Well, today did not start out especially well. Which is too bad because last night (with Ms. M) was so FANTASTIC in all caps! When Joe went out to get in the car and go to work-- it had been broken into and ransacked-- this is not the first time this has happened to us, but it's never fun, and you never get used to it. Living in the city has it's drawbacks. The cost of getting the window fixed is still exponentially less than living so far away from work that I have to drive and park everyday. So, I suppose it all works out in the end.
After that little delight, I went upstairs to finish getting ready. My usual routine is to have The Real Housewives on in the background as I do my make-up and get dressed for the day, but I thought, you know, I don't know if I can take the complaining, fighting and showing off from wealthy and entitled Atlanta residents right now, and there's no time like the present to start filling in those holes in my classical repertoire. We had a recording of Mendelssohn piano quartets in our library, so I started with that.
I listened to Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 1, and boy was it better than The Real Housewives.
From what I understand, Felix (I know it is very cheeky of me to call Mr. Mendelssohn by his first name) wrote this when he was a teenager, and I have to say, it is way better than I could have done. Critics of the work say that it's too piano-heavy (Felix was really into piano at the time apparently), and not enough fun stuff for the strings, but I enjoyed it, because the pianist in the recording I have is truly wonderful. I believe I am only just starting to understand what separates a fabulous pianist from fine ones, but it seems just having all the notes in their places is not enough to put you in the latter category. It is about control of each note, the ability to create a unique tone and to give the phrases color. This is very difficult to accomplish, and requires a lot of that musical soul I am talking about a lot. So many of us are satisfied just to get the notes out there (and when it comes to playing the piano, I am thrilled if I can play most of the ones that are written-- color and control are not even part of the picture), that imagining what it takes to shape the notes the way a great pianist does kind of blows my mind. When you hear a really good one, it's like the scales are not just scales, they become these gorgeous free-flowing agents of joy, with a solid and meaningful landing on a very particular note.
And now, after reading a few online articles about the first piano quartet, Mendelssohn's piano sextet is mentioned as a comparatively much more developed work-- maybe that will be next.
The lucky thing about our lives today is that while we may find it hard to get to live performances (we should try, of course, especially to hear singers in large halls!! Re: my post about that), we can find and listen to nearly anything on I-tunes. Everything except, of course, that fabulous LP song on the Citibank commercial that is always stuck in my head, and that I desperately want to add to my i-pod for work collection.
Try it, singers. Listen to some really good OTHER music!