Who Doesn’t Like a Slow Kiss?

televangelistOne person alone in a room is complete and inviolate. Add another and comparisons arise. The same goes for two dogs, two leaves, two shrimp, two Gordon Ramsays. If there’s a pair of human eyes in the room, they will focus on one thing, and then the other, and then back again. Assessing and valuing. We just can’t stop! (Nor can Gordon Ramsay. . .by the way the formula for every episode of his show “Kitchen Nightmares” is: you go in, meet everyone, taste the food, hate it, discover stale food in freezer, toss microwave, insults, coach owners in Dr. Phil mode, retool, relaunch, second wave of errors, success, kisses/hugs. . . kinda like a romance novel, only instead of sex it’s food.) Anyway, comparison is instinctive, fundamental. Call it a genetic abnormality, if you want to. A flaw of epic consequences, because it may inevitably doom us. Yup, we’re all going down because the one thing we can’t do is accept something for what it is. No, we have to compare, to judge, and then. . . and then to kill?
    Ever since homo sapiens acquired a slight intellectual edge over Neanderthals, and used this edge to crush their bony skulls, mankind has been stuck with this US vs THEM thing. (And with perfection, as defined by our clan, race, club, team…the cosmetic industry got its start on the banks of a roaring African river when some cad we shall call Kudzelgeek placed a fistful of clay into his girlfriend’s hand, and she used it to smooth out those tiny lines and wrinkles in her forehead.  “Hey, lookie here,” Zeebeeaum told her best friend Wilma. “I pretty. . .you not so much.”)
    I say all this because I’m about to compare one musical performance to another. Any true artist (music/art/literature) gives an instinctive interpretation, and as long as he or she has mastered the medium (ie. can do it many other ways) it becomes a matter of subjective taste (unless the listener/reader/viewer doesn’t think for themselves, and watches televangelists and the Food Porn Network instead.) The following Chopin nocturne is played at probably the slowest pace you’ve ever heard it, but is it wrong? Not at all. The slower tempo renders the piece in an entirely new light, as though from another angle you viewed a sculpture. Exquisite.  Famed pianist Martha Argerich plays it in 4:17; here it’s 6:25. Chopin himself would have approved, however, since this is romantic music, more about feeling than rigid rote. To play this as you’ve heard other people perform it is like kissing someone based on how you saw someone in the movies do it. Either it’s real or it’s not…and who doesn’t like a slow kiss?  (Ironically, note that Ivo Pogorelich was called a genius by Argerich, who then quit the jury when he was eliminated by the other judges in the 1980 Chopin competition!)


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