This post concerns a performance I gave two days ago of the Faure Elegy and the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1. I anticipate following this short essay with a more extensive and mechanical dissertation on mind-body relations in the performance of French romantic cello music.
Ripped from the guts of the Lagerquist sacred space, I began to think further upon the elements of performance.
Performing isn’t like writing — only in blogging or in rapid-fire editorialism is writing a performative act, and even then, there’s little to be said for permanent tattoos. Everything is alterable; another draft can always be coerced or attained — the sour notes made right, the crooked rendered straight, transitions woven, breaches healed.
In performance it is all for naught if the body gives up or becomes overenthused. The moment exists in a monstrous totality, a glorious vaccuum of anything but the hammerklavier with its brutal tusks and potential delicacy arrayed against the golden varnished flames of the axe’s wood.
Gary Snyder would have lied if he told you that the model was close at hand for the performance: Penelope is the patron saint of the musician. Everything is unwound and woven again, every day Parnassus sings his taunting songs as lugubrious steps churn down down ever down toward the mediocrity of standing in place, the ambition of —
Wait! The phone burbles; the pianist calls. He needs my presence again! The insanity builds — from Japan to Vienna in two short bounds!
Bow strokes haw furiously, tunefully mordant, little trills puck upwards like wood shavings.