Thursday, February 26, 2009

On memory and Mahler

Not surprisingly, I have many, many memories associated with music. The earliest dates back to preschool—singing “Bluebird, bluebird, through my window” in music class. But the one that’s the strongest, yet the most vague, occurs whenever only periodically, as it did tonight, as I listened to the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform.

I only stayed for the first half, because I wanted to hear the Mahler, and then the soloist. Now, I like Mahler. I’m not nearly as familiar with his work as with many other composers, but his symphonies are phenomenal, and the man could write a hell of a horn line. But tonight the LPO opened their concert with the Adagio from his unfinished Symphony No. 10, and as far as I’m concerned it was a big fat FAIL.

Weirdest. Piece. Ever. I did not get it. I did not like it. It was unlike any Mahler I’ve ever heard, though that’s not really saying anything.

But then. Leon Fleisher took the stage for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, and somewhere in the middle I was yanked into the past. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but you know that feeling of intense nostalgia—not the wistful or melancholy kind, but just a vague feeling deep in your memory somewhere? Mozart does that to me, particularly when played by orchestra or piano.

Mozart is the earliest classical music that I remember hearing. I doubt that’s true, since I started dancing in The Nutcracker at age four, I think, so Tchaikovsky probably came first, but it seems like the oldest memory. I think it’s from when Dad performed the role of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte with the opera workshop at the university. I was pretty little, but we went to see him, and I vividly remember sitting in the dark theater and hearing the music. (Also, there were tights involved, and makeup to make him look elderly. A man in tights was just too weird for me to comprehend at that age.)

Anyway, this happens periodically, where I get that feeling.

Also, apropos of nothing, Leon Fleisher is just adorable. He’s 80 years old and vaguely leonine in aspect, and he sort of sings along with himself as he plays. It’s very endearing. But the most amazing thing about him is his story.

In 1965, after during a wildly successful performing career—which began, by the way, with his New York Phil debut at age SIXTEEN—he was struck by a rare neurological disorder that left two fingers of his right hand immobile. The gifted artist was suddenly unable to perform, though he continued to perform the repertoire for left hand only, as well as conducting and teaching. But then, nearly 40 years after the illness struck, medical science caught up with him, and his affliction was cured. Do you know how? Botox. Seriously. He began getting botox injections in his arms and hands, and eventually regained the use of his hand.

And there he was tonight, backed by one of the world’s great orchestras, and you would never know that he had a 40-year hiatus from the piano. Just goes to show that you can lose everything, or seem to, and you may have given up hope—heck, you may have given up hope DECADES ago—but hope is never really lost. Just ask Leon Fleisher.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dog Blog

It’s Wednesday. Dad is in Israel, communing with Moses and ancient demoniacs. Mom is at home worrying about tornados dropping a tree on the house (a seemingly irrational fear until you learn that this has occurred on two separate occasions, though not by tornados). I am watching hockey and mentally packing for my trip home this weekend, where G and I will party it up with Mom on her birthday.

We will also possibly get a dog. Not for me, unfortunately—I need to keep reminding myself of that—but for Mom and Dad.

Speaking of dogs, can we please talk about this?

May I present to you….the Komondor. Is this not the awesomest looking dog ever? I mean, look at him. He clearly has an affinity for reggae—check out the dreadlocks!—and I bet I could train him to keep my wood floors clean.

Although then I would probably have to clean the dog more frequently. Perhaps there’s a flaw in my plan.

I got completely sucked into the Westminster Kennel Club show last night, though I only saw the Toy and Working classes, followed by the Best in Show. And during the commercials, they showed about a zillion of these Purina ads about pet adoption. Pleading eyes peer adorably out of cages, and my heart breaks, and then I inevitably waste two hours looking for alternative housing with a fenced yard, until I get distracted by something else, like cupcakes or the Daily Show.

I want a dog. But you all knew that.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Couldn't have said it better myself

This is sort of a "Heard" post, but it's more like "Read" or "Received," because it was not verbalized so much as, you know, text messaged to me. From B, who was all the way in yonder Seattle during last night's uber-harrowing game.

9:58 PM: Trailing 23-20 with 2:24 to go, Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes have completed three passes for 40 yards, progressing from the Pittsburgh 12-yardline to the Arizona 6.
B [via text]: !

10:00 PM: Second and goal on the Arizona 6, Roethlisberger lofts one into the corner and Holmes lands--barely--with two toes in the end zone. TOUCHDOWN! Or was it? Officials's good! The Steelers regains the lead, 27-23, with 35 seconds left, and I about have a heart attack for the fifth time in 20 minutes.
B: !!
Me: That's an understatement.
B: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!