BUT STILL PERFORMING
AND RECORDING ...
LIBOR PESEK in conversation with Bill Newman
<< Continued from page 1
Pesek enthused about Brahms in the dressing room. 'Here is a specific
author which takes some different blood, of a sort. If you play him like
Elgar, you get nowhere, because Elgar is a very gentle author who, while
being near to Brahms' time, has a lot of lightness, gentleness and poetry
in this sense. With Brahms, you look for the Hungarian element, as part
of the Hungarian-Austrian Empire. That is the joy of this symphony, which
this orchestra could play well almost without rehearsal. To bring a definite
pattern to people who grew up in a totally different aesthetic, Laura, my
First Flute, came up to me and said: "Libor, I don't quite like the
vibrato you asked for in that phrase?" I told her that if she didn't
like it, she should stand by her decision and not do it. What I wanted was
to bring that espressivo voice out, but the way to do it was strictly her
way. I could be her grand-father, but in those days it was different. She
should now lead, by example.' Gone, are the Conductor-Martinets like Mengelberg,
Stokowski, Karajan. Today's conductors are more in the hands of players
who know their craft. 'I think it is a matter of psychology, not diplomacy.
Players have to be persuaded that what they are doing is the right thing,
instead of forcing them to do something which is alien to their nature.
You can enhance and broaden their understanding of the music, like playing
piano instead of mezzo-forte, and they do it, but you can hardly change
the tone of the flute because it is so basic.'
Working with various European and British orchestras must involve a modification
in approach compared to other conductors. 'Yes, but you can hardly do so
with just 2 or 3 rehearsals, so you accept what is and just bring to their
attention certain traditional things that you think will work, like more
or less bowing at score pointers. But you can hardly expect any conductor,
including some of the greats you mention, to change the sound or style of
any orchestra in just three days. What is important is playing of integrity,
and you wouldn't believe how differently three orchestras perform the same
work.' Pesek had programmed Dvorák's Symphony No.6 in Denmark, Finland
and Prague. 'In a way, the Danish Radio played it with more spirit than
the Prague Symphony!'
Copyright © 27 June 2000 Bill Newman,
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