Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

<<  -- 4 --  Howard Smith    TRUMP CARD

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Violist Gillian Ansell recalls how for the first of several rehearsal sessions with the composer, Székely himself opened the door to the Banff Centre apartment.

She remembers a tiny, stooped little old man, frail and slow. Yet despite the fragility he was reputedly in excellent health and still spent hours working through scores and music text-books 'His face had the utmost sweetness of expression and patient gentleness,' Gillian recalls.

'He'd looked forward to the NZSQ visit all morning, rising especially early to prepare himself,' the housekeeper revealed. 'Now he radiated excitement and anticipation at the prospect of hearing his quartet at last.'

Gjelsten tells how the NZSQ spent a very long session with him that day. 'We began by playing the first movement, then listened to his comments concerning tempo, articulation, dynamics and balance. Then we played the movement again until he was satisfied, before moving on to the next. We were able to go through all 8 movements in this manner without his concentration diminishing'.

'We were all thrilled with the work', Gjelsten remembers. 'The style is unique, displaying great originality, deep expression and wild virtuosity. Some passages are reminiscent of Bartók, others recall Kodály, the rest; only Székely's unique imagination could conceive.'

The work is highly and faultlessly structured, possessing a remarkably expressive abandonment, evoking life on the Great Hungarian Plain, east of the Danube.

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Copyright © 1 March 2001 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand

 

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