Saturday, October 18, 2008

Without Words

While rehearsing Copland's Appalachian Spring with The Knights this afternoon, the strings were trying to find the right sound for a hymnlike passage in the final pages. Eric Jacobsen suggested they hum it. What a great sound these twenty young virtuoso string players made singing together. Hushed, focused, gentle, earnest; it was perfect. I know the recording tomorrow will capture those characteristics, but I'm sure glad I heard it sung.

(By the way, Zéphyros used the technique for a passage in our Gounod recording . . . )

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Knights like tonight . . .

Tonight at Le Poisson Rouge, The Knights, conducted by Eric Jacobsen, played their second concert of a pair with cellist, Jan Vogler.

Sony Classical is turning these performances into a live CD.

In a life made up of thousands concerts, when one stands out, it is for important reasons. I am so grateful my musical path brought me to The Knights. Tonight, with a capacity crowd surrounding the orchestra on all sides, the musicians played with such joy, energy, and unity of purpose. It reminds me of why I wanted to be a musician in the first place.
Love in a Time of Low Carbs

This morning, I finally had to leave the reed desk for a snack. I popped over to Silver Moon Bakery on 105th and Broadway. Judith Norrell, baker and harpsichordist (she was a student of Albert Fuller), has created the indispensable spot for baked goods in Morningside Heights. Weekends and holidays, people line up around the block, happily chatting with neighbors, as they wait for their croissants and bagettes. Judith presides over a crew decked out in white, all smiling. Everyone seems happy at Silvermoon, the bakers, the sellers, the buyers, Judith, even the bread seems happy.

And as I bit into my (here I must confess) chocolate brioche, I thought, there is something about bread that just speaks of love. It must be all that kneading that metes out nurishment both for soul and body. Certainly, the carbs in my roll contribute too many calories to the day's intake, but as those carbs turn to sugars, the sugars turn into a smile.

We mustn't forget that happiness is part of health.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Run, not walk

I once heard a storied Juilliard violin teacher say he would "run, not walk" to hear Mark Steinberg play the violin. I love this idea, and I would, too. Run, that is, or, more likely, take a cab . . .

My own "Run, not walk" list of violinists also includes Jennifer Frautschi, Vera Beths, and Colin Jacobsen.

And now I am adding one more (I guess I'm going to be running a lot . . . ), Johnny Gandelsman. When I first played with The Knights last May, Johnny was leading Beethoven 6 and I was swept away by his playing. For Johnny, every expressive device available to the violinist was in play at all times, and every musical moment was infused with imagination. I didn't want to miss a beat, a gesture, I even wanted to hear him play the rests! One of the highlights of The Knight's current program is a waltz by Ljova where Colin and Johnny trade off long lilting phrases. Heaven!

When one of these five musicians plays, I certainly would run—not walk—to be there. (And the fun of Helicon is that they all are on the roster!)
The Knights Tonight

Tonight and tomorrow, cellist Jan Vogler and The Knights conducted by Eric Jacobsen perform Shostakovich, Hendrix, and Copland at New York City downtown venue, Le Poisson Rouge.

Wednesday & Thursday
October 15 & 16
8:00 P.M.

Shostakovich — Cello Concert No. 1 and Waltzes arranged by Ljova
Jimi Hendrix — Machine Gun arranged by Kyle Sanna
Copland — Appalachian Spring (October 16 only)

Eric Vogler, cello
Eric Jacobsen, conductor
The Knights
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street • NYC

Tickets $20
(212) 505 FISH or (800) 55 TICKETS

These concerts are part of a live recording project for SONY CLASSICAL.

JAN VOGLER has become one of today’s most sought-after cellists. He is known for his decisive musical concepts and singing playing style. During the last years he won a large following in regular performances, and acclaimed recordings. He started as principal cellist of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden but left the position in 1997 to fully concentrate on his already successful career as a soloist. Since then he has been playing with major orchestras and conductors worldwide. In November 2005 he gave his debut with the New York Philharmonic and Lorin Maazel as part of the reopening of the historic Frauenkirche in Dresden. In October 2006, he received the European Cultural Award in Dresden from the European Foundation for Culture.

Founded by brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen, THE KNIGHTS, are a fellowship of young musicians of diverse and accomplished backgrounds who come together for the shared joy of musical exploration. "A little orchestra of some of New York's best strings-about-town," (The New Yorker), The Knights have brought audiences varied and and engaging programs consisting of masterworks from all eras, world premiers, collaborations with jazz artists, singer-songwriters, and arrangements of folk music from different world traditions in their quest to bring new light to old works and new work to light.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Reading in Autumn

"Summer Reading" by John Ashbery

With these lighter days a concomitant
urge to scrutiny arrives. Signing in,
my motivation palls, pusillanimous.
Are we to take it inside the house?
I have to go.

Tell me another dream. The long events surface
wider, farther apart, like autumn breakers.
Birds are suddenly there. The house of cards
on sand falters, fatally. I'm elated.

You never know how things work out
except through "sleight" of hand, sometimes.
I'm worried about knowing later.
The high-school principal killed his star student,

for instance. Feeling competent,
they quashed him. Until he wins the crisis
we can't promote it. Keep that rodent away.
What have you seemed to do?

Do interesting things well done and may
spring chasten you. We had everything in mind.
Everything softballed, wound up on my back porch.
It's okay, though. Keep us on your docket. Cut through the . . .