Every morning, at eight o’clock (weather permitting), the people turning our attic into a luxury penthouse begin hammering. There are no power tools in this job, except for the hoist they’re using to bring sheetrock and glass up the six stories. So we hear the bang through the walls. Bang. Bang. Bang. It’s better than an alarm.
Today he’s singing lustily, without words, his voice echoing across our courtyard as I make my coffee and spend a few minutes translating Emil und die Detective. Fa, La lo..
Last night we went to the Konzerthaus for the first time, to see a grab-bag of a peformance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, a young and incredibly tight group playing with soprano Dawn Upshaw (she of the Gorecki 3rd that ballooned into the pop charts 15 years ago). They played short pieces by Part, Britten, Bartok, Toru Takemitsu, Bach and then followed with Schubert’s Death and the Maiden.
The group played standing up, led by the first violinist, and this I think contributed to their astonishing degree of communication. The leader, and the two lead viola players in particular, almost danced as they played, as a fiddle player might; this naturally helped keep the entire group playing as one. Their control over the subtleties of tone was remarkable, from the whispering of Part’s “Cantus in moemoriam Benjamin Britten” to the full-volume, full-speed Schubert runs in which every note from each of the 15 players remained individually audible.
The Schubert piece is still my favorite Beethoven piece that Beethoven never wrote. I don’t hold that against him at all.