Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pursuit of Excellence

When I posted Obama Set to Music the other day, in addition to the primary feature of Andrew Klaven's video, I provided a link to Tchaikovsky's last symphony.

That symphony, with its build up of grand expectations that ultimately dissolves into downbeat failure, was too much of a downer. Tchaikovsky himself -- perhaps too caught up by the despair in his own composition -- soon called down the final curtain on his own life.

While too many of our anti-human propagandizing wannabe rulers may wish us to steep in such feelings of despair, I do not. So I am here to offer you all a great chaser of the blues.

Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, to my tastes at least, may well have been his finest opus. In our age, with its overbearing obstacles placed upon the best among us (due to mediocrity resulting from affirmative action trumping our earlier culture's inclination to being more meritocracy friendly), you will rarely hear musical compositions this ebullient.

Additionally, the soloist -- Sarah Chang when she was 11 years old -- gives a very fine performance. It is clear from the youngster's expression at several points that she is not perfect. But as any good engineer will tell you, insisting on perfection (like insisting on universal equality of outcomes rather than insisting on freedom to seek your own best outcome) often costs too much and doesn't get you anywhere near perfection anyway. Miss Chang may not be perfect, but she sure as heck is excellent. Her performance, and this great music, both, come through even with my crumby speakers.

The following link is most of the third and last movement. I particularly love the finale where the soloist plays off the orchestra: first it, then her, then it. back and forth, to crescendo. The fact that a violin is so close to the human voice is put to very good use here where you can hear, among other things, the violin whistling and trilling with laughter.

When you feel like the government and its Sinister Wingers have stolen every good thing from public life, you may wish to return to this video. I have long found this work to be personally restorative.

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