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carrot

bliss in 5 minute chunks

One of my "best things ever" has not changed in quite a few years, so I thought I'd share. It's a piece of music, but it's not confined to "best music ever", but it must be included among "things", since listening to it engenders the same reaction as some paintings, foods, people, poems, rock formations, and ranks of angels also produce:
It is a Vivaldi violin concerto, and I know some out there, upon reading this, will groan/snicker/cough and quietly walk away at the sight of his name, but he is so much more than the Four Seasons. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for the Barock. Specifically, it is the Concerto in Bflat Major for Violin scordatura. Scordatura is an intentional mistuning of a string instrument, usually a half pitch higher, which, if nothing else, makes it louder, but also allows the soloist to play harmonies impossible if he were tuned to the rest of the orchestra. In this case, the G string is cranked up to a Bflat. What it creates is a haunting shadow of discordancy which, in the case of Vivaldi, you can't really put your finger on, because around 1700, he was hardly "allowed" to write truly discordant pieces.
Specifically, the "best thing ever" is the second movement, the Andante, 5 minutes of pummeling me senseless and sensitive in my soul's gut of beauty. The scordatura violin floats on a lusciously quiet bed of two full string orchestras, sometimes repeating the same three notes over and over until it sounds as if the instrument will snap in half, a technique that I've heard in no other Vivaldi and really is akin only to contemporary Philip Glass; but unlike in Glass, Vivaldi's wandering violin can always find the centre again, and settle back into the rich protective arms of the cellos.
I often listen to classical while doing work primarily, I admit, because it has no words to distract me and tempt me to sing along. But in the case of this piece, I drop my pen, the computer screen in front of me blurs, I have to set down my coffee lest I spill, and I sit still, unable even to lean, because every ounce of energy has been transferred, sometimes unwillingly, to my ears.

Comments

Music snobs be damned

Vivaldi makes me salivate.
Grieg makes me purr.

I must go locate a copy of this piece to listen to it with the appreciation you speak of.

Will you be available for beer in September?

Re: Music snobs be damned

Unfortunately, most people in the western world would automatically call me a music snob simply for saying that I like a specific Vivaldi concerto.
But still, they/I must be damned.

Yes, I am certainly available for beer in September, and any other month with an R or an A in it. But only on days ending in Y, sadly. I'm looking forward to your grande tour des provinces. If you have time, we'd also be glad to have you over to our place.

Re: Music snobs be damned

Knowing my tolerance for our primary hosts, I think it wise to attempt to find entertainment of mine own for some of the time in your fair city. We will be there for four nights (18th-22nd), so I am sure breakaway time will be good.

How strange that music snobbery is on a sliding scale. I guess, like most things it would be the norm for the 'zany' or 'wacky' to be in direct reference to your own tastes.

Re: Music snobs be damned

Bosh. I have favourite BWV numbers, 671 among them.
I must echo telemonian_aias' comments! I love Vivaldi, and I think he must have been an awesome teacher. :)
I did a google search for "Vivaldi Concerto in Bflat Major for Violin scordatura" and you came up... Needless to say, I share your sentiment, hence the search.
Only you expressed it much better than I could, and the only thing I can add is that it has never failed to move me, and always in a different direction.
carrot

October 2006

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