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CLASSICAL  June 2007

CLASSICAL June 2007

Subject:

Something I Came Across ...

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 Jun 2007 06:46:30 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (49 lines)

Just finished a book, Thomas Pynchon's massive Against the Day, at least
60% of which flew over my head, but which I think one of the best novels
I've ever read.  I came across this passage on page 896:

   In September, Hunter would invite her to accompany him to
   Gloucester Cathedral, where as part of that year's Three Choirs
   Festival, a new work by Ralph Vaughan Williams would be having
   its first performance.  Ruperta, who despised church music, must
   have seen some irresistible opening for idle mischief, because
   she went along wearing a sportive toilette more appropriate to
   Brighton, with a hat she had always found particularly loathsome
   but kept handy for occasions just such as this.  The composer
   was conducting two string orchestras set like cantors and decani
   facing each other across the chancel, with a string quartet
   between them.  The moment Vaughan Williams raised his baton,
   even before the first notes, something happened to Ruperta.  As
   Phrygian resonances swept the great nave, doubled strings sang
   back and forth, and nine-part harmonies occupied the bones and
   blood vessels of those in attendance, very slowly Ruperta began
   to levitate, nothing vulgar, simply a tactful and stately ascent
   about halfway to the vaulting, where, tears running without
   interruption down her face, she floated in autumnal light above
   the heads of the audience for the duration of the piece.  At the
   last long diminuendo, she returned calmly to earth and reoccupied
   herself, never again to pursue her old career of determined pest.
   She and Hunter, who was vaguely aware that something momentous
   had befallen her, walked in silence out along the Severn, and
   it was hours before she could trust herself to speak.  "You must
   never, never forgive me, Hunter," she whispered.  "I can never
   claim forgiveness from anyone.  Somehow, I alone, for every
   single wrong act in my life, must find a right one to balance
   it.  I may not have that much time left."
   
   Ordinarily he would have humorously disputed her theory of moral
   bookkeeping.  But later he would swear he had seen her surrounded
   then by a queer luminous aura he knew he could not banter away.
   Possessing one of those English ears on which flatted-seventh
   sonorities are never lost, Hunter had of course immediately
   fallen for the Tallis Fantasia, would always love it, but the
   change of heart he himself needed would have to proceed from
   some other source.

Steve Schwartz

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