The start of an epic journey
Tonight in Bannockburn, New Zealand, Justine and I played the first of our three programs for the Beethoven violin/piano sonatas cycle, to a sold out, enthusiastic and appreciative audience. It was a fantastic way to start our journey of performing these pieces together.
This was the kind of space that it seems chamber music was made for. Coronation Hall is a small hall that seats about 100 people, and it was filled to capacity. Wine was served before the concert and at intermission. People were in great spirits and reacted audibly between some of the movements, sometimes with applause or chuckles or sighs of pleasure. The audience was so near to us that when I turned my head to look at Justine a few times, I noticed some people in the audience with their eyes closed, listening attentively.
In this way, I realized we were all enjoying the shared experience of Beethoven's music. It's humbling to remember my role as performer: to channel the music and bring it into being for a short time, so people can hear the composer's voice. Really, people are there to hear Beethoven and Justine and I are there to bring his music to life as faithfully and honestly as we can, within the bounds of our own experiences, ideas and understanding of the score.
It is always a transition, to go from rehearsing music to performing it. This is even more the case when this much repertoire is involved, because we haven't been able to rehearse or practice each program every day. Combined with the fact that Justine and I hadn't performed together in over twenty years, tonight felt like a leap of faith. The performance was that much more rewarding, then, when we discovered (on stage) that we were able to let go and have fun together.
Stamina and focus being such an issue when playing three different programs back to back, we made a decision early in our preparation process to focus on just one single program on a given day. So, today my mind was only on Sonatas 1, 6 and 9, to the exclusion of the other seven. Now that we have played that program tonight, I can totally let it go and not worry about keeping hold of it, because the next time we will play it is in late October.
Usually after a recital it takes me a while to wind down. Tonight I don't have that luxury, because now it is time to turn my mind to tomorrow's program: Sonatas 2, 3, 7 and 8. Here are some pictures from today.