As the title of this post indicates, it chronicles a journey through and around one piece of living, breathing music – in this case, the virtuosic, Mozart- and Haydn-influenced (but, nevertheless, recognizably) Beethoven’s own Second Piano Concerto. The reason for doing so is to not only study the work on paper (invaluable as that definition of its potential can be); but also to observe the involved musicians – Orchestra of the Swan, conductor David Curtis, and especially pianist Thomas Nickell (right) – as they prepare, firstly, for its performance; then, secondly, deliver the resulting collaborative interpretation live; and, finally, record it.
I know that I am extremely fortunate in having been able to follow this process. That it takes place – as catalogued here – over only a few days is, on one hand, some sort of miracle; but, on the other, completely misleading: as I obviously cannot keep up with each individual, equally-important, contributing member in their own private preparations: for example, the orchestral oboe player repeating a gritty phrase at home, over and over, until satisfied; David’s intense study of the score, analyzing structure, form, and line in minute detail; or even Thomas, setting himself the challenge of ‘conquering’ this challenging work, spending hundreds of hours at the keyboard until the notes flow willingly from his fingertips. Please remember, therefore, that what follows – still a huge amount of hard work for all of those accomplished people now gathered together; and all of it invested in making sure that what you hear and see is as startlingly great (subjectively; emotionally; objectively; technically) as it can be – really is only the tip of a very deep iceberg: one formed from talent, effort, and love.