Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest VisitingCellist

Performer Quirks

Recommended Posts

Guest VisitingCellist

Here's the place to post any bizarre things you know, either first- or second-hand about the great performers of today or the past.

The oddities can pertain to their demeanor on- or off-stage.

Simple enough.

So, I'll start off...

- I saw Gil Shaham a couple years ago. He moves more on stage than any violinist I've seen. I mean, he'd bend backwards 45 degrees or go into a half-squatting position. He'd jump in the air a little bit and walk around, and the front-stand people had cleared a larger-than-normal space for him. Afterwards, in a meeting time, Shaham claimed that these apparent hystrionics are really unplanned and almost unintentional. He said that in one performance the stage had a set of side stairs, and he realized that he had walked down the stairs into the space by the first row before noticing!

- Pablo Casals says in his autobiography that he really doesn't like the pressure of performance. That's why, to him, chamber music was preferrable to solo playing, and conducting was best of all!

- I've noticed pianists have a habit of talking to themselves while playing. It can be rhthmic gutteral noises, sometimes humming the piece, or other times seemingly unrelated gibberish.

- Oh, and--probably due to the fact that he's gained some weight recently--Josh Bell sweats PROFUSELY when he plays...or at least he did when I played in the BMC orchestra in NC last summer.

There's a start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It all goes to show that sometimes "perfect" technique and posture is irrelevant.

Dig:

David Taylor (superb bass-trombonist...all over the place!)

...pianists have a habit of talking to themselves while playing. It can be rhthmic gutteral noises, sometimes humming the piece, or other times seemingly unrelated gibberish.

^^

KEITH!!! His audial and movemental idiosyncrasies are renown...but, who cares when the music is absolutely gorgeous!

Keith Jarrett - Over The Rainbow

I've even had people "complain" that my movement is sometimes distracting...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm very much the opposite: even my teacher, a musical purist, complains I shouldn't be so rigid and stoic while performing, despite the fact it does nothing to harm the performance itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever I air conduct, I talk to the imaginary orchestra in front of me.

look at Mr. Rattle in this video up until 1:12. Mute your computer and look at how he communicates with the orchestra. It's really amazing actually.

0:00-1:12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While at a musical college-prep school back in the 90s, I remember watching a string quartet made up of members of our professional orchestra. The first violinist would pivot in her chair 180 degrees so that her left thigh would hit the back of the chair to the left, then she would swing around to the right and her right thigh would smack the back of the chair to her right, back and forth, back and forth.

She did this quickly, regardless of the tempo of music. Even during slow movements she would do this. During faster parts, she would stomp, too. And if that wasn't distracting enough, I clearly remember she was wearing a skirt and thin purple blouse without a bra. Hey, I was 15, of course I noticed (and still remember)!!

A few days later, I saw her playing in the professional orchestra; she was first violin, second chair. She sat as still as a statue. I was rather disappointed because I had told all my friends about her, and they were at the concert with me (it was a school event) and she sat there completely still, making a complete fool out of me.

At a college when I lived in Ohio, the first chair cello wore a transparent black blouse and black bra at every performance. Patrons complained about it, but nothing changed.

I got to work with a famous pianist a few years back (I won't state his name), and when he practices he yells and screams at himself. It was pretty startling the first few times. I also gave this same person a ride in my car to his concert and he wanted me to drop him off 5 minutes after it was scheduled to start!

I studied with a Hungarian pianist for a semester who spoke no English. She would grab my arms and body to demonstrate and sit on the piano bench with me to play, even though we had two pianos in the room. She did this with all of her students, so we would all mock her and try to squeeze 4 of us in one chair during class and push each other around in the hallway... of course no one knew what the heck we were doing outside of the four of us. This same lady did a concert of Liszt Etudes and cheated her way through them all. I was turning pages for her and she just held chords in the left hand instead of playing what was written and just did everything with the right hand. I brought it up to another teacher and was told never to talk about it... screw that! I told everyone I knew. :)

Oh, I have so much more...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting, amusing thread.

As a baby and as an older child, I used to rock back and forth while seated - I usually didn't realise I was doing it, but I remember feeling comforted while I was rocking. I could sit in rocking chairs for hours on end.

When I began playing instruments, though, it took me years to unlearn this habit. It drove people crazy, particularly when I was playing in groups, because my rocking was unconscious and so was not in rhythm with what was being played. I still catch myself starting it again occasionally.

Anyway, I think a lot of musicians indulge themselves in moving around and making noises far too much while playing. When I see someone - for example, Yo-Yo Ma - making strange faces while playing, I can't help thinking "OK, a little of that goes a long way...give it a rest," and while I still listen, I can't watch. A smile, an expression of joy or being absorbed by the music is fine, but some of the faces people make are just bizarre. I just don't see why it's necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

YouTube - Lim Dong-hyek plays Chopin Etude op.10 no.1

Some of the faces this guy makes are priceless. But he's also one of my favorite pianists

Also I went to a concert one time of some famous pianist, I think it was Zimmerman, and he sat down to play, and started to look dissatisfied. So he goes back stage and brings back a phone book and sits on top of it, but hes still not satisfied. So he gets up, tears one page out of the book, lets it fall to the ground, and starts playing. IT was hilarious

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's gross! Sometimes you see jazz players... MOVING onto and onto the choir. When I play the cadenze of the Hungarian Rhapsody no 2, I bounce on the chair as I play staccato chords. On the final chord, I almost leap of the chair! Well, It's all for the show!

I keep still. Sometimes, I look into the audience with a develish smile or profound expression on my face of some of other emotion. I communicate!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest VisitingCellist
When I see someone - for example, Yo-Yo Ma - making strange faces while playing, I can't help thinking "OK, a little of that goes a long way...give it a rest," and while I still listen, I can't watch.

I know what you mean.

I also find that I attend a live performance only to have my eyes closed most of the time. I for one don't feel like I'm being jipped or that I'm only getting half of the communication...

...but yet, when I perform, I do my best to maintain good posture and do the kind of energy-projection stuff that public speakers talk about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I'm fairly still when I play classical. But playing jazz, I move more. When playing solos, it helps to audiate, and nothing helps audiation like singing. I sort of mouth things a bit sometimes when I solo. I figure it worked for Keith Jarret and Glenn Gould, so it oughta work for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to bite my lower lip on harder passages, or my tongue, and if there's anything with a crazy syncopated rhythm I start wobbling my head from enjoyment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ever heard of Liberace? Coming on stage in a Rolls Royce, leaving the stage like Peter Pan (hanging from lines, flying up), exquisite showmanship, fur coats (MANY of them!), an ego that is stronger than steel, gold and diamond (a HUGE ring on every finger!). Isn't that nice!

(Showing his rings to the audience:) Do you like them? I hope you, because face it. You bought it!

(Fans kissing his hands:) Oh, I feel like the pope! Bless you! Bless you! (take the mic and thow it towards tha audience as if he was throwing holy water!)

Fantastic!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Searching for LISZT'S HUNGARA RAPSODIE I FOUND THIS

LANG LANG.

Overall entertaing but ending is way overrated. Off beat most of the time in Finale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I move a lot when I play, but it's usually with the music. I don't mean to at all; I've always just moved, ever since Middle School. It's like conducting - there are moments when you can be really active and moments you need to chill out. When I'm playing Passacaglia by Raymond Helble, I'm not all over the place, because that's not the kind of piece it is. But when I play Beat 70 by Pat Metheny, I can really move with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...