It's kind of ironic that I don't post about music more often, especially given the title of this weblog. I initially thought that amongst the academia posts and the day-to-day stuff and the thoughts about poetry, I'd also be writing posts about music. But I always end up feeling like I don't have the language or the expertise to talk about it. It's been years since I played an instrument, and I never really studied music after that; I also still suffer from bouts of Graduate Student Syndrome (shorthand for "If I haven't researched it exhaustively, I can't say anything at all"). I fret about not being knowledgeable enough, and being recognized as such by people who are more knowledgeable than I am. And that's just silly. Lynn at Reflections in d minor, the latest long-overdue addition to the blogroll, describes herself in her musical autobiography as "still listening, still discovering" — as am I, but she does a lot more music-blogging than I do.
But it's all relative, isn't it? During intermission at the Cecilia Bartoli concert I attended this weekend, I ended up talking to the woman two seats over. (She'd overheard me talking about the program with my friend T., who came with me.) Did I play anything, she asked. I said no. "You certainly seem to know a lot about music — I don't know much of anything about it," she replied. I said something about having an inexpert but occasionally obsessive interest. Then the guy on my other side, who'd leaned over to ask if he could borrow my opera-glasses from time to time during the second half of the concert, answered a question of T.'s about horn-playing in far more technical detail than I ever could have produced. I was somewhere in the middle — literally — between "I don't know much about music" and "I can tell you all about crooks." All of which is to say, I should get over my phobia of being seen as an amateur and actually blog about music every so often.
So here are some (inexpert, amateurish) notes about Cecilia Bartoli: 1) I'd only heard her on recordings, never live, and she's funnier than I expected. She sang some more serious arias, especially during the first half of the program, and I liked them very much — but among the standouts of the evening were a couple of Salieri arias that gleefully sent up the conventions of opera seria. Yes, she does ham it up, but she had us all laughing. T. and I both went home happy. 2) I wonder if there's ever been a revival of Salieri's La Fiera di Venezia? I want to hear more of it. 3) My love affair with Christoph Willibald Gluck continues. I think I want CB's Gluck album, if only for "Di questa cetra in seno" from Il Parnaso Confuso. But first I want to find a good recording of Orfeo ed Euridice. 4) I love it when singers revive little-known music instead of giving us the umpteenth "Greatest Hits from the Standard Repertoire" album in a row. 5) There's some kind of theory forming in my head about eighteenth-century music and the aesthetics of lightness, but it's not really there yet. If it ever materializes, I'll let you all know.