Monday, November 7, 2011

"I know but too well what they mean"

Every now and again, as we all do, I run into an undergraduate who wants me to believe something. At long last, I've come to realise that he wants to believe it, tasking me to demonstrate that the odds might favour it. The undergraduate makes a conviction of himself; a Mozart, asking his dad to let him go to Paris, at the age of 17.

It shortly occurs to the undergraduate, that he doesn't care to write the 9th Piano Concerto for Mlle Jeunehomme, that Paris is far too captivating for all that. In this way, an aesthete is born: a claimant to taste, by virtue of indulgence. And he still tasks me to support his pretense.

Yet, what is more probable: that we haven't had a Mozart for 250 years, or that he hasn't been allowed Paris? Those of us who would be the first to condemn the young for resembling us, will also be the last to forget what we wanted to believe. 

Only the most decadent aesthete denies what can be done, what needs to be done. They are offering to do it, everywhere we turn: to be life-enhancing. The more we let it hap-pen, the likelier it will be. We really don't know what to expect, but would embrace it with remembered conviction.

Let the love that was once a fire
remain an ember ..

Cole Porter
Begin the Beguine



  1. I second that. Have you heard Robert Casadesus play Mozart?

  2. Sophomore year of college, a recording then already in EMI's discount label. I have seen your admiration for Casadesus and recall being introduced to several concerti by him. A grateful first impression has been sustained for decades.

  3. Casadesus and Britten - Britten was a brainy pianist

  4. In my youth I met Britten (the musician) in his conducting of Bach and of Mozart (the latter, in a beautiful G minor symphony from The Maltings), before I met him as the subtle and profound accompanist that he was for Pears in song. Britten I don't forget, but I thank you for sending me back to Casadesus; and I want to relive my love for Clara Haskil.

  5. She is delightful - one of my favourite teachers and I spent 10 minutes more or less sighing her name in rapture, and of course there is Pires.

  6. No "of course" about it, dear Linnea - Pires is quite wonderful in Mozart, and I've noted her presence at your blog. My first hostess present to my late mother-in-law, that said, was also a gift which my father cherished, beautiful recordings by Haskil and the young Grumiaux, of the sonatas for violin and piano. Rizzoli, in New York, had them in a superlataive pressing. Such rapport in their playing.

  7. Wonderful for me, something interesting I can discover. I will find the sonatas with Haskil and Grumiaux. Haskil is beyond wonderful. Grumiaux I do not know - yet that is. Thank you!

    When it comes to violinists Ginette Neveu is an old favorite.

  8. In Mozart I really do still like Menuhin.

  9. She had a lot of fire. I have never heard her in Mozart, but generally I adore her energy and intensity.

    Menuhin sounds very much like Menuhin, which is always interesting. I remember being to a farewell concert for him in London. He was very old then, and very much loved.