Submitted by jsdubois015 on Wed, 04/28/2010 - 15:32
I'm sitting here listening to the Bach suites for cello performed by one of the greats, Mstislav Rostropovich. While I greatly admire the symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms and the operas of Wagner, it is the music for the lone performer that intrigues me the most. Being a trombonist, much of my performance experience has been as part of a group, be it an orchestra or wind ensemble, or a smaller chamber group. Although I do enjoy the ensemble experience and there is a lot of great literature for just about any ensemble group, a part of me always grudgingly accepts it. There has yet to be a time I have fully agreed with a conductor's interpretation of a work, or felt the whole ensemble was unified in expressing the piece of music. However, as a good musician, you just have to go with it and make the best performance you can. I'm sure any of you who perform in some form of an ensemble have felt this way at some point or another.
This is why I say that music for the lone performer is the most musical and the height of musical expression. The performer is alone with the music. There is no one else calling the shots, no one else to share the experience with. It is about as personal as music can possibly get. Music, like all the other arts, is a profoundly intimate experience. When the performer is also composer of the music, it is the highest perfection that can be obtained in music. What it an experience it would have been to hear the improvisations of Bach at the organ, or Mozart or Beethoven at the piano!
For this reason, pieces like Bach's suites for cello and partitas for violin, and the solo piano literature of Mozart, Beethoven and others, will always be the most expressive and intimate compositions of classical music.
As a conductor you're like a lone instrumentalist with the orchestra as instrument. And a terrific one it is, better still than the organ.
That is right. You can be most expressive when it is just you playing and interpreting the music.
By that understanding wouldn't the renaissance be less? A group of people coming together to create something wonderful-it's a symphony only a group can have.
As a poet and a cello player, I couldn't agree with you more!
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