Conducting continued

“For [a] conductor this is a question of how to use his personality and his education… the strength of his character… so that the musicians will be very quickly involved of the atmosphere of the piece. It doesn’t really matter how well you move with your hands. It should be in your face, it should be in your expression. “

-Valery Gergiev

This quote (which was from my last post ) came to mind as we rehearsed the Enigma Variations today.

Our guest conductor for this concert is the former music director of the New Zealand Symphony, James Judd. I must first admit that I was 10 minutes late to rehearsal this morning, which I will not get into… However it did give me a brief chance to hear how the orchestra sounds from outside of the bass section for once. I was really impressed this morning. The strings were producing and entirely different kind of sound that I am used to. I managed to rush and get set up in time to catch the last half the run through. There was just this energy coming from the podium which was transforming our sound. At this point Judd had hardly said anything. I immediately thought of my last blog post, and Gergiev’s words in particular.
Judd is English, and no composer is more English than Elgar. I feel the idea of conductors specializing in their own national heroes is both interesting and problematic. (A few years ago I played the most spectacular Sibelius 2 I will ever play, with a young Finnish conductor. A year later the much anticipated second concert with him -featuring mainly Dvořák – was far less impressive.) I really don’t know how much Judd’s nationality actually affects his interpretation of Elgar, but I am thoroughly enjoying myself regardless.
Judd did mention how he much he loves this “youtube” of Elgar conducting Land of Hope and Glory. So I’ll post it.
And since it’s Enigma this week, here’s the clip of the CSO doing a Nimrod dedicated to recently deceased Solti. This performance happened early in my freshman year of music school, and everyone was talking about it for a long, long time.
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2 responses to “Conducting continued

  1. I hate being late in general, but especially for rehearsals, and especially orchestra rehearsals. Did you get fined?
    Let me guess – you woke up on a park bench on UofO campus.

  2. You know, I think that of all “regional” music, Scandinavian music is most susceptible to the issue of a conductor’s nationality. And I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is, but I think that Sibelius’s music in particular is best done by Finns. And having spent a lot of time in Finland, I actually think this is due partly to the weather (seriously) and partly because of how a nation as small as Finland views those who manage to make a name for themselves “on the outside.”

    Its an interesting question, and worth pondering.

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