Full of Sound and Fury

I think I can count on one hand the good things that came out of my last relationship. And of those few, the opportunity to really foster my love for classical music is probably the best thing about my time in Australia. I have always loved classical music. It’s harder to get right, and simpler to understand than the stuff we listen to everyday (but because it doesn’t have words, people find it boring).

A good song tells a story to a melody. It should be ballad-like, and take the listener on a journey through words and accompaniment, and linger with you after the story is finished.

Good music is lyrical. It doesn’t need words to tell its tale, it uses sound: pitch, tone, chords, codas, phrases – I could go on – to capture emotion and hold the listener’s attention (I will include opera in here as the voice is as much an instrument as anything in the orchestra). That’s why the great pieces are so well known: Beethoven’s 5th and 9th, Vivald’s Four Seasons, Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in Bm, Grieg’s Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King both from Peer Gynt, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture – even the recognisable pieces by John Williams (Close Encounters and Jaws come to mind), or Howard Shore (Far Green Country, The Ring goes South and Lighting of the Beacons)… they evoke an emotional response.

I had years of writing various theses and research papers to really cultivate my preferences in classical music. You need emotive music that will not distract you from your work. I listened to hours and hours of the stuff, and yes, SBS and ABC spoilt me on a Sunday with concerts and operas and the like. I’ve found that I love the Cello and the Double Bass. Anything (including folk music) that uses them makes me very happy. The Cello has such range, and can be joyful and mournful at the same time. Then, the lute and classical guitar (played properly, they’re an entire strings and percussion sections in a single instrument), and then percussion, the viola and violin, the brass then the woodwind (although the bagpipes played well is also fantastic – but that’s the Scots in me talking). I am an unashamed fan of the strings.

Which is possibly why I have such a high proportion of cello pieces, and some lute (I had a fair a bit of classical guitar but that died with my old HDD. Back to square one, I guess), and some good violin pieces.

And also is why nothing was going to stop me from going to the season of Brahms the NZSO was putting on this year. By Saturday afternoon, I will have seen the NZSO in concert 6 times this year. Once with Sting on his Symphonicities tour (and they were amazing), once a few weeks ago doing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the combined choirs (the interpretation of which I found interesting and somewhat underwhelming), and these 4 Brahms concerts. Inkinen’s use of mezzo-piano in some places rather than the popular forte during the finale of the Ode to Joy had me baffled, and somewhat apprehensive of what he would do the Brahms. But if tonight was anything to go by – in the words of my favourite Cherek, Barak, Earl of Trellheim – “Belar, did you feel that?!” – I can rest easy knowing that the next three days are going to be blissful. And that I’ll be able to scratch the Brahms off my bucket list. The NZSO are fantastic. There’s no two ways about it.

The Symphony No.1 in Cm was played at perfect pace, and the balance between the sections was spot on. It was also the first time I’ve heard the Piano Concerto No.2 in Bb played by a woman, and Dierdre Irons nailed it. It’s a tough and demanding piece on the soloist, and she played with all the strength, and more of the emotion, than many could bring to the recital. It made the hair on one’s neck stand on end, and you paid attention – time passed without you realising it. All signs of great pieces of music, and an excellent concert. I really can’t wait to see what they do tomorrow.

So that’s what I’m concentrating on, gentle reader. Not the looming games of rugby that will come to pass over the weekend. (Living on the edge of the fanzone may also be tempering my enthusiasm somewhat). And certainly not the abysmal and horrific marine disaster unfolding at home in my beautiful and beloved Bay. I’m struggling to find the words (as are many) but to know that it will take years before Mount Maunganui beach looks like this again is both gut-wrenching and devastating.

Mt Maunganui, 1st July 2011

This has been the background on my phone since I took the photo. I wonder when that little piece of paradise will return to its former glory, or if it’s going to be forever marred by the negligence and stupidity of a few.

In other news, I finished (with some regret), Hunter S. Thompson’s autobiography (will write more on that later), and have re-started Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue, but Dad’s got me wanting to re-visit Homer and Virgil after watching Horrible Histories (Helen of Troy and Alexander are just brilliant). I could even do Troilus and Criseyde again… and I’ve also started my Christmas knitting (later than I should have), but I’m making progress. I’ll be cutting it fine, I think, but I’ll get there. Can’t say much more than that for now, but will swoon over the yarn I’m using (Vintage Purls for two current Christmas WIPs, Needlefood sock for another, and Malabrigo worsted for yet another), and I won’t get my sweater done in time for the RWC final. I can live with this.

So time to attempt to sleep (with a death metal/punk gig going on next door, I’m not going to hold my breath). Ah blogland, I’ve missed you. We should do this more often.

Until next we meet.



  1. I have to admit, I am not as schooled as I should be on classical music though I know what Iike. I do have to agree that the cello and the double bass are gorgeous instruments. But I am very partial to the violin. There is something about the way it can be used in a serious piece before jumping into something light and jig like.

    Good luck with the knitting and the getting to sleep.

    1. I need to get you some of Howard Shore’s stuff from the complete LOTR then… He does the fiddle and jig proud.

  2. I love that you got a Barak quote in there! That made me happy skip for a moment (Wee Davie is meanwhile totally baffled). But, having a classical pianist for a father… nope, not the slightest interest! Isn’t that woeful? Papa claims Wee Davie loves classical music, but he sleeps through it. He loves 60s music!

    1. Go back to your Wizard Rock! :p I happen to think that Wee Davie has an eclectic taste in Music.

      And Barak’s quote – first thing that came to mind at the end of one piece. I had to use it. 😉

  3. I just wonder how much more NZ can take. It’s been a bad year or so, and I hope that the ship is contained and the damage small. I like light classical. I have to have music on when I am studying or concentrating so my mind can listen to the music and be entertained and not wander off!!

    1. It just keeps on keeping on.The ship disaster just seems to be getting worse every time we turn on the news. *sigh*

      And that’s exactly what I would do with my classical music. Kept me focused and productive.

  4. yes, we should do this more often. a love of good music is not a bad thing to have come from a relationship thats for sure. i nearly cried when i saw the bits of stuff on the beach the other day. theyre talking about it falling apart now completely. so so wrong….

Comments are closed.