Tuesday, May 25, 2004


I have a - deserved - reputation among certain of my online acquaintances for being obsessed with Mahler's Second Symphony. At times like this I plead guilty and point in mitigation to Gilbert Kaplan - he's way more obsessed with it than I am, although I must say that the idea of conducting it one day - perhaps not.

Recently, I found my old VHS copy of La Double Vie de Véronique, and it started this whole obsession thing off again. I have a copy of the soundtrack, because of the staggeringly brilliant 'concerto' by 'van den Budenmayr' which costs Weronika - no, I won't spoil it, it's a fabulous film. Anyway, I dug out the CD, and played the concerto track on repeat all the way to ework and all the way home again. It's fixed in my head, and if I had a piano to hand, I'd be picking out the spare, haunting melody every time I walked past. And I thought to myself that I hadn't had an obsession like that for a long time.

But I was wrong. Earlier this year, I bought myself the Randy Newman Songbook, and I thought I'd play it a few times, and then simply have it in the library for occasional inspiration. Wrong. Towards the end is one of the great achievements of this brilliant songwriter, The Great Nations of Europe (pardon the link, it's badly spelt, and probably full of pop-ups) and, having heard it once, I couldn't allow anything else to sully my ear for some time afterward. That, too, went on repeat until I'd learnt it by heart, and until it became part of my mental landscape - reading John Wilford's The Mapmakers was an exercise in hilarity thanks to Randy Newman.

And then, before that, it was Bartók. Having experienced a dramatic version of the third Piano Concerto last summer, I had to own it, and having owned it, I allowed myself to become consumed by it. It takes a bit less time than my drive home to listen to, so I delay putting it on until I'm at the traffic lights at Hunton Bridge, then if I get held up on the way, I simply repeat the final movement, sitting in the car on my drive if necessary so as not to miss the astonishing finale.

Actually, that's another thing, now I come to think of it - I can't bear to leave a piece of music unfinished. If I have to get out of the car, or otherwise interrupt my listening before a natural break in the music, I get most uncomfortable. Which is a tad inconvenient if you listen to a lot of Mahler...

OK, I admit it, I'm an obsessive kind of guy.

No comments: