Conducted a recording session for Ben Taylor's "At Which Point" for wind symphony tonight. What a great piece! I hope the recording came out well... please... My conducting is getting so sloppy... I can't believe it---I don't wanna believe it. I am so frustrated. So many things frustrate me lately. Yes, I had five hours to prepare it, but it really shouldn't be an excuse to be sloppy about keeping tempo---SO BAD---I can't believe this! Any musician can beat a steady quarter=160 tempo. I really don't wanna screw up the recording of a good friend's. I am glad though, I took the task and helped him out, so that he at least gets a recording. And, I get to realize how sloppy I am...
We five adventurists get up at 4:00 in the morning on this cold Saturday morning, headed off to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland! The morning was crudely cold. As usual, I brought my huge camera bag and my tripod. Photos will be updated to my Gallery soon. After hiking a few trails, we took the best nap lying on some blankets in a random shaded ground. Yes, I didn't sleep last night... It was a great trip, except that we missed the sunrise ---- not that I need to photograph that, because the moment of sunrise usually creates too much contrast; it's the even lighting situation that the sunrise creates that is interesting.
8:00p.m was a concert in Severance Hall, Cleveland with the Cleveland Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov conducting Brahms Symphony No. 3, Ravel's La Valse and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini with Kirill Gerstein. The conductor was amazing in that his gestures were so natural and convincing, and they reflected exactly how the sound was shaped. It almost felt like the gestures were over-rehearsed though... It sort of lacked spontaneity. The capability of he orchestra's technique and force were no doubt stunning. The performances were almost too perfect... the conductor did tend to over-phase, and this resulted in that the phrases were fragmented and shortened at times. Let me add that the pianist's performance was so clean that powerful. In short, I enjoyed every single moment in the Severance Hall tonight.
I've been seeing some very crappy conductings on TV lately. I mean... weird gestures are totally fine, but non-intentional repetition of meaningless weird gestures means bad conducting to me, totally...
I was working on the page right before the coda in Chopin's fourth Ballade. Seriously, the TV is kinda scary...
I love conducting --- it just fulfills many things that the piano can't give me. I love all the orchestral colors, and enjoy interacting with and reacting to my fellow musicians. Conducting to me is a more music-engaging activity than playing the piano because it involves much more interaction and communication! I have to give up my ego sometimes; unlike playing the piano, which is most of the time self-centering (I can argue against myself, but to say less here...). Don't take me wrong, I love playing the piano too. They are simply different. Some people say that conducting is just like playing a huge instrument, but it is far more than that.
I bought a universal laptop adapter today; it's kinda expensive... I think it's the third replacement adapters I bought for this laptop. I like my laptop, but it is probably time to get a new one...
I saw Bernstein's complete Mahler DVD today and almost bought it. It's cheap! I have all the CDs, but I'd love to watch it. Bernstein always has some very interesting things to say. His conducting is famine, and utterly exaggerating. I like his passion, his spontaneity.
My desktop's hard disk died yesterday; now my laptop's AC adapter is dead... I will have no access to computer, again... I am just really bad luck with computer...
I conducted Viola Yip's White tonight; it was fun. I think at one point, I almost threw my baton.
Carlos Kleiber, one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, is really my favorite conductor. Note how he shapes the sound with his baton and his whole body. He doesn't simply beat time; indeed, none of the great conductors beat time. The orchestra reflects every movement Mr. Kleiber does on stage, and vice versa ----- it's a two-way communication thing. A conductor is the spiritual leader of an orchestra or ensemble; at times, he needs to be an educator, "traffic police" (as Ozawa puts it...) and technician, but most of the time, he is a musician who makes music.
By the way, can you count how many circles Mr. kleiber has drawn? Every music teacher tells you that circular motion is the most natural movement you can draw with your body, but it is not the only way to conduct, of course. Try drawing squares and see what kind of sound you get! (okay, it's awkward...) Conducting teachers tell you to move smoothly and gradually like feeling the resistance in water for a legato, bounce at the top of the beats for a staccato, raise or lower your left hand for crescendo and decrescendo... let me tell you, it doesn't matter as long as you can convince the musicians and communicate with them clearly with your gestures. Every conductor is different, just like every pianist is, in their movements, musicality, personalities, relationships to the orchestras ------ every little thing in them affects the SOUND. It is what makes conducting so fun for me. I like to find out what kind of sound I get from interacting with different musicians.
One thing though, Carlos Kleiber always seems to lack eye contact. Maybe I am wrong because I never played for him obviously, but he does seem a little zoomed out. He doesn't correspond his eye contact with his baton and his phrasings. In Mr. Kleiber's conducting, the sound of the full orchestra is shaped simultanously, while some other conductors cue and pick on every little details. So, which conductor lacks eye contact? Check out Karajan, who closes his eyes all the time, even in rehearsals. If you want to see what real eye contact is, check out Fritz Reiner; he stares at you mostly...
This is the best recording I could find of Brahms' fourth symphony ---- I prefer it than the one he did with the Vienna Phil. To some extents it's because of the video. I think music can be seen. That's why we go to performances!