Friday, January 17, 2014

Spring, emptiness and Schubert

If winter comes...

Today I find myself sitting for several minutes doing nothing. An unusual activity for me. I have become accustomed to keep my mind or my hands or both occupied during most of the waking day.The dreamlike state in which I find myself is not unpleasant. My head  is empty. Is this what people who meditate aim for?

Finding myself alone and at peace for the first time for a few days, something which I have been intending to do for some time, I insert a CD of Schubert's String Quintet in in C Major into  the CD player and listen to it undisturbed.  The disk was  a present from Robbie and VR when Heidi's condition was beginning to deteriorate. It was then a very present help in time of trouble. Even more so today and what a joy and pleasure to listen to such  a great performance.

6 comments:

Beth said...

Dear Joe, we don't really know each other, in a face-to-face way, but I want to express my sympathy on your loss and wish you all the peace that Schubert, books, friends, and solitude itself can bring. I've often tried to imagine myself in the same position -- nearly impossible -- but I know those consolations would help me. Sending you my best wishes across the Atlantic, and glad that Robbie, who I know a bit better, was there to give you that hug.

Rouchswalwe said...

Schubert's String Quintet in C Major! Ah, the extra cello. Two cellos. Two. That storm scene, raging and whimpering, the two cellos holding hands.

The empty-head feeliing I know. Please remember to eat, dear Joe. One forgets when one is unoccupied.

Stella said...

Pleas tell us where you got your appreciation and understanding of classical music. Where should I begin?

Roderick Robinson said...

I can't pretend I came upon the quintet by accident. Fifty years ago (ie, in the USA) I read an interview with Artur Rubinstein who was asked what piece of music he would specify if he knew it would be the last he ever heard. At the time I was surprised he chose the quintet given that he was a pianist. A quick reflection clarified things; in a long life no doubt he would have committed virtually all the major piano works to memory. Anyway I bought the LP (the performance you have) which we played a great deal over the years, eventually transferring it to CD. But I'd overdone the economy. The LP had been horribly scratched and it seemed ludicrous to have scratches on a CD. VR couldn't bear listening to it and so the Melos was replaced by the Hagen and I listened to it as I ate my lunch today, reminding myself that it has a lot to say.

The Hagen comes with a minor "filler" - the Grosse Fuge!

I look forward to your response to Stella's question. I have one disrecommendation. In attempting to interest school-children teachers often play programme music (Carnival of the Animals, Till Eulenspiegel, Sorcerer's Apprentice, etc) in the mistaken belief that a story gets the music across more easily. For me, none of those pieces ever "took". What matters is a good basic tune: the LvB fifth symphony is as good as anything to start with.

Joe Hyam said...

Dear Beth, I remember you of course from qarrtsiluni when you and Dave Bonta were editors. I always appreciated the high standards of the journal and it meant a lot to be published in it. Thank you for your good wishes which are deeply appreciated. Much good often comes from bad times.

R Thank you. It is good to share the quintet.

Stella and Robbie I mean to post an account of my tenuous realtionship with classical music today. Too good an opportunity to miss.

Stella said...

Let the education begin!