Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gilles Apap, and the Creative Process

Ah! Gilles Apap.

An email from a friend just introduced me to this classically-trained violinist who improvises in virtually every musical style. My friend is a classical concert pianist who loves jazz and Piazzolla, and is generally adventerous. He loves this cadenza to the third movement of the Mozart 3rd violin concerto.

It brings up an interesting issue. Apap throws in everything but the kitchen sink, reminding me of the story of the first performance of the Beethoven violin concerto. If memory serves me correctly, the violinist played his own pieces beteen movements, including one in which he played holding his violin upside down. (No wonder Beethoven started connecting movements.)

Apap would be the polar opposite of Robert Levin, the pianist and musiciologist who improvises his own cadenzas, but in the style of Mozart or Beethoven.

You could get into an argument over whether one "should" or "shouldn't" take either approach. But that would be to misunderstand the creative process. Our creative imaginations don't come up with what they are supposed to.

As a listener, one is attracted, or not, to one style or the other, or both. That preference reflects tastes and values. Long and well-reasoned arguments can be made to explain and/or justify one's choice.

For the creative musician, though, it's more a matter of what one loves, what music is being formed in some non-conscious part of the brain and demanding to be heard.

Party on, Gilles! As in this clip:

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