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Verne Q. Powell Flutes, Inc.
You Tube Videos :
To my surprise, I recently found that I'm on YouTube. I didn’t know whether to be ticked off because my performance of the Prokofiev Sonata was videotaped and posted on the Web without
my knowledge or permission – or to be happy because I’m getting free publicity and favorable ratings. I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth, which is why I am providing
access to a performance that took place last January 16, 2007 at a concert of the Curitiba Music Festival in Curitiba, Brazil.
The performance went about as well as could be expected, given the circumstances. The circumstances at the Curitiba Festival included an alarmingly casual approach to rehearsing – I had
two hasty run-throughs of the Prokofiev with a pianist I had never met before (the very capable Olga Kiun) and who had ideas about the piece very different from mine. But we both knew the piece well, and we’re both
professionals, so in performance we were able, most of the time, to meet each other halfway.
Because of the inadequate rehearsal time I had to resort to quite a bit of bobbing and weaving to "conduct" Ms Kiun through transitions, rallentandos, etc. So if you want to see
how that’s done, there’s plenty to see. Actually, there’s a good example of this at the very beginning of the first movement. I make a gentle but clear gesture, and a moment later Ms Kiun and I start,
As to the videos themselves, image and sound are pretty crude, and tend to wander in and out of synch, but there’s still a lot to see and hear. I wish whoever shot the footage had a steadier
hand ’ there are moments when they seem to have been holding the camera in one hand and engaging in a fistfight with the other. Having never seen myself on video, the thing that struck me is how much I look like my
late mother. Obviously, a lifetime of seeing ourselves in snapshots and in the mirror leaves us with a very limited sense of how we look and how we move.
Apropos how we look – one thing that struck me (and that some visitors to YouTube remarked on) is the angle of the flute as I play. My teacher, Joseph Mariano, and his student Doriot Anthony
Dwyer both held the flute at a fairly steep angle, and they were both major influences on me. None of my teachers ever said anything on the subject – I just seem to have adopted it by osmosis.
Apart from the occasional cracked or missed notes that are likely to crop up in a live performance of the Prokofiev – or in one by me, anyway – the one thing I wasn’t satisfied
with was the tempo relationships in the Scherzo. In the classical scherzo/trio/scherzo form, the trio is typically played at a slower tempo than the scherzos. But in the Flute Sonata Prokofiev turns this formula on its head –
the trio, counterintuitively, is faster than the surrounding scherzo. In our performance the tempos of the opening and of the trio were as I like them, but at the return of the scherzo we didn’t get back down to the tempo of
the opening. It’s surprisingly difficult to get this to work properly – perhaps because we’re so accustomed to doing the opposite.
This whole experience leaves me wanting to make a video under better conditions. . . . perhaps a video vignette of "Syrinx," or a Telemann fantasy. No doubt such a production will become a
necessary accouterment for the professional musician, just as nowadays we must all have our calling card, our website, our CD, our blog – ad infinitum.
April 21, 2007
Prokofiev Sonata - 1) Moderato
Prokofiev Sonata - 2) Scherzo
Prokofiev Sonata - 3) Andante
Prokofiev Sonata - 4) Allegro con brio