ricardienne: (Default)
Yesterday was an awful day. I overslept my alarm by 45 minutes, and then scalded my hand while making tea. How badly? Badly enough that I had to go to Health Services and get an ice pack, and spent most of the day carrying around, because if my hand went for more than a minute without it, PAIN.

Luckily, I just burned the outside of my right hand, so once the swelling and the PAIN went away, I have no hampered mobility and can play cello fine (except that the bandage gets in the way a bit and catches on things. I am supposed to leave it on for 48 hours from this morning, and then change the dressing. I am wondering whether it will last until tomorrow.)

On the bright side: I have memorized Kodaly! The whole thing! (I still can't play some of it though, which is frustrating.)
ricardienne: (chord)
I'm listening to Gavriel Lipkind's Bach suites (if you have NAXOS access, go and find them right away!): his ornamentation is crazy and wild, and I love it.
ricardienne: (Default)
I really don't like airports, or airlines, and I think it's because I am not used to be powerless. You have to stand in lines, and deal with all sorts of stupid bureaucracy and inefficiencies and your time is completely in their hands, and you can't make a scene, because you might get kicked off the plane/arrested/shot. (I'm either an entitled Generation-Whatever brat, or a red-blooded American who doesn't hold with the Soviet-Style opacity because in America the customer is always right, damn it!)

I'm actually not talking about security. Going through Security is kind of a pain, and occasionly the TSA people are cranky old ladies and make your life more difficulty, but I can see the point, and, I can see why the time is being taken up: getting all those people through the scanner. What really annoys me is the way that planes get delayed, and more delayed, and then lose their runway slots, so get more delayed, and then, "oops, we forgot to take the jet-stream into account, so the flying time will actually be about an hour longer than we said." And then, THEN they have the nerve to tell you to "have a nice day and we hope you fly with us again."

And, of course, flying with a cello makes things so much more entertaining. I got the airport early. Fortunately, as it turns out, because at the check-in counter, although the gentleman who has helping me initially had no problem, the woman next to him exclaimed that she loves seeing instruments with tickets, because "see, it's so cute that its boarding pass says "Cello [Last Name]". Which brought another woman over, who announced that this was Not Okay. Cello cannot have boarding passes. It had to be changed into a single boarding pass for me with an extra card giving me an extra seat. Never mind that Cello and I have flown before, and it always has its own boarding pass, and this is NEVER a problem. Except at Little Provincial Airport, of course.

"If we let it go like this, then its in the computer that the cello is a person." There is no way to note that it is, in fact, not a person? Apparently, not. Now, in principle, although it is stupid to make a big deal about it, I wouldn't really care what form the boarding passes took, as long as I had one, and had proof that my cello got a seat. But no one could figure out how to make this change. At one point, someone was on two telephones at once, calling the airline's central HQ to try to get told how to do it. FORTY-FIVE minutes I had to wait.

After that, security was no big deal, and because the TSA woman was too busy yelling at the man in front of me to "take your coat out of that tray!" and "push your bag onto the belt, Sir!" I don't think she even noticed that I was putting a cello through. Or if she did, she didn't care.

They always make the cello sit in the bulkhead (I fly an open-seating airline), but the rest of the seats are usually taken by handicapped/elderly/very tall or large people, so I was sitting a few rows back. Which led to much confusion when there was a crew change at the stop-over, when the flight attendants asked for "Lydia", and I raised my hand, only to be told "not you, a different Lydia." Whom of course they didn't find, because, as I was later told, they were looking for the "person of size"** who had two seats, since, of course, they had no record of a cello, thanks to the stupidity of the check-in agent who took away its boarding pass.

At least we both got there, I suppose.

**I really hate this phrase. I understand that some euphemism is in order, but "person of size" is so obviously euphemistic that it has completely the opposite effect. Why not say "a large person"?


Nov. 21st, 2008 09:24 pm
ricardienne: (Default)
Was tonight. Was awesome, in spite of self having stomach flu and thus being played on applesauce and saltines.
ricardienne: (chord)
is in less than two weeks. I am so screwed.

