May 3, 2011

"All These Years I've Known You...and Every Day I Find Something New"...

Of course, I should be asleep right now - however, I just finished practicing. The last work on the stand this evening was the Fuga of the Sonata in A Minor for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1003, of Bach. How many times have I played this? The first was during graduate school: I think I worked on the entire sonata for two semesters before performing it on my first recital (and, of course, I did a harmonic analysis of the whole thing, much to my teacher's surprise). The second was in 2006 at the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas - which makes this the third.

While there is something really satisfying about learning and performing "new" repertoire - it actually feels as if one is moving forward, adding works to the list - there is something even more gratifying about looking at a familiar work with new eyes and sensibilities. These works will always be "bigger than us"; therefore the challenge is one with ourselves, to remember the lessons, recordings, live performances and individual research that have contributed to the moment at which we start anew.

THIS time? Well, in addition to what may seem to be an almost obsessive preoccupation with my bow arm due to having purchased a new bow AND continued recovery from some shoulder issues, I have my notes from the 2009 Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute at hand. Granted, I am not performing this sonata on a baroque violin (although I DO plan to purchase a baroque bow someday), after having spent those two intense weeks with probably the greatest proponents of "historical performance" in North America AND having spent three years at the Shepherd School with Kenneth Goldsmith (and, albeit indirectly, Sergiu Luca) I cannot imagine approaching this work in any other fashion.

This is not to say that there is not a lot of evaluating and examination of choices and motivations going on. THAT is of course one of the joys of being a musician and a violinist. I have, in previous essays about works of unaccompanied violin, referenced Paul Griffiths; at this moment, however, I must reference violinist Odin Rathnam:

"Music and its needs are like a refining fire, constantly challenging us to re-evaluate our choices, our approach, our tools. It is music that humbles me, day after day, year after year... But confidence in one's abilities to do music justice is just as important as humility towards music."

(I would of course link to the entire entry, but have to ask permission first, ya know...)

And that's all - for now. There are essays and notes to write and details to wrap up, more concerts coming up in the next few weeks than I think I have ever had scheduled in my life - about which I'm ridiculously grateful - and there's the Insanity program....more on that later indeed....

Good night,

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