certain phrases that give me happiness

by pieces of moments

Thanks to Eric over at The Indie Handbook for catching this great little interview the kids at BBC Music Magazine conducted with one of my all time favorites – Menahem Pressler. He is always saying the most wise things! Love it. And guess what?  This time it happens to be about the Theme Of The Week: interpretation! Don’t you just love it when you get a big finish for the week? Nice.

* fist pound, Eric *

I especially love what Pressler says in answer to the question “What do you look for when you are judging a piano competition?”:

For me, the winner also needs musicianship, a knowledge of style and what the composer represents… and then that one thing that the great talents find inside the music: that one moment that when you hear it interpreted by them makes you a changed person for it. I rarely remember a whole performance from beginning to end, but I do remember a certain phrase that gave me happiness, satisfaction and a reason to be a musician.

It reminds me of something similar he said to conductor James Conlon (one of my favorites) in a video series entitled “Encore,” which is about…ahem…interpretation, that was put together and produced by the Van Cliburn Foundation in conjunction with the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (Pressler adjudicates the competition):

An audience goes to a concert in order to come away with an experience. Now they don’t go in order to just admire the facility, they do go and they say, “tonight I will hear Beethoven, I will hear Schubert.” And they go home and they remember maybe a moment, which is the great moment in a work. There is no really great performance without a great moment. And, the great moment to achieve is not always the same for everyone. This is why I said the great interpreter finds a great moment for himself, which has given him, by working on it, the exhilaration, the inspiration, the strength.  And then, when he plays it…he shares that moment with his audience.

Isn’t that life, though, as well as music? Pieces of moments?

The video clip down there is from the aforementioned Encore: Episode 1 “Apollo/Dionysus” (Pressler/Conlon discussion is at 8:28).

Then, be sure to watch the rest!

Episode 2 “Plato Or Aristotle” / Episode 3 “Being It Or Playing It”  / Episode 4 “Beauty Or Truth” / Episode 5 “Technique Or Spirit” / Episode 6 “Tradition”