A.R.: I think , simply, it is not persuasive when it is labored, you know. It is not art anymore. In a circus, you see , a man does fantastic things – he jumps, let’s say – I don’t know, anything fantastic. Well, he likes always to miss one jump with a little sly smile, and that is only to show you how difficult it really is, you know. But he does that because it must be shown as easy therefore.
G.G. : Exactly. It doesn’t follow that because it looks easy or sounds easy, it is easy, in fact. You know , in the last few years, I ‘ve spent roughly half my time working on radio and television programs that have nothing at all to do with music. And , consequently, I ‘ve had to try to express the totality of an idea without worrying too much about the integrity – if I can use the word that way – of its individual components. Last year , for instance, I produced a radio documentary about Newfoundland – though it was really about the conditions under which one can live in isolation and solitude, and Newfoundland was an excuse for the program, in fact – and spent almost four hundred hours in a studio editing that program. Anyway, we had one character among the fourteen whom we interviewed who was most important to the story. We needed him very badly. he was a delightful man, very articulate and very perceptive, but he had a habit of saying “um ” and ” uh ” and ” sort of ” and ” kind of ” constantly – so constantly , in fact , that you got absolutely sick of the repetitions. I mean, every third word was separated by an ” um ” and an ” uh.” Not only that, being a very scrupulous man linguistically, he was in the habit of rejecting his own adjectival choices. He would get eight words into a sentence and decide the adjective wouldn’t do, and without thinking of our problem, our splicing problem, he would just throw in another adjective, probably at a different dynamic level.
Well, we spent – this is no exaggeration – we spent three long weekends – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday , eight hours per day – doing nothing but removing ” um “s and ” uh “s, ” sort of ” s and ” kind of “s, and righting the odd syntactical fluff in his material. We figured at one point we were making four edits of some kind in every typewritten line. There were thirty lines of double-spaced page, so that’s a hundred and twenty edits per page. And there were fourteen pages of his testimony , so we made a conservative guess that there were sixteen hundred edits in that man’s speech alone in order to make him sound lucid and fluid, which he now does. We made a new character out of him. You see, I don’t think that kind of judgment enters into it. If it takes sixteen hundred splices, that’s fine. I mean, take your record of the F-minor Brahms Quintet with the Guarneri, for instance…
A.R.: You like it?
G.G.: I’m drunk on it. I ‘ve now heard it five times in the last few weeks.
A.R.: For heaven’s sake!
G.G.: It’s the greatest chamber-music performances with piano that I’ve heard in my life.
A.R.: Have you heard the three quartets yet?
G.G.: No, not yet, but I’m going to get them.
A.R.: Oh, this is something I must send you. Will you accept a gift?
G.G.: I’d be delighted.
A.R.: Because i have the feeling we did better.
A.R. : Yes, we did better. But the Quintet was pretty good.
G.G.: It was fantastic It had a flexibility and a range that no one. I am sure, no group of people in a concert could ever improve upon or even approach. It’s the most spontaneous performance imaginable, but at the same time it’s so organized, so tight, so right, and everything goes….
A.R.: We played it the other night , you know.
A.R.: Yes, we did a concert.
A.R.: But, you see, as I ‘m fifty years your senior, I lived in another world, of extreme emotionalism – I don’t like the world “romanticism,” because that’s something that disgusts me, you know. It disgusted even Chopin, did you know that?
G.G.: No , I didn’t .
To be continued…