Monday, November 29, 2010

I have grown increasingly convinced that composers work with specific tonalities implanted in their consciousness by vocal colorations or instrumental timbres. Premature schooling in theoretical generalities leads us to believe that tonalities are interchangeable. Thus, it takes a little digging to get people to respond to my question about whether they have a favorite key.

But most of us do have a favorite key; the more active musician probably has several, just as the literary enthusiast undoubtedly has several favorite books; the answer may depend on when, where, and by whom the question is posed.

I recently heard a string quartet recital the most memorable event of which was the cellist's obvious fondness for the low D in the "Rosamund" string quartet by Schubert. Oh my! That a single tone could generate such excitement.

Forty-five years ago (cast your minds back) I heard Dvorak's Dumky played by Adolf Baller's piano trio. The cellist's repeated C quarter notes an octave up and down totally galvanized my attention: it clearly was holding up the whole world at the time; it inspires me to this day.