Harp Column Blogs: Samuel Milligan
TWO EVIL STEPSISTERS (OF A SORT)
Many harpists are unaware that the Gabriel Pierne Impromptu-caprice
used to be available in two versions--the original "concert" edition
and a somewhat simpler "salon" edition which made the piece available
to the less advanced player.
(It should be noted that the salon edition was done by Pierne himself,
and is not a simplification by someone else.)
I recall going to a recital in the late 1950's where a young lady
played the salon version and played it quite beautifully. For
what I heard was a harpist presenting a piece within her capabilities,
and playing it exquisitely, rather than plowing through the concert
version and possibly making a hash of it. So I got in line
the recital in order to thank her for her performance.
As it happened, just in front of me in the receiving line were two
whispering harpists who were snottily putting down the recitalist for
having played what they snidely called the "baby" version. Of
course this did not stop them from effusively congatulating the
recitalist a few moments later--"So beautiful, my dear," and " I did so
love the Pierne!"
Their smiling hypocrisy was so appalling that I could have fallen
through the floor in embarassment and shame. Especially since
recitalist was so appreciative of their compliments.
The experience taught me two things. First, I learned that a
piece is not increased in value by being more difficult. In
clarity and elegance are often easier to achieve when the music is
uncomplicated. (Ravel's Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant is
fine example of this.)
Secondly, I learned that some people are not to be trusted.
someone constantly indulges in mean-spirited gossip, I can pretty well
be certain that as soon as I am absent, I will probably be the next
victim in line for a hatchet job.
Now this doesn't mean that we should not comment on a program at
all. But the criticism should be constructive, not
venomous. And above all, I must remember that my own playing
not made better by a vicious put-down of your playing, and may be, in
fact, thinly disguised jealousy on my part.
I have no idea whatever happened to the young lady who presented the
recital after she left New York. But as to the other two,
years of letting everyone within earshot know what rising supernovae
they were in the harpistic firmament, they amounted to nothing in the
end. Perhaps they were so busy being destructive that they
have time to practice enough.
And as we all know, it's very difficult to set the world on fire if
your matches are damp.
10:53 PM, 20 Jan 2007 by Samuel Milligan | Permalink | Comments (1)