Saturday, August 18, 2007

Desiring Joy!

“Imagination is the core of desire.” – Anne Carson

Who could have imagined the experience of playing Mozart’s 11th and 27th piano concertos every day this week with Emanuel Ax, Louis Langrée, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra? Each night it’s better.

At the beginning of the week, Louis spoke of ambiguity in the final movement of the 27th Concerto. It expresses the desire for summer, not summer itself, he said. Throughout the week, this work has become more abstract to me; passages once simple reveal a subaqueous swirl of motivations. This was brought into great relief yesterday, rehearsing Beethoven’s First Symphony in the morning and performing Mozart’s piano concertos at night. Beethoven’s first symphonic Finale is pure joy. The youthful realization of what pleasures might be possible in life, expressed in the tentative C Major violin scales of the opening seven bars, culminates in flights of joyous celebration.

Of course, it is humbling to find that ones life work is the work of music, surrounded by excellent colleagues endeavoring to bring beauty into being. Knowing it ends in a few days is the bittersweet part of this extraordinary month.

For our performances of "Mozart Dances," Emanuel Ax sits at the piano in the middle of the orchestra rather than in front as is customary for a concerto soloist. This logistical solution for the size of the State Theater pit has brought musical benefits. Manny is a generous chamber musician, and the dialogue and interplay of lines is made finer through his proximity. Last night he suggested this kind of stage arrangement for future concerts.

Future concerts. Desire for joy. As moments, musical and otherwise, move into memory, the remaining hope is for continued alertness to reaction, surprise, and dialogue!

Image: Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806) The Progress of Love:Love Letters, 1771-1773, oil on canvas, The Frick Collection, NYC

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