italians though! They'll put you in positions you never even knew existed.