My friend and collaboratrix, cellist Miriam Stewart-Kroeker (now Hincks, maybe? Miriam, you should stick with your incredibly classy maiden name) had her graduation recital today, and A) she played a balanced program with some standard recital rep (Beethoven’s Sonata in D major), standard concerto rep (Dvorak’s Concerto in b minor), B) she played a piece not part of the usual recital – George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae and C) she sounded fantastic.
In keeping with my “new year’s resolution” to write something about all the concerts I attend this year, I present the following outline:
I. I love the fortepiano. Really. Deeply. What a great sound! So standard-to-piano-sounding and yet different. In the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall it sounded muted and warm – the tinkly flowing passages that usually evoke water and mirth on a pianoforte sounded more like…I don’t know, fabric? Maybe?
II. Miriam’s tone has this translucent, viscous quality; warm and smooth like honey with the accompanying clarity and flexibility – throughout almost her entire range. There were a few passages where I was like “WHERE is the honey?” but for the most part…
III. Miriam breathes deeply through her nose, which is noticeable in a recital situation.* I’ve heard people say they don’t like it, but weirdly, I do. It makes the performance more intimate and real; everything she played in context with a breath like that sounded like she was playing to create music, not a performance, and not “just notes”.**
IV. I’m so into weird colours and sounds that even when she messed up it was cool. I am beginning to wonder if this is a flaw.
V. Speaking of colour, it was a super-awesome treat to hear Vox Balaenae again. The pianist and flutist that performed with Miriam sounded great (as did she, of course). George Crumb is a genius with colour, and (as usual) I took colour notes:
vocalizing into flute w. prepared piano, playing with resonance in the piano, screwdriver on a piano string, screwdriver on a piano string paired with cello harmonics, sliding pizzes, consonants through a flute, cello and flute unison oscillations, love me a harmonic gliss!, whistling and crotales, whistling and an in-piano gliss, whistling and standard piano (and by the time you get to flute and piano that sounds interesting too. CRUMB WHAT HAVE YOU DONE), unison plucked strings in piano and cello
VI. What I really love about this program is how the first half showed the audience that Miriam had chops, and the second half showed that she has guts to go along with them. Bravo! Degree well earned.
*Actually, it probably only exists in recital and chamber situations.
**As an oboist, though, I might be biased. I’m always a little disconcerted when you can’t see musicians breathe when they play!