July 28, 2007

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Die Walküre


The Ring cycle has started! 🙂 4 nights of more wunderbar music, directed and performed by possibly the best around. The conflict between power or love, which cannot co-exist. Love between siblings, between father and daughter.. and the quest and search for power. Such genius in his writing, that he introduces everything in his music even before the singers start. The content of his preludes hold so much, they practically tell the whole story by themselves! Such a pity that I missed last night’s Das Rheingold, performed without the intermission.

Today’s Die Walküre was breathtaking. The lush orchestral colour and the feast of grand sound I was indulging myself in… I could hear the urgency, the rebellion, the love and the heroism from every note the orchestra played. The powerful cast rose magnificently to the occasion, and the narrative pace was so well-maintained that the three-and-a-half hours seemed to fly past! Truly, the music was the unifying medium, and certainly the occupant of the deepest level of the drama. It was in the music that the deepest aspects of the dramatic conflicts were personified and experienced.

There’s just so much to say that I don’t know how or where to start… Perhaps I shouldnt ;P
The intermission was still one hour long though :S

July 26, 2007



It’s now 3:ooam, and I’ve just finished listening to Tannhäuser.

The music, the orchestra, the singers… Marvelous orchestration, pitch-perfect singers, with the orchestra accompaniment that’s so sensitive, this must surely be one of the highest-levels of performing: doing such a tiring programme (stretches as long as 5 hours or more) and being able to successfully capture the attention and emotion of the audience! To think that playing a 45-minute long recital concert is tiring, what more a 5-hour long opera of Wagner? Such a pity that it’s only an audio broadcast, not the entire staging. Not having the libretto or the score to follow, and also having had a long and tiring day, I was at first a little hesitant to start listening. (Perhaps it was also because at the back of my head, I knew that there was a possibility of being hooked =P) This website provides a pretty reliable libretto, in German and English. One little warning though: the intermissions last 1 hour.

I was enchanted by Wolfram’s monolouge in Act 3 Scene 1, von Eschenbach’s singing was just so charming, so full of emotion. The choir did really well too – the harmony of the voices and the lightness just seemed so ethereal. I thought that Tannhäuser’s song for Wolfram in Act 3 Scene 3 was great, but Frank van Eken seemed to sound a little tired towards the end.

The above-mentioned are just my thoughts in an awe-filled, delirious, tired, brain-fried, sleep-deprived state that I’m currently in. I shall stop here and let professional critics do the job of describing the performance 🙂

On a lighter note, they’re playing Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from his only string serenade now, it’s a welcome change from the Wagner, hee…

**the author wishes to express her views on the music but it is simply not possible to put it into words – doing so would just be doing injustice to the music, it’s simply wunderbar.**

July 26, 2007

2007 Bayreuther Festspiele


The 2007 Bayreuther Festspiele is here, and everyone’s blogging about it! It opened yesterday with Die Meistersinger, directed by 29-year old Katharina Wagner, great-grand-daughter of Richard Wagner.

Here’s rest of the programme for the opening week:
26 Jul: Tannhäuser
27 Jul: Das Rheingold
28 Jul: Die Walküre
30 Jul: Siegfried
01 Aug: Götterdämmerung
02 Aug: Parsifal

I’m now listening to Tannhäuser on my earphones while blogging, and the first few minutes already had me captivated. I’m probably going to finish listening to the whole work =) Shall blog about it if there’s energy after watching it. 🙂 The Ring cycle’s on for the next few nights. Wheeee~

July 22, 2007

Fritz Kreisler – Praeludium and Allegro


I remember…
Being thrown this piece when I was in secondary three.
All those DOUBLE (and triple)-STOPS and crazy techniques I had to learn.
Faster, Faster!!! Don’t use so much bow!
Playing solo with the TKGS string orchestra.
Practicing like crazy for my MEP exam.
Practicing too hard before the exam and not applying rosin to the bow before it.
My violin bow sliding all over the place (due to lack of rosin) and me desparately trying to control it.
Practicing even harder for my violin diploma.
Zhiyun, my dear accompanist.

Brings back memories, doesn’t it? (:

July 14, 2007

Astor Piazzolla – Cafe 1930


Went for a jog this evening, running my usual route to the Bedok Jetty, and somehow Piazzolla’s Cafe 1930 from his Historie du Tango just started playing in my head as I was sitting at the jetty. Perhaps its the effect of studying the piece recently? Or maybe it was today’s practice session. I was brought back to the times I spent at the Jetty. My first long-distance cycling trip with mum when I was ten. When I sat at the jetty crying after not getting a distinction for my violin exam back in secondary one.

The violin singing its sad, melancholic melody, accompanied by the guitar setting the mood… I remembered the beautiful evening, where we sat in thoughtful silence, each having our own mess of thoughts and staring at the ships in the distance. Or perhaps it was an attempt to clear the thoughts of Wagner from our mind from the early afternoon’s study. The myraid of shimmering stars in the sky provided a stark contrast to the bright glow of the Shenton Way city skyline in the distance.

