Decline

There is no regret, only memories, some bittersweet, some funny. He looks back and smiles, all the time listening to the breeze blowing through the bare branches of the trees. He sees the present, but his reality is in the past, although he no longer reads it as the past, rather as a possible future, or, better, a transition between futures. The present, the spectacle, he does not care much for, there is nothing there to inspire him, to make it worth more attention. In a strange way, he’s immune, to the air du temps, to the vagaries that pass for real in most people’s daily lives: he’s sheltered, wrapped, in voices, melodies and faces that are no more, but still more alive to him than the background noise “they” call now.


She observes his decline, but admires his energy, the way he polishes wood, cleans his boots, prunes the bushes, looks after the car. There is more, but she’s careful to spare those moments, those fragile bridges to the couple they once were. She observes him, does not let him out of sight too long. Best for her, is when he is at his desk, surrounded by Beethoven or Mozart, writing one of his weird and lofty stories. Then, his mind may be far away, but his cherished body is there, visible, close to her, she knows he’s not going to disappear, through the mist. Yet she cares about where his mind is: what would she do if, one morning, he did not recognise her? What would happen to both of them if he lost his sense of time, his sense of humour?

Beethoven in close-up: art of the fugue

To celebrate Beethoven’s 250th jubileum the Berlin Philharmoniker has offered its Digital Concert Hall public a delightful voyage of discovery through the composer’s chamber music works. In four parts, this extraordinary musical adventure takes us from early works for winds ensembles to the early, middle and late periods of Beethoven’s string quartets. For many of us this is a revelation of less well known compositions, over which we are guided by Philipp Bohnen’s cogent and charming comments. We learn about the composer’s youth in Bonn, where he learnt to play the horn, his arrival in Vienna, his admiration for his elders Mozart and Haydn, his progress, over thirty years, to the masterpieces of the late string quartets. We learn also about the particular challenges, for the musicians themselves, of the quartets, the harmonic complexity and sometime unexpected tempo.

As a remarkable proof of breadth and depth of world-class professional talent, the orchestra spawned from its ranks seventeen string quartets and one winds sextet for these concerts. All are accessible on the Concert Hall starting here.