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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: Max Bruch: Violin Concerto

Max Bruch: Violin Concerto

I haven't heard Max Bruch's Violin Concerto for more than 20 years. It is a remarkably inspired piece of a rather obscure romantic German composer whose concert presence does not usually extend too far beyond this gem of violin repertoire. But its fresh melodies will forever secure his place on the musical Olympus. If you let them in, they will percolate through your mind like a creek of buttercup petals cascading down an alpine meadow and carry you forward in an unstoppable fete of youthful energy. I used to listen to them quite often when I was in my 20s but I do not think I heard it - live or recorded - ever since I left my old country.

I haven't been to Albuquerque for quite some time as well. I left New Mexico some 15 years ago and so it must be at least that many years since I last coasted on I-40, the interstate connecting Albuquerque with Arizona and eventually California. This November I was coming back from Arizona with a friend of mine and the last leg of our trip lead us back into I-40, the long forgotten highway passing through many towns whose name had that vaguely familiar sound of distant memories floating restively through the hallways of our recollection. As soon as we merged into a light flow of traffic, I started scanning the local radio waves to enliven the monotony of the New Mexican semi-desert and I thought it was quite appropriate when I hit the Bruch's concerto being performed on some classical station.

If you asked me about it a moment ago, I would not recollect a single note of that piece. But as the music climbed out from its dusty cocoon, unexpected magic started unfolding. Familiar phrases and motives emerged from the deep recesses of my memory, like beloved people I did not see for a while but instantly recognized: "Oh my God, uncle Joe, you haven't changed in 20 years". The sudden appearance of this violin concerto was like a flying carpet which turned a potentially boring drive into a resplendent cruise in the memory lane.

It amazes me what quantity of information our mind stores. Much of what we think is lost forever just hibernates in the cool cellars of our memory. There it lies dormant in a way which is unobtrusive, but when poked in the ribs it bursts to the surface with an amazing level of detail. To remind us who we are.

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