19 August 2023

From Bach's Leipzig

Now this is one that I found deeply educational and I have several pages of close notes to confirm it.  Tahlia Petrosian was in residence at the School of Music for the week, including various concerts, presentations and performances.   She's a violist, soloist, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, KLASSIK Underground, chamber player and more.  I'd heard her on ABCRN Music Show just a few days before so was intrigued by the open public Masterclass to be run at the SOM.  I arrived perhaps 5 minutes early and she was there, alone, in the front row, waiting.  Mmm.  It was a great opportunity to chat, especially given we will be in Leipzig in a month or so, but...  Others started arriving 10 minutes later.  The first violist started around 10.15.  I'm sure the Matildas started right on time; not this.  Embarrassing.  But then we heard 4 performers - 2xviola, 1xcello, 1xviolin - of varying standards.  Tahlia was open and supportive but also demanding.   The concepts were obvious enough, but hearing them in context was an eye-opener; recognising what she spoke of in the performance and then the players' response.  And after advice to a lesser player, how to use those concepts in a more advanced performance.  These were all bowed instruments so related.  There were issues of bowing, vibrato, practice, structure and phrasing, interpretation, pizz technique and possibilities, performance, appropriateness, articulation, role of the performer.  These quotes tell some of the story: "We can never have a non-beautiful sound"; 'Be strict in practice; correct things"; "You need to have that swing to it"; "pain in sound" (Shostakovitch); "approximate playing (is unsatisfactory)".  There was lots more and nothing was unexpected or unknown other than maybe specifics of playing Shostakovitch or others, but the ears and techniques and the demands of the music were expository.  An exemplary learning exercise.

Tahlia Petrosian (viola) gave a masterclass at the ANU School of Music.

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