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don’t shoot the viola player

Confession: your faithful correspondent developed a big crush yesterday evening. Oh, I’m such a groupie. Last night, I went to hear the Jerusalem Quartet, a superb Israeli string quartet, and fell in love with the viola player. He was adorable, and he played like an angel.

I grew up with chamber music – my father played second violin in an amateur string quartet made up of colleagues and friends, which met regularly in our home, strains of Beethoven and Mozart emanating from the living room along with explosions of swear words as the players got lost, while my mother baked their break snack in the kitchen. (Though not to be outdone, she played in a recorder group.) I thought all that long hair music was incredibly square; it embarrassed me.
Now, periodically I have a fierce hunger for a good string quartet, which was amply satisfied last night with a giant helping of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Brahms played by what has been called the best quartet in the world. That powerful, intelligent, rich music felt like food, filling my soul. It’s fascinating to watch four people, in this case four nice Jewish boys in their early thirties, who enjoy such a bond with the music and each other that they play as one. I thought – of course I did – about the Beatles, and what it is that works so well when 4 compatible men play music together. And then, I got the crush on the baby-faced one – of course I did. His viola was like dark honey, liquid, reverberating through my body.
Bet you didn’t think Shostakovich was such a turn on. The funny thing is that the fierce, violently jagged piece of his they played – Quartet #6 in G – he apparently composed on his honeymoon. But you couldn’t tell.
There was a demonstration outside the theatre before the show – people protesting “Israeli apartheid,” accusing the Quartet of “fiddling while Gaza burns.” The audience was largely Jewish, and as they walked by, many were riled by the protests. I talked to one young protestor – not Jewish, just felt this is an important cause. As do I, though so complicated, so rooted in ancient hatreds, it’s hard to imagine it will ever end. But it’s unfair to implicate and accuse musicians, who are in another realm.
Speaking of musicians in another realm, tonight I went to my friend Anne-Marie’s, to lie on her comfie sofa and watch Scorsese’s documentary about George Harrison on HBO on her large screen TV. We watched the first half, beautifully done – about so much more than the Beatles, it’s about the Sixties, that whole crazy time, what happened when drugs hit the scene, and then Ravi Shankar and the Maharishi, George searching desperately for his place in the world. Very moving. The film shows clearly those twin opposite poles – John the bad boy, Paul the good boy – and in the middle, George, the quiet centre that made those extremes possible.
Indian summer seems to have deserted us; it’s definitely fall now, we’re ankle deep in leaves and it’s getting colder. Time to bring all the plants on the deck in for good, find a place for them somehow, because they’re huge. I’ve already brought in the nine foot tall hibiscus, outside thriving, inside desperately unhappy with wilting pale green leaves. Hope they all pull through the move, the plants, so we can keep each other company while waiting to get back into the sun.
Here comes the sun. Something in the way she moves. Thank you, George.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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