bliss in 5 minute chunks
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.