Friday, April 11, 2008

Let's Go for a Ride

Via Andrew Sullivan, here is an amazing web ad for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra:

I love this. You see, this is actually how I experience classical music. Not so much visually, but when I close my eyes, I feel this happening inside my body; I actually have the sensation of going up and plunging down, and of physically moving at different speeds. One of the most incredible feelings is the rallentando, a brief slowing or stretching of the beat which often heralds a leap into a faster tempo. I have frequently described it as being just like a roller coaster; the slowing isn't a loss of momentum, but rather a powerful buildup of potential energy about to burst into kinetic joy. Just sitting and listening to certain pieces causes me to break out in a sweat; I can feel my heart pound.

This is why I actually prefer to work out to classical music when I'm doing aerobic stuff. I like pop music, sure, but it just doesn't send me over the top in the way that some classical stuff does. For me, pop is good for keeping a relatively constant pace over a long period of time, but a lot of my favorite classical pieces build steadily to a frantic climax. My heart races, my skin tingles, and I can effortlessly pound away on the elliptical or the stationary bike with a feeling of complete exhilaration. It seems to just uncork my adrenaline. And just like with a roller coaster, certain pieces make me dizzy and give me temporary sensations of weightlessness.

It would be interesting to hook me up to a cardiograph or one of those brain-wave thingies and monitor my physical response to a piece like the overture to Don Pasquale (which is all over the place, tempo-wise, but ends frenetically) or Tchaikovsky's Marche Slave. I think my heart probably actually stops every time I hear Renee Fleming's high E-flat in the finale from Lucrezia Borgia.

Now if I can just find a boyfriend who's equally into the Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila...

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