REHEARSAL IS AN ART
The Evening Krasnoyarsk (Vecherniy Krasnoyarsk). 1 July l995
(Translation of a review from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia - 1,200,000 pop.)
Last evenings concert was the first in the course of the Second Music Festival of Asian-Pacific countries. The Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra was performing under the baton of Martin Piecuch from Washington. He is a far-famed conductor and his merits may be taken for granted.
His rehearsals at the Music Comedy Theater and in the Small Hall convinced me what an excellent conductor he is. One may say: how can one judge from a rehearsal? That is what I once thought too. Now I have come to know that it is possible to a very great extent.
At the very first rehearsal with our orchestra M. Piecuch right away reached a full creative contact with the performers and established the atmosphere of goodwill and co-creation. In this atmosphere the image of a remarkable piece was generally outlined at the very first minutes of initial acquaintance by sight-playing. A minor detail should be mentioned: seeking to minimize the necessity of the interpreters services the conductor while performing in Moscow and Yekaterinburg had learned several words and phrases in Russian that enabled him to give some direct instructions-"Figure seven, please once more...". ...
It seems that Shpillers orchestra, composed of good musicians, is playing expressively and is generally coordinated and obedient to the conductors will. But one stop follows another. Instantly maestro starts checking the tune. "A bit lower! A bit higher!" He takes an electronic device out of his pocket and offers everybody to listen to the exact pitch. Again and again he concentrates his ear on the microgradations of pitch, so fine that they are hardly differentiated by my ear of a musicologist (not too bad, by the way).
Three chords, played by the winds, consume several minutes to get through detailed work, that each instrument may grasp its role in the complex sound. A short passage by clarinet...By means of dexterous vocalization and articulation the conductor strives to explain the only right way of performing, as he sees it. Finally he borrows the clarinet and demonstrates, exactly how he wants the phrase to sound (applauded by musicians) emphasizing the specific "know-how" in a way easily understood by the musicians. If it were only the sophisticated chords of the winds or clarinet-passages! A single chord, an airy-light pizzicato by the strings turned to be quite a laborious task to attain the results sought for.
Hearing internally the whole performance-plan he polishes the details in a bright and interesting way, to correlate them with the whole system existing in his imagination. He is full of enthusiasm and shares it with the others. Maestro radiates music energy. And we recollect that the real art begins with "just a little bit".
Many things become clear, when one happens to talk with this lively, witty and vigorous person. When he was preparing to become a conductor, he thoroughly studied psychology, especially the sections dealing with interrelations in groups, or between a leader and a group, or those dealing specifically with creative activities. He does not sympathize with conductors reigning their orchestras in a tsar-mode. He prefers to be not over but together with his orchestra. For example, he cares as to how to avoid offending personal dignity, when criticizing. He is more inclined not to blame, but rather to appeal: you are too good a professional to permit yourself playing out of tune.
Besides his conductors degree, he earned five degrees as a performer on all of the main wind instruments. He made his way to conductorship through broad performing practice, that enabled him to gain the detailed knowledge of the orchestra from within.
Every conductor is an organizer. And he was establishing his orchestra in Washington, with its several symphony companies and numerous theaters and other institutions in the field of culture. He began from almost nothing, a small lecture-hall in a zoo serving as a concert stage. It is hard to imagine the enormous efforts and energy that are put forth in order to raise funds, as there are no subsidies from the audience to perform for. At present the orchestra enjoys a high standing in the city. But the problem of filling the hall is eternal. And there are a lot of other problems to be worried about.
And still this youthful-looking, active man, 54 years of age is always fresh, lively and energetic. He has three children and one of them, following his fathers steps, plays the winds and conducts. Neither daily care of his family nor concert tours and all sorts of daily hubbub-nothing prevents him from inspired creative activities at the rehearsals. His rehearsal is not a routine daily work. It is its Majesty the Rehearsal that he worships and thus goes on cutting the facts of his talent in order to give it to the public at every single concert-as a Triumph of Art. Boris Plotnikov
An amateur translation into English by the author (rather "in the spirit of language" than literal)
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