“…don’t fix it” goes one of the corniest music jokes I know. However, the line contains a measure of truth for aficionados of Baroque music. I am not one of these people, but I met one last weekend, and his views on the era have prompted some thought and much listening on my part.
When asked to describe Baroque music, the first thoughts that come into my mind generally run along the “boring” “thick” and “overdone” lines.I don’t normally think “pure” or “clean” or “laser-like precision,” (which is how my new friend described the era). So, I’ve been re-listening to some Baroque standards, such as Bach’s Magnificat and G.F. Handel’s Coronation Anthems HWV:258-261 and Judas Maccabeus, and I’m attempting to hear them with fresh ears. Approaching familiar music from a different perspective always challenges both my ears and my brain, but these pieces especially delighted me. While I do still think Baroque music as a whole was quite overdone (the word baroque is French for a rough or imperfect pearl, and originally referred to something with so detailed that its beauty was obscured), I did hear intense purity of line, and the Baroque harmonies do sparkle with a cleanliness lost in following style periods. This different perspective opened my mind to an area of enjoyment previously lost on me.
My conclusion, therefore, is that if you find yourself repeating the same criticism of something, you may need to take the opportunity to juxtapose your own opinions with those of another as I have done this week. It’s delightful.