Nicety denotes distance. It covers indifference. Uncongeniality brings out life. Jarring contemporary music is often emotionally closer to us than the so-called classics: the harsher,  the truer. But not everybody is ready for it, just as not everybody is ready for truth. Most people live in a system of niceties, a system of greatness – greatness, with all its morphological representations in history, arts and ideas, often serves only as signs, pleasant signs, to remind people of keeping distance. Only the happy few can go out into the others, go deep into the history, to find intimacy in the remote, to find contemporaneity in the past, and vice versa.

The first rule of life, is to abandon and ignore niceties.


Pacifica String Quartet (Music Toronto)’s December 9th concert includes:

  • Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor
  • Jennifer Higdon: Voices
  • Schumann: String Quartet No. 1



The Allegro molto of Beethoven’s Razumovsky Quartet (Op. 59 No. 3) finished Music Toronto’s 2009-2010 season with a bang. The genuine standing ovation received by Tokyo String Quartet is well-deserved. This is the warmest response from a Toronto audience I’ve witnessed this season.

When walking out, I overheard a lady talking with apparent admiration (and a bit guilt) about the physical intensity the four musicians demonstrated in the fugal finale: the exuberance was not only musical, it was also visual. Those musicians exhibited all: their soul, their thoughts, their techniques, and their bodies.

In a sense, we, the audience, became voyeurs of intimate scenes during the concert, and it was such a transcnedental pleasure.

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