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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000585.txt from 2001/04

From: "Gene Nibbelin" <gnibbelin@-----.com>
Subj: RE: [kl] Perlman and 'metamusic'
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 23:23:20 -0400

Tony -

May I assume that you wouldn't recommend Mr. Perlman for the position of
Concertmeister? Also, would you agree that it takes a better
musician/clarinetist to be Principal Clarinetist with a major orchestra than
it does to be a "prima donna" clarinet soloist?

Gene Nibbelin

-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Pay [mailto:Tony@-----.uk]
Subject: [kl] Perlman and 'metamusic'

Neil Leupold recently posted a wonderful report of a Perlman concert.
Since the subject of 'meta-music', and what that might include, has also
been under discussion, I'd like to put forward the notion that what the
reviewer in this report was commenting on can be thought of as belonging to
that category. Perlman clearly did here something both courageous and
important, deserving of great respect. Moreover it was something belonging
to the music, yet in a way, belonging to a situation beyond it.
However, I have my own story to tell about Perlman, who is of course a
superlative violinist. I tell this story here in order to make our picture
of him more complete, rather than to challenge what has already been said
about him. The story also illustrates something about music, or meta-music,
that I think is very important.
A few years ago, Perlman gave a series of concerts with the Philharmonia
Orchestra in London, playing most of the standard repertoire: Beethoven,
Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikowsky and so on. I was delighted to have been
asked to play guest principal in the orchestra, because there are wonderful
opportunities for the clarinet in all these pieces-in a way, more
opportunities than I'd bargained for, I found, in the last movement of the
Barber:-)
One of the concerts included the Sibelius concerto. This work is very dear
to my heart, perhaps partly because I once fell in love (as it happened,
uselessly) with a beautiful girl, still a friend of mine, who won an
important competition playing it. But quite apart from that, I'd have to
say that it's one of the masterpieces of the violin concerto repertoire.
The slow movement is particularly profound.
There is a masterstroke in that movement towards the end, when both
orchestra and violin begin together in crescendo, the orchestra playing the
main melody; and, as this crescendo develops, the violin is progressively
and inevitably submerged, so that when the full orchestral climax occurs,
there is the sense of a universal statement; a sort of total outpouring of
emotion beyond anything personal.
But then, miraculously, as the orchestra subsides after resolving the
shattering climactic dissonance, the solo violin is revealed again, in a
wonderful little ascending scale with a sigh at the end, as though to say
that the truth of the world is both universal and particular.
Or so I think.
Anyway, when we rehearsed this bit in the Festival Hall on the afternoon of
the concert, Perlman said something to the conductor, whose name I don't
remember-he was just a competent someone who came with the deal, I suppose.
This conductor then told the orchestra, "Crescendo only to mezzo-forte at
that point, ladies and gentlemen!"
I couldn't believe it. "I beg your pardon?" I found myself saying.
"Take the crescendo only to mezzo-forte," he repeated.
"But, Sibelius writes 'tutta forza' for the orchestra at the top of that
crescendo," I said.
"Yes, but then you can't hear the violin."
"Well, that's Sibelius's idea, isn't it? What else could 'tutta forza'
mean?"
"Just keep it down there for Mr Perlman," I was told.
Mr Perlman himself kept his back firmly to the orchestra throughout this
exchange.
Perlman, you see, has always to be the centre of the audience's attention.
A very eminent conductor friend of mine said that though he'd worked once
with Perlman, he wouldn't again. "No point," he said.
And another friend who has recorded chamber works with Perlman told me that
Perlman has the final decision over the balance in the final edit,
regardless of what his colleagues think, because he's had that written into
his contract. The violin part is therefore usually placed well forward in
Perlman's recordings, and his colleagues aren't always happy with the
musical results. But, so what?
As I said before, Perlman is a wonderful violinist, and even a wonderful and
inspiring musician. His struggle against his disability is likewise
inspiring.
Perhaps he's not always so strong on the 'meta-music', though.
Tony
--
_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd Tony@-----.uk
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE GMN artist: http://www.gmn.com
tel/fax 01865 553339
... (Invisible Tagline)

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