Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wasn't that a party?

This morning what with it being Mardi Gras I was thinking of Schumann's "Carnaval" as I knocked around the kitchen drinking coffee and kneading up bread dough.

I played "Carnaval" myself a couple of years ago, coached by my teacher Stephen Manes who has now, alas, moved to California. There are a couple of things about "Carnaval" I got to love and I was thinking about that this morning.

One is "Aveu." It sounds just like ragtime. Like a slow Joplin rag. Listen to it here played by Claudio Arrau, a pianist I love, and tell me if you do not agree.

Here, for comparison's sake, listen to this hippie playing "Bethena," that wistful Scott Joplin waltz.

"Aveu," the little ragtime piece, is the first piece in that clip. (See, I keep throwing it at you hoping you'll listen.) The clip ends with the end of "Carnaval," the "March of the Davidsbund Against the Philistines." I love the big ringing fanfare that begins that piece. So Schumann! It is a riot to play, I can tell you that. It feels great. You feel as if you are in a bell tower ringing a big bell. Like in one of those cartoons, where the character is swinging holding on to the rope. That is how exhilarating it is.

The "Davidsbund" was a slacker invention of Schumann and his friends. You know how you sometimes sit around bars dreaming up lists and things. They dreamed up this club that was supposed to be for wonderful musicians who were not stuffy and took a stand against people who were. They inducted Mozart into the "Davidsbund" posthumously. I liked that, how they recognized Mozart's boldness and greatness in an era when a lot of people saw him as a childlike puffball.

Back to "Carnaval": One of the best things about it is that it ends with the music collapsing in a heap. Allow me to toss that link at you one more time so you can hear how it ends. As if you just had the most wonderful time of your life but now you're drunk and you've had it and you will pick up the pieces of your life tomorrow.

Isn't that what Carnaval, Mardi Gras, whatever you call it, is supposed to be like? You have the greatest time and the next day is, uh, Ash Wednesday...

Except as my mom griped the other day, most people who celebrate Fat Tuesday follow it up with Fat Wednesday.


1 comment:

  1. Carnaval is popular, but do you know Faschingsswank Aus Wien? A different take on the same holiday.