Monday, January 14, 2013

A Unique Experience - The Performances of Roman Totenberg...

I had mentioned recently the release of two new CD's by the late violinist Roman Totenberg, and have just listened to these performances. To state that this was a  one-of-a-kind experience is to understate.
During my tenure as a member of the faculty of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Ma., I was given the golden opportunity to work under Totenberg, who was then Director of the school.
I very soon became aware of the rare components of the chemistry that gave the world of music this singular musician. No one I have ever worked with during my years at Longy was more approachable, and at the same time as  genuine in artistic integrity and with undiluted empathy for his colleagues, than this man.
When the jewel we call Sonata in "A" minor of Bach appeared on the CD, an immediate recollection  of the innumerable times I would saunter by his office, over the years during his directorship,  and hear his violin  reaching out to me whenever he had a moment from his many duties simply to do what he loved to do the most. And quite often this particular masterpiece of Bach for unaccompanied violin would be wafting out to me. And as many times as  he would play for those relatively few moments, my impression was then as it was when I heard Totenberg play for me on this CD just the other day; that is, a kind of compounded form of Love would appear - a kind of love really quite impossible to describe by lowly and impotent entities we call words.
I suppose the only way I can even begin to describe what I feel when hearing Totenberg, knowing full well that there can be but one Heifetz, or Kreisler, or Francescatti when one thinks of the Kings of the violin that history has lent us; however, whenever I hear Totenberg, there is a singular form of love endemic to his sound - a love; for the love of the gift that made it possible to forge  the message he needed to share with any one person, or any one audience that was in the same room.
I do not expect to undergo a replication of this form of love from any other musician.



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