Monday, February 14, 2005

second cellist

Because of the change of personnel in Friday's perf, there have been heated discussions on icy coach seats about the 'Number Two' in a string section. On Friday, into the space where you would normally have found our impeccably solid first violist Nadine, there crept Michel. Having seen him raquette boldly to a small summit in the Alps only days before, I was not surprised to feel him melt from mute statue into fluid poet in his temporary role as Number One, and by the end of the show the viola section had a new voice. Last night, with Nadine's luscious curves returned to us he had slunk back into silent stillness. The trouble is, now we all know he is there and we want him back; we want them both.
Mirella was fascinated by this apparition and wanted to know why the Number Two had to be submissive; why we had to lose a voice to gain one, and it is a good question. There are various reasons but perhaps no excuses:
Reason number One: Two people playing the same part but following their own separate impulses create a diverging rather than homogenous line and result in a flat sound.
Reason number Two: The person in the position of leader needs his/her ego massaged by a coquettish and submissive woman/man.
Reason number three: More subtle version of reason number two, in that the first player must not feel undermined - or indeed irritated - by the mad and uncontrollable swayings and noddings of an over-sexed second player. (This is where I tend to trip up when I am second cello.
In an ideal world we would all accept each-other's imperfections and if one is weak in one area, or on one day, we would happily compensate for them without losing respect. Our egos would be overcome in service to the music being conducted through rather than by our egoless conductor, and flat Dutch phrasing would be a thing of the past as we all surfed the wave together. We would all be fulfilled, each of our voices giving full expression whilst being part of the spiritual whole....
And so in answer to Mirella's question I pose another. Why can't we have a society run by egoless politicians and with equal opportunities for all?
Answers on a comments below please.

In a timely article in the Observer today entitled 'Please don't interrupt while I'm ogling the second cellist' Euan Ferguson warns us of the new gadget 'CoCo'- the 'Concert Companion. He says:
"They want you to hold it in your lap at those concerts, and switch it on, and watch the notes bounce along, and read words programmed in by someone possessed of marvelous computer skills but a thoroughly reeking vest and tiresome illiteracy ("This is Dvorshaks second concerto which is french for concert its nice isnt it now here comes the petty bit with the obos"). "
Horrorstruck at the idea of encouraging people to experience music through their small computer brain rather than their infinite heart, I was reminded of the removed yet frenzied state I got myself in to during last night's perf - not something I would recommend for any listener: There in the audience was the first cellist of the Musiciens du Louvre. No, not H, not the first cellist (by kind submission of the second) of the Atelier des Musiciens du Louvre's production of P and B, but the real thing. Billed as a colleague who was merely there out of love for music, I was paranoid that she was there to secretly audition me for the work in the summer (now possible as The Concert d'Astree have mysteriously cancelled the 10 days in Edinburgh which clashed with it). Every atom of the musician in me, rather than flow round my body and soul, happily guided by my ears, rushed to my head and got all squished up with my chaotic and insecure brain. My natural noddings and swayings became a cariacature of themselves and my ears closed to any prospect of intonation.
I'll let you know if I get the gig.
Anyway (sorry for slight diversion there, that was a one-off) Euan goes on to say:
"If only those behind these concerts would charge more for attendance, not less. If only they would trust new audiences. trust them to come along, and perhaps grow bored once or twice with one or two composers but then just silently vow not to do Wagner again. They would still come back; and sit, quietly, dreaming it all in, finding their own favourite seconds rather than someone else's, and fantasizing about second cellists. And then going home happy, having learnt and exulted. And not saying a word."
Glad to know you are there Euan, and that you understand. Keep ogling, for the music's sake.


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