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Perfection

Saturday, March 25, 2006
I was listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony today as I drove down to Eugene for my brother's birthday. It's a version performed by the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra. Not being a professional music critic, I am going to say that it's one of the worst interpetations I've heard.

The 9th Symphony is where Beethoven's ode to Joy comes from (the 4th movement, specifically. It's perhaps one of the most beautiful (if not the most famous) of any musical piece in history and the Sapporo Symphony, while playing all the music correctly, seems to have missed the raw passion and energy that the music holds.

Without trying to stereotype, the music seems to have been played perfectly, but without that particularly energetic and joyous element that makes the music so good. Like a Honda Accord the execution of this piece seems very left-brained, inasmuch as it's refined and perfected without being evokative in any way, shape, or form... and for a piece like this, it means it wasn't performed well.

So much of anything is not just good engineering, but it's also the human emotion that goes into it. A musical piece depends on the energies of the composer, the conductor, and the performers. A movie isn't just a script, it's the actors, director, and editers. A computer will always follow the rules (that's what they're good at.) But it takes a certain bit of soul to make it work well... and the Sapporo didn't have that.

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