I am fortunate to hear really talented artists perform nearly every week at the NAC. I am in awe of Pinchas’s ability on the violin and viola, I’ve heard amazing wind and brass soloists, and many great singers.
There is really nothing like hearing a great pianist in concert, though. The gap between their level of performance and my pitiful Functional Piano skills is just so immense it’s almost imponderable. In recital, the amount and range of sound they can get out of the instrument, the lightning-fast runs and delicate chords, almost appears supernatural.
Murray Perahia is one of the world’s best, which is quite a statement when you consider just how many great pianists there are these days. His program last night was pretty standard – Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and Chopin. I loved the Bach – it was more Romantic than Baroque, yet there was great clarity of line. I could spend years just working on that one piece and I don’t think I’d ever be able to remember all the notes, let alone perform them in such a way that was musically satisfying.
Recitals also make me uncomfortable sometimes. There’s no safety net – it’s just the performer, alone on stage, completely vulnerable. It’s a bit like watching a tight-rope walker. You’re sure he’s good at what he does, but you’re also a little worried that one day, maybe even today, will be the day he misses a step and plunges to his doom. Perhaps that element of danger is what makes recitals so compelling.
Next up – we’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz…