There is no first prelude of “The Well-Tempered Clavier”, there are as many as the human mind can think of and all of them, absolutely all of them, are brilliant.
The performer’s life – we could also say life in all its extension – is a quest for meaning. This becomes apparent these days in which we are experimenting more than ever how to make things which make sense, being this a heroic task. We live immersed in the not-thinking, sometimes without knowing, because this action demands an exhausting effort and we prefer to give up to the sheltered convenience of consumerism and the distraction, which will avoid us to take part in something from our own individual values.
We also look for the group’s complicity in the world of performance, we feel more empathic with those who value the same performance of Chopin’s Études as we do or those who consider that there is no version of that Mahler symphony as that of that conductor, which could be never surpassed. That moment, when we abandon ourselves, when we make ourselves comfortable and, from our hidden narcissistic point of view, we unite to silence originality and the bravery, which raises from individual wisdom.
Recently, the theologist and essayist Rob Riemen has published a book in which he reminds us how the cultivation of the soul is the quest for wisdom and that, precisely this quest, is where humanism lives as basis for European culture. A culture, which has vindicated to learn to live with truth, justice and creating beauty.
Josu Okiñena has emerged in the contemporary performers scene as a clear example of that heroic task, which leads us to take part of something from our own individual values. He has elevated investigation to beauty’s realm by means of scientific parameters and has defended the music of Basque composers as Aldave, Donostia, Lavilla or Garbizu to rise them to maximum humanist expression via the creation of the purest interpretative beauty. Okiñena, who could have opted to join the mass and offer standard versions more appropriate for this resounding kitsch society often disturbed by individual thinking, has omitted the immediate, the rules of marketing, today’s taste, which has become transitory, and by means of that heroic effort of thinking, he offers a whole cosmos in which all aesthetic options are valid, but among which he decides to choose one based in the transcendent. He has elevated the music of Basque composers to the highest peak but has done the same with Satie, Bach or Liszt. He has created a way of thinking and to address a Liszt ballad from the same parameters used in a Donostia prelude, a bagatelle by Aldave or a Bach piano concerto. Those moments when the exasperated performer discerns a moment of clarity, which, within a few seconds, will make the heart stop and the silence turn into sound. Okiñena shows us that it is at this point when the performer may feel that genuine place, where only he can go; that place where clarity takes control of the cell where we pause to think and, thus, everything turns to be meaningful as if it just started flowing.
Okiñena flows on every performance despite knowing that those moments will not last forever. Even though the performer tries to look for comfort in them and to offer them to the listener, they will disappear before the unusual attempt to remind them. Okiñena, through his performance, shows to those who want to sense it that he has entered that moment in space-time in which only a few have lived that experience. That moment in space-time takes us back to the present and then we realize how performance is just as it should be: momentary and unique.