So here I was checking out dope new tunes like Valerie June’s “The Moon and Stars“, Genesis Owusu’s “Smiling with No Teeth“, and DJ Muggs’s “Dies Occidendum” when fucking bam. Kaboom, motherfucker. Something knocks me so far out of the park I can’t see the hills, forest, or trees anymore—dots on the map. And it’s Beethoven’s 9th. The fucking 9th. Come on! Do you know how often I’ve heard this shit? How engrained into my brain it is? It’s part of the blood stream. Shit’s like shaving, eating, shitting, and pissing. It’s the background of backgrounds. It’s what motel paintings use as a backdrop. It’s what watching-paint-dry does on its day off. It’s the music meetings use when they have a meeting about replying to group emails. And here I am, like some fucking idiot, getting emotional to something I’ve heard as much, if not more, than Bohemian Rhapsody or Here Comes the fucking Sun. You couldn’t run from this shit if you tried. The only way to avoid the 9th would be jabbing sharpened pencils into your ears. It’s fucking everywhere. And yet, here I am.
So, begs the fucking question: How? How the fuck? You fucking serious? Fuck off. Fuck you. Tell me. How.
Answer: Grammy-award winning sound engineers, a symphony that pisses gold, and Manfred fucking Honeck.
Satisfied. No? Well, here we fucking go then.
First off: Bitches ain’t nothing if you record this shit on a phone. Dudes at Soundmirror are legends. Having a top notch orchestra and slick interpretation without a good sound crew is like eating Jesus Christ’s last supper, cooked by Gordon Ramsey, on a pile of hot garbage.
Second: The Pittsburgh Symphony, the Mendelssohn choir of Pittsburgh, and vocal soloists so hot some believe they actually started global warming, are hugely righteous. We’re talking about the full fucking crew. That’s associate conductors, a baker’s dozen of first violinists and another bag for the second, a mitt-full of violists, a bucketful of cellists, a basin-full of bass, harp, flute, piccolo, oboes, English horns, Clarinets on Clarinets on Clarinets, Bassoons, the biggie Bassoon, dat Brass, Timpani, Percussion, an entire choir, vocal soloists, and fucking Librarians. And if just one of these motherfuckers decided to phone it in this wouldn’t be the hot piece of ass that it is. So, next time your jaw drops when a symphony gives you a smile and a wink, remember, sometimes it takes an entire crew to stuff all dat ass into a pair of skinny jeans.
Then there’s Manfred fucking Honeck. Think of him as that pair of skinny jeans.
Let’s get real, plenty of dope orchestras and recordings of the fucking 9th out there that didn’t get my seat wet, so what’s the catch?
Dude. Fucking. Edits.
What do I mean by edit? Check what the guy’s got to say about the first part of this shit:
“Beethoven marks a sforzando (with emphasis) for the strings on every bar from measure 55 onwards, whereas for the winds, the sforzando is only marked every second bar. While this could be viewed as an inconsistency, I believe that Beethoven, in fact, intended that the winds do not answer in the same way, resulting in [many highly detailed lines later…] therefore [I] asked the horns here to play much stronger than what normally might be done.”
In short, dude analyzed every single aspect of this, and I mean everything. Each line, every mark, every fart and stain was put under that musical microscope, poked, and prodded with that conductor’s baton until he found his answer. The question? Why, Beethoven? Why did you do this. You see, while other conductors read this shit as a novel, he read it for what it is: fucking poetry.
So you might be thinking, “What’s new about this, you vulgar waste of oxygen?” Which, ouch. But I’ll answer anyway.
Here’s the thing, lot’s of folks (including conductors and interpreters of Beethoven) out there to serve a good fucking time. That’s their goal. Sound good. Feel good. Taste good. Smell good. And with something as sultry and hedonistic as a 1000 people playing you a single piece of music written by (arguably) the greatest composer of all time just for your enjoyment, well, shit tends to get lavish. Thick thick syrup poured on sugar kinda shit. It is a fucking symphony for Christ’s sake. But ever been to someone’s house where they were just trying too hard? Like, dude, I can’t eat all this food. No, I don’t want a back massage. Um, my joke wasn’t all that funny. Can we calm down? And by the end of the evening you feel empty because you missed out on the one thing you really wanted: Connection. To feel human with another human. And that’s what Manfred does.
Beethoven on a fat set of audio head cans will always inspire. It’s fucking Beethoven. Kinda his thing. But listening to this album was the first time I heard the story behind the notes, like Beethoven was talking directly to me. I know. I get it. I sound fucking high. My Rebuttal: And? That doesn’t make this shit any less true. The fact that we all know this piece makes the differences all that more apparent, makes you question all those slick decisions made, and makes you hear inside the music for the first time since the womb. And, look, if you somehow don’t know this motherfucker which, come on, It’s the fucking 9th. Well, I suggest sitting back with whatever makes you hella comfy and throwing this bad bitch on loud, and I mean loud enough to turn heads, loud enough where people wonder if you’re okay. Cause as far as music goes? This is the fucking 9th, of course it’s good. And as far as interpretations go? This may just go down as one of the best. In either case, great way to turn seclusion, isolation, and claustrophobia into your own goddamned enlightenment.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken Tochter aus Elysium, motherfucker.