High with Tchaikovsky

It’s 6am. I am tucked in under my doona. It’s time for heaven.

I pull my laptop into bed, earphones on, snugly covering both ears for stereo effect, nightcap over the earphones for even better hearing and warmth. I quarter sit up in bed, heater switched on, scarf wrapped around my neck.

I am ready for bliss.

I click on the golden star at the top right corner of my laptop. My ‘favourites’ appear on the screen.

I click on ‘Janine Jansen performs Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto live in 2013’, (Tchaikovsky, 1. Allegro moderato (Violin Concerto in D major op.35)).

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The conductor and the violin soloist, Janine Jansen, stand a mere metre from each other, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, in silence. Only the conductor and the soloist are standing, everyone else in the huge orchestra is sitting. They line up behind the soloist, like the chorus does behind the protagonist in Greek drama. Their eyes are on the conductor opposite, awaiting his signals. He stands on a pedestal, with his baton in hand towering over the soloist and the orchestra, like a benevolent God. He wears a smart black silk suit with white shirt and white bow tie, like all male members of his orchestra.

Janine is a brunette with shiny, longer than shoulder length hair. She wears a blood-red dress that leaves her broad shoulders uncovered. She looks a picture, standing there with a lowered violin in one hand and the bow in the other.

It’s show time! The conductor signals the second violinist and he kicks off the ball as it were. The other twenty violinists of the orchestra promptly respond to him in chorus. Briefly it is once more the second violinist’s turn. Next, two clarinets and two flutes respond to him in unison. Now the speed and volume of the music increase: there is short accelerating drumming, followed by the violins, cellos, the clarinets and flutes in turn. Then all, save the soloist, join together to belt out a crescendo. Through this thunderstorm of sounds Janine stands by, cool as a cucumber. With her violin only held by her chin, hands resting interlocked on her abdomen, she is patiently awaiting her turn. Now the orchestra puts on the brakes, ready to hand over the baton to her. Janine slides the bow on her violin’s strings and makes her grand entry. The scene is reminiscent of Michelangelo’s picture of ‘The Creation of Adam’ except here it is the creation of Eve. God extends his hand towards Eve — here the towering conductor’s baton points towards the first violinist.

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Eve (here, the soloist Janine) responds by in turn extending her fingers (here, her violin) back towards God. Their symbolic connection breathes divine life into Eve (here, into Janine’s music).

She mesmerises the audience as she begins to softly play the achingly beautiful concerto theme tune.

I purse my lips to start to whistle along with her. All eyes and ears are on her; the rest of the orchestra is in temporary suspense. I whistle in tandem with her as tears of joy flow from my eyes.

I listen to her closely, keeping my whistling just a touch softer than the volume of her play so that I can stay right with her. I am melting at the beauty of the theme tune. Now I hear her and the orchestra together in stereo in both ears through the earphones. My whistle vibrates between my ears somewhere deep in my brain and chest, blending with the rest of the music. The pace begins to rapidly accelerate. It is take off time. We become airborne and continue climbing. All the engines roar to their utmost. The air is getting thinner. At last, high up, to the tune of gently exquisite music, the plane begins to cruise horizontally without the slightest effort. Then bang! There is the thunder of loud and fast sounds bursting through the calm, heralding the full blown climactic return of the concerto’s theme tune. It skyrockets vertically. I have to hold on to my seat to stay in tandem with the immense tempo but I am hanging in there. We continue to spiral upwards with mindboggling speed.

I am starting to lose myself. The soloist and all the diverse instruments and sounds including my whistle are merging into one experience only: that of the single concerto in all its glorious wholeness.

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It fills the cosmos, expanding into infinity!

Do you get high on music? Is there a particular song or a piece of music that has an emotional effect on you? Tell us about it.

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