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LIBOR PESEK in conversation with Bill Newman


Libor PesekDuring recent years I have religiously followed the eminent conductor's appearances around Britain, with the Czech Philharmonic at London's Royal Festival Hall, the Czech National at Birmingham's Symphony Hall, ending up with a rather interesting rehearsal of Brahms Symphony 2, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic at their resident Philharmonic Hall. Pesek, a KBE, is their Conductor Laureate. From his casual podium high-stool, inclined to squeak during exciting passages, he leans beneficently towards his adoring players ensuring them that 'Brahms must always be romantic and sentimental. Not like Mozart!' At one point during the first movement development where the string section literally attack their phrases with vehemence and passion, a series of up and down bows had been devised to cope with the current of rising emotions. First violins unhappily voiced their awkward gear changes. 'All right, you know better than I do, because you have to play it. Bow it your way!' They did, and response improved 100 per cent! Pesek's system of rehearsing: lst, 2nd and 4th movements plus comments about pitch, ensemble, balancing of sections, weight of phrasing, score dynamics. Following the break: repeat of 1st and 2nd movements with further points raised, then - 'Oh, someone has just told me we haven't rehearsed the 3rd movement. You have the grasp of the music, and will play it in your best grazioso manner. I will tell you a story about a young tiger cub, just born, that I held in my arms. I could feel this vibrating mass of fur and muscle against my own body. That's Brahms' intensity of style and depth of tone. Now, you want to go home!' Suddenly, I thought back to Beecham - maybe his old-fashioned chivalry when making music is still alive.

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Copyright © 27 June 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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