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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Die Frau Under Ground

OK, I admit it. I own multiple, working IPods. I keep one for rock and roll, one for classical and opera, and one that I consider "current listening"--a mishmash of just about everything in my collection that I need to have with me at any place and time.

Recently, I changed headphone brands, ditching my crappy buds in favor of 'phones made by SkullCandy. Their noise-blocking basic buds come with large silicone sound-mufflers that block outside noises better than any other brand of headphones that I have tried. And yes, I like them better than the ultra-expensive (and easily lost) Bose earbuds.

Anyway, with these advanced noise-blockers in my ears, I set aside the Metallica, Rush and Dream Theater (mmm...Dream Theater) for major operas by the two Richards (Strauss and Wagner) and Verdi. I started at the deep (loud) end with Die Frau Ohne Schatten. Opening the Songs list, I cued up the first track and turned Shuffle off. (the opening notes and the scene with the Nurse and the Messenger) I sank into an orchestral oblivion, a swirl of strings and the famous descending "Er wird zu stein!". Awesome. Then, without a moment's notice, my 'Pod quickly switched composers on me--it jumped to the next song alphabetically in the playlist.

The problem was easily solved. I took the three discs of Frau and loaded them onto the "On-The-Go" playlist. You scroll the wheel over the album you want, press the button, hold it down and it loads the whole thing. So now with the opera in the right order, I resumed listening.

It's quite something listening to this gigantic score in the hurly-burly of the subways. All the magnificent orchestral sounds and orchestral detail came roaring forth, sounding absolutely magnificent. In fact, the swelling rush of one hundred and twenty VIenna musicians was a little hard to get used to--the sheer volume and breadth of auditory information made me feel intoxicated--pure sensory overload, Strauss-style.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats