Ravel's Piano Concerto In G, Adagio Assai.
When I listened to this piece in 2007 when I was 16, my impression of the piece was of a slow walk down a tree-lined forest path, magical and ethereal, with yellow and red leaves falling in slow motion. Pretty cliched. It is sandwiched between the first and third movements which are quick and mischievous pieces. As a 16 year old, I thought the second movement was beautiful, but I always wanted to dive right into the third movement, slightly impatient.
After my chamber singers class today, some of the piano majors were faffing about with the piano (a beautiful steinway full grand that I need to play on before the semester ends) playing a part from this movement of the concerto. I realised that I haven't heard it in the longest time, so when I was on my way home, I listened to it. An hour ago while washing my fish bowl, I listened to it again. And just very unexpectedly, a thought sailed into my mind. 'Why does it sound so...melancholic?'. For 6 years, i've listened to the piece with the impression of it being a 'relaxing' and 'beautiful' portrayal of a rural landscape. But even now, as I'm listening to it while writing this, the sadness jumps out at me very clearly.
So I listen to it again, concentrating on that thought. It opens with the piano, alone. A 3/4 time (imagine a slow waltz) in the left hand, a simple straight singing line on the right. The melody starts with a step forward, then recesses into the back, almost pensive, retrospective. It dips down into something darker, a shade of green-blue. Then traces it's way up in a thin wavering line. It travels alone, into different waters of different shades. It seems to understand something, traces, pieces.
Slowly, it builds up and breaks into a trill (a line of two notes played in quick succession), and then the orchestra comes in slowly growing, led by the high voice of the flute. The sweetness of the oboe takes over, then the mellow clarinet. Joined by the voices of different timbres from the orchestra, they form a slow procession, advancing in tones, creating a kaleidoscope of colours that change ever so slightly - green, blue, flashes of yellow, but mostly darker and murkier tones with the lighter colours sitting on top, like a watercolour painting.
Then the clouds break apart and the palette is washed with a slash of water. The piano is still tracing it's fragile line across the landscape, blotches of washed-out colours dabble below it. I don't know where it's going, or where it's headed, but the way is clear, and it is filled with intricate beauties, leading to a quiet resolution that speaks optimistically.
I guess that's one of the reasons why I love classical music. I can listen to a piece as a 16 year old and enjoy it, and then listening to it again as a 22 year old, finding new meaning in music that was composed 82 years ago - or 200 hundred years ago (mozart died 222 years ago - nifty fact) knowing that millions of others have listened to it, interpreted it, and performed it in a myriad of different ways. Knowing that I can listen to it again when i'm 70, 80, and weep at the profound beauty and wisdom in the music that I wouldn't have known at 22.
What I had a glimpse of for the briefest instant, is the comprehension of what was to come. I can't explain it exactly - it wasn't so much of an image, but a feeling. Perhaps it is a feeling of the complexity of growing up. Year by year, we advance in age, toward a definite point where we will all have to go. Along the way we meet friends, love, experience beauty and ugliness, we say goodbye to some and carry on, and one day we'll look back on this path and see all the different facets from life that we unknowingly passed by, and only in retrospect we learn from them.
And it is with these thoughts in mind, and music in my ears, that I thank every single one of you who sent me birthday wishes, whether it be through text, speech, song, or just in your thoughts. I'm so grateful and thankful to have friends and family that spared a thought for my growth into another year.
Thank you, mum, dad and sis for always being there for me <3 - thank you for the presents and cake on sunday!
Thank you, chamber singers, who sang the best birthday song ever - not only it was the best tuned birthday song, it was in four-parts! (checking that off on the bucket list...) Thank you keane, brenda and matthew for the really good cake and worst tuned birthday song after that! XD
Friends who sent me messages through whatsapp, message, facebook wall, facebook message, twitter, twitter direct message, - HAHA WELL - whether I just met you, or whether we've known each other for 9 years, or 5 years - I thank you alllllllll for sparing a thought and taking the time to send me a message today :'D
It truly makes me happy that all of you chipped in to make my day feel extra special. And so I bequeath upon everyone the gift of Ravel's Piano Concerto. If you don't like classical music, just give it a try - put aside all your preconceptions, and listen to it as we were meant to - simply feel it.
That's all that classical music is - feels. No exclusiveness - it's just feels.
Current Music: Yundi Li; Seiji Ozawa: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Ravel: Piano Concerto In G - 2. Adagio Assai | Powered by Last.fm