Thursday, 10 April 2008

lending life to truth

On Monday night, I went with Andrew and Steven to a concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It was a diverse (and, for the record, a thoroughly enjoyable) performance, chiefly because it was a hybrid of 3 sets that they are preparing for their (then upcoming, now in-progress) European tour. They began with works by Handel and Rameau, followed by a Bach cello concerto, each of which were quite beautiful. After the interval, they moved to another repertoire, notably an adaptation of Ravel's string quartet. I had enjoyed the earlier pieces, but the added passion present in the later work interested me much more.

Then, last night on the plane, I was reading Possession (Byatt), and came across quite a lovely turn of phrase:

am I lending life to truth with my fiction, or verisimilitude to a colossal Lie with my feverish imagination

The first part of that, in particular, really struck a chord with me. The first part of the ACO concert had been very beautiful (very "true", if you will), but the second was the more interesting because it contained more passion and drama.

My observation, uninformed though it is, on music is that the earlier forms of classical music (classical in the everyday term, not referring to the period), particularly the baroque but also much of the classical (in the period sense), at times lacks the passion of, say, Beethoven, Rachmaninov (I associate this stuff with the Russians, without much basis for the belief), or apparently Ravel (on the evidence of this concert).

Of course, the phrase itself is odd. The implication that life and truth are different things is somewhat strange when you think about it - both might be thought to mean "reality". However, despite an individual overlap of meaning, in combination the phrase is very evocative of some deeper or indeed more "alive" truth.

I don't know why I linked the two things. Certainly, two of the memorable things from the trip (to Sydney, for some training sessions for work) were the concert (which, I reiterate, I really enjoyed), and a realisation that I seem to be reading more - I have read 200 pages of Possession in the two weeks since I finished Lord Jim.

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