Friday, November 25

Response - David Waterman

Hi Lail   
it was very exciting to see what fascinating work you are doing,
and a wonderful idea to share the discovery process with all of us. You must
have ideas and suggestions  falling out  of your ears  - I haven't been able
to read more than a sample of what's on the site. But anyway, I thought I'd
like to suggest yet another avenue you could go down which I think could be
really fruitful and enriching. And that is to consider and have a good look
at the greatest of the classical music songwriters. They address themselves
to all these issues  of how to set words to music; how to render the most
subtle and complex---or equally the most simple and intense primary colour
emotions-in music; how each detail of rhythm, harmony, texture, form,
instrumentation, and melody contributes in a vital, integrated and natural
way to the expressive meaning of the music.  The interpretation of these
songs by the performers also involves all those questions about how to be
true to the soul of the music, how to communicate, what is the  role of the
performer's personality , performer self-consciousness etc , how to avoid
manipulating the emotions of the audience etc
My suggestion is that you get to know just 2 song-cycles -groups of linked
songs about 1/2 hour each cycle. Schubert "Die Winterreisse" and Schumann
Read the translations of the songs and take a look at how the composer
brings the words to life. Like most songs today they are about love, loss,
death, beauty etc .
And I Would recommend one book to steer you a bit thru this   Charles Rosen
"THE Romantic Generation "    --which you may want to dip into and
particularly the bits where he examines these cycles in great detail. It may
be good to get the score of the music so you can follow it while you listen
and you can try bits on the piano and figure out how they work. You may also
want to listen to different performances to see how different they can be
and try to understand why some are far more convincing than others, despite
the singers all trying to stay "true to the text".  I would suggest Dietrich
Fischer Dieskau    and Peter Pears as 2 very contrasting musicians, but
anybody will be interesting.     I know you probably don't have time for any
of this but for a very modern (in spirit) and incredibly expressive handling
of speech and drama you could try one more piece - long, I'm afraid - Katya
Kabanova by Janacek   an opera which you need to see with subtitles.. there
will be DVD's I should think.
I think there will be very rich pickings for you here-it's a different
dimension, but it's still music and performance and these are pieces that
have thrilled and bowled over people for generations ....    Enjoy it
and  good luck with it                  love to you David