Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

This a one of my Birchbark finds, and the writing is wonderful. The clue to a good book is very often found in the opening line. Such is the case here:

Along a narrow street in the Paris neighborhood where I live sits a little store front with a simple sign stenciled in the window: "Desforges Pianos: outillage, fournitures."

I can't say what is appealing about that beginning. After all, it is merely informative. But it drew me in, which is the magic of good writing.

The chapter Un Match Musical tells about the author's chance-meeting with a professional accompanist. Those who know me, know that this is "what I do". There aren't too many of us. (or if there are, we don't spout about it, being by nature shy and retiring...) Here are some excerpts that sparked hearty agreement in me; quotes from this un-named yet eloquent man:

"I realized...that being an accompanist gave me an entry into the world of song and it diminished the piano's tyranny. Of course, we all try to make the piano sing, but it's a losing battle. You're playing a percussion instrument, no matter how you look at it. The voice, on the other hand, is infinitely supple. I really believe that the brain is concentrated in different areas for piano and for song."

"In the best case, you work with a singer who not only has a good voice, but who is also musically intelligent, and our instincts and ideas match and complement each other in interesting ways. We provoke each other and it brings out something new."

"Most often.... you're in a strange situation where you know far more musically than the singer you're working with and yet you have to be careful how you assert yourself. You must earn the confidence, the respect, and the trust of notoriously willful and self-centered performers."
(blogger's note: hey, I'm just quoting here!)

"All I can tell you for sure is that when it works, neither of you is conscious of the various elements. It's like a wonderful conversation where anticipation and communication merge. It's almost as if you are breathing together and the music is your breath."

Perhaps I am pining for that rare experience, as I am not playing much this summer. But in August, I take part in a concert to "put the shine on my spats". I'm only a member of the chamber orchestra, but I would be just as happy to be a fly on the stage wall. Wish you all could come, as this festival is always a musical highlight for me.

Musical breathing. It's a fulfilling pastime.

2 Comments:

Blogger TrashTidBits said...

Do you know how to pronounce all those strange looking words in your blog? I know that I can't. Maybe they are words in your prayer language that you can use in the upcoming meeting in Washington..or perhaps they are words that you can use in your next scrabble game.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Ann said...

From a non-musical reader: thanks for this glipmse into yur profession. This is beautiful: "It's almost as if you are breathing together and the music is your breath." Wow.

9:06 AM  

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