Tonight I went to my second Sivan Magen concert in a few weeks (I really hope he doesn’t think I’m a stalker or anything). This was one of the most amazing solo recitals I’ve ever been to. He played one of my favorite pieces, Marcel Tournier’s Sonatine, but he also played a bunch of pieces that I had never heard before, including a world premiere by Sean Shepherd called ribboned/braided/spun. It was a very interesting piece with fast fingering and quite a bit of foot-stomping. He also played a lot of his own transcriptions of works by Brahms, Debussy, and a couple different Bachs. These all worked surprisingly very well. I don’t usually like it when harpists play a whole lot of transcriptions on their recitals because I think this can give the false impression that there isn’t any solo music written for harp, but I can only assume that he has played all the harp music and has gotten tired of it.
Sivan’s playing was, as always, magnificent. Two things that really struck me tonight were his beautiful tone and also the precision of his muffling (Because harp strings do not stop after they’re played, like a piano key, they sometimes must be stopped with the hand, and that can be difficult). It was quite a long solo concert, at least an hour and a half of strenuous, virtuosic music. He must have been exhausted - but not too tired to give us an encore (which sounded quite familiar to me but I could not for the life of me place what it was!).
Needless to say, I was mesmerized.
I’m sure I’m not the only musician who has conflicting feelings about seeing a performance by a virtuoso on their instrument. On the one hand it’s a completely amazing and uplifting experience to hear someone play like that, but on the other, it can be a little depressing when you think to yourself, “Wow, I will never be able to play like that.” It can be difficult for us as musicians (or really, for anyone) to compare yourself to other people in your field and feel like they’re so far above you, but I think that you can train yourself to only focus on what you’re working on, and not worry about what other people are doing (and what you aren’t). It’s something I’m still working on, but I’m much better at it than I used to be.
So tomorrow when I sit down to practice for my own solo recital, I will choose to be inspired by this fantastic performance. I may never play at such a high level, but I can definitely try.