The Boston Globe: Cantata Singers to perform enigmatic Howells Requiem

Cantata Singers to perform enigmatic Howells Requiem
By David Weininger | The Boston Globe
January 17, 2013

“I kept having this feeling in the piece that there was something reluctant about the music,” said Hoose by phone recently. “I’d never had this feeling in a piece before. It was almost as if he were hesitating to put down that next note, that next harmony, that next decision. Not uncertainty, but hesitancy — not wanting to do it.”

When Hoose delved further into the Requiem, which is on the ensemble’s Friday program, he found his sixth sense about it vindicated. Howells wrote the piece in the 1930s after the death of his 9-year-old son, Michael, from spinal meningitis. So personal and suffused with quiet grief is the music that the composer kept the piece from the public after finishing it, neither publishing it nor offering it for performance. It first surfaced in 1950, in a version for orchestra, soloists, and chorus, with the title “Hymnus Paradisi.” The austere original version wasn’t published until 1980.

The Cantata Singers rehearsed at the First Church in Cambridge.

The Cantata Singers rehearsed at the First Church in Cambridge.

The reluctance Hoose felt in the music sounds like just the sort of thing you might impose on your hearing of a piece if you already knew the circumstances of its composition. Yet Hoose said he hadn’t read anything about the Requiem’s back story. “I wasn’t making it up,” he says with a laugh. “I just had the feeling there was something — uncomfortable — about the act of composing it.”

The music is tonal and sensuously beautiful, and “there are large moments that flow along just gorgeously. And then something really unexpected, or almost inexplicable, happens. It doesn’t look weird on the page but it’s really unexpected. Without preparation you’re in another world.”

It’s these subtly disruptive “knots,” as Hoose called them, that induce the music’s sense of insecurity. “It feels like it’s not by choice,” Hoose explained. “It’s not like the feeling you have with Mozart, that the music is writing itself, it’s so natural.” In the Requiem, by contrast, “it’s almost as if Howells isn’t writing it. For that moment, somebody else is kind of taking it out of his hands. And it feels very metaphoric for what he went through.”

The other large work anchoring the Cantata Singers program is the Mass for Double Choir by Swiss composer Frank Martin . In contrast to the Howells, it has a feeling “of incredible optimism and luminosity,” Hoose said. Unlike some of the composer’s more reserved later works — the Mass was written in the 1920s; Martin died in 1974 — “there’s something about this earlier piece that is just sensuous and openhearted and warm.”

Music director David Hoose conducted the Cantata Singers during rehearsal.

Music director David Hoose conducted the Cantata Singers during rehearsal.

What the Mass shares with the Howells Requiem, though, is a disinclination on the composer’s part to make it public. It, too, would remain hidden away, performed for the first time only in 1963. Martin wrote that he considered the piece a private expression of his relationship to God, and originally thought it unfit for performance: “I felt then that an expression of religious feelings should remain secret and removed from public opinion.”

Looking at the program, you might guess that Hoose had started with the intention of joining together on one program two “secret’’ works, by composers who decided to withhold them from audiences until decades later. You might even sense something similar from the pieces that open the program: two motets by Bruckner, a composer famously hesitant and insecure about his works. You might think that the conductor had begun with this theme in mind.

But that isn’t how Hoose assembles concerts, and therein lies an important point about programming.

“You could set out, and a lot of people do, to program concerts by finding a scheme or a theme or some thread that ultimately, to me, ends up sounding self-conscious, or calculated,” he said. “I didn’t set out to make a program that had these pieces that these two marvelous composers withheld — one because it was so painful, one because it was so private.”

Instead, he continued, “I find some emotional thread or some musical thread or some dramatic shape for a concert that makes intuitive sense. And then what happens, at least for me, is that I start to find all those [external] things, all those connections. All those things make sense.”

The final connections are made by the audience, and those are, in an important sense, out of the musicians’ power. “I think it’s like a web, where there are ways in which all of those pieces react to, respond to, and presage each other. And each listener is going to feel and hear something different. We can’t control what the listeners bring to it and what they go away with. All we can do is prepare something that works beautifully for us and hope that the listener comes with an open heart and an open ear and an open mind.”

