My word to the listeners of the New Album.
New philosophy of conscious classical music interpretation.
What Fires The Fury
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”, it is a popular quotes attributed to Albert Einstein. He also said something which I find particularly defining of my own 25 year struggles against the rigidity of the establishments’ musical thought and principles: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Sometime In the mid-90s, I came to realize that what I accepted as an “understanding” of musical language was actually an advanced stage of skilled, rigid familiarity with rules and regulation: altogether devoid of any intimate conversation between musician and music listener. My musical life was absent of conveying any conscious thought or elements of any living soul. This realization germinated in the face of fundamental questions that I felt compelled to ask, which were heretofore absent from the realm of traditional “performing art” as well as art of piano playing.
To wit: What lay beyond the boundaries of “traditions”, “styles”, “schools”, and theoretical analysis? What is the “Id” in music, and what, above all, is its role (and my own role, for that matter) in the schema of sonic intuition ?
Professional concert pianists are taught many things, through a multitude of methods and mechanical manifestations (“pianism”), that became, and still are, the foundational bedrocks of our profession – traditions, schools and personal intuition, an entire array of academic and interpretative heritage created through the long and storied history of the keyboard. But all this left me wanting; conquering the stage with such hollow tools was at best a Pyrrhic victory – For my life’s work it was too little, and I needed to find the truth. I needed true knowledge, and I had an inner fire to find it. But there was no predefined path to lead me to my goal, no established venue where such information was readily accessible. So I dedicated my life to discovering what was missing and to creating a science of conscious performance, and to applying what I learned to the most serious of musical works.
My goal was to connect my soul with that of the composer; to redefine the art of performance from scratch so that the piano, under my hands, could bring the composer back to life so that the listener could live the music too. I call this the art of conscious performance. When fully realized, the music would enable the listener to comprehend the full content and meaning of each tone in the canvas of the musical score. My intention was to reveal the information carried by every tone of the work through my performance – but first I had to master the art of extracting the consciousness of the composer from the musical language, to find and then to reproduce its connected verbal, literary essence – the heart of the “Id”. Never again would this content be treated as the parenthetical – drawing the listener’s focused attention to the pretty notes, “nice phrasing”, “great colors”, the flashy technique – the empty conscious of dazzling pianism – all the while subjugating the living being of the composer to the dead liner notes or the dry text of a concert leaflet.
Firstly, as in the context of my opening thought, I found that for languages to be mutually translatable, they must first be perfectly mastered. Musical language requires a more diverse knowledge than that required to read phonetically; needed is a facility to relate simultaneously to the many facets of human physiology: the reactions of human physiology to sound waves, a familiarity with historical and cultural aspects of the composer’s personality, and with aspects of anthropology.
In addition, approaching the more complex level of musical language, one must overcome the obstacle of diversity – understanding a language that is not fluently universal. Each composer has his or her own identity, rooted in but not completely dependent on the general principles of the current musical language contemporaneous to the period, so general dictionaries are insufficient – rather individuated musical languages must be analyzed and documented from scratch for each uniquely significant composer.
Mastering musical language requires the processing of a much larger array of information than that needed to fully embrace purely phonetic language, and one must spend an incomparably longer time to learn music than to learn that of the word. Words require an understanding of the alphabet and of grammatical tokens, and you can begin reading without being a master of linguistics. But acquiring a truly innate understanding of music requires a multidisciplinary approach to master its language, its science, its techniques, its musical notation, harmonic and theoretical principles; but even once all that is accomplished, one has only scratched the surface of truly musical language.
But one lifetime seemed almost too short a span to do this. While no one with the required tool set had yet accomplished the Task, I looked at the musical world in the 90’s with incredulity and wondered why truly civilized people had not yet at least tried to break out of the established mold and pioneer the effort to be the first. So I decided to face the difficulties of paving a heretofore undefined path – to discover its boundaries, explore new space, and commit to long-term exploration of the relatively complete “darkness” to find the light, and to arrive at a scientific method of addressing music – a new study which is only now coming to full fruition; a result which now makes it possible for a musical professional to transform the musical fabric into a clean, clear and understandable stream of musical and philosophical thought for purpose of enlightening the listener.
With this present, multiply faceted album, the first released since 1993, I am sharing with the public the sum-total of my new knowledge, skillsets, science, philosophy, performance, and new music. Replacing intuition is pure knowledge of the musical language of each composer, and a deep understanding of the philosophy, emotions, artistic images and literary-poetic narrative of each serious musical composition I have chosen.
At first glance it seems antithetical for a Pianist to try to move the focus of his or her music program from the act of playing the instrument itself, to the content of the music being played. But the goal is to make the Piano an expressive conduit for musical thought. In my vision of music programs, the piano itself is no longer the object of attention OF the “listener”, but rather becomes a means of expressing musical thoughts TO the “listener.” The essence of music expression, the content of explicit musical thought, is paramount, rather than the mere technicalities of “pianism.”
I hope my audience will truly receive the composer’s heart and soul through my performance. If they can see, hear, understand the diverse richness of philosophical thoughts and emotional states, the painting of literary and artistic images via the living fabric of meaningful music, then my quarter-century of work will have been as fulfilling for them, as the journey of discovery has been for me.