Friday, June 02, 2006
…is what writing about music is like, according to Elvis Costello.
And he’s right, but suffice it to say that from the first note Nicola Benedetti played of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto at Bristol’s Colston Hall last night, I had a vicious attack of the spine-tingles and eye-moisteners that didn’t subside until she’d played the last.
She was accompanied by the Philharmonia, who sandwiched her performance with a frivolous Rossini overture and Elgar’s solid and stodgily-English First Symphony, but Benedetti (the winner of the Young Musician of the Year in 2004) was the show, really.
Which got me thinking about the spine-tingles. I’m not sure how much of it was the actual noise she was making and how much the mere fact of witnessing supreme virtuosity at first hand (doesn’t hurt that she is young and beautiful, of course).
A great puzzle to me is that although good music never fails to directly wallop my emotional and sometimes even my religious buttons in a way that nothing else does, and although according to some tests I apparently have a very good ear for pitch, I have no musical talent whatsoever. Can’t even sing in tune. The only difference between me and a tone-deaf droner is that at least I know when I’m singing out of tune.
And yet here is this 18 year old girl, playing a piece we’ve heard many times before, and still giving the whole audience the tingles. She’s playing the same notes we’ve all heard, yet she’s somehow managed to get her personality into them. Pure religious mystery.
Mozart was, by all accounts, a jerk, yet he wrote the Requiem. Beethoven was a mad, deaf, nasty bastard, who also happened to be the greatest artistic genius of all time not called Shakespeare. Even Tchaikovsky was a tortured soul – a homosexual riddled with self-loathing in a sham marriage. Did he have the spine-tingling gift despite this, or because of it? Does it matter? Should I be doing the cha-cha-cha about St Paul’s?
Posted by Brit at 6/02/2006