Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Musician's Life May Not Be a Happy One

My friend Carlton who is light years ahead of me on the music front, offers some further thoughts on that last post --the one about Murray Perahia.

Two points, actually.  One, it's can't be just Murray that has this lonely, peripatetic life.  It must be all of them, always out on Friday and Saturday night (and others, if  they they are lucky)--how do they have any home life at all.  I'll bet he's onto something here.  He prompted me to remember that wonderful "memoir" that I posted on a while back, by Renée Fleming.  Quotes because, as I believe I said at the time, as a memoir it's an oddly private book, the work of (so it seems) a private woman--yet at the same time, a wonderful guide on how one builds a career.  For present purposes, the thing I recall is a certain sadness that seems to hang over the project, as if for all her achievement, she's dismayed to find that she is just not having as much fun as she mint be.   And while it's  not quite on point, I remember some stuff I read back in 2001 when the conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli died at the age of 54.  What sticks in my mind are the stories about how conductors in general have  tougher life than you might guess--in their case,  maybe too much partying, but also lots of stress.

And Carlton's second point.  He offers a general (I guess) rebuke for my suggestion that there's something special about Bach and the harpsichord.  Bach--more perhaps than anybody else--transcends any particular instrument: harpsichord maybe, but also piano (at least fortepiano), harp, guitar, string ensemble, whatever.

He's got me there.  My defense is the distortion of my own vision.  As I guess I've said before, I really hated the standard pop I heard all around me in high school. Which is to say, I didn't hear really good music until I got to college--I really didn't know it existed before.   Which is to say that when I first heard the Art of the Fugue I cried (literally) tears of joy.  And my benefactress was Wanda Landowska, on the harpsichord.  You've got to dance with the one that brung ya.  I have a set of the CDs under this roof today.

Carlton offered no quarrel to my suggestions of Perahia and Tureck, but he did offer another name, new to both of us here at Chez Buce. That would be Angela Hewett, and after a brief sampling, heading this way.   Here's a bit of Angela. Starting at 1:41, she explains her preference for piano in Bach performance, with illustrations from the Goldberg Variations:


marcel said...

Why have you spelled the name, every instance so far as I can see, "perahai", in both this post and the previous one? This is not a single, one-time, typo.

Buce said...

Thanks, Marcel. Actually the previous post was inconsistent. But in any event, I've chatted about the posts with several people and you re the first to pick up the error. And FWIW, I almost misspelled "Tureck" too.