Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Practice Perfects Intuition

"When he was fourteen he manipulated series of continued fractions the way a pianist practices scales." He developed "an intuition for the translating of formulas into physics and back, a feeling for the rhythms or the spaces or the forces that a given set of symbols implied."

--James Gleick, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman


Well, the backstage stories are always the interesting part. However, from the listener's point of view, the music is available on CD and I can play it when I want to hear it, even if it isn't a definitive performance.

But haven't recordings always been doctored? Striving for perfection, recordings are pasted together from multiple run-thrus. We kind of expect that. Some recordings would be even impossible to produce live, without overdubbing, splicing, and rerecording.

Tzadik and others have borrowed much from the pop music recording industry. That's why they call it "post-modern" I guess.

Still, without any preconceived notions, it's a good recording. And I'm happy to have it.

--richard friedman

By Blogger Heather, at 8:22 AM  

Richard--glad you liked it!

Ah, the disc with two stories, "insider" stories, admittedly, but telling of current trends in music. Between the odd pastiche of a studio creation and the audible intimacy of a live performance, is one the monster and the other Dr. Frankenstein?

The first trio ("Coyote's Bones") was recorded just a year ago in one evening at Mills solely for the sake of the record. Meaning: the piece never received a complete, uninterrupted performance (let alone a run of performances). It was pieced together, section by section, with an ensemble that had no previous working relationship. The "Love Songs" track, on the otherhand, was the culmination of numerous detail-oriented rehearsals and a string of performances by a trio that had spent years working together and premiering exactly that sort of music.

It seems that the former system is perhaps going to replace the latter. I can think of several Tzadik CDs that are just that: studio creations. The *performers* tour around and play out, but their most recent recording might be completely detatched from that. The disc becomes a vanity postcard of something else. And small chamber ensembles like the Abel-Steinberg-Winant trio? A *set* group (enough of the guest artists, the pick-up band!) devoted to a particular niche of composers and compositions, from performance through recording? Who is making that committment? ASW rehearsed and rehearsed...and I hear that depth of interpretation in their near-flawless live (did I say LIVE?) performance. (Or do I just hear the backstory that I know?)

I fear musicians these days would rather just receive the one phone call, do the one session, and shelve the result in their discography...and then go out that night and play something else. There's no continuity! How should a performer navigate between performance and recording? What are the obligations? Where's the integrity to manage both fields so that one supports and sheds light on the other and vice versa?

By Blogger Heather, at 8:22 AM  

Heather: What a surprise to see you listed as pianist in Coyote's Bones on Peter Garland's new CD on Tzadik.

I'm planning to broadcast it on a Music From Other Minds broadcast on KALW in July. Great recording!
Great music. Wonderful performances.

--Richard Friedman

By Blogger Heather, at 8:23 AM  

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