October 30, 2013

Pianist Maria João Pires horrified, frozen, as the orchestra begins a Mozart concerto other than the Mozart concerto she prepared.

Watch her dismay, and watch the conductor, Riccardo Chailly, push her to go ahead and play the concerto she didn't expect to be playing that night. Watch her regain her composure and play.



And if you're in the mood for more emotion and music, here's a baby listening to her mother sing and displaying an unearthly profundity of response:

25 comments:

MadisonMan said...

That's a cool testimonial to muscle memory. Don't panic, and things will work themselves out.

Ann Althouse said...

I love the Dutch that's displaying in the embed: "sprong ze in paniek op."

Bob Ellison said...

I once prepared the triangle part for a school orchestra. Only two "tings" (as trianglists call the strikes) in the second movement, a largo in 4/4. Imagine my shock when the orchestra started playing another symphony, with two different tings, in the first movement, both on the downbeat (albeit 48 bars apart)! That's another ting entirely! I fainted. The timpanist sprang to my rescue, throwing his Pepsi in my face, and I recovered in time to nail the first ting. 48 bars later, still shaking, I was spot-on with ting number two. I fainted again. The orchestra and audience, realizing my magnificent recovery from a nightmare no musician should ever face, applauded so long and loud that the performance ended right there.

Good thing, too, because I think there was another ting in the 3rd movement.

betamax3000 said...

Perhaps She Decided She Was Playing the Intro to John Cage's 4′33″, Instead.

From There She Should Have Proceeded to the Improvised Jazz Solo Over the Orchestra.

EDH said...

Watch her dismay, and watch the conductor, Riccardo Chailly, push her to go ahead and play the concerto she didn't expect to be playing that night.

1.) Kind of like getting a BJ when it's not your birthday.

2.) My mother used to do that to me all the time when I was a baby.

Not the BJ... the singing. Get your mind out of the gutter!

betamax3000 said...

Betamax3000 Robot Declares:

"Sprong Ze in Paniek Op" Shall Be the New "Ewing!".

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I'm at a loss to know why this 1998 film went all viral just yesterday.

That said, Pires is fantastic. The recording she made of the Brahms violin sonatas with her equally-fantastic violinist husband, Augustin Dumay, is still the best I've ever heard of those works.

betamax3000 said...

"The Conductor went out of the Concert Hall calling "Ewing!" and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young Pianist, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty thin fingers."

Sprong Ze in Paniek Op!

chuck said...

Another discussion of the incident here.

Peter said...

Kudos to Maria João Pires.

It sounds like the sort of thing Mozart himself might have done, or at least something he would have asked of the musicians playing his premiers. At least, biographers indicate he often finished composing just minutes before the performance.

Ann Althouse said...

It's a little like when James Taylor showed up at the World Series, ready to play the America song that begins with the word "Oh" and got to the second word and had to admit to himself that "America the Beautiful" is not the national anthem and segued right from "Oh beautiful" to "Oh oh say" well enough that I put effort into contemplating whether he did that on purpose.

prairie wind said...

I find the baby video a little weird, not cute at all. Cute baby, certainly. But the mama's "show me how the music makes you feel" (paraphrase?) makes me wonder...

Ann Althouse said...

I too have some question about the baby video. It feels like the baby is truly feeling the music and it instills love for music. But it all collapses if you start to think maybe for the baby when the mother goes into singing voice it's just really bizarre and scary.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Peter,

It sounds like the sort of thing Mozart himself might have done, or at least something he would have asked of the musicians playing his premiers. At least, biographers indicate he often finished composing just minutes before the performance.

There's a Mozart violin/piano sonata (K.454 IIRC) in which he had time only to write out the violin part before the first performance; the piano part he wrote in afterwards. You can tell from the manuscript, because in some places he didn't leave himself enough space for his own part, and the notation is really scrunched.

jr565 said...

prairie wind wrote:
But the mama's "show me how the music makes you feel" (paraphrase?) makes me wonder...

maybe he's crying because the mother is butchering the notes.

EDH said...

Ann Althouse said...
I too have some question about the baby video. It feels like the baby is truly feeling the music and it instills love for music. But it all collapses if you start to think maybe for the baby when the mother goes into singing voice it's just really bizarre and scary.

I don't think they're mutually exclusive. The baby is confused. He can't reconcile the music he wants to enjoy with the emotion imparted through the song by the mother's voice, especially where there are no other cues to her actually feeling that way, which to him is bizarre and scary.

As for instilling love of music, he's just learning its power for the first time.

Archie said...

It's possible that the baby is a music critic. Mom's singing nearly had me in tears too.

JoyD said...

The first video brought tears to my eyes, watching her struggle, her strength and composure. She got past that horrible moment of frozen panic. It happened to me once when I was playing a piano solo in a large auditorium, the balcony filled with my fellow high school students. At the end of the first movement, I went absolutely blank. I rested my hands on the keyboard, and the first few notes just...played. Then everything followed. People said it was brief, but in my mind it was a LONG time.

The baby video is just horrifying. The baby is stricken by mother's alien voice, so very LOUD for his sensitive ears, so strangely unlike her speaking voice. Just a very bad vibe for the poor babe. And she didn't NOTICE until the merciful ending!

rhhardin said...

There's a PDQ Bach bit with the pianist proceeding to play the Rachmaninoff concerto he prepared for against the orchestra's concerto.

Jason said...

She had a plan B. Even if she didn't realize it at the time. This happened because of years of relentless focus and preparation.

Apparently not with this orchestra, though. Normally they catch this stuff at rehearsal. The fact that they didn't indicates they were phoning in the Mozart stuff, which these orchestral players have been playing since college and maybe since grade school in some cases.

Too bad she doesn't work for HHS, though.

Jason said...

Hmm. Apparently it WAS a rehearsal. But it was also a "lunchtime concert."

Which means I don't buy the excuse. Not for a substantial piece like a concerto.

Heifetz would have had someone's bells in a sling!

Richard Dolan said...

As with all the major Mozart pieces, this concerto is so well known that the audience will know if the player is faking it. I remember attending a concert years ago when Rudolf Serkin just completely forgot the left hand part of a piece. It was as familiar as this Mozart concerto, and he knew that we knew that he flubbed it. So for an encore, he played a Beethoven sonata.

That was an act of respect for his audience, and it was appreciated.

Mike Smith said...

I'm a professional speaker. On more than one occasion, I have been (in spite of a contract that specified a different topic) introduced by someone who wanted me to speak on an entirely different topic entirely.

In a case like that, I try to be gracious and ask the host and the audience which they would prefer.

That said, it is quite jarring because you have psyched yourself up for one topic and it is difficult to make such an abrupt transition.

Jessica said...

I find the baby video sad and creepy. The baby seemed confused and upset. His mother seems oblivious (engrossed in the sound of her own voice).

Nate Holt said...

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. She literally had to "face the music".