12 December 2009

A Tale of Two Symphonies

Recovery is going well (and it is from a most minor event); there’s been no pain, but I have been tired this week . . . and so, I’ve been getting a lot of rest.

Night before last, I was awake at half past midnight. Not wide awake, and yet awake in the dead of night, and not quite tired enough then to return promptly to sleep. There was Sibelius in the CD-player (pre-conk-out music had been the Seventh Symphony, played by the Helsinki Phil and Paavo Berglund — and yes, I listened through to the end), so I decided to play Tapiola.

There was no question of nodding off to that wonderful tone-poem, of course. It simply struck me as the perfect opportunity to listen to it with complete concentration — and that this act of concentration would then leave me in a place more readily conducive to a return to sleep.

I did remain alert for the entire piece; and it was the best I have ever listened to it.

I’ve been reading — devouring, really — Simon Morrison’s book, The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years. And so last night, where I should otherwise have been very well content to listen to some more Sibelius via Berglund, I was keen to revisit Prokofiev’s revised Fourth Symphony (Opus 112). Well, I was tired. And although the night before, I had stayed awake through the whole of Sibelius’s Seventh, last night I got to bed later, had less steam . . . I faded mid-Opus 112, and the last I remember being aware of was a patch of the first movement.

And unlike the Tapiola incident above, last night I slept straight through to eight of the morning clock.

Late this morning, I cued up the last movement of the Prokofiev Fourth. Maybe that seemingly trivial departure from routine has done the trick (for every time before I have listened to the Fourth, it was all four movements in dutiful order). It surprised me how good that fourth movement sounded. Well, the file is open again on the Opus 112, I see.

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