There is much more to playing the clavier than playing written music. Do you realize with accompanying there is often nothing written out but the bass line–the left hand? There might be a few notations as to a suggested harmony, but it is up to me to fill in the music, at the proper volume, style, and harmony for the soloist–often instantly. I’ve heard it said that Bach questioned whether the soloist or the accompanist deserves the greatest glory.
Darkness falls as an acclaimed pianist begins a recital devoted to music about water. Slowly the hall becomes a lake.
It might sound like a dream, or maybe just the wild imagination of humans high on music, but this week the Park Avenue Armory will make this image a reality. Tears Become… Streams Become… is a collaboration between pianist Hélène Grimaud and conceptual artist Douglas Gordon opening Tuesday, December 9th and running through December 21st. The installation is open until January 4th. If I were in New York City I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
The installation itself is quite a feat, as the entire floor of the Armory had to be leveled and covered in Viroc, particle board bonded with cement so that it wouldn’t float up or bow as 122,000 gallons of water are poured over it. Having experienced a flood in my own home I can attest to the destructive power of water upon floors. This is far from the only difficulty, of course. You can read about the construction project and the performance in this wonderful write up from the New York Times.
I have a particular fondness for the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, having performed there last July in Weinberg’s The Passenger as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. You can read about the wonderful historic building here and about our production of The Passengerhere.
When pianist Alfredo Rodriguez was invited to play for jazz legend Quincy Jones, he was excited and perhaps a little nervous. The journey would not do much for his nerves. A Cuban National, he was arrested by Mexican officials before crossing the border at Laredo, Texas. He was detained for several hours, while officials demanded money and threatened to deport him. This piece, called Crossing the Border, is a testament to the racing feelings that possessed him during that ordeal. Alfredo’s playing is fiery, full of technical bravura and deep emotion.
And yes, everything worked out. Alfredo was able to come to the United States and fulfill his dream of collaborating with Quincy Jones. We are thankful that we get to hear him play.
Video via QuincyJonesProds on Youtube.
For more about jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, you can read and listen here at NPR.org.