What do you listen to when you work? If anything? For me, it depends so much on what I’m doing. If I must think step by syllogistic step I cannot listen to anything outside my thoughts. But if I am reading a text whose argument is easily apprehensible or that I think is, and this includes the daily news, the regular articles, the quotidian grounding that Thoreau hated (and rightly) so much, then I can easily listen to news programs, in English or French, the latter in some ways being better, as the language can quickly become part of the humdrum sounds and never intrude.

But sometimes music is required for some thought, for thinking things through in language that must be clear. In that case, I find myself reverting, again, and again to the simplicity of piano, violin or cello Bach or Mozart; Brahms is too complex, demands too much attention, and the more complex pieces, concerti, for instance, are almost impossible to reduce to background.

Over the weekend, we went to hear Perlman at the TSO. Our seats were one row removed from the stage and not 2 metres from him; my wife could hear him breathe. The first chord of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64 (Oundjian conducting and wearing a really silly shirt), were transformative. How to put it? I closed my eyes not simply to hear better--that had no appreciable effect--but to eliminate, to invert the logistic of foreground/background, so that there was only the presence of the violin. I don’t see images when thus focused; I quite lose myself: there is only the pure, perfect sound, its excitement, its presence. I thought, at some point: Is his personality inflecting the music, ought I to see his expression, does it affect my interpretation? All of which are an of course, but also an irrelevance. The immediate presence of the music occluded all other points.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

..................NICE.. ^_^v.................

1/9/11 05:24  

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