I attended a concert recently that featured a performance of the Schubert Fantasy in F Minor for piano four-hands. The Schubert Fantasy is a piece I’ve known and loved for decades, and I’d been looking forward to the performance. As it turned out, though, I didn’t enjoy the performance, or the music, because I didn’t like the interpretation. I simply couldn’t free myself from my conception of how the music should go, not to mention how it shouldn’t go. Afterward I shared my thoughts with another musician, and we agreed that perhaps it’s the non-musicians who are often the lucky ones, because they can listen with fresh ears, their experiences uncontaminated by preconceptions or technical judgments. Like it or not, performers can’t help evaluating performance, especially in the cases of pieces we know or instruments we play. It’s a strange phenomenon, but too often it’s hard for musicians to just listen to the music.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.