Age ain’t nothing but a number

Audiences all ages can make meaningful contributions to music criticism. Here’s a review by Emma, age 18, who attended “In Thoughts, Our Dreams” at Jordan Hall this past May:

Last night, my mother and I went to see the Cantata Singers at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The conductor’s name is David Hoose and he conducted very well, so that all the singers blended together and sounded beautiful. There were seven 20th century pieces on the program.

The first piece was “Invocation.” It was originally composed by Charles Fussell, and was arranged for two pianos and chorus by David Hoose. The piano part of the piece was somewhat dramatic, and the chorus was a little quieter, then slowly increased in volume. The speed was moderate, and the tone grew to be very dramatic before ending.

The second piece was “Some Thoughts on Keats and Coolidge,” composed by Earl Kim. The piece was split up into five different parts: “Frost at Midnight,” “Ode to Psyche,” “Ode to a Nightingale,” “Shed No Tear-O Shed no Tear,” and “To Autumn.” These pieces are all extremely similar in tempo , volume, rhythm, and tone, and were all sung a cappella. They all sounded quiet and somber, and were sung very beautifully and peacefully. Earl Kim’s music seems reduced to the very minimum.

The third piece was “Four-Handed Sonata for Piano,” composed by Harold Shapero, and performed by David Kopp and Rodney Lister. The movement performed was “Very Slowly-Moderately Fast.” The slow part’s tone was moderately quiet, and then as it got faster, the volume progressed. When the piece started to speed up it became dramatic, before it quieted and slowed down as it ended. Strangely, the first movement of this piece was on the first half of the program. The last two movements were on the second part. At the end, the composer took a bow from the back of Jordan Hall. He is over 90 years old.

The next piece was probably the most interesting- “Scene from a movie part 3: The Twenty-sixth dream.” This was composed by Earl Kim and featured two soloists from the chorus: Mark Andrew Cleveland and Karyl Ryczek. Mr. Cleveland did the majority of the solo. He shifted a lot between low and high volume and mostly was calm and dream-like, as was the chorus, which blended well together. The tone became somewhat angry and negative at times and the soprano, Karl Ryczek, was also very beautiful as she sang her line. There is a lot of arguing and anger in this song, and it tells a story. It reminded me of a TV opera. Everyone was dramatic while singing to illustrate the dialogue of the story before slowing down as the song ended.

“The Annunciation,” by Rodney Lister came next. This was also very peaceful and moderate in volume and tone, followed by: the second two movements of “The Four-Handed Sonata for Piano; Slow and fast.” (Harold Shapero.) The volume of this piece was moderate and over time became louder. It reminded me of the kind of music you would hear in a movie when a dramatic scene is about to happen. It becomes faster and more dramatic before slowing down and coming to a close.

The last piece was “In the Beginning,” composed by Aaron Copland. This piece uses the text from Genesis, telling the story of how God created the earth. It was a cappella and featured a soloist named Janna Baty, a mezzo-soprano. She blended very well with the chorus. The piece over time becomes more and more dramatic, as it moves toward the 7th day.  The effect is very powerful, like heaven. As the piece finishes, it becomes powerful and overall was a wonderful finale to the concert.

Overall, I enjoyed the Cantata Singers very much. The chorus was so beautiful and sang so perfectly together, as well as the soloists and pianists. David Hoose did a wonderful job as the conductor, and it is clear that the singers worked very hard to prepare for this performance. I hope to see them perform again sometime in the future.

Hey, check it out! New and improved web

Hey, check it out! New and improved web pages detailing each concert this season:

Stations of the Cross: The Passion in Community


When I read program notes for Sunday’s concert, I recalled a recent trip to Jerusalem, where I found myself wandering almost by accident along a self-guided tour of the Via Dolorosa, stumbling upon each Station of the Cross in increasing amazement.

I was awed by the theatrical and historical imagination of those who had been making their “pilgrimages” here since the Byzantine era. Mostly, I was stunned by the audacity and conceptual complexity of staging such an act at the nerve center of three monotheistic cultures in conflict. Perhaps I was simply bowled over by the emotional and aesthetic intensity that is modern Jerusalem – an experience not unlike being in a concert hall or opera house during a performance of a historic masterwork. But I kept asking myself, what is the purpose of this “way of suffering” – what is being enacted, what is being professed, what is being claimed?

Above all, I returned to the ideas of historical continuity and the creation of community. I have never experienced a place so palpably alive to the whole of its past and its continuity with the present as Jerusalem. It struck me that this is one power effect music has, when approached with an alive historical imagination. The Passions of Demantius, Bach, Brahms, and Liszt are animated with this continuity.

