June 24, 2011

And For Their Next Number...

Here's a treat for you: the Ride of the Valkyries, arranged for eight pianos. The pianists are Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Claude Frank, Mikhail Pletnev, Staffan Scheja and James Levine, performing at the Verbier Festival & Academy 10th Anniversary Piano Extravaganza. I was hooked and had to watch it because of a comment made on my opera email list: "I have never before seen so many world-class musicians counting furiously to themselves. ;)" Hahaha. It's enormous fun, and the pianists themselves have a grand time. (I have to note that, dammit, the volume on that video isn't nearly loud enough. Grrr.)

But, shucks, that's nothing. I remember one occasion when I was studying piano when a huge group of us performed a piece arranged for 32 pianos. And drat, I can't remember what the composition was. I find that rather odd, since I remember the performance itself at that "extravaganza" of ours very clearly. Well, you can't remember everything, and I still remember an overwhelmingly huge number of details from the past, even my distant past. Which, I note, is not an unqualified blessing.

For those who might be interested, I wrote about the opera list, which is open to anyone and includes many notables among its members, although usually under pseudonyms, here ("Yet Another Intensely Exciting Internecine Battle at Versailles!") and here ("Concerning Open and Closed Lists, and the Claim to 'Special' Knowledge"). The first of those links contains my confession concerning an "exclusive" and "SECRET" email list that I myself once belonged to! You have no idea just how seedy, disreputable and unhygienic my past is. I do have some consideration for the requirements of propriety, vicious rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. Oh, for a bit more, see here, too.

Those articles were occasioned by the Journolist affair, and I contrasted a genuinely open list with "restricted" groups of the Journolist kind (and the kind in which I was a participant). And the opera list occasionally offers rare gems of commentary, as mentioned in the second of those pieces -- and here as well, in an article about John McGlinn.

The McGlinn article excerpts a wonderful post from Albert Innaurato to the opera list. I'd forgotten most of the details from that piece, but I think my concluding words there are the best way to conclude this entry:
The world may barely note John McGlinn's passing, and it may place far too little value on the extraordinary work he did and what he accomplished against tremendous odds.

We should not be so unmindful, or so uncaring. We should do our utmost to follow McGlinn's own advice, and to be among those people who are "willing to dream" of a better world, just as he did. And in his life and work, McGlinn made that better world real.

That should be, that must be, our aspiration and our dedication, too.