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Xavier de Maistre - opinions on what makes him great

  • Armande
    Armande Fryatt

    I think it's got to be technique, technique, technique.....

     

    Thoughts anyone?

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    replies to "Xavier de Maistre - opinions on what makes him great"
    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      I guess it depends on what you mean by Technique. Generally it means the ability to have absolute control over your instrument. To be able to play what ever it is you want to play.

      Technique only takes you so far. Two people can play all the notes in a particular piece of music and one moves you to tears and the other leaves you cold.

      Being great is about more than playing the notes. It is about imbuing the music with content. That takes understanding the music and being able to express yourself through it. Something that can be partially learned and is partially a gift.

      There are some people who have the talent and technique to play any piece on an instrument of any difficulty, but who will never be great musicians. And there are some who will grow into being great musicians through experience.

      I remember seeing the violinist Midori play many years ago when she was very young. She could play with great technical skill, but her music didn't inspire. I heard her play about ten years later and the difference was immediate. It's not that she was technically any better. She didn't miss a note in either piece. But her later music was filled with a life her earlier music didn't have. I think it was because she was to young the first time I saw her to have figured out what she wanted her playing to convey.

      That's why Xacier de Maistre is so great. Because he does more than just play the notes. He makes the notes a vehicle for something more.

      A person can be able to make the instrument do what ever they want, but they have to know what they want it to do. They have to have something to put into the music in the first place. Something they want to convey. If they don't then when they play they are just making pleasant noise. When they do know and they have the technique to physically play in a way that can convey that, then they play like de Maistre.

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    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      That's a perfect explanation Tony. I'm insanely jealous that I didn't say it!

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    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      I'm insanely jealous I can't play like de Maistre.

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    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      Seriously, any musician on any instrument who plays at the very top level has several skills that the rest of us mortals don't. They have an almost built-in technique. Their hands seem to fall on the instrument in a perfect way. They have unusual dexterity. They have phenomenal memory, and can memorize a long difficult piece in a fraction of the time it takes the rest of us to memorize. They impose impossibly high standards on themselves and will work looooooong hours to reach perfection, and they will accomplish more in one hour of practice than the rest of us can accomplish in 10.


      But a musician who has all of these skills is not necessarily a great musician. The skills have to be there, but the musical understanding is another matter, and some of the people with all of these skills will become great musicians and others won't.

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    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      I got to see him at the WHC in Vancouver and was blown away. Whatever it takes, he has it.

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Jessica, I'm 99.99% sure he wasn't there (I don't remember that AND I just searched the entire whc program) - are you sure it wasn't some other male harpist? Sylvain Blassel, perhaps?


      ~Sam

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    • Brook
      Brook Boddie

      A few years ago, one of the finalists in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition chose and played as one of her pieces a transcription of Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze."  It was the most simple of any of the pieces I heard played, yet one of the most beautiful.  In fact, it's that piece that I remember over any of the other great pieces that I heard, and there were many.  This is not to say that difficult music can't be beautiful--it can be equally as moving.  But it was the passion with which she played that moved me most--and the fact that she played the piano as much with her heart as with her hands.  Great thread here!

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    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      Reminds me of a  British TV show I used to watch. Young girl trying out for music school for clarinet came in to do her audition. She has just suffered a loss and didn't really want to be there, but this was her chance so she went.

      She had a choice of four piece to play. She chose a piece by Bach. One of the judges said to her something like, "Really? That's the easiest piece. Why don't you try this one instead?"

      I don't remember exactly what the pieces were, but the judges argued over if she should play the Bach or the other piece and she finally said, "Fine, I'll play the &^%$#%^ piece you want!"

      She immediately started playing the more difficult piece and did it perfectly.

      They were all clearly impressed since that wasn't even the piece she was planning on playing, and they basically gave her approval. As she packed up her clarinet and turned to leave she looked back and said, "Your loss. If I had played you the Bach you wouldn't have been smiling, you would have been weeping with joy."

      She knew that she could play all the pieces, but she knew that what she could do with the Bach went beyond just playing the notes.

      Oh, and if I recall she got into the program.

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    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Yep, sorry, you're right.

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    • Rod
      Rod C.

      Tony:

      I enjoyed reading your post on this topic (as well as those of others who posted.)

      When I was a journalist, I learned there are no silly questions. So, here's my question. When you say "imbuing the music with content.," what does content mean in this context?  Are you referring to "emotion"? I saw the word "passion" in the threads on this topic, but didn't see the word "emotion."

      I know vocalists always talk about the importance of putting emotion in a song to make it meaningful.

      Interesting stuff. Thanks.

      Rod C.

       

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    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      I think "emotion" is as good a thing to call it as anything, although some of it might not necessarily be emotion specifically but, lets say, environment or context, such as isolation or wistfulness (maybe that counts as an emotion, but I always considered it more a state of mind).

      It is about having a message, and often that message is emotional in nature, at least for the performer. The composer can more easily put other elements into a piece. Ultimately the message of a piece of music is the message that the composer is trying to convey, which is why it is important as a performer to understand the music.

      But there is that part of the music that requires the musician to put in something else other than the notes in order to put that message in an emotional or experiential context so that it can truly resonate with the listener.

      Singing is a very good example. I think that most audiences can tell when a singer is emotionally connected to what they are singing, or when they are just phoning it in. With out the intermediary of an external instrument the content of the singer's performance is very raw and stark before the audience, and it is hard for a singer to fake their way through a performance.

      But the same applies to other instruments other than the voice.

      Passion may be there, but passion is just one emotional context. The musician has the full color palate of emotional context to work with, from the blatant to the subtle, and being able to evoke anything along that spectrum is what makes the greatest musicians so great.

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    • Zoraida
    • david
      david humphreys

      My thought is that he has a sense of the "big " picture, he also is not afraid to edit when necessary-----such an exciting age for the harp with people like him around!

       

       

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