Thursday, December 11, 2008

*Disclaimer: Excessive parenthetical remarks ahead! Sorry if it seems a little rough, but I wrote this pretty much as my thoughts came.
My dad got tickets to see Itzhak Perlman a year in advance. Perlman had to cancel the original scheduled date. But then, by the grace of the merciful music gods, he rescheduled. Compound that with the fact (yes, fact) that Perlman is the greatest living musician on Earth (arguably in the universe). Let’s just say that my eagerness to see this concert was rivaled only by my anticipation to meet Jeff Corwin the month before (note: Jeff Corwin : Me as Mr. Rogers or Big Bird or the Power Rangers : Any normal kid, i.e., Jeff Corwin was my childhood hero, I wanted to meet Jeff Corwin, I wanted to be Jeff Corwin, etc. But I digress.). Good things supposedly come to those who wait. Sometimes, the world is a kind and just place where life follows a path laid out by proverbs. October 6 was such a date.
Is it possible to play with wisdom? How was it that I, restricted to my puke-orange chair, could feel the undulation of the piano counterpart in the Beethoven sonata? Can C minor sound agitated? How does one express ferocity with limited mobility? Has the loss of one sense heightened another? In the Le Clair Sonata, how was Perlman able to convey musicality solely with the nuisances provided by phrasing? When I finally got my brain to stop yammering, I saw colors (and no, this wasn’t a crazy acid trip!) – green in the second movement, and a fluctuation between hunter and yellow as it progressed. At one point, I remember thinking of blue and navy. The Stravinsky Serenade was an enormous surprise, mostly because I’ve only heard Rite of Spring, but a very pleasant one. In the middle of the Tarentella, my mom wrote in my notebook, “The page got turned over by accident. He moved on,” to which I could only reply, “Because he’s that amazing!!!” But all drooling aside, perhaps this is what the standard should be for professional performers – to create a multi-sensory experience, and to be, at the end of the concert, the best possible vehicle to convey the music itself. Because, as much as I hated to admit it, the concert wasn’t about Perlman, it was all about Beethoven, Stravinsky, and all the other composers and their work. In other words, it was amazing.
I couldn’t catch much of what he was saying during the encore, but from what I could gather, he played a lot of Krisler, which was, for lack of better word, nice. “Dance of the Goblins” was also quite a treat (the person sitting behind me got REALLY excited because he figured out what the song was going to be while Perlman was describing it). But I admit, I was an absolute sucker for the theme from Schindler’s List. Perlman must have played that piece upwards of 50 times for people, but he played it with such intensity as if it were one of his first times playing it. Seeing someone connect to a piece like that – it was an extraordinarily beautiful thing to watch. When he finished, there was a pause of complete silence before the audience began to creep their applause in. Even the obnoxious people sitting behind me (Goblin Guy and company) finally shut up.
Now, to tie Itzhak Perlman to Jeff Corwin (why? Because I can. And I will!). Itzhak Perlman was awesome. Jeff Corwin was awesome. By corollary, they must be somehow related. Seriously, I actually thought about this when I left the concert. I’ve scorned mindless idolatry of celebrities (okay, okay, I admit I idolize Anderson Cooper…), and perhaps out of mere hubris, I had to reason that I had not simply settled for basking in the glory of my heroes. I did not go to only personally ask Jeff Corwin a question (I mean, I probably could have looked it up online or e-mailed his PR person) or to physically see Itzhak Perlman play (if I just wanted to watch his playing, I could have just looked up videos on You Tube). There is a difference between watching someone live, someone stripped of production glow and editing software, and a recording of someone. Perlman’s performance had flaws. He crunched. He played a wrong note (okay, so it was one or two in the Beethoven sonata, but a mistake nevertheless!). Who am I to judge, but yes, I came to the sad realization that he’s mortal. Or was it a sad revelation? By watching these two very human people (giving me hope that perhaps, one day, I may become 1/10 of the person they are!), I wasn’t told how to promote wildlife conservation or how the intricacies of counterpoint work, I watched people who were fully immersed in their passions. I can't even begin to describe what that was like.


Anonymous 6:04 PM  

I know. Nobody like a Neutral Ned, but it seems easier.
But why is it baddd?

I hope you're having a splendid holiday, friend! :)

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

Sorry, haha. That^ was from me. Dang it! Me as in Matt Wolf.

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