I mentioned in my last post how incredibly satisfying it was to read through the two Mozart piano quartets earlier this week. I sometimes find myself so consumed with postmodern angst about the role/purpose/relevance of classical music, it's nice just to forget all that and remember why I love music. So, I'm thinking of starting a "music that makes me happy" series to remind myself of how I got myself into this life.
Today's installment: listening to my daughter's Saturday morning orchestra rehearse the Contrapunctus #1 from Bach's Art of Fugue. It is music that could fairly be described as severely austere - like watching mathematical equations come to life, as I suggested to one of my classes the other day. And yet, beautiful in the most elemental, honest, unmanipulative way. (Not that I have anything against manipulative beauty, Messrs. Tchaikovsky, Puccini, etc.) It's not easy music to count, so I had Daughter of MMmusing playing along with the Emerson String Quartet the last few days - that seems to be paying off as she's holding her own quite well on the stage down below me, while I sit and type. Of course, the Emerson guys sound terrific - you can see a bit of their take on that fugue here - but there's something extra remarkable about seeing thirty-something 9-14 year olds putting it together. Or, to suggest something more extreme, I found it really beautiful listening to DoMM playing along with the Emersons.
Speaking of youth and Bach and extramusical reasons for loving the purest of musical creations, here's my favorite online video of the Bach Double, my favorite-ever piece of music. There are more musicologically authentic online versions, but the one below reminds me of all those formative experiences I had hearing my sisters play the Bach Double with massed violins at Suzuki workshops here and there. This is as good as it gets.
UPDATE: This, also, isn't so bad: