John Tilbury interviewed

For the magazine Personal Best I was asked to do an interview with legendary improvisor and member of AMM, John Tilbury. The piece was though, for some reason or other, never used but now you can read it here. The interview was done in January 2014, when Tilbury did a performance for the All Ears music festival in Oslo.

If you want to quote from this interview, please state the source and author.
© Tom Hovinbøle 2015
Photo: Tom Løberg


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I would like to start this interview talking about Samuel Beckett. After the last time we talked you very kindly sent me your recording of his two plays – Cascando and Rough for Radio 1 [John Tilbury plays Samuel Beckett
with Christina Jones and Sebastian Lexer, Matchless Recordings 2004-05]. Have you since done any more Beckett-projects? Are you planning to do more?

I have done other things. I am fascinated by the late texts and done two of his late texts, Worstward Ho and Stirrings Still. I’ve done different versions of Worstward Ho, which is very difficult, very obscure. People hold symposiums and write whole books about it. With that I pre-recorded the text and completed it at the piano. So it wasn’t like the radio plays where he actually designates where the music should be. He doesn’t know what kind of music, he just says “music”. With Worstward Ho it was very free. First of all it’s supposed to be read as opposed to being delivered to an audience. But a lot of people have of course delivered them, given proper readings. And he seemed to go along with that. I mean he rejected a lot of the things, a lot of the new productions of the plays. There was a very infamous one by – I can’t remember her name, a female director. She wanted to do Waiting for Godot with only women. He just said no, you know, to things like that. We did one of the radio plays as a play, where there’s a violinist and a cripple, and we were a bit naughty because I changed the violinist into a pianist, since I’m playing the piano. I don’t know quite what Beckett would have said about that because we had to change the text a bit. Not much, but minimalistic.

Beckett was very stern about making changes to his plays. He didn’t so much mind what you did with the texts – there are even dramatizations of his texts and he didn’t care – but he got very cross when people wanted to make changes to his plays.

He did! So that may have been a step too far. But I think with the actors he really liked, like Jack MacGowran, Billie Whitelaw and all these, he preferred them reading the text, because they read so well, so musical. So I didn’t have any qualms about that. But when I did the radio plays, the Beckett estate was terrible to deal with. I took the official way of writing for permission. But they had not heard of us and it was to be released on a small label and they were like, “This is not important, why do we bother?” And two years went by and they wouldn’t answer emails, telephone calls, anything. So in the end I contacted Edward Beckett, as a kindred spirit, because although we didn’t know each other, he probably knew of me as I knew of him. He was a flautist. He was very close to his uncle. Beckett paid for him to go through conservatoire in Paris. So I phoned him up and told him the story. I said, “Look, I’ll send you what I’ve done. If it’s terrible, then we won’t do it.” He heard it and made some suggestion about the tempo of the text; he thought it could be a bit faster. And then I did that and I sent him the whole thing. Within two-three weeks, I got permission to do it. Within four-five weeks, the whole thing was settled. Then he wrote me and said he enjoyed the music, he said the music was good, that it was the right kind of music. I also performed Worstward Ho in Paris, and there was a sort of stunned silence at the end of it. It was in English but anyway, they just sort of didn’t know what to make of it. But there was a young Ukrainian guy that came up to me afterward and we had an interesting conversation. He said, “You know, your music did assist me in comprehending the text.” I couldn’t want for anything more than that! It was somehow enhanced, not only the pleasure or engagement of the text but also somehow his comprehension. I was very happy to hear that.

Stirrings Still is an even more desolate and bleak text than Worstward Ho. It was also his last prose text and a lot of critics have made a number of that. What do you make of it?

Stirrings Still I did very recent. It’s not quite so problematic in terms of comprehension. For that I was persuaded by people to do a live performance. Which I did. I was reading the text at the piano, I had it flat and next to the text I had my prompts, which I use for the music. And that seemed to go very well. People liked it very much so I should do that again. Maybe I might make a recording of it sometime.

In his late prose works and in the late plays he seems to not even bother trying to salvage the language from the disintegration that comes from the existential collapse.

I did three late poems, very late poems, which are very minimal and that I like very much. I come in with very sparse, minimalistic accompaniments at the piano. There’s a wonderful line there which I like very much – “No sooner there, than there always”. There was a nice thing which Marlon Brando said on his deathbed, his dying words so they say, “What was all that about?” (Laughs.) Because it’s over in a flash, you know. “No sooner there, than there always.” You’re around for that amount, and then you’re there forever. It’s a wonderful line.