Also, my program notes run almost 2000 words. And include discussion of French cultural politics during WWI, random theories about allegory in the cello suites, and original research/analysis of Phaedrus and Seneca in relation to the dedication of Beethoven's Op. 69. In other words: they are awesome, but D. will probably hate them
ricardienne: (chord)
I'm working on Op. 69 right now, and I went wandering on YouTube, and found Zara Nelsova playing it. She can stretch a fifth in first position! She can do 4-4 slides and make them sound beautiful! She can play sforzandi and ff with no visible effort!:

And 4th finger trills, also with no effort!:

And blind leaps into thumb position! And did I mention the awesome bow control?:
ricardienne: (chord)
For a while now, my favorite cellist has been Boris Pergamenschikow. I had been going through all the Bach on the Naxos Server and hating it all, and then I got to his, and, well, it was pretty much perfect.

Earlier this evening, I thought I had found it on youtube, but it turned out to be Mischa Maisky. Who is also awesome, and whose Bach I like almost as much.
Here's the fifth suite:

Bach V )

And here's Boris Pergamenschikow giving a Master Class on the Shostakovich concerto. Oh, I wish I could have studied with him!

ricardienne: (Default)
The music I had requested interlibrary-loan came today: Graziani and Liebmann. I hadn't heard of either, but had just picked them out because they were classical-ish cello sonatas.

Both were surprisingly good -- this actually makes me nervous, because I liked the Benedetto Marcello sonatas that I got my dad to scan and e-mail me, too, whereas I didn't really like any of the Baroque/classical stuff that D. gave me look at. (Maybe I have extremely different taste in early music than she does, and this would be awkward.) The Graziani was a giant scholarly thing with a selection of continuo sonatas and such written either for Graziani himself and/or Fredrick II. But they also included a Capriccio for solo cello -- SOLO CELLO! I hadn't thought that there was anything for solo cello between Bach and the 20th century. This one is barely this side of an étude, but it is on this side, I think. On the other hand, it isn't terribly exciting, and it's a little student-y. Maybe I'll learn it for an encore (I'm definitely going to photocopy it and put it in my box.) The other really nifty one was a scordatura sonata: also something I didn't know outside of Bach and the 20th century. It's for a D A D A tuning -- one of the hypothetical tunings of the vielle, by the way, although I doubt Graziani was thinking about that. Of course, I really want to play that one, too, but I think my cello is dealing with enough weird tuning right now.

The other sonata, though, I think I may try to push through for my second recital. It's by Helene Liebmann, a fantastically obscure German piano virtuoso and composer. This sonata has two things going for it already: it's a classical sonata, in a sort of Mozart-y style, and since Mozart never got around to writing a cello sonata, we have to take whatever we can get, and it's by a woman, which is always cool and doesn't happen nearly enough. And thirdly, it's a good piece. I read through the first two movements this afternoon, and there are pretty themes, interesting modulations, and very equal cello and piano writing. The third movement, not so much -- it's variations, a few of which are for piano alone, but it still looks good. So yay! I found and ordered a CD that has it this evening.

On the other hand, I was practicing Bach this afternoon, and sounding awful in a major way. So there is always a downside.
ricardienne: (Default)
I clicked on this guy's videos mostly because they seemed to be shot in his living room. But they don't sound that bad. And… well, it took me a minute to figure out what was wrong. It's actually very disorienting, watching his bow move. But it's also really cool.

I had a minor crisis about the fifth suite allemande today. I've been having it periodically -- I think it may have cropped up in the fourth suite sarabande, too. I have this weird idea that it isn't Baroque style to hook dotted rhythms. I guess it's because we hear so much about the baroque bow that is weaker at the tip than at the frog, and so it seems as though even down--- down up--- up would be hard to pull off. In the courante, I'm mostly not hooking, and I experimented with down-down up bowing for the gigue today, and that seemed to work. It's really the prelude-introduction and the allemande that are problems. I don't play the prelude fast enough for down-up to really work, unless I do big retakes, and that comes off sort of silly. So right now I am committed to hooking it. But the allemande, I don't know. And it's getting tied up with my interpretative problems, too. I have a really good idea of what I want the last few phrases to sound like: rather dry and very dancey, actually. And this afternoon, I kind of worked out the corresponding place in the first half. But I can't seem to pull of the whole movement that way. It sounds to choppy. According to the distinctly less helpful than promised text volume of my edition, an allemande's main features are "solemnity and orderliness," with the fifth suite allemande being of the "fast and cheerful" variety. From elsewhere, though, I have an idea that the allemande often replaced a formal prelude, and after the huge fugue, of the prelude, it almost makes sense as a second prelude/ reprise of the French Overture style prelude. I think I got close to starting to work something out, by leaning on the beats and mixing hooks and separates.

This ell-jay is getting rather cello-heaving these days. But I suppose it's telling that when I got spam this afternoon promising "Worlds Leading #1 Mens Enlargement Supplement" my first thought was that it was talking about raising my IQ.
ricardienne: (Default)
First rehearsal for Dido today; Ami, the coach and leader (heh -- the director is British, so I feel justified in mentally thinking of her as the leader, and really, it does make more sense, since we're a four person orchestra), thinks I will/should play everything. This is pretty awesome, but, this is exactly what happened two years ago, and Professor H. nixed it on the grounds of "too hard to coordinate and it's perfectly authentic to do just harpsichord to accompany vocal stuff"). BUT, he liked my Bach a lot last semester, and now he knows I'm a good musician, and maybe he will trust me. And maybe Ami will put in a good word for me.

On the downside, my part doesn't include any cues for the accompanied recits., which I will definitely be playing. And of course, I just have pedal points, and without the voices -- it was not pretty. I borrowed a score, and I'm going to go through and write the damn vocal parts in. The next cellist will be glad, I suppose.

Now I am really really really hoping to play the whole thing.

The first part of rehearsal was spent going over the libretto and the story. In pretty excruciating detail, and I couldn't even talk about all of the bizarre references/use of Vergil that were coming up. She talked a bit about opera as spectacle along with a play in the 17th century, but unfortunately, the version of Measure for Measure that interpolates Dido never came up. Although the "Spaniards with jack-o-lanterns" did. And that was kind of fun.
ricardienne: (chord)
But first, some notes:

*One music camp down; one to go. The "Harp" Quartet (Op. 74) is amazing, by the way. I got to play it complete! And my quartet was wonderful. Now on to baroque cello and viol.

* Cousin S. and I joined the July 4th parade with an anti-war group. We only got a couple of nasty comments.

*I miss my computer and my regular internet connection.

And now for the wedding story:

One Saturday during music camp, while we were rehearsing, the director (my teacher) called and said she had a last minute gig for us. A friend of a friend of someone she knew was getting married that afternoon and needed a string quartet to play at her reception. They would even pay us. So we agreed. It wasn't hard to find the house, as there was someone on the street directing wedding traffic. Everything was complete chaos because of the rain -- the reception was in a tent on the lawn and was very crowded -- you try manouvering a cello through a bunch of people seated at folding tables. We introduced ourselves to the bride's sister, per our instructions, and she told us where to sit. While we were setting up, the Best Man came over and asked us what we were doing, but then he went and checked and told us we were fine: the band wasn't supposed to start until 6:00 and we were engaged to play until 5:45. So we sight-read early Mozart quartets and played some our Beethoven for an hour and a half.

While P. was getting the car to come around and pick the rest of us up (she had had to park quite far away because of all the cars for the wedding), we turned our phones on and all had two or three messages from the director. T. called her back, and the first thing the director asked was "Where are you!" "We just finished playing the wedding," T. replied, to which the director said, "No you didn't."

