Thursday, June 30, 2011

zehetmair's ysaÿe

Seriously friends, have you heard this?

Once upon a time, I read Alex Ross's blog with an almost religious regularity and fervor. The days before Google Reader found me checking The Rest Is Noise twice daily. A friend and I even had a countdown to the release of the book. We were so young. Lacking not only Google Reader but also the iTunes store, I purchased several CDs (remember, you know, compact discs) based upon Ross's recommendations: there was Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Osvaldo Golijov, and, one Mr. Thomas Zehetmair playing Ysaÿe.

I found myself mesmerized by Zehetmair--his ostensibly rogue sensibilities matched by a manic dynamism suggested an unnatural virtuosity. To my naive ears Ysaÿe, as played by Zehetmair, seemed an almost mystical exercise: a dialectic of body and mind, both disciplined for transcendent ends.

Listening to it this morning, I was reminded of all of these qualities. Zehetmair's undeniable allure, his intellectual command of the instrument and the score; so fully comfortable in the anatomo-chronological schema of musical discipline, he has surpassed temporal and technical confinements. His playing is on the edge, so to speak. At once fragile, muscular and transparent (but never sterile), Zehetmair navigates a diverse sonic spectrum thus illuminating the darkest corners of Ysaye's meditations on his instrument. What does it mean to practice? What does it mean to produce sound? What does it mean to be a violinist? These are questions posed by Ysaÿe and answered by Zehetmair.

So take a listen, won't you?

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