I heard you are also doing a collaboration with Kjell Bjørgeengen, the Norwegian video artist. This is also for a Beckett project, is it not?

Yes. I had the idea for a long time. I wanted to have some visuals for Worstward Ho. And I have with me Kjell because I liked the idea of having the screens with the text. He came to the performance in London, where I did Worstward Ho and we discussed it. And he liked the idea. He was thinking hard about what kind of visuals to use. Earlier I had seen an exhibition in Oslo, I can’t remember where, where he was at a small flat in Paris and he had a camera facing down onto the pavement. I think it was up quite high. And he has these little shadowy figures moving back and forth. And I liked the look of that, the fact that it was black and white. I thought that was the kind of thing I had in my mind for the Beckett. Black, lots of black on black and white screens, maybe. There’s quite a lot of movement in Worstward Ho, specific references to the main characters walks with his father, so walking is important. And in the score, in the music, I use sort of drudging, prodding – with banging drums rhythmically and these types of sequences. Just as if we are walking.

Beckett’s late prose, especially, is extremely sparse, very simple and to the bone. How do you go about reading it? How do you approach it as performance material?

The first thing I should say about them is that I approach them as a musician. That’s how I approach them. As a musician. I’m more comfortable behind a piano than I am behind a lectern. You know, in academia, most people would have a lectern. And they give a paper on Beckett. They’re academics. I don’t do that. My paper is music. So that’s important. And I’d like to think that Beckett would have understood – well, he would have understood it, but I’d like to think he would have approved of it.

I know from earlier that you spend a tremendous amount of time getting into the text, reading it aloud, again and again and again.

Exactly. I read it, then I respond. That’s the way to do it. Hands on. Very physical. I think he would have approved of that, rather than sitting with dictionaries trying to understand the meaning of it. The meaning is staring you in the face, actually. You deliver it, and it becomes clear, it does become meaningful in a way. Of course that requires quite a bit of appropriation. I’ll always read it aloud and I always think that it’s very much like a musical performance; it’s using my vocal chords, instead of the piano. It’s the same kind of thing, the same challenges: Stress, emphasis, rhythm, vitality, pause – there’s like “pause” or “silence”. I gave a performance in Austria and somebody came to see me after, and he said, “Only a musician could have taken such a radical stance toward the silences”. Which I do. Sometimes I vary them a lot, and some of them are quite long. But that’s because of my experience as a musician, I think. The idea of silence is natural to me.

My background is from literature, and we were trained to always read for the meaning, the analytical approach. But I find that when you turn it around and sort of disregard that side of it, you can open a work in a completely different way. One reason why Beckett liked Billie Whitelaw was because she never asked him for the meaning, only about how he wanted the sentences to be read. She said in an interview that it was all about finding the perfect rhythm for the words; that was all she was interested in. The meaning and significance didn’t bother her. When done right, listening to Beckett can be quite hypnotic.

We know that Beckett loved music, and musicians generally. And he was very aware of the sound of his text, the way they were delivered. The intonation. Of course there was a lot of problems with tempo, because he wanted it delivered at such a fast tempo. And people couldn’t do it. Or if they did, it would sound unintelligible. They would reject it, and he would say, “I don’t care.” Or you would disagree and Beckett would say, “Ok, do it your way, but I don’t want to have anything to do with it!” And just walk out and leave them to it.

On the other hand, there’s a famous story about when Billie Whitelaw was doing one of the plays, and Beckett was on her all the time, going “No, you have to do it like this or like that!” And in the end they actually had to push him out of the room. He wasn’t allowed to follow the rehearsals, he was meddling too much.

I suppose he did respect her a lot. She was more or less his favourite actor. Her, Jack MacGowran, and some of the Germans maybe, he admired the way they handled the text. But it was all to do with the sound, the delivery, the music of the text.

I wanted to ask you about that. Because one thing is delivering the text by adding a musical stance to it but when reading Beckett, one thing that really strikes you, is the musicality of the language – especially in the later prose, where it’s basically embedded in the language, isn’t it? The phrasing, the way he kind of words things around, the repetitions, the abrupt endings… It’s very musical, the language in it self. That comes forth very clearly in your recordings, by the way.

