Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A tall order

Wow, this blog is so bad for me! Just now I read back what I had written and I thought, well, it wouldn't hurt to listen to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing "Das Wandern," just once, on this snowy morning when I am behind the eight ball as usual.

Watching it once might not have hurt. But then I watched it again.

And again!

Then I went on to "Wohin," the next song in Schubert's "Die Schoene Muellerin." It is on the YouTube video too, which, if you want to fall victim to it the way I did, you can find here.

I grew up listening to Fischer-Dieskau, not watching him. Now I found myself entranced watching him. My coffee got cold as I sat and stared. He is such a tall, graceful man. So handsome, too. He was 67 when that video was shot. He is in his 80s now and I guess he is still handsome. Between him and Leonard Pennario I have great taste in octogenarians, I will say that.

What strikes me most about watching Fischer-Dieskau sing, though, is how natural his movements are, and how connected he seems with the audience. I love how in "Wohin," he absently caresses the lid of the piano. Then he folds his hands. Then someone in the audience sneezes or something, and you see him glance up. He radiates such warmth.

When you are a performer so much depends on your manner toward the audience. You see some people, their performance might be OK but they just project being uptight, and that is bad. Cecile Licad, when she played the Rachmaninoff Third with the Buffalo Philharmonic, she walked out as if she were being led to her execution. I remember she did a good enough job with the concerto. But your perception of it was clouded because she looked tense, and you found yourself absorbing some of the tension.

That is Cecile Licad up above. She is beautiful. And she has chops. Now, if she could just relax! I got into an argument about her with my mom. She said, "Well, it's hard to play that. You can't expect the pianist to look the way you want her to look and behave the way you want her to behave."

I said, "Well, yes, I can!"

Being a concert artist is tough! It is a tall order! Otherwise, heck, I would be one.

Oh, look. In that link above, after the Chopin, Licad plays the same Rachmaninoff prelude I have Pennario playing today in my other blog. We can listen to them both performances side by side!

It is always interesting to compare and contrast.


  1. Cecile Licad & deportment? Well, she's young and building a career. That might have something to do with tension. On the link, I might suggest that the Revolutionary Etude is a bit overpedaled, but I can't play it, so anything I say is sour grapes.

  2. Thought I'd weigh in, so your "blog log" doesn't say "1 comments".
    There's a lot to be said for an artist's "attitude" and audience connection. Anne-Marie McDermott really sold her Gershwin performance with BPO in November, in part because right off the bat she strode on stage full of (what's the classical pianist's equivalent to "piss and vinegar"?) She looked eager to let us in on her enjoyment in tossing off the syncopations, riffs and jazz chords that give spark to the music. She really connected.
    The same with Pinchas Zuckerman, Perlman, and yes, Pennario from what YouTube shows of his dignified self-confidence. Fischer-Dieskau has it too, big time.
    If, on the other hand, an audience believe they have to help save you from a breakdown (Glenn Gould? Keith Jarrett? Oscar Levant?) or get you through some personal crisis, well, they could stay home and watch Criminal Minds with a glass of Scotch and get the same result.