Sunday, August 3, 2008

Moody Seance

Beethoven-Sonata No. 23 in F Minor "Appassionata"/Richter (Artia Records 1961) click here for free download

Another fine Sunday, and shopping is done. The kitchen is clean, and I won't be cooking anything this evening, save for some celery and rice, and maybe a chicken leg if the pot's still looking for something. So an afternoon is in order, I think spent in a chair, with a Pennsport Julep*, the ALS, and Beethoven's "Appassionata". This version (jacket shown above) was recorded in the early summer of 1960, in Moscow, with Ukrainian pianist Sviatoslav Richter.

I'll hold my thoughts on Haydn for today. The idea is to be brief, so as not to rob myself of too much personal relaxation. Besides, I feel the Beethoven/Richter chemistry is portion enough.

Moody seance, I thought, because "Appassionata" is such a wishful, rhapsodic sounding piece of music. However there's as much fuss and heaping of detail: this stream of music seems to have occurred both arcing through dim space, and in congestive tugs in total darkness--as much birth labor as free expression. The sonata is no less enjoyable for the trouble.

It is more the relationship of the composer and recitalist, in this instance, that I think is so fascinating. On one hand there is enormous room for interpretation, but on the other the performer takes on quite a burden. With the dead so temperamental how do you dare speak for them. This one in particular sounds like such a thunderstorming bother of a ghost. Some folks were just born with ten lucky fingers between two hands, best arranged in symmetric and palindromic fashion, and I guess that's as much as can be said for that.

It gets me thinking about Beethoven, as inhabitant of his own music. About what he might have wanted from any given piece of music. I always assumed it was the goal of any artist to generate something beautiful and then enjoy the (hopefully) ensuing recognition. But that doesn't seem to be the case here, where "Appassionata", so clearly passionate, has also the rigor of exhaustive mathematical work. Not beauty, perfection. Or perhaps beauty through perfection, as no other way will allow.

And for now, that's as much as can be said for that.

*The Pennsport Julep

1 part chilled Vodka (I prefer the Luksosawa and Wyborova brands)
3 parts cool tap water
1 heaping handful of crushed ice
1 squeeze of lemon or lime
1 pinch of kosher salt, or try coating the rim

Give it a stir, and enjoy as responsibly as your personal sensibility permits.

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