What a start for the 2018!
We’ve literally had a blast working and performing very assiduously for the past 3 weeks － with January almost gone with the wind ― , and I realize that I haven’t even conferred you publicly the greetings for the New Year (my bad!! 🙁 ), so hereby I do so most sincerely with my best wishes for more love and happiness to all of you.
Returning from Milano two Fridays ago (more on that later), I had the pleasure to join the Requiem project at Kobe the next day where for about 5 hours we rehearsed requiems based on a memorial theme written by Japanese composers and performed in the concert the next day. On the same day as the concert, I also met up with the conductor Shuya Okatsu for arranging tempi and timings of the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.2 prior to the rehearsals with the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra.
At the first rehearsal, we played through each movement at least once for the orchestra to get more familialised with the music, and then worked on details bits by bits particularly where transition is a little tricky. The second rehearsal was more of a summary of what we had done previously, except there was an interruption as I snapped my E string at the coda of the final movement (my bad! 🙁 ) .
The orchestra was fairly organised, considering that they included a lot of young members and were far less acquinted with Prokofiev’s music. Good cheers and thanks for the entire orchestra for making the concert of January 24 in the Symhony Hall, Osaka, a successfull one and for the hard work!
I have very mixed emotions for this concerto, because even though I had spent almost 4 years learning it I’d never seized an occasion to play it with an ochestra (most ochestras seem either oblivious to it or to find it hard to accept the music). Nontheless that doesn’t make my challenges on other repertoire any less important, of course, and I have just as strong sense of commitment and feeling to them as Prokofiev.
When most musicians get to play with an orchestra, they often see it as the destination of the journey. They go through practicing all the notes, intonation and phrasing, they start rehearsing the moment they stand next to the podium almost as if they’re celebrating themselves on their arrival.
My view is against this. Making a concerto performance is as if climbing a mountain. Like all other times, I can’t express impactfully enough how much more I realized I needed to change the dynamics, to change the strength of accents, and to change the sound quality completely that I’d already worked on so hard. Only then they’ve now seen the overview of the music and really know it down in their fingers, and there’s still a lot of work to be done after that, with polishing and coating it into an organic whole. In other words, working with the orchestra is not “the destination” but rather just the beginning of the process.
At this phase, not only should one play one’s own notes but also should listen to the counterparts in relation to their articulation, rhythm and the resonance from the sound. In a music like Prokofiev Violin Concerto where there are many busy passages filled with dangerous notes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in one’s own head trying to play it properly while forgetting to listen to them or the other way around. What is demanded for this extreemly complex process is the skill to be fully aware of all sound (and silence) and keep the highest possible concentration through. Doing both the “listening” and “playing” task at once is by no means easy.
It is of course a tough challenge, but I do love and embrace the process of learning music in this way, － learning from others therefore obtaining more revelations and inspirations and likewise getting all other players to learn from me － all through this particular communication (musical) in a much deeper and broader extent. After all, even as a soloist, one can only achieve the highest form of art with others ― constantly requiring to compensate one another for the melody, the middle voice and the bass in harmony, pushing and pulling (or leading and following), and breathing synchronization. To me this is the single most remarkable joy in the realm of music making and I wish to continue the challenge with different repertoire in the coming months.