What you need to know about Demantius was that his children were all victims of the Thirty Year’s War, which laid waste to Germany. Here was a man who composed religious music for choral societies, in a land where in many devastated villages the only livings creatures roaming the streets were wolves and wild boars. Bach’s generation participated in long reconstruction of Germany after these years of extraordinary hardship and suffering. Bach worked to maintain “high church” liturgical standards against the rising tide of Pietism which sought to purify traditional Lutheran Orthodoxy through inward spiritual renewal, group Bible study and prayer, and simple folk hymns. The cantatas, especially those setting the Passion, made his case for the value of large-scale complex and dramatic forms, performed in community of faith as profession of belief. Brahms paid homage Bach’s vision, imbuing this Lutheran Orthodox expression of the Passion with the Romantic era’s preoccupation with struggle and mystical transcendence (foregrounding Job’s confrontation with the Creator of the Universe). Liszt achieves a synthesis of sorts. His Via Crucis, inspired by the Catholic folk tradition of community staging of the Passion Plays enacting the Stations of the Cross, incorporates Lutheran chorales, and is composed in an almost modernist style marked by mystical inwardness.

Of course, all of the questions and conflicts inherent in confronting the Via Dolorosa are still being staged today; we can easily find ourselves in that great chain of being. Music is still composed, now as then, to manage religious and existential doubt, give meaning to suffering, inspire and impart hope, and to forge and reinforce the bonds of community. And yet one wonders if the postmodern era has broken a conceptual link to past. By that I mean the experience of being a member of a Jordan Hall audience, listening to masterworks of the Passion (composed by the usual suspects – dead white guys of the Western canon), is in many ways a radically different experience than before. Yet our need for community persists: we are still human. There is as much continuity as discontinuity, which is both a consolation and an anguish.

What do we hear in this ultimately human drama that causes us to gather? Is it something more than great virtuosity, pleasing form, or the consolations of the beautiful? For these composers, the answer was complex yet radically simple: Christ rose from the dead. For some of us, things are not so clear, except the desire to come together to ask the questions anew (some invited to speak for the first time), inspired by a form that still manages to elevate the discussion.

Program Notes for “The Passion,” our March 18th concert

 An Eastertide program of two overwhelming and much-revered compositions, paired with two equally extraordinary but rather unknown compositions that could be beloved (though perhaps not so universally), were they only known. The darkness of this central moment is expected; less so is a confidence in, if not yet celebration of, the light toward which the Passion story leads. All four composer’s creations share a bluntness and concision that, at least in the case of Franz Liszt and for that matter, of Bach of his later years, are rare. Little within these four achievements offers a balm, but each composer’s stance, at once personal and dispassionate, allows the listener’s response a ferocious intensity perhaps less likely in the presence of more extravagant music.
– David Hoose

Program Notes by Charles Husbands
Demantius … Weissagung des Leidens und Sterben Jesu Christi
Liszt … Via Crucis — The Way of the Cross

When we think of music for Passiontide, our first thought is likely to be of J.S. Bach’s Passion According to Saint Matthew and its little brother John, but these complex works are fruits of more than a thousand years of evolution and experimentation in the ways that the scriptural story of the final days of the life of Jesus have been presented in music. The earliest form was a recitation in plainchant by a single priest simply commemorating the events as recounted by one or another of the evangelists. But the dramatic possibilities of the Gospel narratives were immediately recognized and eventually exploited by composers for nearly every combination of forces imaginable. It is the centrality of the Gospel narrative that we think of as identifying Passion music, but today’s program includes none of the many possible examples of this approach to telling the story.

Christoph Demantius (1567-1643), though little known today, was one of the most prominent musicians in Germany of the generation between Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) and Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672). He worked during the period when Lutheran liturgical practice was shifting from Latin to German, and composed sacred and secular works for voices and/or for instruments. Chief among Demantius’s religious works is a Deutsche Passion, nach dem Evangelisten S. Johanne. It is considered a consummate example of a “motet passion,” using an abbreviated text sung by a six-voice chorus throughout, only at one unexpected instant employing fewer than three voices. Excellent as this twenty-three minute composition is, we have become so used to having the personae of the Passion narrative expressed by different singers that this motet-style Passion can today feel both distant and compressed.

