Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I aspire to a principled blog (see "Touring Quiz," question 4, below); we here at Think Denk eschew name-dropping. I would never refer to famous musicians by their first names or nicknames, as in "yesterday I ran into Manny at the grocery store," or even "I remember back when Isaac invited me up to his apartment in the Beresford, just before Jerry bought it." No, no: here in this cybercorner it is all about the music; fame has no traction for artists searching after the eternal verities. In fact, I was just yesterday contemplating the harmonies and pacing in the famous Schumann song "Ich grolle nicht," trying to remember how Richard had played the postlude, and reaching back in my memory for Mitsuko's thoughts about Cortot and Schumann, when Sting came up to me and inquired about the tempo marking "Nicht zu schnell." Indeed, it is one of those puzzling wonderful markings which tells one absolutely nothing one can "count on," so to speak; and my companion Sting, with whom I was incidentally and casually discussing this matter, while he patted me on the back, seemed to reflect this amusing ambiguity of terminology with a little joke in which he held up his hand like a policeman and said "not so fast;" and I was thinking all the while, in my pure aesthetic contemplative state, in which I was completely unaware of the fact that I was sitting next to Sting, and in which moreover the fact that he had patted me on the back registered not one iota, that the marking "Nicht zu schnell" does not mean so much "slow" as it reflects the inevitable fact that any instinctive musician, faced with the intensity of this work, will want to respond with a surging tempo... so that the marking seems to speak from Robert directly, saying, "Yes I know you want to go fast, and I respect that, but try to control yourself." Or so I interpret it. I feel sure that Robert would have respected all sorts of desires for excess, unlike, say, Johannes. And I was going to communicate these purely high-minded musical thoughts to Sting directly, but perhaps he had already read my mind on this crucial matter and he was off to another part of the room. I should bring this all up with Josh when next we meet.