Yes, and I do treat it like music, just using my vocal chords. Especially in the way I am very conscious of the other performers when I’m accompanying them with the music. As I said, emphasis, intonation, pitch, everything! And that’s obviously something I take very seriously as a musician. It’s nice to hear that you found that as a positive aspect too, what I do.

Because you don’t really get that aspect when you listen to many trained actors. I have several different recordings of his plays, like Krapp’s Last Tape, and they don’t have that kind of musicality in the delivery. And that text, being a seminal Beckett text, is like a composition in the way the text is written out – the abrupt phrases, the silences, the repetitions, the circular dramaturgy…

Actually, it’s very interesting you should say that because I went to see a performance of Krapp not long ago in London. I think it was with John Heard, actually. A very famous actor. And I went with a musical friend of mine, composer Michael Parsons. And it was uncanny because at the end of it we looked at each other and almost virtually in unison said the same word, “pacing!” We thought the pacing was all wrong. It didn’t have the rhythmic vitality; it was basically just one pace. You hear that about footballers that they’ve only got one pace when they can’t accelerate. I do a talk on Beckett’s music that I’ve given a few times and in that I give specific examples from Krapp in which I give examples of musical terminology, which Beckett did himself, in Italian. And it helps me in explaining the rhythmic characteristics of the phrase in question. I give specific examples of that. Where it moves forward, then it holds back, then it pulls. It’s very much like performing music. And I think that is something that a lot of actors lack. Maybe Billie Whitelaw was one of those that got it right.

How about you, do you have any training as an actor?

Not really training, but I did a lot of acting at school. It was a school that had a very strong drama department. And I did plays, classical plays, shows. So that was what I was doing between 16 and 18. And then when I left school I joined a very good amateur dramatic society in London. They were really, really good. Very interesting individuals from different walks of life. But all of them had wonderful acting ability. Most of them were kind of type-cast actors. They weren’t trained, but they had certain – there was one guy that sort of had a voice you would associate with a vicar, and he would always play the vicar. He was perfect! (Laughs) But then I dropped out of it. I was also good at cricket. I was off to go to trials for Middlesex. And in a way, I wish I would have done that. I always wondered just how far I would have gotten. They would have probably rejected me – but there were two boys in my school that used to do opening batting for England. And I was just starting college, and I thought, “No, I can’t do this!” but now looking back, I wish I had. Well, the acting, I was doing it until I went to Poland to study and then it all stopped.

When did the piano enter the picture?

I also played piano in some pieces. Rather disconcertingly, my family said to me, “Of course, now you’re going to be an actor, aren’t you?” (Laughs.) But I had a very ambitious piano teacher, and she told me, “You’re going to be a musician!” And my parents, they were working people, said, “Well, Mrs. Heines said you’re going to be a musician, and she should know!” I was good at it, acting, and I liked it but I think I would have been a very dissolute actor, a very drunken actor. I think music kept me on the straight and narrow somehow. Because you can’t play a Beethoven sonata and be drunk at the same time!

You’ve done Pinter and other stuff as well but you’ve sort of stuck with Beckett all this time, that’s what you’re famed for. Why is that? What is it about Beckett?

Well, I think that partly I could have branched out, but I think Beckett would have appreciated that I have a speech impediment owing to a stroke. I had a stroke in 2008, and before that I was a very smart, fluent, slick speaker… and now I’ve lost it. For a time, I was literally speechless. I couldn’t speak at all, and then I gradually recovered. I had, and still have, speech therapy. You wouldn’t know it, but I am very conscience of my speech. I have great difficulty speaking, I have to concentrate very hard on the physical aspect of articulation. Even with the word “difficulty”, I have difficulty in saying that word. So I thought Beckett would have liked that. He would have approved of me struggling to say the words. People say that they don’t notice it, or it isn’t important and I suppose it isn’t. But to me it is, because I am so conscience of it, the physicality of it. Speaking is a bit like breathing; you just speak, whereas I can’t do that. That’s why reading is better for me. Probably that’s the reason I stay with Beckett. But normally, I’m also asked about other things, you know? I’m asked also about being a performing artist, about my collaborations. I’m asked about other composers.

Yes, but you’ve talked about that so much in other interviews, so maybe we could just designate this session to Beckett? We seem to have hit a good flow here. And we are talking about the music of his texts. And yours. Do you mind?