When Demantius’s Deutsche Passion was published in 1631, the composer appended to it a second work about half as long, another six-voice motet, “Weissagung des Leidens und Sterbens Jesu Christi,” that is a reflection on the events of the Passion. Perhaps “preflection” would be a better word, because the text of this piece dates from the middle of the 6th century BCE. It is most of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, a famous prophecy later interpreted by Christians as foretelling the suffering and death of Jesus, identifying him as the redeemer, the suffering servant described in Isaiah’s poem. The words are familiar. We know them from the second act of Messiah, if from nowhere else.

Demantius’s motet is in three sections. The first employs all six voices and sets the scene: “Surely he hath borne our griefs…and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all.” In the second section detailing the redeemer’s patient suffering, the two lowest voices are silent, producing a subtle sensation of aural constriction. “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth…” The final section again uses the full six-voice choir to express the ultimate reward of the suffering servant, the redemption of the redeemer.

In contrast to the poetic and prophetic overview of Isaiah, the devotional observation of the Stations of the Cross focuses intently on a few specific moments of Good Friday. The “stations” are a sequence of locations, typically in the nave of a church, each marked by an image portraying a particular event, arranged so that the worshiper can pause at each in turn for meditation and prayer. This practice, arising in mediaeval times, had counted varying numbers of stations until, around 1600, fourteen became the standard number. Some of the customary stations depict events lacking scriptural attestation and derive from later legends; for example, the three times Jesus falls and the encounter with St. Veronica. There have been surprisingly few musical attempts to view the Passion through the microscopic perspective of the Stations, the Way of the Cross, the Via Crucis. Virtually the only choral example is the one on today’s program.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886), a devout Catholic, wrote a great deal of music for the Church, much of it in the later years of his life, a time when he also felt free to push harmonic experimentation to great lengths. Via Crucis , composed in 1878-79, is his most remarkable sacred creation of this per iod, perhaps the most remarkable of all his sacred works. In his biography, Liszt (Schirmer Books, 1989), Derek Watson sums up: “This profoundly affecting work is almost a compendium of the most unusual features of Liszt’s later style and is rich in the symbols of music and religion that meant the most to him.” Consider, for example, the opening three notes of Vexilla regis, the first sounds the chorus sings. The rising pattern, ascending first by a major second then by a minor third, is also the beginning of the Good Friday hymn Crux fidelis. Liszt refers to this as his Cross motive. It appears in various places in Via Crucis, as well as in numerous other compositions sacred and secular.

The work comprises an introduction followed by fourteen brief movements, each representing a station. The stations are not treated equally. They range from instrumental movements to thoroughly choral ones. For these, Liszt worked with texts assembled by Princess Carolyne Syne- Wittgenstein, his paramour for forty years. Besides employing apt Biblical quotations, she drew on Latin chants, Vexilla regis and Stabat mater, and German hymns, O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden and O Trauerigkeit. While the disparity of treatment seems puzzling at first, it offers the meditating worshipper a variety of ways to respond to the images at the successive stations. In fact, Liszt apparently considered the text secondary to the intimate emotional content of the music, for he made an arrangement of the piece for two pianos alone, deleting the voice parts. The original version employed piano as sole accompanying instrument, but Liszt soon added another version, for organ or harmonium. None of the three was published in his lifetime, because the piece was rejected by Liszt’s favored Catholic publisher. Whether it was deemed unsalable because of its daring chromaticism or its pearls-on-a-string form is unknown. The first performance of Via Crucis occurred in 1929. For the first Cantata Singers performance of the work, in Jordan Hall, March 2003, David Hoose orchestrated the keyboard part for string orchestra, harp,celesta, snare drum, and tam-tam. That is the orchestration we are hearing today.

Program Notes by John Harbison
Brahms … Warum ist das Licht gegeben
Bach … Christ lag in Todesbanden

Brahms composed his motet Warum ist das Licht gegeben in the village of Pörtschach in 1877, one year after the effortful completion of his First Symphony. He began the summer by quickly composing his Second Symphony, generally held to be his most cloudless, ebullient piece. He then proceeded immediately to this motet, a few phrases of which had actually been composed twenty years before. He dedicated it to the great Bach scholar Philipp Spitta, with whom he was collaborating on the first complete Bach edition. (The relationship of Brahms’s composing to the serial appearance of those volumes is a large and fascinating subject.)

