Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Kind of Day Has It Been

TV geeks, I mean fans, know that Aaron Sorkin called the finale episode of the first season of his three tv series—-Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip---‘What Kind of Day Has It Been.’ On The M.A. Peel Show, the final Saturday in June has been quite the day here in Gotham City.

It started with an early run on Roosevelt Island, that odd little floating hamlet with hospitals in the East River. The tram is completely out of service for 6 months, leaving only the F train. Anyway, it was slow and steady going on its flat grounds. Running along the river gives you some great views of Manhattan. That was followed by Pilates at my secret studio.

World Cup Watching & Tweeting

Then it was off to the Paley Center for US v. Ghana and some tweeting. It happened that the electrical outlet for the laptop put me right behind an enclave of Ghana supporters. It was exciting to be there. And there was much wit, and some excellent game commentary, in Twitterdom. I stumbled on Wil Wheaton’s tweets. And became his 1,657,263rd follower. Yes, that’s ONE MILLION etc. I also saw the early news of the vandals in Toronto, destroying police cruisers and stores under the guise of protesting the G-20 summit.

It was a tough loss for the home team. But it meant that one African team goes forward, and I can get behind that. England vs. Germany tomorrow. Wow. You can see the whole history of the 20th century on the field of green with those 2.

“The Mirror . . . urged England to arms, with a mock editorial echoing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s Sept. 3, 1939, radio broadcast declaring war: ‘Last night, The Daily Mirror’s ambassador in Berlin handed the German government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock, a state of soccer would exist between us.’"
(From John F. Burns, in NYTimes)


Very quick bit to eat with old friend, then off to Lincoln Center to see the final night of the New York Philharmonic season, performing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.

It’s a towering symphonic choral work, often dubbed Beethoven’s “greatest, unknown masterpiece.” Anthony Tommasini called it “solemn, strange and demanding sounds.”

It was a thrilling concert experience. Packed house, palpably attentive audience. Every element was excellent: chorus, soloists, orchestra. I didn’t know the piece well, so I was truly on the edge of my seat, wondering just where each movement was going, and how was it going to end?

There were surprises everywhere. The Gloria seems to end, gets to Amen, and then, like Glen Miller’s In the Mood, it recaps, circles back to another shout of “Gloria in excelsis Deo.”

In the Credo, the “Crucifixus etiam pro nobis” is right out of the great Renaissance composer Lotti. The “Et resurrexit tertia die” is acappella, extraordinary unaccompanied beats within the wall of sound we’ve be floating in.

The bass soloist starts the Agnus Dei, and it’s just men for the first iteration. It cycles through the repetitions, and then the horns come in for a recap of Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi.”

Some interesting commentary from YouTube:

I tuned this in, lay back on my bed, and bathed my head in these exotic Greek words, set to music straight from heaven, by way of a man who was quite deaf. Kyrie eleison.

I first heard this in my late teens and it almost made me believe in God.
Even now, being a devout atheist, it's having a similar effect.

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is the king of kings in the empire of music

I'm listening the voice of God, geez, i thought he didn't exist!

One surprising thing outside of Beethoven’s composing was that there was a screen over the stage, and it flashed an English language translation of the Mass propers. I’m a fan of supratitles for opera, where you need to follow a story. But the English words are in the program, and it was distracting to see them above the chorus's head. Doubly distracting because the translation of the Nicene Creed was none I have ever seen. I looked it up, and the translation they used is distinctly from the Ruthenian Catholic Church, a Byzantine Eastern Rite Church. Very strange to use for a German Catholic composer.

The applause after the last chord was the proverbial thunderous.

Now, tomorrow, . . .


Peteski said...

thanks, am listenng (without subtitles, thank god).

M.A.Peel said...

Peteski, thanks for pointing me to Youtube. Strangely didn't occur to me. And some of the commentary there is excellent.

I was surprised that the one you link to has only had 50 views, low by any standard. So I clicked over to one that has 87,762 views. Bernstein of course. But someone left a comment there about the Levin one you're watching:

"IMO, no more transcendental Kyrie exists than the one I uploaded today: Levine and the Vienna PO from Salzburg, plus Cheryl Studer, Jessye Norman, Kurt Moll and Placido Domingo. If you happen to know a better one, do let me know. But I am not waiting."