Finding Joy in Mayhem

Nothing will ever be as amazing as the wonder one feels when one listens to a new piece of music.

It might have been written long ago, but to the listener, it is as fresh as the morning air. I had quite forgotten what it felt like, to feel enlivened by the joy of a new discovery, mostly because I have been so busy with practising (and now teaching) I haven’t had the freedom of mind to do some research for new sources of inspiration.

So there I was, yesterday afternoon, working my way through the mayhem my room had become, when I found a CD with works by Italian composer Nino Rota (1911 – 1979), mostly known for his film scores, namely The Godfather, among others. I remember having been given this CD as a present from MCA, who told me his non-film scores were incredibly good as well. Though I am not sure, I probably had a listen at the time, yet I might have been too young to realise what was in front of me; or maybe I might have been in such a Prokofiev 2nd Piano Concerto frenzy (my new discovery at the time), I couldn’t enjoy anything else. I don’t know.

What I do know is that yesterday, by either chance or curiosity, I put the CD on my Philips stereo, pressed play and continued cleaning. At first, I didn’t pay too much attention to what I was listening to; but then, and very slowly, the music started to get to me, embedding itself into my skin, making me feel an urge to listen to it again and again once it was over. The piano and the orchestra, the initial waltz, the cinematic feel, yet with multiple musical references to times past… Never mind the Divertimento Concertante, or the 3rd Symphony that came in the next few tracks, undoubtedly very good pieces of music as well. The Concerto Soirée (1961-62) was all I cared about.

The morning came, and still, an urge to keep listening to it, to be taken to faraway places in my mind, lulled into a state of awe. And it was while I was listening to it just now that I felt the need to write about it, to tell the world about my discovery, a discovery that will now colour my days and imagination.

The version I own is performed by Irish pianist Barry Douglas  – whom I distinctly remember from a masterclass at the Royal College of Music, in London – with the Filarmonica ‘900 del Teatro Regio, Turin, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. It can be found here.

As I could not find the same version on YouTube, here is another one, in case you’d like to have a listen now. All credits are written in the description box of the video.

It is a mystery why a piece of music can speak to one in such a powerful way.

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