As it turns out, there were two weddings at the same time on that street -- we played at the wrong one. It was pretty mortifying for the first few hours, particularly when we found out that M. had been sure we were lying dead in a ditch, and P.'s parents had got the police out looking for us, but, well, it was pretty funny. And now it makes a very good story. Grandpa would have loved to hear it.


May. 27th, 2006 09:09 pm
ricardienne: (chord)
So yesterday I got to wait for two hours at the DMV to renew my learner's permit (because I'm embarrassingly 19 1/2 and still afraid to get behind the wheel). [I know. Driving isn't that hard. Lots and lots of people have learned how to drive, many of whom probably have less good hand-eye coordination than I do (not that I have wonderful coordination, but playing cello must help some!), and it is a necessary skill, and so on.] At [livejournal.com profile] voglia_di_notte's instigation, I was reading Henry IV Part One, but I finished it, so I started reading Holinshed exerpts in the back. From the bit about the reconciliation of King Henry and Hal, there was this description of the latter:

"He was appareled in a gown of blue satin full of small eyelet holes, at every hole the needle hanging by a silk thread by which it was sewed."

Isn't that lovely! Of course, I have many questions: how small were these eyelet holes? Wow widely or narrowly spaced apart? How long were the silk threads hanging? I suppose one could get an interesting patterned effect by varying the lengths of the threads according to some rule. Even all regularly, it would be beautiful to see: all of those little silvery things swinging back and forth and catching the light, like a walking mobile. I should think it would be a bit dangerous to embrace people in, however, and particularly your father who already suspects you of wanting to off him.

It always happens that whatever costume project I'm on, I want to be doing a different one, because I would give up on the Elizabethan dress in a minute to start some sort of houpplande-type thing with needles hanging off it right now! But I am not going to waste either my cloth or what I've started. I need to start working faster. This evening, I finally tried on my corset again, and then ripped the side seams out before I could persuade myself that it was the right size. As usual, I made it too big -- and corsets tend to stretch. I tried pinning it smaller, but I think I shall have to baste it, because cloth stuffed full of straws does not like to be pinned. Specifically, when I try it to put it on, it all falls apart. This means that if last night we had scorpions, tonight we are likely to have pins on the floor.

I got my cello back from Zoran today. He didn't like my Eudoxas, as I suspected, and advised me I should try either Prim G and Spirocore C or Larsen G and C to get a better balance. He let me play the cello he had just made, and I stupidly attempted the opening of the Schumann -- in the wrong key. That certainly showed how much I've been practicing.


May. 19th, 2006 01:11 pm
ricardienne: (chord)
Dear Southwest Airlines and Homeland Security,

What part of "fragile" don't you understand? No thanks for the broken bridge and fallen soundpost.
ricardienne: (chord)
So, D. told me that I need to completely relearn my left-hand technique. That isn't quite correct: I need to change the way I put my fingers down, which sort of amounts to the same thing. This is what she told me last fall, I think, and it didn't happen then. It needs to happen now. I have been practicing very slowly and thinking about each note, which is better, anyway.

I wonder if anyone has ever started teaching cello by teaching thumb position first. According to D. most people have to make this correction at some point. But it's only in the lower positions. In thumb position, I have fine hand angle. Is this just because I learned it later, and so learned it better? I don't think so. You have to tilt your hand that way in thumb position. You can't play otherwise. And so if you taught beginners thumb position first, when they moved down into "normal" playing range, they would already have the right shape hand. Maybe I will try this method when I have students.

I have been reading Measure for Measure again for my essay. The which isn't turning out too much longer than normal, which is a good thing. Part of me wants to see if I can easily stretch it to 10 pages, just to see if I *can* (and because 10 pages is standard for a Moderation paper, I think) but another part of me suspects that it is already too long and contains too much textual support, and is worried that I am trying to bite off more than I can chew, so to speak.

