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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Power of Beethoven, Via the Brentano

Rarely do I feel the need to rush to my computer to blog. Tonight I ran to my office, luckily in very close proximity to Carnegie Hall, to recap the Brentano String Quartet's amazing performance. They opened with Haydn's Op. 77, No. 2, which put me at ease, even though it was passionate with never a dull moment and its particularly show-offy first violin parts. They followed with Stephen Hartke's Night Songs for a Desert Flower which reminded me of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Funny enough, this feeling took over as I tried suppressing a nervous cough brought on by a dry throat. I'm just not used to staying quiet for so long, and at this point it had been 40+ minutes! I should have taken advantage of the free Ricolas outside, but noooo... Instead the suppression took my body hostage with the feeling traveling up my throat, affecting my nose and making my eye almost want to twitch. The music couldn't have been more appropriate for this, haha! Without trying to disturb the hall full of silent people only wanting to hear the Brentano's instruments and not my dry wheezing, I felt like a murder victim trying to hide from her attacker while not being able to make a peep. Finally I put my hand over my mouth and let out a little one. Lo and behold, Atlas didn't drop the globe and Earth did keep turning... It was okay and we all went back to concentrating on this more modern composition, which received its New York premiere at this evening's concert. At the end the blushed composer came out for a few bows, and I appreciated a moment of recognizing these five brilliant artists on such a unique occasion.

Then. It happened... They played Beethoven's Opus 131, and I picked up on things I'd never realized before even though I've been listening to this piece non-stop for months now. For starters, I appreciated the third movement more this time. And it was reassuring to see the man in the row below me smile after the same passage I reacted emotionally to. As we acknowledged in unison how absolutely beautiful that last part was, I became more aware of the *deep voice* power of Beethoven. Some people regard Op. 131's progression in an ontogenetic way, and tonight I heard the 5th movement as nothing else than the soundtrack of adolescence with its melodrama over stuff that is ultimately meaningless, clunking its way up to the maturity that is the rewarding 6th movement! Once you get to the 7th, you're home free, and if the 7th movement was a metaphor for old age, then as our beloved Alice says in the video below, only with age can you see the true beauty of life!

And that is the beauty of Beethoven. He touches on emotions that are at each and every one of our cores. What I'm trying to say is... Well, let me quote the master himself before I botch this one and say that "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, it is the wine of a new procreation, and [Beethoven is] Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for men and makes them drunk with the spirit." I left Zankel Hall today with a sense of hope through this shared experience, with gratitude and with fearlessness.. As Mark Steinberg, first violinist of the Brentano wrote in the Playbill:

"There is a strength and defiance to the writing that seem an insistence on Beethoven's part that despite our frailty and foibles, there is a dignity in humanity and in our capacity to create meaning that holds its own against the temptations of other worlds."



  1. O Anni!!
    I greatly enjoyed this and cannot wait to get to NY next year for a visit.
    Love you so much and miss you a bunch!

  2. Dearest, Joycesu! Thanks for that X Sending you lotsa love from the rainy apple.


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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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