Toby is down at Gramma and Grandpa's today because J and I have a meeting and Rachael's coming to town and I have an audition on Thursday. When I told my friends at rehearsal last night about the incredible posh generosity of the Aumsville Spa for Toddlers, they actually looked a little pissed. It's just so amazing to get free time and practice space- musician moms literally can't believe my luck.
So with the kiddo gone I'm taking a slow morning, and I found something on the performing arts cable channel to accompany my puttering. The show is Maxim Vengerov: Playing by Heart. Musician biographies always have such cheezy subtitles. Mine will be Miriam: Violist to the Stars.
So, Maxim, though, is a violinist who has apparently been a kick ass player from the first day he touched hair to string. Some people are like that. (I once had a kid who figured out television jingles on his 1/4 size violin after only a few lessons. He used one finger for everything, and had the intervals right- he probably quit to devote more time to Play Station or something sadder...) By thirteen Maxim was doing the Russian thing and had learned every hard thing ever written and was playing with every famous person ever made while reciting poetry and solving mathematical proofs.
I always thought Vengerov was not somebody I would like, musically. Most prodigies are not all that fun to hear when they grow up, and I had kind of written him off as a bombastic Russian in whose hands French filigree would sound heavy and stylized. Also, I really don't like Daniel Barenboim's accompanying (or playing, or sick wife-leaving), so maybe whenever I heard "Vengerov" I also heard "Barenboim" and ran screaming from the room. Indeed when the documentary got to the part where B is coaching V on how to play more aggressive Brahms "because they won't hear you over the piano", I wanted to shut the lid on the keys just a little. I may or may not have left time for him to move his lame hands.
I don't like this pic of Vengerov, and it's the only one I remember seeing until today. It makes me think of the wierd hair-pulling guy from Charlie's Angels.
Do you see?
But Vengerov! He plays pretty. Really, I didn't expect him to be so musical and fluid. I really like his vibrato- he seems not to have that finger + light socket indiscriminate speedy narrow thing so popular with powerhouse violinists.
His mama is adorable and worries that at 34 (he looks older though) he won't have any friends because he's so busy being an incredible musician. She wants him to find a "very good girl"- sweet, no?
Here's a much better pic of him clowning with kids on behalf of Unicef. When's the last time you heard of a superstar musician raising hundreds of thousands for a charity they love? It's official: I am crushing.