October 28, 2009

Musings from Vadim's rehearsal...

This morning brought one of those opportunities I don’t often get, but when they happen, they’re unforgettable. I sat in on the first RPO rehearsal of the Violin Concerto by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius with this week’s soloist, violinist Vadim Gluzman and Music Director Christopher Seaman. In a unique turn of events, my RPO colleague, Janice, was able to provide a couple of photos for this blog from onstage, and here’s why. Gluzman wanted to actually face the orchestra for this first musical meeting with our musicians, rather than rehearsing with his back to them, facing out to the hall as he would for a performance. Musicians communicate information with their body language, and once he started to play, it was ALL about the emotion of the piece.

With his jet black hair and clothes to match, Gluzman began to play (the violin seems to arise from a murmuring bed of orchestra strings), and one could almost feel the waves of the Baltic Sea roiling over the icy landscape, with a horizon wide with dark clouds. Gluzman has a HUGE, gorgeous sound, which filled the entire hall, even as his back was to me as I sat in the audience. It pinned me to my seat like a laser. The combination of the solo part combined with Sibelius’ lush orchestration is one of my favorite orchestral experiences. The timpani sounded as if the Nordic gods are having a heated argument, but then there’s a melody that’s passed from viola to bassoon to cello, and each can be heard as part of the whole.

Gluzman brought the second movement to life with a gutsy sound, and a push-pull of phrasing, like breathing. In the virtuosic third movement, he pulled out all his impressive technical tricks: double-stops, harmonics, and more, but all in the service of the music. Incredible.

My non-musician intern sat in on the rehearsal with me, and observed that hearing an orchestra live really IS a completely different experience from listening to a recording, noting with surprise that there’s so much more to see and hear, and so much more subtlety.

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