When an admirer, Vincenz Lachner, wrote to Brahms about the strange shadows (trombones and timpani) in the sunny Second Symphony (he is among the first to notice them), Brahms responded:

I would have to confess that I am…a severely melancholic person. That black wings are constantly flapping above us, and that in my output—perhaps not entirely by chance—that symphony is followed by a little essay about the great ‘Why.’ If you don’t know this [motet] I will send it to you. It casts the necessary shadow on the serene symphony and perhaps accounts for those timpani and trombones.

So the motet, Warum, its powerful sequence of texts assembled by Brahms himself, is the ‘necessary’ response—almost as if he doesn’t want his listeners to ignore, ever, the complex ambiguous tone that makes his voice his own.

Not until 1951 did the Bach pundits face the music and grant BWV 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden, its rightful and amazingly early date of composition, 1708 (Bach at 23). It is either his first cantata or one of the first. It is stylistically at one with cantatas of the previous generation, very like the choral variation organ pieces Bach was writing at the time as part of his slow, hardly dazzling apprenticeship.

Confusing the earlier scholars was the consistently high quality of Cantata 4. Twice in Bach’s very early vocal writing masterpieces erupted, here and in BWV 106, the Actus Tragicus, with little around them to suggest this could be possible.

Why here? The variation subject is a powerful melody constructed by another from ancient sources—a Gregorian chant, Victimae paschali laudes, and an Easter Carol, Christ ist erstanden: it is sturdy, fervent and memorable. Luther’s text burn with fearless, graphic Passover images. We understand why a contemporary Jesuit credited Luther’s songs with “destroying more souls than
his writings and talks.” Bach gives each verse a distinct musical character. The tight constraint of the variation format curbs the young composer’s tendency to overelaborate, or completely digress. Each movement is in the same key, the instrumental participation is sober, but the piece has ample variety. It is so confidently and consistently composed that the theories that it was “touched up” later in Leipzig seem out of place.

Support for such theories? The final chorale is clearly from two decades later, in the language of the Leipzig intense cantata-writing period. Still it hardly seems discontinuous, since the final bass aria is so vivid, so eventful, so finely detailed, that it reaches a visionary level. It seems to join up bracingly with the great, mature harmonization that concludes.

Going Toward the Light: Shadow-Sounds in Schnittke’s Concerto for Mixed Chorus

Schnittke invented the perfect word for his polystylism: Schattenklänge, or shadow-sounds. Schnittke’s biographer thought of Schattenklänge as a kind of well of genetic memory, deeply encoding Russian and German cultural history. Schnittke considered the Concerto for Mixed Chorus one of his most significant works, and many critics argue for its preeminent as a masterwork of sacred choral music of the twentieth century. For me, one fascination of studying the Concerto lies in discovering the structural keys it contains, decoding all of Schnitte’s work. But perhaps what are most compelling are the shadows that flicker within it, shadows of some of the most powerful preoccupations of German and Russian post- Romanticism.

Schnittke’s musical imagination cannot be separated from his fascination with all forms of mysticism; the occult, in the sense of the hidden, became both inspiration and structure. Schnittke’s varying interests in theosophy, I Ching, kabbalah, and Gnosticism coalesced at the time of his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1982; his sacred choral works came to outnumber the secular. Schnittke believed his function as composer was more a medium, a conduit of hidden and magical messages from a transcendent realm.

The choral concerto refined and elaborated by the Ukrainian Dmitri Bortniansky (1751-1825) for the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox church, reached its apotheosis in Rachmaninoff, Grechaninov, and Rimsky-Korsakov. This uniquely Russian choral tradition was nearly snuffed out after Bolshevik Revolution; Schnittke resurrected the form after nearly one hundred years of neglect. I’ve chosen two qualities of the Concerto for Mixed Chorus to unlock its meaning in the context of the history of sacred choral music: the importance of the D major tonalities, and the setting of the ideas of suffering and universality in the text. The Armenian monk, mystic and philosopher Grigor Narekatsi (951–1003) wrote his Book of Lamentations as an offering of ecumenical prayers “so that my singing may become healing, curing the wounds of body and soul.” Schnittke had profound reasons to be drawn to this text, and similarly meaningful choices structuring setting. The work is composed of three movements determined by the divisions in Narekatski’s text, followed by a fourth that functions as a coda, recapitulating the tonal progression of the entire work from B minor to D Major. (I’m indebted to Melanie Turgeon’s analysis in Composing the Sacred in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia: History and Christianity in Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir, 2008).

