Quasi una fantasia

This week, I thought I'd listen to some classical music during my commute, mellow and melodic and calming, like being in a fancy tea shop or jewelry store instead of a subway car. Such a generic term: classical music. Thumbing through my collection of classical CDs, I realized my tastes (at least when I was purchasing) ran more toward atonal, jarring, weirdo. Did I really want to listen to George Antheil's Ballet Mécanique and other works for player pianos, percussion and electronics (EMF CD 020)? Krzysztof Penderecki's rich and nasty tone clusters in the a capella Stabat Mater (Finlandia)? Harry Partch and his mesmerizing microtones and homemade instruments (CRI)? Now that I think about it, yes. I think I will put some of that on my iPhone for subway listening.

Instead, earlier this week, I pulled out some Beethoven sonatas performed by Anton Kuerti on Analekta.

When I was little, we spent a lot of time on the road. I grew up in a small town with one stop light (later two - how exciting!) and no McDonald's, so we often drove to the nearest city to shop, which was an hour and a half away. There was very little decent radio in this part of the state (two choices: church or country), so we listened to cassettes on the car stereo. I was especially fond of a Beethoven cassette with a blue background and drawing of a marble Beethoven bust on the cover. My favorite piece: Sonata No 14 in C# minor, Quasi una fantasia.

Later, I would learn the Moonlight Sonata (the first movement, adagio sostenuto) in piano lessons well enough to play it earnestly and poorly. What I really liked about this piece, though, was the 3rd movement, the presto, which sounded to me like buffalo stampeding over a rise. I don't think that's what Beethoven had in mind, but keep in mind I was 8 years old and most likely riding in a truck on I-25 in Wyoming, so this image worked for me.

This is what I've been listening to on my way to and from work. Beethoven's Sonate no 14 en do dièse mineur, op.27, performed by Anton Kuerti.