Saturday, 30 March 2013

"Is Wagner bad for us ?" Nicholas Spice

How does Wagner addict ?  Nicholas Spice analyzes Wagner's "astonishing musical charisma" :
On Leitmotivs : ".......;As the works unfold, the listener moves continuously and fluidly between the music on the one hand and the drama on the other, holding them in a kind of dynamic equilibrium in the mind. The patterned integration of the leitmotifs into the musical fabric – like small marine fossils in certain kinds of sedimentary rock – symbolises the accumulation of experience over time (it was this aspect of Wagner that so excited Proust). And as a formal device, the leitmotifs helped Wagner give coherence and unity to immense spans of musical narrative"

Musical argument as narrative structure : "......  In a play, there is a limit to how slowly (or indeed how fast) the dialogue can be delivered. Pauses and silences have to be used carefully. In Wagner, the music either speeds up the dialogue to increase emotional intensity....................It’s in the use of music to control the narrative flow that his operas may sometimes remind us of film, where it’s the camerawork that creates this plasticity."

On emotional involvement : "...The visionary simplicity of Tristan und Isolde permits us to take it in at a glance, and what we see in this glance is an impossible object. For it seems both large and small, intimate and colossal, at the same time. Here it isn’t a magnifying glass that Wagner gives us, but an electron microscope through which we see, blown up to a size that fills the frame, things which, with the naked eye, we cannot see at all. Or we could think of it as the musical equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider, an immense musical accelerator, built for the sole purpose of detecting the Higgs boson of the universe of love.".

Read the whole article or listen to the podcast of the lecture on which it is based HERE in the London Review of Books. 

No comments: