August 19, 2010

The accidental rhythm section

I have previously mentioned Perri Klass's "Knitting Fantasies" column, which originally appeared in the Winter 2003 issue of Knitter's Magazine. An excerpt:
Duane Ellison Photography | iStockphoto
I have felt for years that classical music would be enhanced by knitting. I know, I know, the needles might click, even the whisper of yarn against yarn would be enough to upset some music lovers. I have no intention of pulling out my knitting at the symphony. I just know that if only I could, I might have a chance of reliably achieving that state of mixed concentration and relaxation which so often eludes me…"
I was not bold enough to attempt this stunt at the symphony, either. But when our church hosted a free piano concert by Sergei Kossenko, I figured it was worth a try.
It was nearly a successful attempt. No one complained. In fact, one of the ladies, a new knitter, changed seats to sit next to me so she could watch how I do it.
I had already pulled out my knitting when Mr. Kossenko made his introductory remarks, and when I spoke to him for a few minutes after the concert, he said nothing about the knitting.*
But the clicking of the needles did indeed prove too distracting -- for me. I found myself alternately trying to knit in time with the music or to knit quietly. Both were difficult, so I wound up hardly knitting at all. Although this was an interesting exercise, it's one I won't repeat. Except maybe, as Klass suggested, at an outdoor concert, where airplanes and sirens provide a greater source of distraction.

* He generously spent some time explaining to me the meaning of "Navazhdeniye," the title of a piece by Prokofiev. Mr. Kossenko listed it in the program this way, although English sources usually use the French title "Suggestion Diabolique," which is not accurate. He said diabolical is the wrong word, because it implies evil intent. Based on the conversation I had with Mr. Kossenko, I would describe "navazhdeniye" as a surreal delusion with overtones of doom, but free of malicious intent. I think he's right to give the title in Russian. It's good to learn new words.

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