Yes, you’re right. You seem to be on the same wavelength, at least for me, we seem to agree on a number of things.

Well, I find Beckett endlessly fascinating and I know we share this fascination. But I guess we could touch more onto the music, because Beckett is famous for starting to write in French. One of the reasons he gave was that he wanted to “write without style”. You are also famous for saying you wanted to play the piano without style. Does that come from Beckett?

No, I said that many times before I knew Beckett said it. It may have been an influence subliminally but I didn’t know he said that until much later. But it was logical in a way. I’ve been improvising seriously since 1980, and at some stage in the 80’s the idea of playing with no style came to me and I tried to do that. And that is very difficult, because there is so much historical baggage with the piano, whatever you try to do. Literally anything. Play a classical composition or Bill Evans or whatever – you are never allowed to stagnate or influence the music, or people will think you are making conscience references or using parody or whatever.

It’s interesting that during the 20th Century, improvisation and classical music were fields apart. But now it’s more and more common that you go back to improvisation within the framework of classical compositions and you get pianists doing improvisations on Mozart’s concertos and stuff like that. More and more we’re going back to the original way of playing things.

The difficulty is that it’s so close to the original. It’s like walking a tightrope, because you could fall into cliché, you could make it into a parody. I can’t believe with all the influences… They are inherent with the very instrument they’re using. It’s very limited. The piano has such an enormous repertoire of music, spanning every single aspect and technique. Sometimes when I hear back to what I’m doing, I can’t place that back to anything in particular. But I guess many jazz players, they are just programmed, it’s almost automatic. Their fingers were programmed to play certain kinds of phrases. They play what they know, they are so programed that a lot of the stuff is just recycling without even thinking about it.

One thing Beckett said was that his kind of quest for a language without style was to get rid of the subjective consciousness, the subject, because that carries all the history, the tradition, all that technique.

Yes, that goes back to self-invention. It’s about discovery and taking risks. Going on a journey, but you don’t know where or how you started. And you certainly don’t know where you’re going. So that’s the great thing about that.

But don’t you stand the risk, when getting rid of one element, of just making other elements into a new formula? Like you get rid of traditional technique, you get other modes of playing that you begin to repeat and it becomes – basically – new clichés?

Well, I suppose people might recognize my playing because it doesn’t sound like anybody else’s. That’s why it’s unique, inherently, because they can’t place it. So yes, I’ve found that I do take a fancy to certain things, almost like a signature. Like Hitchcock – he appeared in all of his own films. And it’s something like that. I enjoy playing this or that particular output phrase. And so it appears often. I think the techniques that are used – like when you play a ten-note chord – you have a certain leverage when you have something together very close like that. It gives a bit of a space there, so you know more or less the quality of sound you get. That’s when the interesting part comes in because you can then start as kneading clay – it’s very physical. Doing this with the chords – like being more harmonic here, or play this more loudly, or leave that out, or what if I play these three like this? I’m working like that and discovering things. But of course I’m making choices, which means they are subjective choices. Beckett was very extreme. I mean, he was making choices all the time, when he was composing Worstward Ho. It’s a very rigorous text. You feel that sense of inevitability, unchangeablility. That’s the right way and the right place. He just decided to do that.

And you weren’t allowed to change that text.

No. I suppose you could argue that those choices don’t come from me. They come from somewhere else. I just say that you have to obey that particular rule. But I did neither on some occasions. Maybe Beckett would have said something like that? I’ve always been interested in the balance between the subject and the collective. I don’t know if you know of “The Great Learning”?

No, I don’t.

It’s a big piece, with several movements, with the text of Confucius. There’s one piece where you take tones from your neighbour and it’s a wonderful example of the idea of an ideal society anybody would want – with individual decision and social responsibility. It’s absolutely perfect – you make choices, but you also always have the idea of social responsibility. You rely on other people. You don’t do things in spite of other people; you do them through other people. That’s how you achieve your individuality. If you do it otherwise, then you’re being individualistic, and that’s another word, which people mix up. Individuality is something unique and different. To be individualistic suggests egotism.

In all music I guess you kind of have this dilemma of getting out what the composer wants, but you also have your own way of playing, your style and your attitude towards it? We have this notion in the West, especially, these ideals of self-expression in art. Is there an inherent difference here between playing scripted music compared to improvising? Or – to put it more bluntly – how free can you be?

When you’re improvising, in a way you have as many constraints as when you are reading a score. I suppose you could argue it’s easier to circumvent, to avoid these constraints when you are improvising. If you have a score in front of you that says ”Play A”, you do that note. People sometimes say that when you improvise, you can play anything, but I say, “No, you can’t play anything, you play something!” That’s very different. It’s easier to play anything. But playing something, that’s different. And it’s difficult. You have to make a choice. You could play it once, six times, take it apart, transpose it… You’re always making these decisions and it’s difficult. But there are also constraints, in a way, because they are not totally free decisions. You’re in a context. Whether you repeat yourself or not, depends on the context you find yourself in. There is a reason for doing it, a good reason or a bad reason, for playing it three times or six times or whatever. And that has to do with not just the material you have but with the other people you’re performing with. But conversely, you could say that the score does give you freedom. Some composers, the best ones, encourage you so you can hear a very different performance of the same piece. That works for classical music as well – Bach, Beethoven.

But still you have to subdue your own attitude, at least to a certain degree, to get out what the composer wants?

Sometimes when I play contemporary pieces, the composer goes, “Oh, I never thought of playing that tempo, that speed, that dynamic.” And I say, “Well, you haven’t written anything, so that’s what I’ve done. That’s my choice.” And then it transpired that once or twice I actually negated the decision a composer made, for example about the dynamics. One composer said to me, “Ultimately, you must be convinced of what you’re doing.” He said, ”If you feel it’s better, it’s right, you’re more comfortable with it, do it that way. Because if you’re not convinced, certainly the audience won’t be.“ Then you’ve got your reasons for it. You’re a musician. You do that. The more radical decisions that seem to have been made for you by the composer, you can actually challenge those. But not everyone is like that. Some composers, as we know, are very demanding. I mean, you’ve got to a ridiculous point in the 1950’s where every single parameter was determined. It became a sort of a bad joke because of course it was impossible to do it. It’s a relationship, isn’t it? Cornelius Cardew once said, “Notation is a way of making people move.” And I think the word “making” wasn’t quite right. I don’t think he wanted to make anyone do anything. I could see what he meant, though. Getting people to move. And that’s a good definition of it, really. Within that, there’s quite a lot of leeway. And that’s what a makes a performance different, and some performances better than others.

So there is basically no difference between playing improvised and a score?

Ideally not.

Still there must be some differences in the approach, in the preparations?

It seems there would need to be more concentration in the improvisation. In a conversation, you sort of go on automatic mode. You know how you wanted to be. And you do it, and you know how to do it. So you have a sort of an illusionary free-will. That can happen in improvising music as well. That’s when you become a musician. And you do of course have tricks up your sleeve that you’d rather not use. My wife always said, “Do the preparations, you can’t go wrong with that.”

You’ve stated earlier something very interesting about freedom – that’s it not just the freedom to do, but also the freedom from.

Yes, that’s very important. These days I think it’s more of a question of a freedom from things. From noise, from motion, from cars, from the TV screen, from propaganda, all these things. Then we might have the freedom to do, but first we need freedom from before we even start. It’s the big lie used by politicians. When anybody says ”freedom”, my hair bristles! And it’s the people that are most oppressive that use the word most; the more right wing the party is the more times they use the word “freedom”.

But to bring it back to Beckett; my theory is that perhaps the reason that he decided to suddenly start writing in French was because – with the freedom from all the implicit meaning in words and metaphorical levels in a text in his native tongue – it freed him to explore the language in itself. On one level, at least, you could argue that that seems to be his main concern as a writer.

Yes. And I also think so because the sound is different between French and English. The actual noise of the language. I think some things he found very difficult to translate. Some of the words, some of the names he used. It’s very different. The associations with Charles Kings’ books Westward Ho, and the word “Ho” itself. Because Westward Ho is a place in a certain book, and everybody knows it. But I don’t think there’s any other reference but “towards the worst”. Which is what it means, of course, Worstward Ho. The word “Ho” is sort of archaic and romantic in a way. It means “to go in that direction”. It’s quite a heroic word. But like the names, like Godot or Estragon – I wonder, Estragon, does that mean anything in French?

Estragon, isn’t that a spice? Or is it the snails?

