Driving yesterday evening I put WYPR on, and in 3 seconds I realized that Prairie Home Companion was on, and Chris Thile was playing Bach's Chaconne on the mandolin, and it was dull as hell. You can tell that many of the most skilled non-classical musicians think classical music is dull as hell by the ultra-respectful way they play it. Yehudi Menuhin plays the same piece of music 100x more rock 'n' roll than Thile does. Start at 4:42, and try telling me or yourself that the next hundred seconds is not one of the most jaw-droppingly exciting things you've ever heard. It's completely disrespectful to the way Bach wrote it - he asked for no acceleration, he asked for very different bowing than Menuhin does here. Who cares? The point is that Menuhin's ideas work with Bach's clear intentions rather than against Bach. Bach wrote this piece right after his first wife died, and when Menuhin recorded this in 1956, the entire eastern hemisphere was still reeling from a half-century of death which showed every sign at the time of continuing. The one thing 'classical' music still has on the other genres is the simple level of tragedy its most serious exemplars still process. This ability to provide a space to process the larger than life events which are beyond our control, the rage, the tragedy, the shock, the horror, is why classical music still matters.
1 hour ago