Friday 5 December 2008

Cello love

The wonderful Zoe Keating.
I was going to say she looks like a perfect metaphor for her music,
simultaneously iconic and iconoclastic, but I guess
it's the other way around, the music that's the metaphor.

Pity anyone who lives or works in my vicinity and doesn't share my taste in music, as I tend to play a newly discovered piece or artist over and over obsessively. Recently, since a friend linked to her, it's been avant-garde cellist Zoe Keating.

Is it cello music I love best, more even than choral? Maybe not quite, because I can't split listening to any choral music from the memory of first seriously listening with Jean-Marie, on his very good hi-fi with the enormous speakers (bigger was better in the 1970s, ever-so-many 'watts': say it with a French accent, like 'ouate', which is French for cotton-wool). I remember always how my silly young heart would soar with the voices, soar with how much I adored him, how his eyes would close and his mouth change shape and his pale, sinewy hands move just a little, watching him escape into the music, having no idea, bless me, what it was that this witty, attractive man with his lovely parents, his lovely wife and children, his satisfying career, might want to escape from, but sensing something deep and fundamental.

Being musically not very knowledgeable and, sadly, rather tone deaf (but also a bit synaesthesic, I think), my appreciation of music is always that subjective, that much attached to personal narrative, always blurred, or if focused then narrowly so - thence, perhaps, the tendency to obsessiveness.

So I couldn't tell you how I love Fauré's Requiem without mentioning Jean-Marie. But while I could tell you with equal emotion, for example, that I love Simone de Beauvoir because her many, big, fat books filled my lonely, neurasthenic evenings living in Ambe
rt, I could also give you several other, specific, informed, nuanced reasons why I love them.

Simple, blurry love and complex, illuminated love: I wouldn't say one was better, just different.


Zhoen said...

Love is usually best when a bit messy, I think.

Word verification, listiest. Most listed?

Beth said...

And I wish you would tell us about your love for Simone de Beauvoir's books...having read her a bit this year I'd like to hear more.

I love this post because I love reading about perception of music and the associations it carries. You made me look up synaesthenia, which was revelatory - I don't see colors associated with letters or numbers, but I've always "seen" numbers as arranged in space in a particular way, and have wondered since childhood if this was usual. Hmmm!

Anonymous said...

I love the sound of cello, too. I wish all my favorite violin concertos would've been written for the cello, instead. And I almost always find female cello players way sexy. :)

Jean said...

Sheesh, Beth! Despite my blase words here, I've been failing to write about Simone de Beauvoir's work ever since I failed to write the dissertation on her at the end of that 'year abroad'. The problem now is that I loved and admired the books so much first time around that they are always a disappointment when I try to reread them: that first experience, that opening up for the first time of a language, an era and a particular mind and sensibility can never be duplicated. But some time soon I will get hold of one of the ones that really should mean more to me now than then, the ones about age and ageing, and see what I can do.
What have you been reading this year?

Oliver Sacks' latest book, Musicophilia is good on synaesthesia, as well as just good.

Jean said...

Zhoen, that would be complex and blurry, then, more often true of love between people, perhaps, than love of art?

Jean said...

Dave, you can stick this photo on your wall and imagine you are the cello, then :-)

Anonymous said...

I have similar experiences with music reminding me of friends or circumstances, so inspired by your post, I have written about one such link. Unfortunatey, I am also pretty tone-deaf!

Also thanks for the Zoe Keating pointer - great music.

Dave King said...

I have to say that it's the cello that most does it for me - and Zoe ranks as high as any. I'm told I shouldn't have favourite instruments, but I have to say that it's the cello that most does it for me!

Unknown said...

I love Faures Requim too... I heard about Zoe here last week - - isn't it interesting to watch word of mouth in action? Must check her out! PS thank you for your wonderful joke at Planting Words...

Unknown said...

PS can't find an email for you, Jean, and also can't remember if I've already made this offer, but if you're interested in a review copy of The Letters for a possible taking-part-in-blog-tour, just let me know!