Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Two Passions

Ex-pres. Bush stepped into his retirement ranch house, kicked aside a chicken, sat down and wept. He wept because he had dodged a mejor Dum-dum bullet, larger than the unravelling of the White-Man-Devil-Medicine financial web or the Iraq monkey trap. He fell to his knees on the cool dirt floor and thanked Christ his plan to tie millions of Americans' retirement to the stock market, instead of that socialist traitor-founded Social Security stuff, failed.

J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion, as performed by the Richmond Symphony, with two, count 'em, two choruses filled the air from my radio last night. Regardless of one's religious thoughts, it is great music. It was sung in English last night, a mid-brow solution . My German is non-existent beyond bitte and danke; the translation enhanced understanding of what was going on with all those different voices. Mark Russell Smith conducted and offered many helpful insights during the intermission. I am not a musicologist, so I lack the right words to describe music beyond gut reaction, a rookie crutch.

1 comment:

Barrett Bonden said...

When I still worked on a weekly newspaper I attended and wrote about St Matthew Passion on two consecutive Maundy Thursdays (the day that precedes Good Friday here in the UK; I won't explain the meaning of this quaint adjective, that would be excruciatingly uninteresting). In those days I was a much more wobbly agnostic than the atheist I have since become: but if anything had been capable of dragging me back into the Anglican church, it would have been the certainties of Bach's music-making. This Passion, the B-minor Mass and the cantatas Wachet auf and Ein fest' Burg have all worked on me powerfully. The devil doesn't have all the good tunes.

Initially, I glanced quickly at the two paras of your post and, for a distinctly unholy moment, I envisaged a hideous link: the Evangelist in the Passion and the fact that Bush operates under the banner of evangelical Christianity. Mercifully, the link resided solely in my mind. Bush and Bach? - no they don't go together.

You confess to not being a musicologist. Neither am I. I'm sure listening to the Passion convinced you that this wasn't a necessary qualification for responding to music which is solemn without ever being earnest. Long live the rookie crutch.