I like this play so much. I found myself really noticing Claudio this time around, although I am not, sadly, including much of him in my essay. He's quite a schizophrenic character, in a way. In that first scene, he first more or less agrees that it's right for him to be arrested, and then whines about it. (Although, this is really quite understandable, under the circumstances.) Whoever last checked out this copy (and by the handwriting, I think it was a girl) wrote very inane notes/paraphrases in the margins. This is what you buy your own copy for! And, if you're going to write in the margins of a library book, they should be witty/interesting notes, not things like "disguise?" at "I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,/ Visit both prince and people" and "do people change?" at "I do beseech you, let it be his fault,/ And not my brother." She seems to have stopped after Act II.

This is such a pointless entry. I should go to bed now.
ricardienne: (angelo)
I started reading Kant today, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. I was expecting to hate it, but, actually, it isn't too bad (she says, having only read the first part and a bit of the second). He sets it all out very clearly: intent and effect. Something is moral because it is moral, not because it will cause a good thing to happen. He completely privileges intent. If the intent is good, the outcome is irrelevant. This I can buy. (And no, you can't make the Hitler argument here: moral is an empirical standard -- not whatever one happens to decide is good as far as oneself is concerned). But I have an issue with the inverse of that. Actually, it's the same issue I've had for a while.

What about an immoral (evil) intent? I have a hard time saying that a person who has an evil intent is himself (herself) evil simply by fact of having that intent. That is, I don't mean to say that such a person isn't evil, but if their evil intent produces no effect, how do we even know it existed? Kant himself says that we can never know whether any intent is truly moral, because there may always be some other reason for the intent and the effect other than pure duty, whether we can perceive it or not. I am not, obviously, talking about someone who has an evil intent but then decides not to act on it. In that case, the person is clearly superimposing a good intent over the evil will, for a net result of a moral intent. And it does seem sensible to say that the intent is enough to count as evil… you can get charged for conspiracy to commit a murder, after all. It's built into the law that intent matters in its own right. I guess the question is, of course, how do you know that the intent is there without the effect it produces? It's all very well in the abstract, but I have no idea whether my roomate has a good or an evil intent towards me until she does something. (Or rather, we should reverse this situation…)

And I still have a difficult time with this. I can easily accept some absolute Good that exists outside of anyway effect it might have. But I can't so easily accept a parallel idea of absolute Evil. Evil things, I would say intuitively, have to actually happen for them to be evil. Perhaps it's the idea of evil as a perversion of good. The one can exist on its own, but the other has to actively effect what is already there. Is this what Moral Relativism is? I think it might be. I would like to write my essay on this, but, a) I haven't even finished reading Kant, b) this doesn't really pertain to Kant as much as it pertains to my ideas about right and wrong vis-a-vis Kant, and c) I don't know how to go about writing such a not-primarily-text-based essay even if I could get away with it.

Of course, the other thing that this bring to mind is… Measure for Measure. Now, obviously, one can't look at Kant as being really applicable to something written 200+ years before he published. But I think that this idea of intent vs. effect is older than that. The Catholic Church, for instance, has counted thinking upon sinful thoughts as bad as committing the sins themselves. And I also found this interesting tidbit from The Catholic Encyclopedia: Thi sin would be formal if he took the property in the belief that it belonged to another, whether his belief were correct or not. Definitely, intent counts here. Which is interesting (and okay, so Shakespeare wasn't a Catholic, but I don't think that the English Reformation got rid of this particularly bit of morality.), because that isn't the conclusion the play seems to come to at all. Granted, it is not clear at all that Isabella actually believes what she is saying, perhaps she's just trying to make any argument at all to help out Mariana. But she does argue that intentions don't matter: "thoughts are no subjects;/ Intents but merely thoughts." (Or doesn't she? Just before that, she claimed "A due sincerity govern'd his deeds,/ Till he did look on me: since it is so,/Let him not die." I.e. because the original intent was not evil, the evil action doesn't count. That seems really weak, however, because clearly even if the original intent was not bad, it was replaced by a bad one. But it does seem as though she is trying to make her case on both sides of the issue.) And, in the end, it plays out that way. Angelo gets off because none of his evil intentions produced their effect, although he is clearly guilty by the intent is what matters idea that is so common. But I think what Isabella is really talking about is not, of course, the actual good or evil, but the extent to which the law has power. To that extent, intent can't matter without effect, because it can't be known. "Thoughts are no subjects," she says. An individual's moral status is not in the law's purview. Not making windows in men's souls, and all that. This is all very relevant as far as the Theme of Government-Instituted Morality, I'm sure. At least, it had better be. And, as usual, it made a lot more sense before I tried to type it up.

