Cookin’ with classical

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Cheryl Schweizer

One of the things that came with the changes to the Columbia Basin Herald was a weekly column by a reporter, wherein the reporter could write about pretty much anything. Charles Featherstone wrote an admirable column to start off, and the baton has been handed to me.

So Iíll talk about Ė

About -

No, not that. Thatís kinda dull unless youíre already interested in it, to be honest.

Maybe Ė

No. Thatís pretty dull too.

Music. Letís talk about music. So Ė Bach, Beethoven or Mozart?

I can hear the question now. Cheryl, donít you listen to anything written after 1950? After 1900?

Sure. But I have noticed two trends going in opposite directions, one good, one bad.

Snobbery will always be with us, but the list of acceptable snobberies is shrinking. Thatís the good trend. The bad trend is that snobbery, when it happens, is much meaner than it used to be.

Iíve heard some casual comments made from a rap fan about fans of other musical genres, stuff that was jaw-droppingly insulting. On the other hand, I have heard comments about rap fans that are equally insulting. (Thinking about what that means was the inspiration for this column.)

In my experience, there is no snob like a classical music snob, so maybe one way to cut through some of the snobbery is to talk about what makes it fun to listen to.

So. Bach, Beethoven or Mozart?

No, thatís the wrong question. Thatís a Twitter question. There is a right answer, and itís ďall three.Ē Each one brings something different to the table.

Mozart had a lot of fun doing what he did; itís easy to hear in the music. Even the serious stuff was written by a guy who liked doing it. Beethoven didnít have as much fun. He was one of those guys who thought music and art would Save The World, which was a common attitude around 1810. (Spoiler alert ó it didnít and it canít.) Bach too had fun writing music, but in a less flamboyant way than Mozart. Each is awesome in his own way, but for me Bach is most awesome.

Thereís a section in one of the Brandenburg concertos ó No. 5, I think ó where all the other instruments back out and the harpsichord takes over, just like Jimi Hendrix or somebody. So all those legendary rock guitar solos over the years? Dudes. That is so 1721.

Check out the last movement of the Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor ó the whole thing is terrific, but if that seems like too much, try the last movement. My recording features Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman (think Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, if youíre looking for an equivalent).

The third movement has this driving tempo, the two violins playing off each other as they power to the finish, and they push it all the way. The concert was recorded live, and the audience claps politely as they finish. They should be on their feet ó a rock audience would be screaming, and they would be right.

Thereís so much more. Beethoven wrote big. Guy can blow the doors off a concert hall. Mendelssohn wrote ó emotional, I guess. So did Brahms (that stupid lullaby is the least of what he did). The modern atonal stuff isnít my jam ó it sounds like a car wreck ó but hey, itís lasted. Shostakovich lived in a sad place, in a very sad time. He wrote sad, atonal music that sticks with you.

Take the plunge. Give something new a try. You may like what you find.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

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