I’m sure some people are laughing at the 24-hour prolongation of Beethoven’s Ninth, as wonderfully described in a New York Times story linked on ArtsJournal today.
But don’t laugh at something you haven’t heard. Instead, listen to it, here. Or listen to some of it, since, realistically, most of us don’t have 24 hours to spare. Listen through headphones, if you can, and just let the sound flow over you. It’s a wonderful adventure, almost like (because it microscopically examines something familiar, and does it with immediate physicality) looking inside the cells of your own body. It’s both related to Beethoven — as a friend of mine in the music business says, someone with a terrific ear, “You almost always know where you are in the piece” — and completely unrelated. Pauses (in Beethoven’s original) become uncanny; the sound stops, and then slowly, slowly, slowly rises up again.
Over the years, I’ve encountered several works that fill sonic space, and make time tangible. (Ben Sisario, who wrote the Times story, smartly invokes the very long Morton Feldman string quartets.) But this one is specially absorbing.