And on a completely different note (I promise), my lesson was not as dreadful as I thought it was going to be. I was passable at the Schumann, and D. told me that I was definitely conservatory-level, and that a)the new conservatory here had a ridiculously high bar for acceptance and b)acceptance at Oberlin depends a lot on whether you have a connection to one of the teachers or not, all of which makes me feel much better. But best of all, when I started playing the Bach, doing a horrible job at it, she took my cello and couldn't get a good sound either, at first. It was determined that my fingerboard is about an inch too long. So, all this time that I have been putting a ridiculous amount of effort into not playing over the fingerboard I really shouldn't have been. So even though I have much much much work to do before it will sound good, playing farther up already made a huge difference. Plus it is easier and less frustrating.
ricardienne: (chord)
I. There is no reason why it should be so difficult to memorize 27 measure of music. Particularly not when you've been playing the Bach on and off for a good six months. You should be ashamed of yourself.

II. If you didn't want to edit that long a paper, you shouldn't have written so much in the first place. So stop complaining. And it isn't even that long.
ricardienne: (chord)
So, tonight was the Benefit Concert. I got to play Death and the Maiden with Yun-Ting, Brian (whose name is apparently really Chun-Chih and not Brian) and Adele. It was wonderful, as always. You can't beat Schubert for gorgeous chamber music. Except with Brahms, perhaps. Yun-Ting played the Prokofiev violin concerto, which was very cool, and June did an excellent last movement of Symphone Espangnol. Zach was there, too: he played in the Mendelssohn quartet and played an arrangement of the Vitali Chacone, which I missed, as I was warming up (we were last on the program).

Kate and Vanessa came up to me afterwords, and told me that my tone was really good, and was better than Zach's! They were being nice, I'm sure, and I guess getting my soundpost adjusted really did make a difference, but… I feel like gloating a little bit, now. This should motivate me to practice more, shouldn't it?

But it's terrible, about Zach. He's supposed to go on his Mormon Mission next year, and he doesn't think that he'll be allowed to take his cello with him. That's crazy! Here he is at a conservatory, and he's going to be forced to take a year off from music? You can't do that. I just don't understand religion. How can it make people do that kind of thing?

And now, because I promised myself that I'd finish my corset tonight, and it's already quarter to twelve and I've got a million yards of homemade bias tape (which works much better, I've discovered, if you actually cut it on the bias) to sew on, good night.

But first, stolen from [livejournal.com profile] kaskait, meme )


Sep. 9th, 2005 11:31 pm
ricardienne: (Default)
First cello lesson today.

I guess I had just gotten used to being advanced. I know. Whenever you change teachers, a lot of things happen. I know. My vibrato is a very weak point. I know. There's tension in my hand. It's why I've had tendonitis. I know. I just don't want to face completely restructuring my playing. Because, however kind D____ is, however she says, "It won't be too big of a deal, you have the basic underpinnings, you'll get used to the changes in no time," the fact is that I have to rethink how I hold my left hand. How I vibrate. How I move from one note to the next.

And my right hand. Okay, so I'm glad I'm going to learn how to balance pressure and speed so that my sound is perfect. In fact, that's probably one of those things that Z. M.L., the R. Brothers, Y. -- everyone whom I've never been able to come close to -- does, those things that I know set really good players apart, but that I haven't been able to name. One of the reasons I didn't get into a conservatory. I just wish it didn't exist in the first place.


ricardienne: (Default)

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