GEORGES LENTZ - composer
 
 
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 Advice for conductors and performers of my 'Mysterium' pieces
 
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General advice about the tempo:
The tempo indication (crotchet* = 30 / semiquaver** = 120) must be followed meticulously! It is recommended to check and interiorise the metronome marking (particularly the 120 semiquaver) just before going on stage to perform the piece. If anything, the tempo could be one notch faster than indicated, NEVER slower!! A slower tempo makes the music fall apart into individual notes, breaks up the flow and spells the death of the music!! A performance at the right speed must always have direction, forward motion, a line and a legatissimo connection between the notes (no bulges on individual notes!!). I have observed that semiquaver beats are often conducted/played too slowly and they then end up slowing down the whole piece! They must not be - semiquaver beats must be exactly 120, exactly a quarter of the crotchet! Conductors mustn't 'wait' for the musicians or 'gather them up' on semiquaver beats - if they conduct at the right tempo and stick to it, musicians will be able to rely on their pulse and will follow! You should have a constant semiquaver click of 120 in your head and shape the music within this steady grid!

Specific advice for conductors:
From talking to orchestral musicians, I have gathered the following important advice for conductors of my orchestral music:
Because all string players in my recent orchestral music have individual parts, the back desks must often take the initiative to play without relying on the concertmaster or the people in front of them (something they are often not used to). The conductor's beat must therefore be as BIG and as CLEAR as possible, at the risk of not looking very 'musical'. The music will speak for itself when the beat is extremely clear and the musicians can play with confidence! All beats must have an almost exaggerated DIRECTION in them (i.e. first beats really down, seconds really to the left, thirds really to the right, fourths really up)! Moreover, it is definitely recommended to SUBDIVIDE crotchet beats into quavers***. However, and this is important - while the main beat must be BIG, in a definite DIRECTION and from the whole ARM (important!), the 'and'-beat must be just a small, clear flick of the WRIST (i.e. not from the whole arm), so as to look clearly subordinate to the main beat. Both the main beat and the quaver subdivision must have a very definite CLICK in them! Be a beating machine!!!

Another very important thing - DYNAMICS (particularly in works for big orchestra)!! I often hear orchestral rehearsals where everything is played within a general p to mf. The result is a soup of sound with no transparency. A big part of the rehearsal should be spent insisting on dynamics being observed meticulously, even exaggerated!!! One group of instruments might have pp while another has ff, or else one passage might be pppp from everyone while another is fff. In other words, both vertically and horizontally, huge contrasts between virtually nothing and a big sound will bring out the architecture of the music. When dynamic contrasts are really observed, the music will take shape and speak!

In long, drawn-out crescendos, always save the biggest part of the crescendo for the very last moment - this gives the music more direction.

Advice against performances of multiple pieces:
My earlier 'Mysterium' pieces, especially smaller pieces such as Birrung, Nguurraa or Alkere, all have a somewhat similar meditative character and are really instrumentations of the early 'Mysterium' concept. They were never meant to be performed together, and in my opinion, they shouldn't be. One of these pieces in a concert is enough. Later works such as Ingwe are very different of course. Programming one of the early pieces together with Ingwe, or a part thereof, is ok.

* quarter note
** sixteenth note
*** eighth note