Volume 6 / Chapter 214
Sponsored: Heather L. and James W.
The next day, Jun Hyuk and Tara walked slowly, as though they went out for a walk, to Avery Fisher Hall. It is the day to rehearse choral concerto with Maestro Carras. Jun Hyuk joined as the pianist.
“Jun. You haven’t heard us play your song, right?”
“Mr. Yoon sitting all the way over there has heard it several times. Ha ha.”
Maestro Carras gestured to Yoon Kwang Hun, sitting in the audience. Jun Hyuk saw that Yoon Kwang Hun was waving at him.
Jun Hyuk shook his head. Yoon Kwang Hun is basically the audience who gives him the most burden and caution.
“But, am I alone? Where is Danny?”
“Oh. I’ve become easily scared since I’ve gotten older. It takes too much strength to handle 2 young performers at the same time. I’m planning on dealing with each of you separately first. That should be okay, right?”
“Is that a characteristic of maestros? Everyone fakes out their difficulties so much.”
“No no. I’m not faking. I feel like you alone will be hard.”
Carras waved his hand and Jun Hyuk sat in front of the piano.
“Oh right. I didn’t call a page turner because I figured you wouldn’t need one. I thought that would just get in your way anyway. That’s okay, right?”
A ‘page turner’ is someone who turns the pages of the score, just as it sounds. Pianists do not have a hand to turn the score while performing, and this is where the ‘page turner’ comes in.
Horowitz said, ‘The person turning the pages of a score could ruin an entire performance’. Page turners must be present in complex and difficult performances.
While the performer is concentrating, if the page turner turns the page too quickly or slowly, the flow could be cut off, ruining the performance. This is why the page turner and pianist’s teamwork is considered so important.
Pianists often lose count of the beat during live performances because the page turner did not match the timing, so it is inevitable that pianists look for page turners who they work well with.
When the page turner is turning the page, they cannot block the pianist’s view, must dress modestly so as not to upstage the pianist, and they cannot even wear accessories. Sensitive pianists are even affected by the page turner’s anxious breathing, so page turners need to self-obliterate themselves.
They always need to go on stage after the performer and stay seated while the performers are applauded after.
Some call page turners ‘the cold hand that dominates the performance’ or ‘the hidden presence on stage, the 2nd performer’.
Page turners are another important presence on stage that the audience does not understand.
“Jun. You can just enjoy it since it’s your first time and then join in for the 2nd part.”
“You’ll give a performance that I can’t stay away from to just enjoy it. How could I stay still?”
The orchestra members tensed up when they heard Jun Hyuk say that he would perform with them.
The string instruments started with Dimitri Carras’ baton, and Jun Hyuk looked up to look at the conductor.
He had not guessed that it would be such an aggressive performance!
Belgium National Orchestra’s Pierre Boulez gave a performance that emphasized elegance. They had received praise for showing a comparison of past and future Beethoven through an old maestro and young Jun Hyuk.
Thinking of Dimitri Carras’ experience, Jun Hyuk thought that he would give a similar performance, but it was clearly distinct.
It was the same as forcing him to choose whether he will challenge such a tight and solid performance, or if he will put his head down and join.
When the 1st part was over, darkness enwrapped the theater for over 10 seconds. Dimitri Carras took a glance at Jun Hyuk, smiled, and held up the baton again. Jun Hyuk already had his fingers on the piano.
The members all saw Jun Hyuk’s hands. The piano they had only heard of by rumor. When they heard that Jun Hyuk would be joining as the pianist, most of them were so full of anticipation that they bought Jun Hyuk’s jazz album to listen to.
The members admired the connected configuration that flows like water and the grand technique that makes dissonance sound like a beautiful melody. This is the moment they get to hear that piano for themselves.
Maestro Carras’ baton was firm, as though warning them that they need to be fully prepared.
However, Jun Hyuk’s piano was not aggressive or fierce, like a warm sunlight that had seeped in from nowhere.
