Friday, January 9, 2009

K-Fed Never Saw This Concert

That's a picture of Brit and K-Fed from Halloween 2005. I am sure that I can speak for all of my children and parents and let you know that they could not possibly be prouder of us!

On to more civilized matters...

Felix Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in e minor

Ok, no surprise here, a violin concerto (which is very heavy in violining, surprise sirprise). If the original question had been "You get to pick on violin concerto to take with you to the island and you can't listen to anything else ever again, what would it be?" I would have picked this one. The performance linked to above is by Joshua Bell, who gets a lot of media attention because he has a marketable face and oh, by the way, he rules. Missing him completely during his leadership of the SPCO was a travesty that I may never outlive. But you can pick whatever recording you want, this piece absolutely rules.

Mendelssohn himself was an excellent violinist in his day. While his live was short (he dies I believe from tuberculosis at 37), he contributed mightily to musical development. I think it is interesting to go back and look at pieces that were written so long ago and try to look at them as though we had never heard them before, or any music that has come since. We forget that some of this music was quite new at the time - that no one else was making music like this then, and that the ideas Mendelssohn put on paper had never been though of before. It's hard to do because a lot of these ideas have been copied so much since then that we take them for granted now, and we hear this music and think of it as just another concerto, even though in its time it was almost revolutionary. It's like the story of Romeo and Juliet. There are so many tragic love stories that have come since that was written, that when we think of Romeo and Juliet, we think of it as just another tragedy or love story with a sad ending. But when it was first conceived it was original, and no one had ever put a story like that down before. I like to try to listen to music in this way, as though I was hearing the original performance of the music, although that is very difficult to do.

This concerto starts out quite differently than concertos traditionally began at the time, with the solo violin entering almost immediately. More typically, the full orchestra would play the main theme before the soloist entered. Also, all three movements run together, without breaks. The lonely bassoon note that ties the first and second movements together is sublime. This concerto is widely viewed as ushering in the Romantic period in classical concertos. Oh, and it's really hard, although it is accessible enough to the masses that it is also considered one of the cornerstones of violin repetoire.

A bit of controversy here for me personally, as I selected all three movements, rather than just one track, to include on my mix. And the overall length of this piece (along with some others on the list, I ended up picking long songs although not deliberately) made it so that in regular audio format, the entire Top 10 will not fit on one CD. But in mp3 format, there is plenty of room, so sue me if you want.

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