3/02/2003

They handed out souvenirs at the big media extravaganza last night, like always, but they weren’t as generous this time out. They handed us one CD as we left the ballroom. One CD for the two of us. Zsuzsa handed it over to me immediately. We both thought sure it would be some crappy compilation. It was a compilation, but not too crappy, although I see no reason any of the pieces on it should remind anyone of the evening they’d just spent not greeting each other and just generally being pricks. And none of the pieces were related in any way to any of the others on the compilation, either, as far as I could tell. What do Vivaldi, Mozart, Elgar, Satie, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Wagner, Albinoni, Grieg, Gershwin and Ravel have in common? I can’t figure it out. I will say that all of the selections were verging on the sentimental.

I know from reading some piece in a recent Sunday Slime that Tchaikovsky is thought to be très, très bourgeois, a tad too sentimental for serious music-lovers.

Grieg’s Piano Concierto Op.16 in A Minor, though not one of Grieg’s bouncier pieces has its florid moments—but what a sweet and lovely piano interlude in there. Well, it starts out as sort of an interlude, it gets a little strident, once it reckons it’s won you over.

I like this Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor ,with the pipe organ. It is plodding and sad, like me. It’s got a lot of violins, and I love violins. If I had to choose, I’d say, ‘Give me strings!’ I’m listening to it now and it just goes on and on. Really, towards the end it thrashes and gasps in a kind of ecstasy of despair. And then it just ends. I don’t know anything about this Albinoni, when he lived, composed, anything.

None of the pieces, with the exceptions of the final two (‘Porgy and Bess’ and ‘Bolero’) are all that plucky. Well, Vivaldi’s ‘Autumn’ is pretty plucky, too. As for whether it’s really Autumn he’s captured, I don’t know. Maybe on a crisp, sunny day.... I get the little whirlwinds in there, and here comes a real gust, and some clouds rolling in, maybe that’s a drop or two of rain.... Mmm, a note of sadness. That’s nice. I guess it is Autumn, after all.

Mozart is brilliant, of course. There’s a quote from him in Stendhal. At the head of Chapter 6 (‘Boredom’):

‘I no longer know what I am,
Nor what I am doing.’

His music has such an innocence. A clarity, a wisdom that is only in the innocent. His Concerto for Clarinet in A major seems to ask the saddest questions so sweetly, and the universe seems to answer so gently. And it’s all so true you could weep.

Then comes Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85. I know this piece, but I don’t know this Elgar. It’s quite serious. Cello’s are very sober instruments, like grown up violins. They have a slightly more philosophical outlook than violins do, too.

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