Musical health warning

You know the sleeve notes they give you with classical CDs? Some of them, Jesus. I open up this one about Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony. Tells me that the Finale of the piece is “one of the crowning glories of symphonic literature, but the road to it is fraught with pitfalls for the weak of heart.”

Kind of starts you wondering if you’re in the right place. Would anyone say that before they showed you a painting? Or gave you a poem to read?

I’d listened to the first two movements before I read the sleeve-note warning. A lot of the time I don’t read the notes till later, and now I don’t know if I should listen to the Finale. What if I don’t like it? I’ll have to upbraid my heart. I’ll have to climb out of a pitfall.

Anyway, there’s this one bit in the second movement I think you’ll like. The piece tip toes around for nearly three minutes, and then out of nowhere – at 2”47 in this recording – there’s the warmest blast you can imagine, and it’s like Ennio Morricone took everything from these forty seconds. I’m telling you. Listen to that bit and you’ll see Sean Connery in The Untouchables, crawling the floor trying to get to the train timetable that’ll lead Ness to the book-keeper.

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