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Four Improv 4

06/12/2009

I used to wonder about new recordings of classical music.  To me, if it was played from something written down, then how different a new performance be?  I first figured out that the interpretation of musician/conductor has a lot to do with the way something sounds when I was listening to various versions of one of my favorite pieces, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Like a movie that is for some people funny and other sad, each performance seemed to highlight some emotional element in the work.

Below are four versions of Django Reinhardt’s Improvisation N°4. One player sees the cathartic almost violent side of the work while another plays it more JAZZY, then another plays it with a little more elegance than the others and then finally there is me.

It took me a long time to learn to play this piece.  What struck me was that just playing the notes on the page to the correct tempo wasn’t enough, the written music was only an approximation, no there were no notes missing of course, they were just stale. The written music was something into which the musician would have to then breath life. Then with each new section learned I would want to go back and play the previous parts in a different way, until finally I found that for me this piece has a lot in common with Rhapsody in Blue.  Both are at heart melancholy works that strive to break free of their slow tempo. At times the music runs forward with bursts of energy only naturally lose its momentum, falling back into recognizable melody.

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