Friday, December 29, 2006

piano piano piano

It seems common wisdom that meeting and/or getting to know an idol (in any sense of the word) is always somewhat disillusioning. One's performative self is rarely the same when meeting with individuals rather than in mediums where interactivity is more one-sided (e.g., the viewer and the viewed). The crazy thing is with an additional performative layer of more "visible" performance, like that of television/movie/stage acting or any sort of performing thereof, meeting someone in a different performative "level" can be somewhat jarring.

An ex-boyfriend (ex-friend? ex-thing?) once told me about "falling-out-of-love" with Lara Flynn Boyle (don't ask) after watching her on a talk show. I mean, it's not like that LFB is any more "authentic" than any other, even when playing her hard-nosed evil-looking (EEEE!) character on The Practice, so I'm not all sure what it means -- aside from the fact that nothing on this green earth could prepare him for LFB on Letterman (or whichever show it was that he saw). Big turn-off he said (and not necessarily of the hubba hubba variety).

It can work the other way though, too. When I was younger, my piano teacher gave me the Christmas gift of a CD of Mitsuko Uchida playing Schumann's Carnivale and Kreisleriana. I can't say that it knocked my socks off (that waited until I heard her recording of one of Mozart's piano sonatas that I was working on at the time. A-flat? I really don't recall, and I don't know any body of sonata's so well to be able to call out more specific identifiers beyond thematic fragments), but one thing that did strike me was the statuesque and "removed aesthete" quality of her photo presentation. Reading an old interview (must have been in the 90's) published in BBC Music Magazine did little to alleviate this impression (here's a more recent interview I dug up which shows a quite different quality of persona than I had originally gleaned).

Seeing (and hearing her) in action was a startling, and positive, change! RealPlayer interview (I think at her home in London) and youtube of Uchida playing (and conducting from the piano) Mozart's Piano Concerto No.20 K.466

What's also interesting is Uchida's involvement with the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and a related semi-interview. I had stumbled across all this (and the preceding re-evaluation of Uchida's personality) because of my interest in the Peabody Conservatory. When I was living in a hole-in-the-wall and trying to scrape together pennies for a rainy day (and for voice lessons), I had decided that I needed a more constant vocal instruction than what I had been able to afford at that time (2 a month -- totally not enough, in my experience, for someone trying to piece together a working technical understanding of singing), and so a conservatory or at least school-like regimen seemed to be a good solution. Of course, Peabody was certainly on the handful of schools that I knew simply based on reputation alone (aside from a story (and related tales) told to me by my hilarious hilarious friend Marina), but upon investigation, it sounded like a wonderful fit. Of primary persuasiveness was the profile of Hyunah Yu, an alumna of virtually all the programs at Peabody (you'll have to access the profile directly at the Peabody website as I still have to figure out how to embed it here.

Anyhow, as a winner of a BBTrust award, there are quite a few sound samples on the BBTrust site, here in a playlist for enjoyment, including 3 selections from a soon-to-be-released solo recital CD from EMI. I'm not entirely sure what I think about those three selections, but there is plenty to love from the previous sound clips posted at the BBTrust (and you can hear what sounds as a beautiful, radiant account of Obradors' chestnut "Del cabello mas sutil" as background to Yu's profile at Peabody).
First three tracks from the forthcoming recital disc:

P.S. Also for fun comparison, below is Martha Argerich playing the same Mozart Piano Concerto:

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