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In Reply to: RE: The Bach Brandenburg Concertos - Ah! Karajan! posted by Chris from Lafayette on March 11, 2017 at 10:22:19
I was just discussing the Brandenburg Concertos with an astronomer coworker the other day and he brought up this reference to a quote from Mark Helprin's novel, "Winter's Tale", which I find to be quite interesting.
The quote is buried on page 450 of a 700 page novel. I just ordered the book which my friend says is a perennial favorite, even though he "doesn't know what it's about". The speaker is a somewhat mystical engineer who has been reincarnated several times and he's talking about the Brandenburgs.
Here we go...
"The 'Third' is the only one without wind instruments.
I never liked them in the other concerti, because they tend to
clutter things up. They remind me of a bunch of monks running
down a corridor, breaking wind. So many years in those
monasteries, all through the Dark Ages. It was horrible.
"Here it is. Listen!" he commanded. "This part. It sounds
like a good machine, a perfectly balanced rocker arm, something
well-oiled and precise. Notice the progressions, the hypnotic
repetitions. These are the tunnel rhythms, derived from the
same timed intervals which are the irreducible base for planetary
and galactic ratios of speed and distance, small particle
oscillations, the the heartbeat, tides, a pleasing curve,
and a good engine.
You cannot help but see such rhythms in
the proportions of every good painting, and hear them in the
language of the heart. They are what make us fond of
grandfather clocks, the surf, and well-proportioned gardens.
When you die, you know, you hear the insistent pounding that
defines all things, whether of matter or energy, since there
is nothing in the universe, really, but proportion. It sounds
somewhat like an engine that became available at the beginning
of the century, and was used in pumps and boats and that sort
of thing. I thought for sure that people would realize what
it was, but they didn't. What a shame. Nonetheless, there is
always music like this, which, in its way, comes just as close ---
as if the composer had actually been there, and returned."
Like the Third, the Sixth Brandenburg is also without wind instruments. ;-)
Thanks, Chris. I hadn't listened to all six in a few years and I had forgotten that. Good catch. I still like his "monks farting" metaphor, accurate or not.
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