The Euphemist

Reflections on Jewish Studies and many other subjects big and little, by a perpetual student who sometimes searches a little too long for just the right word ...

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Christian, truth seeker, husband, son, brother & uncle, Lutheran pastor, musician (cello, etc.), Jewish Studies grad student, intellectual historian, aquarium enthusiast & pet owner, philologist, astronomer, Norwegian-American, Ford pickup driver, buffoon.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Musical adrenaline rush meme

Sometime I'll resume making posts with deep, thoughtful academic and theological observations related somehow to my academic pursuits. Meanwhile, it's New Meme Time! I can't claim this one is totally original, because I read something akin to it on Ralph the Sacred River awhile back. But here it is: what are your top ten musical adrenaline rushes? They may or may not be exactly co-extensive with your top ten musical pieces, period. They are the ones that give you the biggest sensation of giddiness & make you feel like turning the car stereo all the way up if they should happen to come on. Genre mixing is encouraged. These aren't necessarily in exact order, except that #1 is indeed #1 for me.



10. Alas, this is the one least likely to be heard on the car radio. Years ago an obscure Indianapolis Christian band called "LivingDead" used to do a remarkably catchy, B-52s-ish song called God Cares. I hope they are still doing it, and I wish everyone could hear it.

9. U2's Where the Streets Have No Name has a very memorable guitar intro.

8. The "Amen" at the end of Handel's Messiah, provided that it is done correctly, that is, FAST! The way Dr. Hanson always directed it the several times I was involved in Messiah performances during college. Somehow a tradition has developed of playing it slowly and stodgily, which defuses the giddy wonder of its brilliant counterpoint. Speaking of stodgy traditions ...

7. Bach's Suite #6 for Unaccompanied Cello. Years ago, college orchestra stand partner Jeff H (see "cello reunion" post below) worked up this piece in a spritely, folk-dance-like fashion, which I believe was very true to Bach's original intent. Towards the end of the Praeludium there is a jaw-dropping arpeggio, of which Jeff did a jaw-droppingly good job. Then, he started preparing for grad school auditions (he ended up studying at the Manhattan School of Music), and Dr. Alton taught him a new way to play the piece, the big, fat, stodgy, organ-chord approach that she knew the auditioners would be looking for. Sadly, once he learned it the new way, he couldn't play it the old, spritely way any longer. I wonder if they recorded him doing it the old, correct way. I'll have to ask ...

6. Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B, another piece performed brilliantly by Jeff during college, and it also has a jaw-dropping arpeggio in the first movement. (Beginning to detect a jaw-dropping arpeggio theme here)

5. Evanescence, Bring Me To Life. I don't listen much to current rock, but this one caught my ear. Something compellingly apocalyptic about their sound, a young woman's crystal-clear, bell-like voice soaring over deep rolling thunder. And I read somewhere that they're Christians. Cool!

4. O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen, a Christmas choral anthem, one of those pieces that just bring tears to your eyes with simple, sweet beauty.

3. Our Father by Alexander Gretchaninoff, a majestic Russian choral anthem forming a staple of the repertoire of my college choir & similar Lutheran college choirs for decades.

2. Symphony 6, "Pathetique" by Tschaikovsky. A gradual crescendo towards the end of the first movement builds to an amazing fortississimo that actually made the rehearsal and concert halls feel like they were moving when I played it with the local semi-pro symphony during college. (I also tend to like first movements, for some reason. Maybe because I don't like good things to end. I guess the Handel "Amen" above is a notable exception.)

1. Yes, here it is: Piano Concerto #2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Slava! Glory! A lavishly, thickly romantic piece, yet in my opinion it has a deep-seated spiritual core that gives it its real kick. Especially when you're privileged to be sitting in the middle of an orchestra that's playing it, which I've been privileged to do twice. Again, the first movement is my favorite, though the others are great, too.

Tagging Dave, Lars & Phil, Michael H, Naomi, & anyone else who wants a go at it.

7 Comments:

Anonymous michael h said...

Living Dead turned into a secular Celtic folk rock band called Blaq Lily. I haven't spoken with Mike and Arminta in person since '99. I'm not avoiding them; I have simply been busy.

Evanescence started as Christians, but made a well-publicized and expletive-laden break with their Christian past as soon as they hit the big time. Sadly typical. Ultimately success would tear the friendship and musical partnership between Ben and Amy (who had been friends and collaborators since meeting at youth camp in their pre-teens) in two as well. Time will tell if Amy can live up to the hype on her own. "Everybody's Fool" is the song that really grabbed me on that first record. "Compellingly apocalyptic" is a good way to put it. I got tired of them, though.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Sorry to learn of all that - maybe the LORD has kept me off of the "big time" to prevent me from falling into such temptation.

As for Arminta & Blaq Lily, if they've got some great stuff going, that's great - in principle I'm not opposed to Christians doing secular music, as long as they live for the LORD and don't make any breaks with Christianity, expletive-laden or otherwise. But ... in my humble opinion, if God gives you a song as good, as catchy, as straightforward with the Good News as "God Cares", it might mean that He has a mission for you to fulfill.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Then, of course, there's U2, who seem to have blended Christianity with expletives all along ...

6:29 AM  
Blogger Phil W said...

Michael, I meant to post on this before now. I'll try to tonight. Ten is a long list for me.

1:58 PM  
Blogger David N. Scott said...

Evancescence is not a Christian band, but as far as I know the original messengers professed Christianity. I think that was more because they wanted to be a metal band and not a praise band.

Witness the lyrics to Torniquet:

My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.
My God! My Tourniquet,
Return to me salvation.

My wounds cry for the grave.
My soul cries, for deliverance.
Will I be denied ?
Christ! Tourniquet!

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

I'm working on the tag. I'm still trying to come up with 10. It's not that there aren't 10 for me - just been under the weather and of foggy mind, so it may take a bit longer for me to process this.

Thanks to Michael H for the link to Blaq Lily. From what I've heard so far, I like this better than the Living Dead stuff.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Soni said...

I agree that the "AMEN" in Handel's Messiah is quite riveting. Also try out the "Osanna" in the final movements of Mozart's Great Mass. If you don't have a copy, 'Michael', you'll soon get a fine one from your sister's recent chorale performance, which snow prevented you from attending!

5:59 PM  

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