<< -- 3 -- Jennifer Paull REINVENTING THE WHEEL
'There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot
- Georges Braque (1882-1963) French painter, sculptor, designer
If only I had a magic wand and a time machine! Putting Gilles Apap and
Cathy Berberian together in concert would have drawn even the Martians to
Earth to queue for tickets. Neither had one ounce of the 'conventional';
both were surreal in many ways and can only be classified as Great.
Cathy left us nearly twenty years ago. Gilles is making the music come alive
now as only a wizard or an enchantress can, with that indispensable ingredient
I have never been contained except I made the prison.
- Mary Evans, actress (1888-1976)
Some artists just don't have drawing boards for such architecture
in their DNA. To name but a few, Satie didn't, neither did Cage; Berberian
didn't, and neither does Gilles Apap.
If I had to pick a posy of CDs to take to a desert island, this one would
be indispensable. Why? Because just how many people can do what he is doing
and make the played-to-death come alive with a brilliance that makes you
want to listen to it over and over again [listen --
track 15, 0:00-2:00]? Reinventing the wheel, indeed!
Many have tried to do that by flogging the 'Historically accurate' war-horse.
I am not a follower of that particular bridle path. We live now, whatever
the plusses and minuses of life today. Unless you go by equestrian horsepower
to the recording studio, make your oboe d'amore reeds by candlelight
and cook, eat, dress and behave in every way like a person of that bygone
era with its inherent pressures and life problems, how can you claim to
perform more like a ghostly, such musician than your colleagues who are
also alive, as are you, in today's world with its own inherent problems?
Environment permeates by osmosis into everything we think and do, and that
includes how we (re)create our Art.
There were precious few recording studios in the eighteenth century,
come to think of it. Having an imitation instrument (as a wind player) of
the period of a baroque composer's lifetime doesn't make the quality
of your life, your own inner self and awareness (which are your equipment
for interpretation and performance), more relevant and 'pure'
than he who plays upon the instrumental tool manufactured today. Apap plays
a contemporary violin. Is that 'wrong' when he plays Vivaldi? If it is,
then playing Bartók on a Stradivarius is 'wrong' too.
Copyright © 27 October 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland