Saturday, July 26, 2008

An epiphany a day keeps the stress levels at bay

All this last week my drive into work every day has been a nightmare. Something called the CLA Game Fair has been taking place at Blenheim Palace. I have no idea what this event may actually be, but it has made my usual 40 minute drive take at least twice as long every day, and on Friday it took almost three hours. So why am I telling you this? Well this morning I was heading into work for the late shift and set out at around 9AM, a good hour earlier than usual for this shift, anticipating the chaos. As expected I ran into a jam in the usual place and, resigned to the same wait I'd had all week I opened a window and flicked on the radio, which was tuned to BBC Radio 3. (The main BBC Classical music channel for anyone reading that may be unfamiliar) I was immediately hit by a deep, resounding and jawdroppingly beautiful solo cello note that caused me to instantly forget the stress of the journey and turn the car stereo up.

My relationship with classical music is an unusual one. Whilst I would like to think I know the works of more "contemporary" composers such as Feldman, Cage, Nono, Lachenmann etc pretty well, my understanding and knowledge of older composers is very much in its infancy, having spent maybe 18 months now slowly investigating this area at a leisurely pace. As such, I am not confident or knowledgeable enough to be able to identify particular composers when I hear their work. I perhaps only know Mahler's symphonies and Shostakovich's later string quartets well enough to be able to instantly identify them.
Anyway I have been picking my way through the world of classical music essentially by ear. By that I mean I know what I like and then go and investigate more in that area when I hear something good. Much of my exposure to this music has been through Radio3 on my drives to and from work.

So this morning when I heard that cello I was immediately captivated. I immediately fell in love with the music, alive, powerful, vibrant. The piece blossomed out into a full orchestral piece, the cello solo at its heart. I knew I liked this music, I knew I had to hear it again in different surroundings, but what was it? I sat captivated until it ended to find that it was in fact a new recording of Shostakovich's First Cello Sonata, a piece that I have a couple of recordings of but have yet to actually play, as my classical listening time is sadly in shorter supply than classical CDs I have waiting to be to listened to. However, I felt a huge amount of satisfaction and a strange personal pride that I could respond like this to a piece of music I had not heard before by a composer I like a great deal. this probably sounds odd to seasoned classical listeners out there, but to be able to identify a piece in this way, respond to it emotionally and then find I have a version sat waiting to be played was rather a special moment to me. The journey to work, which had been a big stress all week turned out to be highly pleasurable today.

By the way the new version of the piece that was played by Radio3 was on the Orfeo label, played by daniel-Muller-Schott with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Yakov Kreiberg. I've just ordered a copy, naturally.

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A little birdie told me this week that Annette Krebs will return to Dublin this October to play a trio with Messrs Lacey and Vogel. You have plenty of warning dear readers, book your flights now!!

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