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A Cartoonish Brahms First
on 31 December 2014
What with the advent of the New Year, changes are afoot at the Australian Knappertsbusch Association. I'll remain president for the foreseeable future (like, 2050). I'm not unhappy with the prodigality being displayed by JL, the Chief Procurement Office. Sadly, the overseas affiliates of the AKA have been tardy in the payment of memberships (exorbitant though they be) - I'll chase them up in 2015. The next big initiative, moreover, will be the appointment of Bart Simpson as the AKA's Cultural Ambassador to Generations Y and Z. Given that classical music is declining in its popularity, it's time to appoint a youth icon who can reverse this trend.
I recently caught up with Bart in his new capacity. It was time to discuss Ivan Fischer's Brahms First with him. As I'm tired of being the "One-Star Voice in the Wilderness" at Amazon, I was hopeful that Bart would share my viewpoint and condemn this diet-Marriner soufflé for what it is: a vile act of iconoclasm that ditches one hundred and thirty years of tradition wherein Brahms participated in the same heroic dynamic as Beethoven. Now, on the testimony of Ivan Fischer and other little-leaguers, divested of majesty, mojo and angst, Brahms is just another neo-classical wannabe with clipped phrasing. Be not afraid!
BO'H: "Bart, it is always good to see you. I've wanted to catch up with you for some time!"
Bart: "I didn't do it! It was not me! Blame the Old Man!"
BO'H: "Mate, you have nothing to worry about!"
Bart: "Bernard! I don't mind when you spit at home, but I have to work with these people. . . . . Now, wherever there is mystery and unexplained things, cosmic forces draw me near . . . . Look in my eyes. See the conviction? See the sincerity? See the fear? As God is my witness, I can listen to Brahms' First Baloney and other wacko music from the past!"
BO'H: "Then you're a better man than me! I got to a point where I could not stomach it any further! I presume Fischer's Haydn Variations are cut from the same cloth as the Symphony!"
Bart: "Who am I kidding? I'm a failure! I know how George Washington felt when he surrendered Fort Necessity to the French in 1754 . . . Dude, we're living in the age of cooties. I can't believe the risk you're running. Anyway, that's it. I've been scorched by Ivan Fischer before. I got a rapid heartbeat from those Fischer-brand vitamins. His bull-worker did nothin' for my pecs. My Fischer Kalculator didn't have a seven or eight. And Fischer's autobiography was self-serving, with many glaring omissions. But this time, he's gone too far!"
Bernard: "Sorry mate - you've lost me! Allow me to play the disc. We can listen to it together. After that, do me a favour: hit social media and denounce it as only you can!"
He nodded his head enthusiastically. For the next fifty minutes or so, he skateboarded around my office and juggled artefacts as I cringed in terror and dejection. At long last, the symphony died away and vapidly at that. I was speechless at first.
Bart: "I thought dabbling in the Black Arts would be good for a chuckle. How wrong I was. . . . . As usual, a knife-wielding maniac with a baton has shown us the way forward. Someday I want to be an F-14 military pilot like my hero Tom who lent me this new weapon called a neural disruptor. Ivan Fischer has an up-gunned version!"
Bart: "So what do you think Fischer was thinking? Mess it up like the Beatles and say you were bigger than Jesus?"
I shrugged my shoulders. Nothing came to mind.
Bart: "Brahms' First Symphony . . . Wow! It's approved by the Royal Magic College of Hyderabad! Lifeless images rendered in colourful blobs. But at night, they take on a life of their own. They become portals to Hell, so scary and horrible and gruesome that . . . .Oh my god! The dead have risen and they're voting Republican and listening to Ivan Fischer!"
I drew a breath.
BO'H: "Then Bart - denounce this el cheapo bowdlerisation for what it is! Execrate it! It's space-junk at best! Fischer's Brahms is for those who are more attuned to Doonesbury than the Elgin Marbles (mind you, there's room in the universe for both of `em). Fischer - a middling talent - has already gutted Bruckner of metaphysics in the Seventh. Now it's Brahms' turn. Who will be next? Is nothing sacred?"
Bart: "Come on, Bernard. There's no such thing as a soul. It's just something they made up to scare kids. Like Robo-Chicken or Bubbles the Chimp."
At that point, I wondered whether this new arrangement would work. Bart must have seen the doubt in my eyes. Skipping out of my office, he said the following:
Bart: "Thanks Bernard. Part of this big fat D-Minus belongs to God. Goodbye Japan! I'll miss your sparkling whale-free seas."
We left it at that.