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Classical Notes

Ich habe genug

Posted at 6:32 PM on February 14, 2006 by Don Lee

John Birge asks me, “What's missing in Mozart that you find in Bach?” When I imagine the Mozart that affects me most, I hear the slow movement of the Clarinet Concerto or the “Elvira Madigan” Piano Concerto, or “Ave verum corpus.” The usual suspects, for good reason; they’re achingly lovely. I feel the ache as Mozart creates tension and then grants me release. The thing is, it’s only a slight ache; he leaves no doubt that the release will come. With Bach, I’m less sure about that. In the final chorus of the St. Matthew Passion, after an intense three-hour journey, music and text hold out the hope of soft rest but not the promise. The ache is profound.