Isaac Stern told me: play big – bigger than lifemain
Anthea Kreston’s weekly diary:
I am on a morning train to Frankfurt from Berlin – it has been bitingly cold here, the entire sky is solid, dark grey, and the brown, flat landscape outside my window is patchworked with snow, stagnant grey fog. I take the early train back home tomorrow, and meet directly at the University of the Arts for intensive rehearsals with my piano trio – our pianist is en route from Philadelphia now. What a pleasure it will be to dig in deeply to our program of all Brahms – and to work with violist Roberto Díaz for the Op. 25 Piano Quartet.
I am working on quartet repertoire – juggling pieces we are currently playing onstage with new repertoire we are learning, and keeping all of the repertoire for our upcoming US tour fresh and ready. In addition, the piano trio repertoire is being reworked – I find myself changed as a violinist since joining this Quartet – a mix of learning from my colleagues, observing concerts, and teaching European students.
What I learned from Isaac Stern in those intense Trio years – to play big, have huge phrases (as few as possible in each movement), to be bigger than life – this has been augmented, or changed. Trio playing is different from Quartet – my personality must be razor sharp, my communication radius larger, the subtle details and timing that are a necessary fabric of Quartet life are supplanted by large sections where we designate a leader and follow them, demanding from them total clarity of vision. Pre-planning (Quartet) is exchanged with spontaneity. Safe fingerings (for uniformity if sound, balance and intonation consistency) are thrown out the window for fingerings which bring contrast, virtuosity. And yet, as I have done some pre-rehearsing alone with Jason, I have tried to merge the two. The big playing I have brought with me to Quartet might work the other way – we can try to add much more subtlety into our gigantic phrase structure. Will it weaken the power of Trio? Or will it bring a new level of clarity and intellectual stimulation?
I have also become accustomed to sharing responsibility in Quartet – I am a bit of a brute with my intense musical personality in Trio – but now I ask Jason to lead more. We take turns leading a section, then decide to share the leadership once we have a basic agreement on the emotional plan. Feels good – can’t wait to try it with Amy Yang, our pianist.
The Fortnightly Music Book Club has its formal debut this Sunday, and I have been busy with planning, designing and negotiating specifics with our first guest, Eugene Drucker from the Emerson Quartet. As a former student of his (the hierarchy of the classical music world is deeply ingrained) I can hardly even manage to call him by his first name. I am particularly, obsessively and protectively worried about the comments section, which cannot be turned off for the book club. I have come to love that section, though, and it has brought me together with many new friends, rekindled old connections, and forced me to improve. Still – I lose sleep over the possibility of harsh comments reaching Mr. Drucker, who has agreed to the Club, and to do his own book, at my request. Please be kind.
So – just for fun, I dug up some of my favorite nasty comments from the Slipped Disk comment section – enjoy!
On being a bad mother:
“Clara Schumann was known as “raven mother”. She didn’t care much of her nine children. Piano career was first priority. Not a great role model for A. Kreston”
On being a terrible writer:
“Such cheap ad. There are millions of musicians who can tell much more interesting stories about their lives. It’s clear for me that she trying to make herlelf popular. Because without tjiis article nobody will know who is Anthea Kreston.”
“Can you please stop publishing this Kreston twaddle.”
And now some beauties from one of my all-time favorite commenters (and now a friend of mine) RW2013:
“The gepflegte Langeweile continues…”
“Just imagine if all musicians wrote their diaries here! Already wearing thin…”
“Read? More like the fascinating glance at road kill…”
Have a great week and see you at the Book Club!