The mood changes to a more positive one, when the guitar plays chords, accompanied by a sweetly singing violin melody above. The feeling of lightness and nostalgia comes, as if leaving our weight with the sea and just sitting in silence on the stone bench, staring through the corroded metal bars at the lapping waves. Hope, like a faint light at the end of a dark tunnel.

The sad tune in E minor returns. Resignation, coupled with the image of a snuffed-out candle come to mind. Leaving the jetty and strolling back, I feel the weight of the problems slowly creeping back, and reality taking its place. Oh well…

In music therapy training we learnt that music can be conditioned and attached to different memories. I guess this piece has touched me in a profound way, and it holds a special place in my heart.

Wrong notes and bad intonation aside, we’re going to play this piece. And when we do….. I know it’ll be magical 🙂

June 15, 2007

Liebestraum no. 3 – Franz Liszt


Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum no. 3 found its way into my repertoire late last month, and it has been a more turbulent journey than ever. Liszt attached a poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath to it:

O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst!
O lieb, so lang du lieben magst!
Die Stunde kommt, die Stunde kommt,
Wo du an Gräbern stehst und klagst!

Und sorge, daß dein Herze glüht
Und Liebe hegt und Liebe trägt,
So lang ihm noch ein ander
Herz In Liebe warm entgegenschlägt!

Und wer dir seine Brust erschließt,
O tu ihm, was du kannst, zulieb!
Und mach ihm jede Stunde froh,
Und mach ihm keine Stunde trüb!

Und hüte deine Zunge wohl,
Bald ist ein böses Wort gesagt!
O Gott, es war nicht bös gemeint –
Der Andre aber geht und klagt.

Dann kniest du nieder an der Gruft,
Und birgst die Augen, trüb und naß
-sie sehn den Andern nimmermehr –
In’s lange, feuchte Kirchhofsgras.

Und sprichst: O schau auf mich herab
Der hier an deinem Grabe weint!
Vergib, daß ich gekränkt dich hab!
O Gott, es war nicht bös gemeint!

Er aber sieht und hört dich nicht,
Kommt nicht, daß du ihn froh umfängst;
Der Mund, der oft dich küßte, spricht
Nie wieder: ich vergab dir längst!

Er that’s, vergab dir lange schon,
Doch manche heiße Träne fiel
Um dich und um dein herbes Wort –
Doch still – er ruht, er ist am Ziel!

and the english translation:

O love, love as long as you can!
O love, love as long as you will!
The time will come, the time will come,
When you will stand grieving at the grave.

And let it be that your heart glows
And nurtures and carries love,
As long as another heart is still
Warmly bestruck by love for you!

And to one who spills his breast to you,
O to him, do what you can, in Love!
And make him happy for each moment,
And never let him be sad for one!

And guard your tongue tightly,
In case any slight escapes your mouth!
O God, it was not meant that way, –
But the other recoils, hurt and sighing.

Then you will kneel down at the grave
And your eyes will be cloudy and wet,
– You will never see the other again, –
In the church graveyard’s long, damp grass.

You say: O look at me below,
I who cry here at your grave!
Forgive me that I insulted you!
O God, it was not meant that way!

Yet he sees and hears you not,
You cannot comfort him again;
The lips which kissed you often speak
Not again: I forgave you long ago!

Indeed, forgive you he did,
But tears he would freely spend,
Over you and on your harsh word –
Hush, still! – he rests, he is past.

Practicing it brings back so much emotion, the lovely melody in the mellow, soft key of A-flat major, weaving in and out of the accompaniment passage, the longing, the innocence.
Back then. Back to when we were just children. Running around the garden. Eating ice cream and making a mess out of our faces.

The melody darkens into the key of A-flat minor and weaves in and out of the tonalities of A-flat major and minor. The memories flood my mind in a wave of emotions. When you protected me. When you got hurt for me. When you stood up to those nasty bullies.

It builds to a quasi-climax and it stops on an F-flat, followed by a tumultuous passage of thirds in a quasi-cadenza, and it moves into the glorious key of B major. The years pass by. The childhood years fade away, and we’re into our teenage years. Building a snow-couple in your back yard at the christmas party, taking strolls by the lake, then running back into the house all wet and cold… playing music for each other and laughing at the silly mistakes, intentionally playing wrong notes to laugh even more…

Now in E major, louder and more passionate than ever. The grandeur and beauty in the octaves and parallel passages. The touch of your hand, the feeling of knowing that you’ll always be there for me. Our goodbye at the airport, with you promising that we’ll see each other again soon..
It builds up, higher, higher and it finally explodes in a heart-wrenching, highly-chromatic cadenza which recapitulates the beginning simple theme back in its home key, with the memories of the events lingering on. I can’t help but wonder if it’s been a dream.

Hush, still! He rests, he is past.

The painful sense of longing for someone who’s passed on, for something that can never be gotten again, for a best friend and companion. Many practice sessions have ended in tears, for the painful memories that just keep haunting me while I play this masterpiece of Liszt. Oh Liszt, why do you torment me so?

It’s been two-and-a-half years. I still won’t let go.