D major represented light to Schnittke; the Concerto was not the first or last time he would use its symbolism in a sacred choral music, often in coda. The coda to his Fourth Symphony (1983) resolves four disparate modes representing the liturgical traditions of Catholicism, Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Lutheranism into an Ave Maria in D Major. In the choral coda of Schnittke’s ballet Peer Gynt, Gynt (1986) escapes from the shadow world of illusion into transcendent dimension filled with light and the mysteries of eternities – a dimension that just happens to be D major.

It’s no mystery that since the baroque D major in choral music has represented the triumph of Christ’s victory over death and the affirmation of faith in the resurrection. The epitome of this structure is found in the Bach’s Mass in B minor, whose tonal progression from B minor to D major is echoed in the Concerto. The tradition was retained throughout the common practice period, with Beethoven’s masterwork Missa solemnis joining the Mass in B minor as its anchoring achievements. The Missa solemnis is almost entirely centered in D major, and concludes in D major. Another especially brilliant setting of D major is an ascending scale depicting a sunrise, found in Haydn’s The Creation following the recitative “And God said: Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven.” This D major as Fiat Lux surely must be a shadow-sound for Schnittke.

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Happy hours

Ok, feeling a little irreverent here.  I’ve been fixated on ways to describe our upcoming program in concrete, tactile (and drinkable) terms. This Saturday evening (January 21st–a few tickets still available) at First Church in Cambridge, Cantata Singers is performing Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Mixed Chorus and Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Mass.

The Pärt is the easy one.  Vodka martini very cold.  Normally, I’m a gin girl, but this requires the crystalline cleanliness of vodka. I’m thinking it’s a twist, and not an olive this time.  Although then the mind starts to wander…  it has a softness too, so now I’m thinking cozy furs (the vodka is cold, but there’s a warmth inside) and a sleigh–taking us on a journey through a vast, spare and snowy landscape. Destination?  Perhaps we’re headed to  one of those super cool ice hotels!  The music is svelte, smart and sophisticated–think Bond girl with a PhD, but with a spiritual side–alone in a cool dark monastery (with her furs and her cocktail, naturally) surrounded by the warm light of many candles burning.  Another colleague of mine said it made him think of a cold spring pond. He specifically mentioned an Estonian pond, but since I’ve never been there, my mind immediately went to happy hours spent on the far side of Walden Pond, enjoying a solitary swim in  tranquil refreshing waters.

The Schnittke is a murkier issue–in many ways it’s just a deep feather bed of delicious harmony, spread out over several octaves–rich, deep, often favoring the sonority of the lowest basses.  So a rich velvety red wine comes to mind, one of those wonderful stinky french ones where you’re constantly seeking out the elements of the terroir (funky tastes like dirt and brussel sprouts and wait, is that a hint of licorice–or is it canteloupe?)  I love wines like that (especially with an equally “stinky” cheese or divinely grilled piece of meat).  I love waiting for them to open up as they interact with the air, the food you’re enjoying it with, and  as your palate comes into acquaintance with each flavor it expands to help you recognize a new element.  Complex, deep, nuanced.  But I think wine is not quite the right analogy.  Soft velvety manhattan with a liquor soaked cherry at the end?  Hmmm.

There’s a yeastiness to this music–a bubbling changeability as it weaves its way mercurially through major and minor with explosions of brilliant brightness.  Sourdough starter–dough expanding to the limits, and punched down to rise again.  So I’m heading in the direction of a gorgeous Belgian beer– but maybe with a gloriously astringent Negroni cocktail on the side?

My friend Majie also said it’s like being in an enormous Gothic cathedral with lots of voices all around you having their own conversations, and then all of sudden the sounds coalesce into a single coherent sound, and then wander again off into individual chatter.  Sometimes I feel like it’s the best shampoo you’ve ever had in a salon.  Lather, rinse, repeat. (With a soft angelic pillowy Amen at the end.)  Aaah.  Note to self–Book the spa day now.

My happiest hours are the time I spend living and breathing remarkable and challenging music.  I love the way this music sparks my imagination and speaks to my soul–what sort of a journey is it for you?