I’ve become obsessed—this isn’t too strong a word—with Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, which I’m preparing for a recital with Jovanni de Pedro. I know that it’s become a bit of a cliché from being on so many movies, advertisements and so on, but every time I play it, I find something new and astounding in it.
What makes it particularly hard for me is that Pärt purposely didn’t put any dynamics, articulations or other expressive markings in there. Does this mean we should add our own? I don’t think so. One of the biggest challenges is just keeping a steady tempo of 100 to the quarter note, which is as painfully difficult to do as it is in that other famous slow cello solo, “Louange à l’éternité de Jésus” from Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Even though Spiegel doesn’t have the same hard shifts and high playing as the “Louange,” I find sticking to 100 extraordinarily hard.
I am delighted to announce that my first book, Cello Practice, Cello Performance, was published today by Rowman & Littlefield. I give my heartfelt thanks to the editorial team, the designers who made the beautiful cover, and everyone who inspired and encouraged me to write down ideas from my teaching career. To my teachers, my students, my colleagues, my family: this one’s for you.
I love it when members of the audience approach me after concerts. (I mean, who hates compliments?) But I’m sometimes surprised and puzzled at the things they say. The most common one I get is some variation on “You look like you’re having fun!”
I guess I was really hoping that they’d say they’d liked the music, or my interpretation of it. Maybe they did, but lacked the technical vocabulary to say so?