Sunday, February 07, 2010

Chopin at Midnight
Sometimes I don't mind being an insomniac. There's a nice sort of calmness in being up all night. I can watch movies or catch up on whatever I've saved in TiVo. I can read trashy books all night or do something improving like delving into Dickens or browsing through the Brontes. Sometimes I'll listen to music, try to find something suitable for the book, the weather, and my mood.

When I'm in a classical mood I always turn to Chopin. More specifically, Chopin's piano works played by Vladimir Ashkenazy. I'm surprised I haven't worn a groove in my CD because I play it so often. It's perfect for a rainy night and a good book. Oddly enough, the same music is also perfect for a heat wave and total brain-candy-trash. Quite versatile, that Chopin.

The classical realm is one area of music where I will gladly admit my ignorance. I can beat anyone at world music knowledge (thank you KZSU), and I'm pretty good at blues, certain genres of jazz, and bits of bluegrass and country. I know my 80s pop as well as anyone, and have a fairly good grasp of what's new in the world of music. But when it comes to what's old well, there I'm lost. I've been to the symphony, but not too many. I've seen operas, but don't particularly like them. And yet I love opera CDs -- not entire operas, but certain singers performing selections from many composers. My favorite is Jose Cura, who has a warm and delicious voice. His music is reserved for intricate and cryptic literary novels full of delicious passages of prose. I cannot put on Jose Cura and curl up with, say, Nora Roberts. But he goes quite well with Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Oddly enough, since I'm surrounded by jazz, I tend not to listen to it on my own. Husband is both a jazz radio DJ and a jazz journalist (in fact he's just gotten the gig to cover the Portland Jazz Festival for JazzTimes Magazine later this month). His collection of jazz is huge, varied, and intimidating. It's so intimidating that it's in it's own room. The front room has my music and our joint collection of classical and blues. But the music office is his domain. I am perfectly free to go in and select anything I want, but I wouldn't even know where to begin. So I keep my own selection of favorites out here. They're pretty thin, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, the big bands of WWII. The Brubeck and the Monk, the Coltrane and the Pharoah Sanders, they're all in the music office.

But tonight, it's Chopin and The Pre-Raphaelites in Love by Gay Daly. Excuse me, won't you, Frederic is calling me.

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