Bad, Sad & Mad
Halloween marks the transition from the light part of the year into the dark part. How better to celebrate than with music that reflects darkness, strangeness and profound sadness? But dont think that this means sparse or depressing music. On the contrary, composers have always been itching to express fully and vigorously any human experience they could find.
We know that Vivaldi was fond of his concerto La Notte because pieces of it come down to us in many versions. He brilliantly depicts all the things that spook the night, from fantasmi (ghosts) to il sonno (clues from the most famous version in The Four Seasons inform us that this is a deep sleep filled with drunken dreams). Rebels idea of Chaos is to sound all the notes of the musical scale simultaneously. He describes it as that confusion which reigns before the moment, when subjected to invariable laws, the elements take their ordained places in the order of nature, linking confusion of the elements with confusion in harmony, and creating Western musics first tone cluster.
Berkeley composer Sheli Nan has written a new piece for us. Sheli tells me that it touches all our sore spots, but so far thats all I know. The piece is entitled Requiem for the Ancestors: Dia de Los Muertos.
And how could we not include Dowlands Lachrymae and Tartinis Devils Trill violin sonata. Tartini tells the story of the Devils Trill like this: One night I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil. I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the "Devil's Trill", but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me.
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