Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Like Rachmaninoff? Try Metallica...

Now and then we need a quick reminder that the world we're in now is - in a good way - something we couldn't have dreamed of back in 1987. Ahead of Boris Giltburg's recital at St John's Smith Square tonight, I'd like to tell you about one of my favourite things that has ever happened on Twitter.

Some months ago I was listening to Boris's recording of the Rachmaninoff Etudes-Tableaux and Moments Musicaux, which I was writing about for Primephonic and had downloaded in high-resolution from their website onto my computer. Boris plays the piano as if it's a 120-piece orchestra, with a grand-scale emotional sweep that can leave you flat on the floor experiencing a kind of legal high, wanting to turn up the volume up as far as you possibly can without scaring the neighbours. Minutes after I put out a tweet about this, a friend made a quip about heavy metal - and then along came Boris himself, suggesting Prokofiev's War Sonatas next [yes indeed - highly recommended], and then admitting he's a bit of a metal-head himself and suggesting some tracks for me to try.

In other words: in today's world you can access the best recordings with the swipe of a mouse, chat about them with your friends, thank the pianist and receive his playlist of entry-level heavy metal recordings, all within moments.

I finished that week listening to Metallica's 'One' and wishing I were 30 years younger. Next thing I knew, other classical musicians started popping up in the Twittersphere asking what took me so long, to which all you can say is "Oh, the usual problems... not knowing where to start listening, scared of looking stupid for not knowing the music, nervous about wearing the wrong thing..."

So am I possibly becoming a metal-head too, at...the age I am...? But guess what? It turns out there's an entire genre for people with long curly hair, seeking extreme musical experiences.

And finally you can blog about it and show everyone what the fuss was about in the first place. Just listen to this. With the volume up. And if the snow permits, do come to SJSS tonight. He's playing this Rachmaninov, with a bunch of Liszt Transcendental Etudes thrown in for good measure...