Monday, April 24, 2006
Kneeling, authority, and delicate sounds
George Hunka, playwright and host of Superfluities, has a fabulous interview with Marilyn Nonken. Or rather, a fabuluous first part of an interview, which I expect to continuous in fabulosity for its last two parts. Physical gesture is something that is neglected too often in instrumental performance, but Marilyn's comments show how effective these gestures can be. I remember attending a recital by Stephen Burns, shortly after he had won the Maurice Andre International Trumpet Competition. He made gestures at the end of each passage that followed the tone of the music. Slowly descending trumpet accompanied by a soulful look on his face for gentle adagios, wide-open arms and a triumphant, powerful look to end flourishes. I was torn, on one hand feeling that his gestures were "mere theatrics." On the other hand, the physical gestures moved me, allowing me to continue feeling the musical content. And why are theatrics so bad that they are "mere" in the first place? I've seen instances in young vocalists where the theatrics are a poor substitution for missing musicality. But as long as the musical authority (another excellent point Ms. Nonken makes) is there, the gestures can take the performance to yet another level.