Sunday, December 06, 2009

Schubert: Sublime and Funky?

A passage in Cornel West's recent memoir (Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud),  has been getting some attention (see here or here):

“The basic problem with my love relationships with women is that my standards are so high -- and they apply equally to both of us. I seek full-blast mutual intensity, fully fledged mutual acceptance, full-blown mutual flourishing, and fully felt peace and joy with each other. This requires a level of physical attraction, personal adoration, and moral admiration that is hard to find. And it shares a depth of trust and openness for a genuine soul-sharing with a mutual respect for a calling to each other and to others. Does such a woman exist for me? Only God knows and I eagerly await this divine unfolding. Like Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship in Emily Bronte’s remarkable novel Wuthering Heights or Franz Schubert’s tempestuous piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat (D.960) I will not let life or death stand in the way of this sublime and funky love that I crave!”

Most of the attention has been, well, of a mirthful variety.  To be honest, I find the critics who have found West to be seriously misreading and misappropriating Wuthering Heights to be persuasive, but as a musician, I've gotta say, yeah, at his tempestuous best, as in the Bb Sonata, Schubert was definitely craving himself some of that sublime and funky love.  

(Now I'm sure we're all wondering what our blogging Brother Jeremy Denk might think about this; that is, if he can find a moment away from Chopin...)


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