Thursday, July 05, 2007

Been a long time since I last updated this place. Just an entry to update my readers that I'm still alive. I've been caught up with loads of work recently and barely have the time to have a proper rest.

A friend came over to share some music over at my place today. In an attempt to showcase his conducting skills under the tutelege of respectable conductors Leonid Korchmar and Alexander Polishchuk from the St. Petersburg Conservatory when he was over in Russia, he introduced the 1st, 2nd and 4th movements from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Such heartwrenching pain in the first movement. Such grandeur and passion in the march at the end. In the middle lies the most beautiful second movement. Such earth-shaking exaltation, when salvation is used as a theme, in a stark contrast to his Symphonies No. 4 and 6. In the heat of his passion at the end, he proclaimed it, together with several Russian compositions, to be the best music around. And of course, given his ultimately huge ego, he couldn't help exalting the Russian school of conducting as he compared the German, American and Russian conducting styles at the same time. Such haughtiness.

Naturally, I knew I had to protect German music, with names and reputations of our beloved Bach, dramatic Beethoven, poetic Schubert and romantic Brahms in danger of being overwhelmed by the Russian masters at that moment. In jest, I decided to launch a counteroffensive. For that moment, he was the nationalistic Russian, and I, the nationalistic German. Mentally, I was in a mad rush to scan through all the German composers and their compositions. I needed to fight on home ground, at the same time not too distant from what he was familiar with in order to convince him. An orchestral composition, with a strong nationalistic touch, a contemporary of Tchaikovsky. Time was ticking. Yes, if he was going to overwhelm me with the unmistakable stench of Bolshevikian mass marches, I would retaliate with the mind-blowing aroma of Germanic romantic chivalry. He probably knew more about Brahms than I do. Yes, Wagner! I whipped out my recording of his ultimate Tristan und Isolde by Daniel Barenboim (whom he had earlier flamed jokingly on his flowery conducting technique in his recording of Brahm's Symphony No. 1 with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra). Strictly speaking, it wasn't orchestral music, but since he wasn't that familiar with operas, I guess the prelude would make a great candidate. The prelude was sufficient, more than sufficient to counter his three movements of Russian nationalism. And there, as the first sounds came in, culminating in the famous Tristan chord, I conducted this time with passion and gusto (probably more like a lunatic for conducting isn't my forte). Waves and waves of unresolved dissonances together with the intense and sensuous conversations between the instruments. Prima!

*Maybe at this point, I should clarify. Both of us are truly all rounded music lovers. In fact, I fell in love with Russian music much earlier than any music by Bach, Beethoven or Wagner. And as for him, he worships Beethoven and Brahms. Our quibble was a suitable impetus for us to start hurling music at each other to widen our musical repertoire while in a heightened and alert state of mind.*

Being clearly deeply moved by the Wagner, he braced himself and retaliated with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. I groaned. It was going to be a long evening. Not having sufficient rest and recovering from the excesses of last evening weren't helping much! My mind was spinning for the entire day. I couldn't escape sitting through the entire Pictures, but I sure did enjoy it. Beautiful composition by Mussorgsky and masterful orchestration by Ravel! Such colours and evocative paintings of sound.

It was pretty much bombing each other with pieces for the entire evening, a full five hours. It didn't end with Mussorgsky! We had Brahm's Symphony No. 1 after that and a load of his compositions and projects after that. A most taxing music sharing session but ultimately satisfying.

Earlier throughout the day, it was strange how excerpts from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana played on repeat mode in my mind. I hadn't touched that recording probably for the past century, but to think just a mention of it by Ivan last evening got it all back into my head. Or was a it a subconscious attempt of my mind to get rid of all the most repetitive music I had been exposed to the previous evening? I can safely say that I've survived 5 hours of continuous blasting pop band music and 5 hours of continuous gigantic classical works the following day. Gained much from both marathons in very different ways, though I'm still pretty much zonked out from all the activities for the past few days.


Hucbald said...

Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

wow.. i guess i never thought you would have 5 hours worth of pop music. haha

- kwan hui xian