Friday, October 31, 2008

emotional precision and Fauré's Requiem

Rehearsing Fauré's Requiem for this weekend's CPO program, guest conductor Joseph Flummerfelt repeatedly asked for more emotional precision: "You're just giving me a generic forte sound, folks. That's not enough -- you need to breathe with intention, and sing out the meaning of those words. You need to be crying out to the heavens -- you're begging for rest, begging for peace. That's what this music is about, and it's never been more relevant." (I'm paraphrasing, of course -- I don't actually memorize a whole speech by a conductor!)

It got me thinking about the nature of our profession, and how a large part of our job description is to invest those seemingly generic markings -- forte, allegro, legato, decrescendo -- with a very specific, emotional meaning. We have to do more than just data entry -- reading off those instructions and plunking down our fingers at the right moments -- we have to form a purpose and an intention behind every mark on the page, and re-enact those gestures in space and sound.

Whereas a stock analyst's job is to separate emotion from information, to parse out longing, panic, hope and disappointment and determine the objective value of a holding, ours is perhaps the opposite. We need to imagine the fear, joy, or disillusionment that inspired someone to compose these precise sounds, and then play them as though we felt those same emotions just as strongly.

Then again, perhaps a stock analyst needs some emotional insight as well; and I'm sure that as musicians we often need to step away from our emotions. Especially when those emotions override our ability to listen receptively and adjust appropriately to those around us. It's an incredible challenge to play with passion and sensitivity at the same time. In a piece like Fauré's Requiem, and the songs by Mahler and Strauss which make up the rest of tonight's program, that emotional sophistication is what separates a great performance from an average one.

1 comment:

Rihanna said...

thanks for the information i will apply that.