From an elderly lady after today’s recital, indicating my viola:
‘That thing can talk, can’t it?’
Not meant literally, of course. But it’s an interesting metaphor and one I’m not used to using of music, particularly classical music (even if we had slung in jazz standard as closing number).
And I’ll take it (this time in the way it was meant, I think) as a substantial compliment to my being able to make this still (in the grand, or perhaps particularly the grassroots, scheme of things) less-often spotlighted instrument expressive and communicative – which is a particularly meaningful compliment. Partly because the viola’s great strength is richness of sound and expressiveness – so if it’s that people comment on then I think I’m playing it as the viola in its own right, not as a plus-size violin, and that has always been my goal. Also because I think there is a genuine danger, at less than world class level, of losing sight of musical communication, of involving the audience in something, in the sheer stretch to play the music, or to play it right, or to play it perfectly, or the way the teacher / audition panel / etc. wanted it. But I think we do so at our peril as musicians for an audience rather than for each other, so every time someone finds my performing communicative – ‘talking’ in this turn of phrase – I think in some sense I’ve won, or at least stayed on top of the game.
Here’s to the talking viola. Or at least the talking violist.