Weekly Report, #13. Lucky Thirteen
Score Study: a week before Blue Monday - this couldn’t be good. But actually was pretty decent. I’m in the midst of process of internalization of Mozart’s score, so mostly spending time with the notes, listening, playing, thinking about, analysing or perfecting the markings. Also, can I write down thorough reading (with a score!) of newest “Explore the Score” post on Kenneth Woods mighty blog as a “score study”? Yeah, I’m going to do it.
Piano: this week was very piano heavy and I loved it! Schumann was sufficiently cleaned up (forgive me for this image), in Haydn XVI:16 I’ve did a lot of details which somehow didn’t occur to me before (mostly connected with secondary dynamics and phrasing) and I did start chilling with J.S. Bach. French Suite was a great thought, but I’ve decided to actually start with Inventions and gradually work my way up to bigger forms. The first one on the workshop is: BWV 782, No.11 in G minor. Seriously, how do you come up with such music?
Music Theory/Harmony: cadences on piano. I wish I could write: “lots of cadences” but actually – a few. To that: exercises in recognizing intervals, chords and their qualities, functional harmonic analysis by ear and playing modulations. I was also threatened by a teacher that we are going to progress onto chromatic modulations. J.S. Bach seems to approve.
Reading: Richard Wagner. On Conducting . First, let me admit one thing. I hate Wagner. I do not think highly of him as a composer, nor human being en general, but he happened to write one of the earlier texts on conducting, so it was bound to happen one day. In reality, it is one big tirade against the conductors of his age – this, I’ve actually loved! The binding idea of the book seems to be: everyone does everything wrong. Wagner touches on pretty much every matter connected with performing classical music – mostly Beethoven, who he sees as an epitome of modern style (as opposed to ‘classical’ style of older composers represented in 19th century by the figure of “German Kapellmeister”). Discussed are matters of slow tempi, fast tempi, proper tempo in general, dynamics, accents, phrasing – everything. Writing is ironic, sharp and fiery but extremely egocentric – the plotline of every chapter is usually the same: some conductor here and there massacres such and such work, luckily Wagner shows up, introduces him to “proper method of rendering a passage” which always “proves strikingly effective” (and if that does not succeed and conductor still takes the wrong tempo – he usually spends whole performance “struck with sadness, leaning on arm, with head down”). From this text one may conclude that Wagner held monopoly on sensible performances of symphonic repertoire in Germany circa 1830-1883. He should really get a patent on that. What seems particularly interesting now, from the historical perspective, are musings about post-sentimentalism/early Romanticism style of art that Wagner sees as being washed out from strong affects and habituated, not unlike the art of earlier epoch. Also, he theorizes about relative lack of markings in Mozart symphonies being an effect of Mozart’s “high trust in the instincts of the performer”. Unfortunately, penalty points are granted for slyly dissing Schumann in a manner which really doesn’t testify to Wagner’s much self-lauded musical comprehension. All in all, it is one entertaining curiosity.
 I’ve promised link and here it is – the book is readily available online, in the copyright free edition.