No, escargot is the snails. Estragon is something else. I don’t know what it means. But I wonder what that would mean to a French person. It sounds French to us. Of course, Beckett doesn’t translate that into English. And probably in the English translations he uses the same names. Probably in the early novels he uses the same words. The Norwegian version probably uses Mallone and Malloy.

They use the names, yes. It’s sort of entwined. Norwegian meanings and original French-Engslish-made up names.

Yes, and very Irish!

And then you come to Watt, which is a different thing and which is more abstract and the names and the words start to float out.

That’s right, yes. Then you’ve got all these things, like nowhere, nothingness, and lots of negative words he more or less invents. It’s difficult to unravel. So it’s all part of the journey.

It’s interesting because even though he is very abstract in the meaning, like in plays like Godot, in the later dramatic works he does almost nothing but describe movements and the physical aspects of moving about. The rest is gone. It’s as if it’s meant to be meaningless, but still have significance.

Life itself is meaningless, but it has significance… Strange to say, I think.

Beckett has this dilemma where he says, “We don’t really have anything to express, but we have this immense need to express something.” How do you feel about a statement like that when it comes to musical expression?  

Well, I sort of move towards that in a sense; less is more. Move in that direction. The less you say, the less you play. Like in the silence…

I had this very strong experience hearing you play in the auditorium of the National library when you came to the All Ears festival in 2007. When you started to play, you were sitting down. I closed my eyes, and I listened to the music and it changed, it came and went, the sounds and the room resonated perfectly, the ambience sometimes overtaking the music, and when I opened my eyes, you were somewhere else. You had walked around the piano. It seemed like you’re not playing the piano, you’re playing on the piano.

Yes, it’s not so much playing the piano as it’s using the piano as a sound object. Other than a keyboard to be played, it’s an object to extract all sorts of wonderful sound. The piano is really sort of a Pandora’s box – you open it up, there are these amazing sounds you get. Why bother with computers? The thing is, you have less control. If you play a chord on the piano with a pedal, you can kill it by lifting the pedal, and that’s the end of it. But if you do not and you let it go on, it just goes its own way. It’s like watching the paint dribble. Just stand back and watch. Sometimes I wedge the pedal. It’s limiting, everything remains the same. Sometimes I like that idea, the whole piece being sustained. I could walk around and pluck a note, which would be sustained. Otherwise I would have to sit at the keyboard, where I could use the pedal as and when I want.

But it also requires for the listener a different mode of attention. Because again, it’s a freedom from the rhythmic and melody, and it’s a freedom for the sound itself.

It’s very interesting because I always think of one of my heroes, David Tudor, who always said that the piano is just one ugly sound after another. Which it often is, I’m afraid. (Laughs.) And yet it can be so beautiful. The best thing to do is to leave the piano alone; let it do its thing. Then it’s beautiful. It’s the attacks that are the problem. Everything starts loud, everything attacks. That’s what Morton Feldman said, “Try to think of the sound as sourceless. If you think of that, mentally, psychologically, you can achieve something.” Feldman certainly affects you when you play. With minimal attack. It’s very difficult.

A juxtaposition of opposites that Beckett himself is full of!

Yes, he is. But with Feldman, it’s very different. It resonates. It’s like environmental sounds. Not even Beckett could get rid of that. So maybe the advantage of that music could be subdued to environmental sound. He does that very successfully. You just play the chord, and it comes to have autonomy, and you just listen. It’s out of your control, just as the waterfall or the wind in the trees. That’s what happened to the sound as well. That’s a beautiful quality, and perhaps why I love music so much.

One final question, regarding this, and going back to the listening and the intensity required, the concentration, both as a performer and as an audience – you said in an interview that you feel the intensity is an essential part of music. In a sense, that’s what music is?

Yes, intensity means strength of feeling. Very intense means very into the sound. That means concentration, of course. Feldman talked about not losing your nerve. It’s slightly different, but I could see what he means by that. I think that Feldman composed in real time. When he sat at a piano, he got an idea, and it happened.  And he would not notate the next sound until he reached the right point in time. So he always improvised, or was composing in real time. He’d wait, then write, then find a way of notating that space, I suppose. He really felt the music. Concentrated, and with great intensity. Deeply, strongly, on each moment. Then when the right moment came, he’d find a way of notating that. When I’m playing at my best, I can’t really separate intensity and concentration. A very powerful sense of the occasion, of the moment. That’s what it means, intensity. Being deeply into the occasion.

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