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lauantai 6. syyskuuta 2014

An Ode To True Musicianship

Mikko Perkola, Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, Laurence Dreyfus
Jonathan Manson

Usually mornings are not exciting - at least not in a positive way. Today was different.

As a part of a conference organized by the Sibelius Academy at Musiikkitalo this Friday at 10 before noon begun an exceptional performance by an exceptional musician: master of the viol Laurence Dreyfus. And yes, I won't forget to mention that he was accompanied by two gentlemen that I'm honored to know very well: Markku Luolajan-Mikkola and Mikko Perkola. Both virtuosos on this sweetest of instruments as well. Bravo!

By any musical standards alone this would've stood above all experiences I've had in concerts during my life. But it was more than that. It was an intimate yet powerful tour de force of reason guiding emotion.

This, I think, is the only sound way to approach pieces of music as a performing artist (or preferably 'music sharing artist' as I would rephrase it after Mr. Dreyfus's own example). The mythical 'inspiration', that has been supposed to be guiding performing artists, has resulted in a multitude of performances and recordings copying each other and not communicating with the original idea of the composer (or cultural context of the composer) at all. Nor has it communicated with the audience.

Musicians claiming to be guided by this mystical force (and being truly charismatic!) are unfortunately guilty of shrinking the sphere of musical expression. Different time periods have ended up sounding similar, different genres sounding similar (resembling the operas by Richard Wagner) and the pieces of music composed by some of the most brilliant minds in the history of mankind, have been reduced into being vehicles of too many of the performers of today. Just because being charismatic (performing) has been the goal, and communicating (sharing) hasn't!

And here comes the paradox: Mr. Dreyfus was talking about the guilt he has experienced while wandering beyond the boundaries of period musicianship into the uncertain grounds of intuition and personal taste. What am I writing about his reason guiding his emotion then?

Well. In the end musical expression always becomes a question of personal taste. There is no way around this.

I do claim having some insight to the particular repertoire (please forgive me my arrogance!) that was performed this Friday morning, which was music for a consort of viols from 17th century England. Both my intelligence and my heart were deeply moved!
Both were moved by the composers' intimate thoughts that were mediated pure and balanced, and by the performer's attitudes towards them. The latter demonstrated not only in the playing but in the speech by Mr. Dreyfus also.

In our profession one has to learn to be satisfied by a good enough guess instead of certainty. But a good guess doesn't come like a win in lottery. You have to try to find out the truth first. Then comes the leap into the unknown. Frightening business...

Thank you for doing that leap today Larry!