Getting (and keeping) it together

You’ve studied the score, understood the ‘topography’ of the piece, decided on the ‘correct’ tempo for each movement, and so on. Now it’s time to put the whole thing together and, working with the orchestra, sort out details of articulation, dynamic, ensemble and balance, and how to negotiate any difficult corners that the work presents. Here, […]

HIPsters

HIPsters? No, not what you’re thinking, but a word – I’m rather proud(?) of it – that I’ve coined myself. HIPsters are people who favour Historically Informed Performance (aka ‘authentic’ performance or period performance). Notice the inverted commas around the word ‘authentic’. They’re there because, as critics of the term point out, before the invention of the wax cylinder, […]

What’s the score?

Of course it’s pretty vital that a conductor has an overall sense of a work. A composer’s (sometimes!) carefully constructed opus – a climax here, rest points there – can easily be wrecked by maladroit stick waving and/or misplaced peaks or troughs. So, if there’s no handy composer around to ask (they’re pretty often dead); and, while […]

Rhenish

Robert Schumann wrote four symphonies. The last of them, the third (don′t ask! …well, not yet, anyway) was dubbed – not by Schumann – The Rhenish. With the exception of one movement, it’s a rather jolly work and its nickname seems, for once, almost justified [seeming to conjure the great waterway (of course); jolly peasants; […]

V Tatrách — In the Tatras

Vítězslav Novák may not exactly be a household name, but –together with another Dvořák pupil, Josef Suk – he was one of the most influential composers and teachers of the generation that followed Smetana and Dvořák. The tone poem In the Tatras is one of his most performed works and does for the Tatras mountains (they’re on […]