6 and 5
Sunset over tall grass and dazzling through oaks. Blue shadows.
Evening to dusk to dark.
Finally sitting wide-eyed and breathless with every sinew alert, seeing nothing, hearing everything, imagining ….. The immense driving force, stunning tempi,
what on earth am I on about?
How can I even start to try to describe the effect of listening to Beethoven’s 5th symphony at full blast in my earphones, when I can hardly see through the mist and my whole being is so set on fire?
As a little girl of 6 I remember lying on the hairy new carpet with tears in my ears, listening to my mother’s 78’s…. Schumann, Tchaikovsky ( still have to look up the spelling in my ancient little dictionary of music!) Greig, Beethoven etc.
Tonight was just such a night…. except I don’t have new carpet all over my pullover!
It’s the proms and Daniel Barenboim is daringly, arrogantly, humbly, nobly steering his wonderful orchestra through all 9 of Beethoven’s symphonies in the space of just a week… the kind of journey to end all journeys …. the intensity of struggle and resolution, warmth, delicacy, power, humour, humanity, all rolled up and delivered in so many colours, and in the magnificent Albert Hall! I wish I could have shown up in the queue on my bike!
I have watched the first two of these evenings on the TV, but tonight, with just the radio, realise that being such a visual type, I didn’t really listen, rather I watched the first two evenings… 1st,2nd,4th & 3rd symphonies.
The oboist’s dimples, the flautists expressive eyebrows, the exuberant swaying of the lovely clarinetist. Some of the double basses have got FIVE strings!! What if the timpanist’s hammer heads were to fly off? Barenboim’s austere facial mood, his curved authoritative nose and then an occasional glimpse of a smile… Does his good looking, dark haired son have any of Jacqueline Dupré’s looks? What must it have been like to grow up in that family and so on and so on.
Despite wanting to be there so much, I even struggled not to doze off…
But tonight I sat in the long field with my earphones in, watching the sun go down in the middle of the pastoral symphony… if I had died of happiness the coroner would have been able to declare my time of death in the middle of the slow movement! Everything was bathed in golden light.
A little walk during the extraordinary Pierre Boulez pieces and then back into the deepening gloom of my hut to expand and dissolve into the massive 5th symphony.
It must be an incredible thing to steer all that power and be responsible for such a wall of sound from the podium…(and equally incredible to be a part of the team that produces those sounds) imbibing Beethoven since he was a young boy, playing the piano sonatas from memory and now, again with no score in front of him, Barenboim, or Maestro as his orchestra call him, brought the house down.
As well as the commentators, he too has said that Beethoven has such a message of hope. So misunderstood as to be thought malevolent, but stating himself to be full of good will for his fellow humankind. The despair of loneliness and ill health, combined with the horror of losing his hearing; his sheer will in determining to dedicate himself to his art and to use it as a vehicle for the transformation of his suffering. ” art gives me the courage to survive”. It is this that rushes through the blood and stirs so much life in so many hearts.
You can probably imagine that it is quite something to have been journeying with Herr Beethoven as my intimate companion all these months and then to be treated to such a profound week!
I am so hopelessly unaware, usually of what’s on, as I don’t have a TV and my little radio is only 2inches long!! I don’t really listen much. Fortunately Wendy happened to mention this wonderful happening and I went straight to my calendar to mark in all the concert times. 7,8 and 9 to go! Thank you thank you, Wendy.
Now I really feel ‘ home’