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2/28/96: I know that the time spent between conductor and soloist can be brief. What are the most important questions that must be resolved prior to your first rehearsal?

When at all possible, I like to get together with soloists at a piano to talk through and then play through a piece. That is almost always possible except with very big stars. If I am unable to meet with a performer before the first rehearsal, I will doubtless have to make adjustments on the spot. Experience and ability both help on those occasions.

If I can meet with a performer, I hope he or she will bring some convictions and an open mind. I will be looking to come together, first, on tempo and rubato. I will also be assessing the size of the singer’s or instrumentalist’s sound in order to get the balance right. I’m interested in taking advantage of special gifts—fabulous trills or shimmering pianissimi or tremendous dynamic range. Finally, I am always alert to eccentricities (an extremely lugubrious tempo, for example) and try to explain to the soloist why something won’t work or won’t work on this occasion. The idea of the meeting, then, is to avoid surprises at rehearsals and use the rehearsal time to perfect ideas both of us understand and feel good about.

©1996 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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