I am learning a ton from rehearsing with violinist Amy Piersma and cellist Dawn Van Ark. Chamber music is a kind of conversation. In fact, after we finished playing through the entire first movement of Mendelssohn’s D minor piano trio, Amy pointed out that one section sounded like an exchange between the piano and the strings. It’s like the piano is getting increasingly rambunctious and playful and then the strings come in and try to calm it down.
This put me in mind of Eliot Carter’s notion that he sees his compositions as conversations between instruments.
I am, however, thinking of much more subtle things as well. An inflection here, a line that comes out here, the feeling of “up-ness” and “down-ness” created by drawing the bow over the strings.
Besides the delight of rehearsing with these two fine musicians I also spent some more time composing. I guess the working title is something like “Street Suite” with the movements possible being: mov 1: “You must be the animal” mov 2 “dead man pants” and mov 3 “one last day”.
I don’t actually have notes for the second two. I have made some beginnings on sketches for a piece called “dead man pants” but haven’t really gotten anywhere with it.
I also weirdly went on myspace and listened to the four recorded tracks I put up there a couple years ago.
These recordings and songs have been out of my mind for a while. I am beginning to think about them again. I actually am kind of proud of the writing in them. I wish the recordings and the performances themselves were more representative of my intentions. But still, they’re not too bad overall.
My cyber friend Ray has urged me to record.
He is the first person in a while to say anything like that to me. In most situations I am totally the initiator. I have very few people left in my life who respond creatively to most of my initiatives.
That’s one of the reasons I am enjoying the piano trio so much. These two musicians do respond in a refined classical way. I miss creative response, I guess and their responses are nothing if not creative. I gave Amy the violinist the music to John Adams’s Road Movies. This is a tough score. I have been practicing the piano part for a week or so. She agreed to look at it and even seemed interested.
I went on my buddy Jonathon’s myspace and listened to his new recording. http://www.myspace.com/jonathanfegel I miss contact with him but understand that he has moved into a phase of his life (lover and children) that has precluded our work together.
I have been reading in “Where the God of Love Hangs Out” by Amy Bloom and “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neil lately.
O’Neil has an interesting take on Walter Mitty type fantasies:
How many of us are completely free of such scenarios? Who hasn’t known, a little shamefully, the joys they bring? I suspect what keeps us harmless from them is not, as many seem to believe, the maintenance of a strict frontier between the kingdoms of the fanciful and the actual but the contrary: the permitting of a benign annexation of the latter by the former, so that our daily motions always cast a secondary otherworldly shadow and, at those moments when we feel inclined to turn from the more plausible and hurtful meanings of things, we soothingly find ourselves attached to a companion far-fetched sense of the world and our place in it. It’s the incompleteness of reverie that brings trouble….
Joseph O’Neil, Netherland
I spend an awful lot of time in Walter Mitty land I fear. I like O’Neil’s take that fantasy can help our connection to reality rather than make us less realistic or detract from a clear understanding of ourselves. I guess I usually think of my fantasy and imagination as sort of a withdrawal or even sometimes a bit of a character flaw. Nice to remember it’s not totally true.
I always liked that bit in “The World According to Garp” by John Irving where Jenny Fields, the mother, continually encourages her son Garp to go off by himself and imagine his secret world.