MoR: “…. What I mean is that we all have our obsessions, themes, leitmotivs (read the 2008/2014 original unabridged conversation]
This seems evident in people we know well – close friends, family members, colleagues. We are aware of their fixations … It can be a father (or mother) figure obsession, a pervading mental escapism that comes out in many occasions, behaviours – it can be anything.
Leitmotivs are also present in the works of writers, musicians, scientists etc., more complex to detect it being the big part of a critic’s job to probe their works in search of elements which make the stylistic imprint of an author.
Take Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. We often recognize his music because of this bizarre Arabic-scale leaning he had and that may related to some profound experience … had he Tartar ancestors? Was he desperately in love with a Muslim girl?”
Christopher: “I think I also detect jazz influences in Rachmaninov’s music. Was he, then, also once in love with an American jazz-loving girl?!!
… [Besides] these influences may also have affected other Russian composers, like Rimsky-Korsakov (Scherezade) and Tschaikovsky (4th movement, 6th symphony). I think also of Borodin …”
“I also detect jazz influences in Rachmaninov. Was he, then, also once in love with an American … girl?”
He was. And the girl was black. Which brings to mind Bach and his clear penchant for black boys (not over the age of twelve though!). It explains why his music is so ‘dancing’.
“… melancholic oriental/Arabic influences … in Rachmaninov … Rimsky-Korsakov ….Tschaikovsky”
Right, ok, Rachmaninov was simply Russian, and Russia is partly Asiatic.
You seem to like Russian music, Cristo. I do too (Shostakovich, Prokofiev) but most of the time I need Bach, Rossini or Busoni.
Sentimental music like Rachmaninov’s (his pianism though, wow!) … enough.
‘encounter’ Bach via Gould
Russian Sokolov is my favourite Bach performer at this moment though your compatriot, Glenn Gould, has opened the path. He btw went to Moscow in the 50′s and made communist Russians ‘encounter’ Bach’s works (until then neglected as ‘religious music’.)
You might enjoy Gould’s Russian journey and its consequences on the Russians.
And, some Bach dancing by Grigory Sokolov (‘dance’ lol starts at 2:20).
Cristopher: “I watched these videos – particularly the Glenn Gould Russia one – with much interest.
Gould’s youth, pianistic brilliance, and his coming into their midst suddenly and from so far, Russians, from their awed reception of him, may have seen him as a Redeemer, the One who would lead them away, who would transport them to a Paradise, far, far removed from the drab Socialist Realism from which they could bodily never flee.
Was Gould deserving of all this reverence, not just in Russia but everywhere?
This is explored in this provocative piece written some twenty years ago by another concert pianist, a fellow Canadian, who knew Gould well.
When I read of the extremely eccentric Gould I think of the extremely eccentric Bobby Fischer – equally a genius, albeit in another skill entirely. Both appeared to reside somewhere within the continuum of Autism.
In the matter of Bach, while I appreciate his brilliance, and surmise he would be the preferred musical taste for mathematicians, I have always found him as a result, cold.
Far more my cup of tea is the warmth and sunniness of Bach’s contemporary (and your fellow countryman) Antonio Vivaldi.”
MoR: “Awesome, Christopher.
[The Russians] may have seen [Gould] as a Redeemer, the One who would … transport them to a Paradise, far, far removed from the drab Socialist Realism from which they could bodily never flee.
I agree. Generally, a good knowledge of Bach is important, as far as my music comprehension, to any professional musician and possibly to the Russians of that time even more.
“Russian art: sensuous, intuitive,
An English philosopher (Last and First Men, 3, rephrased) wrote:
The Russian mode of art is blended with a passion of iconoclasm, sensuousness and a remarkable, mystical, intuitive power that can profit a lot from German discipline and rational mind
Adapted to Gould’s trip tp Russia, they need(ed) Bach like bread (who doesn’t need bits of German discipline btw? We do.]
Metaphorically – I’m getting confused – Bach is like a gym where one works out up to sheer power – made more (mystically) vigorous by doses of Ashtanga (excruciating lol) Yoga. Although, playing Bach well can be learned via toil.
Classical music: pureness,
Italian music plus Mozart, Haydn, Schubert etc instead – since you’ve mentioned Vivaldi- reaches beauty through the alternative paths of pureness, clarity and proportion – things from a certain heritage (Classical Antiquity), not easily learned.
I may dig Bach more than Rossini or Italian opera, although yes, it takes some training to appreciate Bach’s music (I studied it at the Conservatory.)
An exotic thing, probably, like when German radio stations are so full of Italian Bel Canto (try NDR Kultur Belcanto.)
I read your article.
Indeed, an Elvis-type cult has grown up around Glenn Gould. But I don’t quite agree with the article points. Gould operated two miracles imo: 1) made a large number of people appreciate Bach (no small feat) and 2) he taught pianists to squeeze Bach beauty out of a piano. Now much-better-than-Gould Bach pianists exist imo (Sokolov etc) but it was Gould who opened a path. Sokolov himself said he was heavily influenced by GG.
So Canadian Gould was in my view a genius.
Sledpress: “My Transgender Ex, back in high school days, played Bach obsessively — the Goldberg Variations and the Well Tempered Klavier. He (I guess it is now she though I am not sure of the stage of progression) could neck seamlessly while playing the Inventions. A person of Russian Jewish provenance as it happens. It left me with a lifelong impression of Bach’s keyboard work as an almost violent synthesis of erotic and cerebral energy.
I always sensed it, nonetheless, as a sort of Tantric energy that never actually grounded itself. The classical idioms, Mozart and Schubert cases in point, touch the earth in a way that reaches my heart.
Did Protestant Bach, with his two wives and twenty children, represent a kind of creative energy that had to keep climbing to heaven because the ground seemed like the wrong place to be? Not cold, but ruthlessly contained, scooped up at every level and taken to a higher one. It says Come Find Me If You Have The Chops. Schubert’s lieder or the Mozart Clarinet Quintet hold out a gift instead.
As for Vivaldi, I fear I cannot bear him. My late and ex once spoke sighingly to me of “deedle music,” meaning Vivaldi and his ilk, and it was one of the reasons I fell in love with him.
Repeated minor seconds or octaves in OCD splendor. Auditory equivalent of a handwashing fetish.
Both that and Bach would speak to an autistic type of exponent. I’m glad that Gould pumped for Bach.”
Awesome Sledpress too.
More with Dialectcs 5b where some incandescence will glow too within a discussion on how to reach creativity outside any obsession (by following the Romano-Greek golden mean).
See you soon then.