He did not mind the New York Philharmonic’s rough performance and continued playing with a gentle touch on his own. He made the concerto into a solo song, treating the orchestra’s playing as an accompaniment. He is showing his ability as a pianist, showing strength only when necessary, precise fingering, flexibility in wrists and agility in fingers.
The most surprised person was not Maestro Carras or anyone in the orchestra. It was Yoon Kwang Hun, sitting nervous in the audience.
Jun Hyuk’s piano right now is not a copy or reappearance of someone else. It is Jun Hyuk’s piano. But, there was no feeling of anger, resentment, or pain. It is a completely different piano with a gentle peace and mellow touch.
He could tell as soon as he heard Jun Hyuk’s piano that what he is playing now is not for the choral concerto performance. It is a performance for Yoon Kwang Hun, the only person sitting in the 2,800 seat Avery Fisher Hall.
Jun Hyuk had made the New York Philharmonic into an accompaniment so that he could show Yoon Kwang Hun that he has matured and escaped from the despair of the past. The New York Philharmonic’s private theater is being used for a one-person audience.
‘That kid always surprises people so dramatically.’
Yoon Kwang Hun calm his beating heart and got lost in Jun Hyuk’s flowing song.
But, the conductor Carras and orchestra members could not hide their embarrassment. Dimitri Carras in particular had to make larger movements with his arms in order to steady the shaking orchestra.
Dimitri Carras conducted until the 3rd part and put the baton down. It would be impossible for him to steady the orchestra and take them through the 4th part.
“Jun. Is this the choral concerto you’re thinking of?”
“It’s one of them.”
“One of them? In detail!”
Dimitri Carras raise his voice, but he is not angry or excited. It is strong curiosity of a new image of a composer.
“The piano I just played was something I thought of while listening to the 1st part. In a bookcase with 1000 books that are organized well, the one book that is in disorder. In a company where all employees are men wearing black suits, one woman who appears wearing a red dress. I thought about what this kind of feeling would be.”
“You’re saying that you’re playing the role of pianist instead of composer right now?”
“I would have done the same even thinking as the composer. I want to play something new every time.”
“Are you saying that art is always a new interpretation? Like you said in the interview in Belgium?”
“Pretty much. I actually wanted to do an arrangement or play a completely different song as soon as I heard the 1st part, but I’ll do that next time at a later opportunity.”
Dimitri Carras and the orchestra members did not hide their perplexed expressions. It was an interpretation and performance that was so unique it could make the ensemble collapse.
“This is troubling…..”
“Is it too unfamiliar?”
“It’s not just unfamiliar. Isn’t it? Is my feeling wrong? I felt it in the piano touch that had the faint feeling of an elegant woman’s charm. It would have been much more fitting if it had been like an enchanting woman who is enough to thaw a frozen heart.”
“So you’re saying it’s not a flower blooming amidst suits?”
Maestro Carras just nodded. It is a moment when he should not be pushing it.
A soloist is another universe in a concerto. The moment that a soloist’s individual performance creates fireworks with the orchestra is one of a concerto’s highlights.
But, if it is to the point where the ensemble collapses, there begins a dissension between the conductor and soloist. However, concertos are ultimately for the orchestra. In the end, the conductor and soloist are bound to compromise.
The soloist right now is also the composer. If the composer himself says that his interpretation is right, there is no solution for even the conductor. The members held their breaths as they watched Jun Hyuk.
“Then I’ll bring out more of the feeling he had while writing the song.”
Conductor Carras let out a long sigh of relief. It is probably his unstubborn free style that shows confidence, but it is also marvelous that he could change his style as he wants in one place.
“Then, shall we start with the 2nd part again?”
The feeling Jun Hyuk had when he was first writing the song. When Beethoven could not even hear and was obsessed with one melody and clinging to the thematic melody of the 4th part, nearing on madness.
He put that feeling into the piano and played for the conductor and orchestra.
They heard Jun Hyuk’s piano melody and the maestro smiled from ear to ear.