Avoiding Kaija

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It is most certainly time that I confessed to avoiding memorisation practise of Kaija Saariaho’s Laconisme de L’aile.

This is not at all the only practise that I avoid – I regularly avoid practise in all its forms, and even more regularly avoid certain kinds of repertoire practise. But Kaija is a special kind of the latter instance, in that I have been (intermittently) playing the piece for a year and a half, won the Carson flute prize with it, and have had wonderful lessons on it with Janet McKay, Tim Munro, and several international flautists who specialise in contemporary performance including Camilla Hoitenga, the very person Saariaho wrote the work for! I’ve seen the original hand-written score (this is also the case for Beat Furrer’s Presto con Fuoco, and I have to admit both were rather thrilling experiences)!

Is it merely the perceived difficulty of the piece and the memorisation process? Or is it to do with the pressure I attach to it? I envisage myself playing the work by memory and reaching new levels of interpretive genius, performing it for some audition or other… But really I’m just working towards my recital in November. Perhaps there is another pressure I haven’t yet identified? It does seem to me that this is a more obstinate avoidance than the usual kind.

Anyway, I did practise this today, and memorised over half a page in half an hour. It wasn’t very difficult because I do know the work rather well. This is encouraging, if a little confusing. Tomorrow I will do two such sessions.

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