“Not too good!”
The French conductor Emmanuelle Haïm stopped a bunch of New York Philharmonic musicians who had been rehearsing Handel’s “Water Music” on a current morning at David Geffen Hall. She turned to the violins. “Ti-ya, ti-ya, pa, pa, pa!” she sang, the final syllables ringing out like photographs.
Soon the music resumed, and with it Ms. Haïm’s animated conducting, which might be seen as she makes her Philharmonic debut in performances on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday within the Baroque repertory that’s her specialty. It is an unusually difficult task, bringing the aesthetic of the early 18th century to an ensemble that makes solely uncommon forays into that period.
“It is so necessary for the musicians to play this music, to widen their palette,” Ms. Haïm, 56, stated in an interview in her dressing room, her palms as expressive and roving as they had been on the rostrum. “But it’s also necessary to have specialist teams. You want these historic devices as a result of they inform you methods to play the music.” Referring to the natural strings on interval devices, she added: “The intestine tells you methods to play.”
Translating “intestine” classes into the world of symphony orchestras — with trendy forces, giant halls and tight rehearsal budgets — means selecting one’s battles. Ms. Haïm will get simply three days to organize the Philharmonic for a program of Handel and Rameau. She stated her purpose was to not drive the musicians to sound as in the event that they performed on interval devices, whether or not by altering the way in which they maintain the bow or telling the strings to rein of their vibrato.
Rather, she stated: “If I can get the music to talk, perhaps take a strolling bass and make it go locations” — her palms traced a refined curve — “then maybe it additionally modifications the way in which you maintain your bow, the way in which you play a stroke.”
In different phrases, impressed music-making will result in idiomatic Baroque method, not vice versa.
At one level in the course of the rehearsal, Ms. Haïm inspired the double basses to take cost of a line and provides it a extra distinct contour by various the size and weight of the notes. “But you determine as you go,” she advised the gamers. When they repeated the passage, the music had taken on better narrative freedom, the bassists visibly alert and responsive to one another.
Ms. Haïm’s actions resembled a dance through which her torso twisted and bobbed whereas her expressive arms appeared to will the music into being with gestures that floated, beseeched, cajoled and commanded. Sometimes her palms descended onto the keyboard of the harpsichord in entrance of her and he or she performed a number of bars, then rose to her ft and shoved the stool out of the way in which with a swing of the hips.
“Don’t be afraid,” she stated at one level, “to make these accents very” — she looked for the phrases in English — “wild and daring.”
Unleashing the wild and daring facet of the Baroque has been Ms. Haïm’s mission for many years. Le Concert d’Astrée, the ensemble she based in 2000, has turn out to be a powerhouse on the early-music scene, bringing its temperamental enjoying to opera productions, live shows and Grammy-nominated recordings. On her personal, Ms. Haïm has turn out to be a go-to visitor on this repertory with prestigious symphony orchestras just like the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The affect of traditionally knowledgeable efficiency observe with Baroque music has been pervasive in tempo, with quick actions that may go away an viewers breathless. In a Handel recording out this week from Le Concert d’Astrée, fast scales come off as fast and crisp as strobe lighting. And in rehearsal in New York, Ms. Haïm took a few of Handel’s dance actions at an impetuous pace. The Philharmonic retained its rounder, extra polished sound, however many passages appeared energetically charged, with one Bourrée so swift that an entire part appeared to fly by in a single gust of air.
“It’s within the dances,” Ms. Haïm stated when requested how she decided her tempos. “I labored so much with Francine Lancelot, who was a pioneer in Baroque dance reconstruction in France. And if you examine harpsichord on the conservatoire, you must take lessons in Baroque dance.”
Ms. Haïm’s personal dance research had been lower brief when she was 10 and recognized with a curved backbone. For the subsequent decade, she wore a corset that severely restricted her actions. During this time, she switched from piano to the organ, including harpsichord research at conservatory.
It was there that she met William Christie, the early-music maestro who had been essential in reviving curiosity in French Baroque music within the 1980s. He grew to become her mentor. “His class was for singers solely,” Ms. Haïm stated, “however after I tried to look in” — she mimed urgent her face and palms towards a window — “he invited me and requested me to play the harpsichord.”
She stated she discovered the musicians in trendy orchestras to be more and more versatile and keen to experiment in approaching the Baroque. It’s an echo of the spirit of openness that she most remembers from her days in Mr. Christie’s class, studying historic treatises on declamation and making an attempt out new types of expression in entrance of her fellow college students.
“We had that spirit of curiosity that’s so necessary,” she stated. If there was a gulf separating the early-music world from the mainstream, she didn’t discover.
“I didn’t know there was one other world,” she stated. “ I used to be so submerged on this one.”