Keeping Up

With too little time and too much info to process, we create ways to filter the input. When it comes to the newspaper, some read headlines, some check out only certain sections. I do not like the feel of newsprint, or the dirty fingertips it leaves me with. I also don’t like the size of the page, although I do remember how my grandfather taught me to fold the paper in vertical quarters and then in horizontal half, making it possible to handle and turn pages without creating a total mess. My solution is to peruse The New York Times online, top three headlines in Top Stories, National, and Business, plus all headlines in Arts.

Today a headline caught my eye Violinist With an Air of Vulnerability — I clicked and at the top was a photo with this caption: “Christian Tetzlaff’s playing emphasizes subtlety over pyrotechnics and volume.” Christian who? If I had been paying attention to the classical music world, I might have known that Christian Tetzlaff was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America in 2005, and is “internationally recognized as one of the most important violinists of his generation”

I never heard of him, but DevraDoWrite followers will correctly assume that the photo caption (specifically the words “subtlety over pyrotechnics and volume”) was more than enough to intrigue me.

Reading the article was a double surprise discovery – first of a wonderful violinist new to my ears, and second, the writing of Jeremy Eichler, a word artist. Here’s the opening graf:

Christian Tetzlaff’s recital with Lars Vogt here in October could have been just another pleasant night of violin and piano at the Kimmel Center. But when Mr. Tetzlaff eased into the autumnal first movement of Brahms’s G major Sonata, the hall shrunk by half. Building up from a stage whisper, he spun one long sinuous line after another, perfectly distilling the wistfulness at the heart of this music, its careful blending of honey and rue.

With the first sentence arousing a nibble of curiosity (if it wasn’t just another pleasant night, what was it?), the second sentence drawing me in (what does he mean by “the hall shrunk by half?), by the end of the third sentence I was hooked by Eichler’s own sinuous line of carefully blended words. Here’s one more taste of Eichler’s homage to Tetzlaff:

… his playing possesses qualities that are rarer and more radical: a poignant sense of inner life and emotional authenticity, a technique of exquisite subtlety and an interpretive freedom that is grounded in the score yet at the same time wildly imaginative. He may not have the stomach or the swagger to become a high-wattage star in today’s image-conscious classical music world, but his playing is a bracing example of substance over packaging, and a humble reminder of the richness that a simple unadorned recital can still deliver.

Clearly Tetzlaff deserves a listen, and my reading list will include Eichler’s articles from now on.